May 5, 2012
SEATTLE - For 26 years, the Windermere Cup has brought some of the fastest crews from around the world to the Pacific Northwest. And despite tests from all corners of the globe, Washington still manages to come out on top.
This year's edition was no different as the Husky men's and women's crew programs each won their sixth straight title, defeating international guest Argentina and a host of other visitors in dominating fashion Saturday morning on the Montlake Cut. Overall, the Huskies won nine of the 10 races they entered.
Ranked No. 1 in the nation, the Husky men had no problems dispatching their neighbors from South America, exploding off the start and taking firm control of the race right from the onset. The Huskies rowed through the Cut to cheers from a throng of fans who take advantage of the late spring weather to line the banks of the course.
Overall, the Husky men's varsity 8+ captured the Windermere Cup with a time of 5:45.00, almost 15 seconds in front of the second-place Argentines who fended off a late charge from Virginia at the finish.
"From the first stroke, we wanted to have a really solid piece," said senior oarsman Rob Munn. "We had a good start right from the first stroke and let the rest of it go from there."
The No. 6 Husky women were just as strong in outpacing the competition in the Windermere Cup race, with UW taking the trophy by 17 seconds over Gonzaga, 6:35.9 to 6:53.6. Argentina's women finished the 2,000-meter race in third place, almost 10 seconds behind the Bulldogs.
For both varsity crews, the wins provided a burst of momentum heading into next week's Pac-12 Championships.
"I told them to go as fast as they could today," said women's coach and rowing director Bob Ernst. "We needed to use this as a warm up for next week."
The closest race involving a UW boat came in the women's Erickson Cup race as the Husky 2V8 came down the Montlake Cut neck-and-neck with the University of Otago. Eventually, the Dawgs were able to pull away from New Zealand's top collegiate crew, winning by a handful of seats with a time of 6:44.3, compared to 6:47.8 for the Kiwis.
Washington's men were outstanding in their Erickson Cup race, setting a punishing pace from the start to pull away from second-place Oregon State. As the Huskies crossed the finish line, stroke Max Mannisto pointed a lone finger in the air to denote the victory. The Husky 2V8 crossed the finish line with a time of 6:48.5, almost 27 seconds in front of the Beavers (6:15.6).
The sole UW loss came in the women's novice eight as the University of Victoria used a strong start to take a 10-second victory (6:48.9 to 6:58.1) back to Vancouver Island.
With its top rowers off to Europe and Olympic qualifying, Argentina brought two young crews to Seattle. Following the race, the Argentine rowers posed for pictures with their nation's flag and offered hearty congratulations to the Huskies. Yet the international guests succumbed to the fate of most visiting crews at the Windermere Cup, which is racing for second place.