A Philadelphia Story at 2012 USRowing Club National Championships

by Ed Moran, photos by Monica Worsley | Jul 15, 2012
CAMDEN, N.J. –Penn A.C. Rowing Association and vesper Boat Club are separated on Philadelphia’s Boathouse row by only one building, the home to the University of Pennsylvania crew team.
CAMDEN, N.J. –Penn A.C. Rowing Association and Vesper Boat Club are separated on Philadelphia’s Boathouse row by only one building, the home to the University of Pennsylvania crew team.

Every morning, six days a week until the water turns to ice, both clubs launch fleets of aspiring athletes of every level of rowing from junior’s to elite to masters adults.

To say that the two clubs are rivals doesn’t quite paint the full picture of the competitive drive that exists between them – especially in the summer when each club hosts racing programs, vie for available athletes, and set their sights on winning medals, and in particular, the points trophies at the USRowing Club National Championships.

“We’re always sizing each other up, what are they doing for practice, who’s down there early, who’s sharp,” said Penn A.C. program director Patrick Rufo. “We’re always cordial at regattas, but the minute we turn away and get into our little boat meetings we just want to beat each other. I hate to use a cliché but this is like the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees rivalry. But that’s what it is and it’s been like that forever.”

And club nationals is like the World Series to these two organizations. The walls inside both clubs are covered in pictures of national championship crews.

Last year, Penn A.C. won the men’s points trophy with, while Vesper fell to second behind Boston based Community Rowing Inc. for the women’s trophy.

This year on Cooper River in Camden, N.J., both clubs excelled at the 2012 USRowing Club National Championships, with Penn A.C. winning the men’s points trophy with 186.75 points and Vesper taking both the women’s and the overall points trophy.

With more than 41 different entries in both men and women’s events, Vesper won the combined trophy with 273 combined points. With 155 points from the women’s team, the club also secured the women’s points trophy.

“We’ve had some good performances that we’re really happy with,” said Vesper head coach Scott Wisniewski. “Our lightweight women’s intermediate double won and that was a little bit of a surprise and everyone has sort of exceeded our expectations, which is awesome. Our coaches this year are a big part of that.”

Wisniewski agrees with Rufo on the state of the rivalry, “but it depends on who’s the Red Sox and who’s the Yankees. I think the great thing about being so close to Penn A.C. is that they make us better. The greatest thing about Boathouse Row is that everyone does compete and everyone wants to win. Philadelphia rowing would not be what it is today if we were not next to each other.”

In total, Penn A.C. entered 60 crews before the start of the regatta and added others as the racing progressed, reaching a total of nearly 70 entries.

“It’s always a goal for us every single year to win the men’s trophy, and obviously the overall points trophy,” Rufo said. “We have a great rivalry with Vesper and they won the overall this year, but our kids did a really good job and I’m really happy.”

While the two clubs captured the available points trophies, they were really only a fraction of the number of crews that went home with medals in the 69 events offered this week. With over 1,426 crews and 2,100 athletes, this year was the largest  field in the history of the regatta.

Medals were awarded in both sweep and sculling events and in all available gender and age classifications from under 16 juniors to seniors. The racing started on Wednesday and ran an average of one race every seven minutes until the last race crossed the line just after 1 p.m. today.

"Our race experience in Camden was great,” said Christianne Molina, who won a gold medal in the junior women’s four crew from Washington D.C. based Thompson Boat Center.

“We came and accomplished what we wanted to in the fours. We didn't do quite as well as we wanted to in the eights, so we were really looking for that redemption heading into the finals. We ended up coming in first and second."

Sal Marsico, who won a bronze medal in an intermediate quad with Columbia Crew also went home happy.

"It was a good experience and there was a lot of competition. I was happy to be here and the racing was pretty fair. I'm looking forward to racing next year."

For event information and results of the 2012 USRowing Club National Championships, visit:

Live streaming of the finals can be seen at:

Following the event, video clips can be purchased

About USRowing

USRowing is a nonprofit organization recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as the governing body for the sport of rowing in the United States. USRowing’s official suppliers include Boathouse Sports, Vespoli, WinTech, Filippi, Croker Oars, Rudy Project, Concept2, Nielsen Kellerman, PowerHTV and Ludus Tours. USRowing also receives generous support from the National Rowing Foundation and its corporate sponsors and partners ANXeBusiness Corp, Voxer, EZ Dock, EMCVenues and The Perfect SNAQUE. For more information, visit USRowing has created The Row to London to engage sponsors leading up to the 2012 Olympic Games, with proceeds going to help ensure the U.S. team’s success. Opportunities also exist to partner with America Rows – supporting diversity initiatives and adaptive programs. For more information, please contact Beth Kohl at

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