Monaco Revue   
Prince Albert II Challenge 2008

They came with their oars and row boats from across Europe – from France, from Italy and from as far as Norway – for the Prince Albert II Challenge last weekend (Feb 17). But the team from the renowned Vesper Boat Club flew in from the US with just their high spirits.

Invited by the Société Nautique de Monaco, the Philadelphia club competed in boats belonging to the local club. The invitation not only gave the four-year-old regatta a prestigious entrant, a club which goes back to the 1860s and which has produced numerous Olympic and World champions, it also underscored the ties – at the highest level possible – between the principality and the club.

Monaco's sovereign Prince Albert II and Vesper's president JB Kelly III are first cousins.

Kelly's father, John B. Kelly Jr., was Princess Grace's only brother. It was he who gave her his 1956 Olympic bronze rowing medal as a wedding present when she left Philadelphia to marry into European royalty. The siblings' father, John B. Kelly Sr., was one of Vesper's most celebrated scullers, having picked up three Olympic gold medals in 1920 and 1924.

Also in the Vesper team that competed on the weekend were Chris Lavine (son of Princess Grace's younger sister Lizanne), and another cousin, Princess Grace's niece, Megan Van Arkel.

Conditions on the open Mediterranean Sea, on a particularly gusty morning, were quite different to what the Americans are accustomed to on the Schuylkill River.

“The conditions are very windy, the sea is quite rough, but the boats can handle it very well,” Van Arkel said. “In the States, the boats are much smaller.”

Vesper competed in the Prince Albert II Challenge last year and claimed the overall title. While they may not have retained the top trophy this year (conditions favoured local competitors, with the club from nearby Nice, France, emerging as winners), they could leave Monaco with good memories and the knowledge that ties remain strong between Philadelphia and the tiny European principality.

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Comments to date: 2. Page 1 of 1.

Yvette,  Ontario, Canada

Posted at 11:36am on Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

Definitely hats off to those who looks like it was quite a challenge!

Luis-James,  Cannes

Posted at 4:25am on Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

Hats off to those competed. We watched a bit of the races and the sea was quite the challenge.


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