March 25, 2004
SEATTLE - The University of Washington begins its 101st season of intercollegiate crew competition with an even longer running tradition. The Huskies open the 2004 season with their 103rd-annual Class Day Regatta, Saturday at 10 a.m. on the Montlake Cut.
Class day racing started in 1901, two years before Washington hosted California on June 3, 1903 for the school's inaugural intercollegiate race. UW defeated Cal by three boat lengths in a four-oared event over a 1 1/2-mile Lake Washington Course.
The Class Day Regatta, which annually signals the start of UW's spring racing season, features a varsity-novice challenge followed by competition between the freshmen, sophomore, junior and senior classes. Crews are comprised of rowers from the same class, with the fastest men's eight from each class competing for the George M. Varnell Cup and the women's eights vying for the Seattle Times Cup.
Last year's Class Day Regatta was eventful, featuring a mixed men's boat and a major mishap in the women's race. A shortage of seniors last year forced the Class of 2003 men's crew to include three sophomores.
The sophomore women were upset winners of the 2003 Seattle Times Cup. The senior women had a boat length lead with 300 meters remaining before some milfoil got caught on their rudder, forcing the boat into the concrete wall in the Montlake Cut. The seniors pushed off the wall and started up again, but the delay enabled all three other crews to pass them.
The Huskies officially open the 2003 season next weekend at the San Diego Crew Classic, April 3-4.
Eleanor McElvaine begins her first season as head coach of the Washington women's team after serving 13 years as an assistant to Jan Harville who retired in July. The Washington women's varsity eight is ranked 10th in the preseason coaches poll after finishing fourth at the NCAA Championships last spring. Only two rowers return from last season's varsity eight crew.
The Husky men are ranked second behind defending national champion Harvard. UW's varsity eight won the 2003 Pac-10 championship and placed second at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships before winning the Ladies Challenge Plate competition at the prestigious Royal Henley Regatta in England. Seven rowers return from last year's varsity eight crew.
The Montlake Course
The starting line for the Huskies' home regattas is on Lake Washington, parallel to the Evergreen Point floating bridge. The course runs from east to west through the Montlake Cut to the finish line near the mouth of Portage Bay at the west end of Montlake Cut. A good view of the race course is available along either side of Montlake Cut, or from the Montlake Bridge.
Class Day Schedule (all races 2,000 meters)
10:00 a.m. Women's Varsity-Novice Challenge
10:10 a.m. Men's Varsity-Novice Challenge
10:20 a.m. The Seattle Times Women's Eight
10:30 a.m. George M. Varnell Men's Eight