Crews paddling back to the Washington boathouse following the conclusion of racing
Rainy (surprise) weather and a conflict with the WIRA Regatta this weekend kept the size of the usual Opening Day throng down in the mere thousands, but the fans and crews that did make it out to the Montlake Cut for the annual regatta, party and boat parade put on a stellar show nonetheless.
Invited crews for the Windermere Cup included the the Polish U23 squad and Navy on the men's side, and Melbourne University, Australia and Navy on the women's side. Despite the drab weather, the Husky men brightened the sights and hopes alike by wearing pink W's on their jerseys and pink ribbon stickers on the their blades for the race to promote breast cancer awareness and in honor of Dr. Kim Allison. Allison's husband Ryan is the former teammate of Husky head coach Michael Callahan; Dr. Allison was diagnosed with breast cancer in March. Husky 3 seat Roko Svast was overheard in the boathouse prior to the race saying, "This is the first time in my life that I have worn pink!" The timing was right, as was the good cause.
The Husky men's varsity 8 had switched to racing a Pocock shell for this race, but ran into some trouble during their pre-race warmup when 6 seat Blaise Didier sheared the pin on his rigger during a power 10. The crew limped back to the boathouse, switched to the Empacher they had been racing previously this year, and made it back out to the start line just in time for their race. This wasn't the end of trouble for the Husky men; during the warmup for the men's Varsity 4 event, one of the rowers in the Washington A boat suffered a back injury that required medical assistance. The paramedics arrived within 5 minutes of the crew returning to the dock to tend to the injured Husky. row2k was unable to get further details on his condition, but hopes he okay.
Prior to the start of the Women's Windermere Cup race, the fans in the Cut started a "GO HUSKIES" chant with the north side yelling "GO" and the south side screaming "HUSKIES"! One fan on the north side ran into some problems when she dropped her cell phone into the murky waters and attempted to fish it out with her umbrella. This almost worked until she dropped the umbrella as well, and lost still another item from her pocket to the deep. A more industrious fan was later able to retrieve the umbrella with a tree branch but the status of the cell phone is unknown to row2k; we suspect it's likely 206 DEEP-SIX.
Following the races, the substantial pile-up of crews docking were treated to a very spirited group of Navy fans playing the Navy fight song. The "enthusiasm" carried over to the awards ceremony as well, when Husky rower Toby Dankbaar (Sydney Australia native) nearly caused an international incident when he declared he was from, "the greatest city in Australia: Sydney!" The entire Melbourne crew responded to the Dankbaar declaration with heavy boos.
As one might expect, the two Navy crews had some impressive student athletes in their line-up. The women's crew has a couple of rowers that will be stationed on Destroyers by September and the men's crew has three that will be stationed on Subs and another that is trying out for the SEALs. Good luck to all!
-Michael Callahan, Washington Men's Head Coach, on the crowd, "It was a really good one, especially for a Northwest day like this one. I'm glad people weren't afraid to come out and support the Huskies on a day like this. Usually that's the determining factor of how exciting it is. It was a great crowd and it was really fun to go through The Cut today. It never gets old. This is the pinnacle of our home season and the crowd delivered for us and that gives us extra energy to go all the way to the finish line."
-Katelin Snyder, Washington Men's Varsity Eight Coxswain, On the pre-race complications, "We were about halfway out and were practicing our starts. We did a three-quarter pressure start and he [Blaise Didier] snapped the metal pin. I said to him `It was supposed to be three-quarter pressure; what are you doing?' We booked it back to the shellhouse, took out the Empacher and went right to the starting line. It was hard too, because we were kind of nervous."
-Mike Hughes, Navy Women's Coach, "We wanted to see if we could come out hard and fast early and see what we could do to rattle the other crews. I didn't expect Washington to get rattled. Washington is one of the best crews in the country, so we were hoping to do something with the Melbourne crew and we had a better last 500 than they had. They came after us and they're tough, but we were lucky enough to finish strong out there."
-Rick Clothier, Navy Men's Coach, "I have briefly spoken to our coxswain about the race. Obviously Washington jumped out to an early lead and controlled things from the get go. I think we had a good race with the Polish team and then they were able to pull away in the cut. They feel like they had a good race, no complaints. I think they did what they could given that they are in the middle of exams and flew all the way out here to the West Coast, not to mention that we used a different boat. Not to make excuses. We are always treated very kindly when we come to Washington, I think all in all we had a pretty good race."
Full results can be found here and both row2k photo galleries here.