Sarasota resident and Sarasota Crew coxswain coach David Wyant has been announcing regattas at Nathan Benderson Park for five years.
SARASOTA — David Wyant’s voice booms across Nathan Benderson Park, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find the man behind the walkie-talkie.
Riding in a golf cart along the water’s edge, the Sarasota resident is as close to the action as one can get, without actually climbing into a racing shell.
And at the same time, Wyant’s nowhere near the hundreds of spectators lined up along the race course, making it the perfect vantage point to recount the day’s events.
Wyant makes his way to the starting line and takes a quick glance down at his cheat sheet — a single sheet of paper fluttering in the wind.
With his memory serving as his only guide, Wyant grabs his walkie-talkie, introduces each of the competing crews and explains what’s about to happen in the race. Then, it’s showtime.
As the rowers make their way down the course, Wyant is tasked with providing a running commentary of the race before eventually turning the race over to the finish line announcer at the midway point.
He quickly makes his way back up to the starting line and repeating the process all over again.
“I get to be as course as anyone can be, and I’m constantly moving,” Wyant says. “I get a huge kick out of being able to go along with the race as I call it."
“I get an adrenaline rush,” Wyant says. “I get so into it mentally that sometimes it’s kind of like, ‘Man, I wish I was in that race.’ I don’t get to see who wins though, which is sometimes difficult to handle.”
A native of Sarasota, Wyant was first approached about announcing regattas by his boss, Michael Taaffe, whose children happened to row for the Crew at the time. Taaffe knew of Wyant’s rowing background and felt Wyant, a business litigation attorney, would be perfect for the job.
That was five years ago.
Since then, Wyant, who also serves as the Crew’s coxswain coach, has announced everything from quad regattas to state championships to this past summer’s youth national championships.
“They couldn’t pay me to do this,” Wyant says. “I enjoy it so much. I’m a huge sports fan, so I think that’s why I enjoy announcing so much.”
Wyant began rowing for the Sarasota Crew during his sophomore year at Pine View after his grandmother told him it would be in his best interest to get involved in at least one extracurricular activity. He eventually settled on rowing after reading about the sport in a magazine.
Wyant wanted to row in an eight; but after only tipping the scale at 105 pounds, he quickly realized that wasn’t an option. He was destined to be a coxswain.
As a coxswain, Wyant had three main functions: steering the boat, calling out the race plan and letting the rowers know what was happening around them. His ability to multitask on the water not only helped Wyant excel at the position but also made announcing even easier.
“It’s pretty natural to me,” Wyant says. “I have enough knowledge of rowing that I kind of get in a groove.”
Wyant will announce between six and eight regattas this spring — all of which will feature at least one of his coxswains. So how does one remain impartial?
“I want to keep doing it,” Wyant says with a laugh.
Joking aside, Wyant has learned to separate the two aspects. When he’s behind the walkie-talkie, Wyant is focused solely on letting everyone know what’s happening in the race — even if his heart might be telling him otherwise.
“Inside, I’m always thinking about the kids,” Wyant says. “Sometimes I want to scream at them, but usually inside, I’m smiling. I’ve gotten past it being a reflex to cheer for them, but at first it was a little bit weird.”
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].