Bill Braxton Memorial Regatta 2015

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Bill and Tony

What is the Bill Braxton Memorial Regatta?

The Bill Braxton Memorial Regatta, now in its 42nd year, has become a living tribute to the unending spirit that Bill brought to his family, to his friends, to his teammates, and to his sport. Bill Braxton, brother of Dave and John Braxton co-owners of Braxton’s Animal Works, died in a tragic car accident in August of 1973, but his legacy lives on even today. The Regatta is an opportunity to remember Bill and the sport he so loved.

Here is his story written by his friend, Dr. Tony Coletta.

Bill first became involved with rowing at Devon Preparatory School where, under the coaching of Tibor Machan, he rowed in a varsity four, competing for almost three years on the Schuylkill. During these high school years, Bill became affiliated with the Schuylkill Boat Club, where, under the leadership of Tom Rafferty, he became more and more actively involved in the sport.

Upon graduation from Devon, Bill entered Marietta College and by the spring racing season of his freshman year, he was rowing bow seat in the varsity lightweight eight. That year, 1972, the Marietta varsity lights finished an impressive second in the Dad Vail Championship on the Schuylkill River. Bill was visibly disappointed. He wanted first, nothing less. Yet, not a word of discouragement was heard from this dedicated young oarsman. He had his eye on the ’73 season, and eagerly awaited his second chance at the Vail Championship.

The ’73 racing season was to prove the championship season for Bill. Again rowing varsity lights, this time in 7 seat, Bill and his fellow varsity lights had only one thought in mind, victory. And victorious they were. Marrieta’s varsity lightweights went undefeated in 1973, and the culmination of their perfect season was a victory at Dad Vail. By his sophomore year in college, at the age of 19, Bill had achieved the goal he sought. He was a member of the finest small college varsity lightweight boat in the country.

As the summer of 1973 came to an end, Bill had plans for the upcoming crew season, setting his sights on lightweights in the IRAs. On August 17, Bill was killed in a tragic traffic accident.

The following year, Bill’s dad looked at the river, and began the dream. Once a year for the last 42 years, except perhaps for one or two years when the weather kept them away, competitors from far and wide would race in Bill’s regatta and through Bill’s spirit.

This year the event will be held on Sunday, November 9th. For more information, click here.

We Want to Hear from You!

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