In what turned out to be a comical but inconsequential detour, a Drexel University crew boat accidentally rowed across the Atlantic Ocean in the middle of its spring season opener against local schools.
Despite the days-long detour, the men’s varsity eight boat still finished a solid 22 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Villanova University.
In the team’s first race since the Frostbite Regatta in early November, the Dragons swept each category in the season opener, as expected.
But the men’s varsity eight race unfolded with an unusual twist.
Instead of rowing up the Schuylkill and finishing in the expected five and a half minutes it normally takes the team’s best varsity eight boat to finish the race, spectators were still waiting for the Blue and Gold to cross the final flags more than a week later.
Little did the on-lookers know, the Dragons were a time zone or two over as their fans pondered what was taking their favorite team so long.
When the team’s boat saw the western coast of the Portuguese Flores Island approaching, Drexel’s rowers realized that they may have missed a bend in the Schuylkill.
Retracing their paddles, the team members realized they began the race the wrong way and connected with the Delaware River, which eventually dumped them out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Convinced they were still on the correct race path, the eight rowers continued eastward for roughly 2,300 miles.
“It was pretty funny, actually,” junior Darko Amurica said with a sheepish smile a few minutes after the men’s varsity eight heat.
“I looked back at [senior Christmas Lad] about two days in and asked him if he thought we’d made a wrong turn somewhere.
I didn’t remember the Schuylkill being so wide.
“Of course, now I realize that it isn’t that wide. That was the Atlantic Ocean.
I’m from Croatia, so I didn’t recognize it. It looked nothing like the Adriatic Sea.”
Lad explained that he didn’t think much of Amurica’s worries about a wrong turn because he can’t normally see the rest of the teams behind the Drexel boats, anyway.
“I honestly can’t tell you what La Salle [University]’s boats look like,” Lad admitted.
“By the time they cross the line, I’m typically already relaxing at home.
So, really, there was nothing out of the ordinary about today’s run.”
Except, of course, for the part of the heat when the team rowed next to a whale for a few nautical miles.
“Oh, yeah, that,” Lad recalled, laughing. “Yeah, that was a little different.
But it was nice to have somebody else at our speed on the water.”