The 2013 Opening Day of Seattle’s boating season saw the best weather in its 27 year history. More than 10,000 spectators lined both sides of the 2,000-meter rowing course at the Montlake Cut near the University of Washington to cheer on junior, master and college crews participating by invitation only in this select event.
Opening Day is Seattle’s “Great Gatsby” moment, as spit-polished yachts parade up the course prior to the races, bedecked with passengers in blue blazers and white slacks. Crowds on the north and south side of the channel yell “Go” and “Huskies” back and forth while the UW marching band and cheerleaders provide motivation for the crews at the finish line.
The Windermere Cup, as the rowing races are known, is restricted to larger shells: quads, fours and eights. The 25 competitive races were prefaced with an exhibition dragon boat event complete with drummers at the helm of the colorful 12-person canoes.
This year Vashon was invited to row in three events: the master men’s eight for rowers 50 and older, the junior women’s four and the junior men’s quad.
The master’s eight unfortunately misjudged “regatta time” and pulled into the starting line only to watch their opponents already heading down the course. Three weeks of early morning work to prepare for this race ended up for naught.
The junior women’s four got to the line in time but didn’t have a good start and fell back in the field. In the second half of the race, they pulled together and made up a couple of boat lengths to take fourth place.
That left the junior men’s quad of Gus Magnuson, Tate Gill, Jacob Plihal and Isaiah Mosser-Rohe with coxswain Olivia Mackie to put Vashon in the medals. And medal they did with an open-water win over a five-boat field, repeating their victory in the same event last year.
The final races of the morning were the men’s and women’s varsity college eights with UW rowers putting their “home field” to good advantage, taking open-water wins against the Cornell and Dartmouth crews invited to the challenge.
It is on to the Pac-12 and IRA National Championships for the Husky crews. And on to the District Championships on Lake Vancouver in Vancouver, Wash., May 16 through 18 for the junior crews.
— Pat Call is a recreational rower and the father of two junior rowers.