May 4, 2013
|27th Annual Windermere Cup
May 4th | Montlake Cut - Seattle, Wash.
SEATTLE, Wash.- Washington rowing director and women's head coach often refers to Windermere Cup as the greatest rowing spectacle around. That's exactly what it was on this perfect Seattle Saturday that saw the best weather and best crowd this regatta has experienced in a long time, arguably in its history.
"It's the best weather we've had for a long time and I don't think I've ever seen more people lined up and down the cut for a Windermere Cup," said Ernst. "It was just a great day and it was great to see our athletes perform at the top of their game. It was a really fun day."
That says a lot coming from the coach who has been here for all 27 Opening Day Windermere Cup Regattas.
With yachts lining the course and thousands of people lining the shores, this is the closest rowers come to experiencing what it feels like to perform in front of a packed crowd at a stadium.
The Husky band was playing at the finish line and chants of "Go" and "Huskies" were being shouted back and forth from the north side of the cut to the south side as the crews approached the finish line.
According to senior Sam Dommer, instead of panic when they could barely hear each other amid the screaming fans, coxswain and fellow senior Seamus Labrum reminded the members of men's varsity eight boat to cherish the experience.
"It was so loud out there we could barely hear our cox," said Dommer. "But I remember Seamus saying to just enjoy the moment for a minute. It was really cool."
The Huskies had plenty of moments to enjoy as both the men and women swept the feature races of the day--the Erickson Cascade Cups and the Windermere Cups.
In the women's Erickson Cascade Cup, the Huskies' second varsity eight won by open water after trailing in the first 500 meters of the race, crossing the finish line with a time of 6:55.3. Coming in behind Washington were Cornell (7:06.3), Dartmouth (7:08.9) and Portland (7:19.6).
On the men's side, Washington second varsity eight never trailed on the 2,000 meter course, also winning by open water with a time of 5:59.7.
In the day's main events, both Husky crews on the men's and women's side showed their strength, dominating victories in their respective Windermere Cup races. Most importantly, neither had a let down after the emotional victories over California last week.
In the Women's Windermere Cup, the Huskies--coxed by junior Maddy Johnson--jumped out to a lead and never looked back. They were focused on one thing--crossing the finish line first--and that they did. In impressive fashion, the Huskies finished more than ten seconds ahead of second-place Cornell (6:46.2) with a time of 6:46.2 and more than twenty seconds ahead of third place Dartmouth (6:57.3).
The Men's version played out exactly as the women's did, with Washington beating out Cornell and Dartmouth to claim the 2013 Windermere Cup. After a rough start in the first 500 meters against California, the Huskies regrouped this week and came out firing. The Huskies took the lead from the beginning and crossed the finish line with a time of 5:45.0 that was twelve seconds ahead of second-place Cornell (5:57.1) and third-place Dartmouth (6:03.7).
It was the seventh straight Windermere Cup victories for both the men and the women. They haven't lost on Opening Day since 2006.
Washington also raced boats in earlier races during the day, including the Varsity Fours, College Open Eights, and Freshmen Eights.
The Huskies swept the Men's and Women's Varsity Four races, with the men's "A" boat beating out their "B" boat by eight seconds for the victory with a time of 6:37.7. The women's first four shell earned a victory over their "B" boat as well, crossing the finish line with a time of 7:35.9.
Washington's men's and women's first year rowers continued their undefeated streak, each winning handedly over the rest of the field. The women's novice boat finished with a time of 7:02.1, getting the win over Seattle University (7:38.4) and their second novice shell (7:43.7).
The final boats to race for the Huskies were in the men's and women's College Open Eights. The Washington men continued to show the programs depth, winning their respective race by more than 15 seconds with a time of 6:09.0. In the women's version, Washington's "A" and "B" shell came in 4th and 3rd, respectively.
Men's head coach Michael Callahan was ecstatic about the whole event and the way the Huskies rose to the occasion after the emotional wins a week ago.
"When it's blue skies in Seattle it's spectacular. It was just a really great day, the sun, the crowd, the races--everything was great," said Callahan. "It could have been easy to have a letdown, but we worked really hard this week and we brought it today."
Ernst echoed Callahan's thoughts.
"It's really hard [to not have a let down] after last week," said Ernst. "The athletes were eight miles high after the win and that can be hard to follow, but that's why there is a racing season and you have to learn how to make progress each week. They really forced themselves to make the most out of training this week, and we trained hard this week."
The Huskies next task at hand is the Pac-12 Championships, set for Sunday May 19th at Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif. It will be important for both the men and the women because of its implications for IRA and NCAA Championship seedings. As focused as this group is, these Huskies will surely take some time to enjoy their experiences of today, but come Monday morning at 6 a.m. it will be back to business.
Ultimately, it could not have been a better day in Seattle for the Windermere Cup festivities, and this will surely be one that will be remembered for a long time. This one-of-a-kind experience for the athletes was reflected in all their faces at the award ceremony on the dock after the races.
"It's great that Windermere Real Estate and Seattle Yacht Club can continue to work with us in putting on this great event," said Ernst as he presented the awards. "And it is was really great to have Cornell and Dartmouth here this week to experience all of this."
That experience is described best by junior rower Ruth Whyman.
"There's nothing like this."
Note: The Windermere Cup will air on the Pac-12 Networks on the West Coast on Sunday May 12th, 2013.