Rowers for the University of Pittsburgh's club-team were forced to navigate some choppy waters even before the first race of this year's Dad Vail regatta.
"When you come to the Dad Vails, it's a pretty big regatta so we don't want any distractions if we can avoid it," said Alex Snyder, Vice President of the rowing club. "So something like this isn't ideal. But I think we handled it as best we could."
The Pitt team arrived in Philly early—on Thursday—to get in some practice runs on the Schuylkill. They returned to their vans, parked near the Girard Avenue bridge, to find they'd been broken into.
Thieves made off with laptops and iPhones, wallets and clothing.
Uniforms were stolen too, forcing some team members to use makeshift T-shirts. It was a minor disaster.
"I think some of them were at the police station till early in the morning filling out forms, and then they had to get up early this morning," said Jay Schechter, whose daughter rows for the team.
For local Pitt rowers, the break-ins were a bit of an embarrassment.
This is not how they want their teammates to think of the "city of brotherly love."
"This is where I was raised," said Emery Chew of Pottstown. "I rowed in high school so this is my race course—my home race course—and that they are coming here to visit and this has to happen to them is really sad."
But local Pitt alums have helped out, and the team has banded together.
No act of piracy will sink their dreams of victory on the water.
"Rowing is all about adversity and staying relaxed and focused," said rower Phillip Regina. "So this is something we deal with."