For Immediate Release
Contact: Ed Levin
Publicity Director
Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta
610-246-5902 (Cell phone)

When the United States Merchant Marine Academy rowing team hits the water every spring, they immediately turn their focus to preparing for the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta.

“The Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta is the highlight of our competitive year,” said Head Coach Derek Hartwick. “Each year we focus our efforts on achieving our best performance on the second weekend of May. Despite the relatively small size of our Academy; 947 total students and only 800 students on campus at any one time, we always strive to put forward our best crews for the event. In recent years, we have managed to place many crews in the Grand finals and medals in each of the last two years.”

With the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta just a little over five weeks away, the Merchant Marine crew is looking forward to the continuing their recent success at the Dad Vail highlighted by a gold medal in the Men’s Varsity Pair without coxswain in last year’s event.

“It is very meaningful whenever one of our crews make it onto the podium and especially when they capture a Gold,” said Hartwick. “As a coach, I feel that the experience of winning a medal adds meaning and perspective to the hard work and dedication that the athletes have made during their college years. In 2022, two of our seniors (Cameron Rothley ‘22 and William Roberts ’22) completed an undefeated season and captured the Negaard Cup at the Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta.”

While each crew team faces their own challenges, what Coach Derek Hartwick encounters is very unique. During the spring season, the junior class is out at sea working on commercial and naval vessels while the senior class is studying for their Coast Guard license while going to class and practice to lead the varsity rowing team to a successful campaign.

Last season, Rothley and Roberts provided that leadership and were rewarded with a coveted Dad Vail gold medal.

This season, Midshipman Peyson Pearce 3/C (3rd classman) has accepted the leadership role this spring and will be the coxswain in the Man’s Varsity Four boat.

“Watching Rothley and Roberts last year, one thing I noticed was their consistency and positive attitude towards practice,” said Pearce, who himself will be balancing practice and studying to complete his second year at the Academy. “They showed up every day, rain or shine. Even when they had their coast guard license to study for at the end of senior year, they still made it their priority to show up and put in the work for their boat. Watching them show up, even when they could have used multiple excuses to miss practice, motivated me to be like them. They would not just show up because they had to or because they were asked, but because they wanted to be the best, and to be the best takes dedication and consistency. They came to spring practice with the team, even when they could have stayed home to prioritize their academic careers over their athletic careers. They would make it a point to be as happy as can be, which helped lift team spirits, especially when the 0430 (4:30 am) wake ups were brutal.”

Although the Merchant Marine Academy may not be large in numbers due to varying commitments outside of crew, they make up for that with the dedication and hard work of the rowers that are able to fit in the commitment and maintain the Academy’s tradition of attending an event that has been the highlight of their schedule since 1970.

The 84th Annual Jefferson Dad Vail Regatta, most recently presented by Independence Blue Cross, PECO and Coca Cola will be staged on the Cooper River, in Pennsauken Township, New Jersey on Friday, May 12, 2023, and Saturday, May 13, 2023 .

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