The University of Washington’s nationally ranked men’s and women’s crews host Great Britain’s national teams Saturday in the 28th annual Windermere Cup Regatta on the Montlake Cut. The regatta, a series of races for all age groups, is held as part of Seattle’s opening day of boating season and is followed by the Seattle Yacht Club’s annual Opening Day Boat Parade.
This year marks the 24th time that Washington has hosted a national team across all competitions, including the Windermere Cup. UW holds a 17-6 record against national teams, but Great Britain represents perhaps the most formidable challenge of all.
Last summer, the men, defending IRA national champions, took on Great Britain in the Grand Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta. While matching a course record on the Thames River set by Germany, UW still lost.
The marquee races Saturday, the women’s varsity eight, ranked No. 6 nationally, and men’s varsity eight (No. 1), are scheduled for 11:35 and 11:45 a.m, respectively. In all, 25 races, beginning at 10:40 a.m., will be held. There is no admission charge.
Last year, UW men had a record day, defeating Argentina in the varsity eight, Oregon State in the Cascade Cup (second varsity eight), Oregon State in the freshmen eight, Western Washington in the open eight, and Oregon State in the varsity four.
Washington’s men are undefeated in the Windermere Cup since 2007, their last loss coming to Russia in 2006. Washington’s only other losses in the Cup, which dates to 1987, were to Croatia in 2001, China in 1990, Italy in 1989, Australia in 1988 and the Soviet Union in 1987.
UW rowing coordinator Bob Ernst calls Great Britain the “world’s finest rowing system.” The Brits were the winningest team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and in their confrontation with UW last summer, handed the Washington men their first defeat since 2010.
Originally, Great Britain considered bringing developmental rowers to the Windermere Cup, but thought the better of it after replaying its narrow victory over the Huskies on the Thames River.
“We remembered about the tough racing Washington gave us at Henley last year, where in the grand eight and the Ladies Plate eight (final), we just managed to get past Washington. We thought maybe we ought to stiffen up our crew and, you know, give it a bit more power,” Rob Dauncey, coach of Great Britain’s heavyweight eights, said Thursday. “Obviously, as a national team, we sort of expect to win.”
“This is the best competition we’ve had for a Windermere Cup since the very first one (1987),” said Ernst. “It (Great Britain) is absolutely the best rowing program in the world.”
The UW men, winners of four IRA national championships under head coach Michael Callahan, were ranked No. 2 nationally last week when they knocked off No. 1 California, on the Golden Bears’ home course.