Russian National Teams Win Windermere Cup Trophies
May 6, 2006
SEATTLE - The men's and women's national teams from Russia won the featured races Saturday, edging Washington which had first-place crews in the other eight collegiate races at the 20th-annual Windermere Cup Regatta on the Montlake Cut.
The Russians won the contest of premier men's eights with the exact same crew that finished sixth at the 2005 world championships in Gifu, Japan. Seventh-ranked Washington completed the race in 6-minutes, 6.72-seconds, finishing five seats back of Russia and its winning time of 6:04.72. The 14th-ranked Michigan men's boat placed third in 6:15.34.
The Huskies narrowed the margin after Russia opened up a near boat-length lead during the first half of the race. UW closed the gap and appeared to be moving on Russia as the finish line approached.
"The guys tried not to let them off the hook too much in the first 1,000 meters, which is what we were worried about," UW coach Bob Ernst explained. "We took it to them all the way down. I'm not about to say if the race was 100 meters longer that we would have won, but it was a good solid race. I couldn't ask for much more except to have won the race."
The loss snapped a four-year winning streak for the Huskies whose last Windermere Cup setback came in 2001 against the Croatian Olympic Team. UW won the featured men's race in 14 of the last 16 opening day regattas. One of the triumphs during that stretch came in 1996 during the last visit by a Russian crew.
"The team of the University of Washington is a really strong team and they did a good job too," said Russian rower Edgar Ivans. "I expected a great race. I was here in 1996 and we lost that race. We came to take our revenge and we did our best and did that today. It doesn't really matter by how many meters because we took the victory."
The women's eight-oared competition was also closer than expected. Russia's entry included five rowers from the national team that placed second in the "B" final at the 2005 world championships. The Russians crossed the finish line in 6:50.06 to complete an open-water victory over the Huskies and collect the women's Windermere Cup trophy. Tenth-ranked UW finished in 6:57.17 followed by No. 19 Central Florida in 7:06.09.
"It's nice for the crowd in Seattle to see that kind of rowing because it is impressive. You don't have to know a lot about rowing to watch them go by and know there's a lot of serious talent in that bunch," said Coach Eleanor McElvaine whose UW women lost last year to another veteran national crew, from the Czech Republic. "We probably could have had a closer race if it was an under-23 team, but this is what they brought and I'll take it as a sign of respect. That's the level that they had to bring in order to win."
Tens of thousands of spectators lined the intimate Montlake course, bordering both sides of the entire 2,000-meter course from the shore and in boats. Another throng viewed the races from the unique aerial vantage point of the Montlake Bridge that hovers across the Cut, 300 meters from the finish line. The Windermere Cup races serve as the first event for the Opening Day festivities that celebrate the start of boating season in the Northwest.
"Oh my god, the crowd was amazing," exclaimed Central Florida rower Tanya Kleisler. "I wish we had that at every race. It was a real fan base just like other sports. I have never seen that before. It definitely got us excited."
The partisan crowd inspired the Husky crews to win eight of the 10 races in which they were entered. Most notably, UW boats emerged victorious in the Erickson Memorial Cascade Cup races for second varsity crews.
The Husky men notched their eighth straight Cascade Cup triumph. UW's time of 6:17.53 was superior to second-place Oregon State's 6:26.86 and Orange Coast College's 6:32.22.
UW's second women's boat won for the 15th time in the last 16 years, posting a time of 7:07.03. Western Washington placed a distant second in 7:23.27.
The most impressive margin of the day was turned in by Washington freshman men's eight. The Huskies outdistanced the field by over 20 seconds with a time of 6:12.53. Gonzaga finished second in 6:32.95 followed by Oregon State (6:33.55) and Orange Coast College (6:37.80).
The Huskies' novice eight women's entry handily defeated cross-state rival Washington State. They clocked a mark of 7:09.97 to 7:16.56 for the Cougars.
Four other Washington crews were victorious, including the men's and women's varsity fours. The Huskies finished one-two in the men's open eight race with an all-freshman crew defeating a group of varsity rowers. The women's open eight competition saw UW finished 26 seconds ahead of runner-up Willamette.
The Washington crews begin postseason competition next week at the Pac-10 Championships, Sunday, May 14 on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif.
2006 WINDERMERE CUP REGATTA RESULTS
Men's Windermere Cup (Varsity Eight)
Women's Windermere Cup (Varsity Eight)
Men's Erickson Memorial Cascade Cup (Second Varsity Eight)
Women's Erickson Memorial Cascade Cup (Second Varsity Eight)
Men's Freshman Eight
Women's Novice Eight
Boy's Junior Club Eight
Boy's High School Eight
Girl's Junior Club Eight
Girl's High School Eight
Men's Open Eight
Women's Open Eight
Women's Varsity Four
Men's Varsity Four
Women's Eight (over 50)
Women's Eight (over 40)
Mixed Eight (over 50)
Mixed Eight (over 40)
Men's Eight (over 40)