2022 Dad Vail Program

255YEARS AGO By Claire Savage The banks of the Schuylkill River roared with 10-15 thousand spectators on Saturday, May 10, 1997. The Temple Owls sought to claim their ninth consecutive Dad Vail Regatta victory in the Men’s Heavyweight Eight. The Owls were prepared to repeat history, and the history was that Temple was going to win. The 1997 varsity eight boat treated the historic race as a business. The 1996 boat had kept the streak alive by sailing to an eighth-straight Dad Vail title. The Owls had the pressure to keep the winning streak alive and to maintain Temple’s legacy Despite figuring out the boat’s chemistry throughout the season, the 1997 crew were ready to rise to the occasion. Made up of Steven Panzik, Peter Gergo III, John Clark, Kevin Gross, Igor Francetic, Brendan Duke, Nathan Swick, Jason Read, and coxswain Reade Palmer, the crew was blended together from different nations. The crew was composed of members from Canada, Ireland, Croatia, and the United States. The young boat had a mix of youthful energy, racing experience, and attitude. This was the race that Temple wanted to win in front of their home crowd, and they had their eyes set on the bigger picture. The crew was aiming to figure out their identity throughout the season but by the end of the season they were moving as fast as a Temple boat had moved at that point. Palmer, the coxswain of the crew, transferred to Temple for his sophomore year. He melded together the different backgrounds and personalities of the crew. Palmer was a natural leader who had standards, and with that came requirements. He laid down the mission to the crew and they came down the racecourse ready to attack. Maintaining the streak of the Dad Vail Championships was the standard. Generations of guys who won the first Dad Vail stood there waiting and expected the crew to win. It wasn’t the pressure to win, it the pressure not to lose. The relationship between the coxswain and stroke seat is unmatched. “An intense bond develops between you and the coxswain,” remembered Read. “He had the ability to pull the words that I was thinking out of me and articulate them to the crew.” This skill allowed the Owls to hook and send the shell simultaneously. The chatter and talk leading up to the race added pressure to the crew. “I think you're foolish if you don't have a little bit of nerves when you step up to that line,” said senior bow seat and captain Panzik. “Once that first stroke went off there wasn't a doubt in my mind that there was no way the streak was going end with us.” Temple laid down the rhythm of the boat from start to finish, and they had no doubt in their mind that they were going to win. “All I thought about was that it was never enough, we couldn’t win by enough”, said Read. “The Schuylkill is our home venue and we wanted to be the fastest boat on the Schuylkill regardless of what lead we were in. We wanted to be the fastest eight and we were.” The Owls picked off the race strong and confident. “All we knew was to pull and go”, said Panzik. They got out and stayed out and never looked back. The crew pressed through the foot plates and hung every ounce of bodyweight on the end of their blade from start to finish. Florida Tech tried to push their bow ball ahead, but it was too late. The Owls crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of Florida Tech, and the entire boat took a deep sigh of relief. “It was a huge weight off of our shoulders when we crossed that finish line”, said Gergo III. They did it. They kept the streak alive. Although Panzik went on to take his last strokes in his Temple uni, he would go on to set Temple up for what would become the longest winning streak in the Men’s Heavyweight Eight at the Dad Vail Regatta. Whether it was the pressure, or the comradery between the crew, the outcome was the same, Temple takes the title. Again. We Couldn’t Win By Enough