Feb. 23, 2001
Seattle - The Olympic bronze medal men's eight-oared crew from Croatia, the Romanian women's national team and the University of Victoria will compete in the 2001 Windermere Cup and Opening Day festivities, the University of Washington and Windermere Real Estate announced. The 15th annual Windermere Cup is set for May 5 on the Montlake Cut.
All nine members of the Croatian team that captured the bronze medal in 2000 Olympic Games in Syndey, Australia, will visit Seattle. The crew won its bronze medal behind the gold medal-winning Great Britain team and silver medalist Australia. They earned a berth to the Olympic Games after knocking off Germany at the Lucerne Olympic Qualifying Regatta in Switzerland.
The Romanian women's team will be an elite group comprised of Junior World, Nation's Cup and World University Games Champions. The Romanian eight-oared crew captured back-to-back gold medals at the 1999 and 2000 World Junior Championships. The women's four won a bronze medal at the 2000 Nations' Cup in Denmark last July, behind the gold medal team that featured current Husky junior Anna Mickelson. The Romanian four also captured a silver medal at the most recent World University Games. Romania, traditionally among the world's finest crew competitors, won the last two Olympic women's eight gold medals, in 1996 and 2000.
In addition, the Romanian crew could potentially be represented by Claudia Presecan, who won a gold medal as a part of the Romanian women's gymnastics team at the 2000 Olympic Games. She is one of two women competing for the coxswain position.
The University of Victoria women's crew provides rowing fans a rematch of the historical race at the 2000 Henley Royal Regatta last July. The Washington women's varsity eight made history last summer when it won the inaugural Henley Prize, defeating Victoria in the grand final to win the first women's eight trophy awarded at the historic regatta.
"This is a statement on the behalf of the University of Washington, Windermere and the Seattle Yacht Club that we want to bring the best competition in the world to Seattle," said UW men's coach Bob Ernst, who witnessed the Croatians' bronze medal performance as the rowing course announcer at the Sydney Games. "To have the Romanian women and the Croatian men, along with a Henley re-match with Victoria, is just amazing. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best field we've ever had.
"The Australians in 1997, with five Olympic gold medalists, and the powerful Soviet Union, in our very first year in 1987, were awesome. This field ranks right up there. Most crews don't stick together in the year after the Olympics. To get the entire bronze medal team from Croatia is a treat. This is a fantastic opportunity for our rowers to compete against the best in the world and for rowing fans to see outstanding racing right here in our own backyard."
"The whole concept of the Windermere Cup has been to invite the best competition in the world," added Husky women's coach Jan Harville. "We are certainly doing that with the Romanians and in our re-match with Victoria. We are tremendously excited to race against these women. We could not ask for a better field this year."
The Windermere Cup races are the feature event of the 32nd annual Opening Day Regatta on Lake Washington's Montlake Cut and are held in conjunction with the Seattle Yacht Club's annual celebration of the opening of yachting season. The Opening Day Regatta has been a traditional part of the ceremonies surrounding the opening of yachting season since 1970, and the women's intercollegiate races were added to the schedule in 1976. The regatta is the preliminary event to the yacht club parade, sponsored annually by the Seattle Yacht Club. Thousands of spectators annually line the cut, both on land and water, to enjoy the water activities.
The Washington men's varsity eight has captured 10 consecutive Windermere Cup titles while the women's varsity eight has won two in a row and eight of the last nine.
Washington opens its 2001 season with a dual regatta versus Oregon State, March 31 on the Montlake Cut in Seattle. The Huskies kick-off the year with their annual Class Day Regatta, March 24. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Washington Class Day celebration, in which each class of rowers - freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors - race against one another. The 2003 racing season will mark the centennial year of intercollegiate competition for Washington rowing.
Here is a recap of the 2000 Olympic men's eight grande final (courtesy FISA World Rowing News):
Men's eight: Great Britain are the new men's eight Olympic champions after an incredible last minute challenge from Australia. The British took the lead early, watching the crew from a three-quarters of a length advantage for most of the race. Behind them, Australia, Croatia and Italy were jostling for the places. But in the final 500 metres Australia began to apply more pressure but had almost a length to catch up. But they left their run too late. Great Britain had rowed a superb tactical race and passed the line 0.81 seconds in front. Croatia came in for the bronze medal in what was a photo finish with Italy, who finished fourth. USA was fifth and Romania sixth. Croatia team members: I. Francetic, T. Frankovic, Smoljanovic, N. Skelin, S. Skelin, K. Culjak, I. Boraska, B. Vujevic, S. Petrisko.
ABOUT WINDERMERE REAL ESTATE: Now in their 15th year as title sponsor of the Windermere Cup Regatta, Windermere Real Estate is the West's leading real estate company with more than 210 offices and nearly 6,000 agents serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, Montana, and now Northern California. Windermere Real Estate values the University of Washington's contribution to the academic and athletic successes of its students and views rowing as a the perfect expression of these pursuits.