SEATTLE -- A return engagement for the Russian Rowing Federation highlights the field assembled by Windermere Real Estate and the University of Washington for the 2006 edition of the Windermere Cup regatta. The 20th-annual Windermere Cup takes place Saturday, May 6 at 10:20 a.m. on the Montlake Cut to start the Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day festivities. The crew races will be broadcast live in the Puget Sound area on KJR Radio (AM 950).
The two feature races include eight-oared crews from Russia making their first visit since competing in the inaugural Windermere Cup in 1987. Crews representing the Soviet Union captured the men's and women's trophies during the first regatta sponsored by Windermere Real Estate.
Competing against sixth-ranked Washington in the men's eight-oared race are No. 14 Michigan and the Russian Rowing Federation's under-23 national team. Two other visiting teams, Orange Coast College and Oregon State, will compete in the Erickson Cup for second-varsity boats, and the freshman eight race.
"We are pleased to have the Russians come to represent their region of the world for the 20th anniversary of the Windermere Cup," UW men's coach Bob Ernst said. "From the guys side, Michigan has one of the best emerging programs in the country. We're also excited to have Orange Coast coming. They have, by far, the best community college program in the country.
"We've been able to provide absolutely great international crews every year. It's the championship time of year for our crews and we want the best competition. We want to know that we've got to be on our game or we're not going to win that thing."
Joining the 14th-ranked Washington women's varsity eight are No. 20 Central Florida and a national team from Russia. This is the inaugural opening day appearance for the Golden Knights of Central Florida, their first opportunity to row the unique 2,000-meter Lake Washington course through the Montlake Cut. Gonzaga and Western Washington join Washington in the Cascade Cup for second varsity women while Washington State and WWU are slated to row in the novice eight race.
"The invitation to the Russians is a big historical, monumental celebration of this incredible run that Windermere has had sponsoring this event," exclaimed UW women's coach Eleanor McElvaine. "We are so excited to celebrate the last 20 years by going back and having that initial team come back and visit. Central Florida was a bit unknown when I made the invitation. What's really exciting is to see through their recent results that they are very good."
The Windermere Cup races are the headline events of the 37th-annual Opening Day Regatta and are held in conjunction with the Seattle Yacht Club's annual celebration of the opening of yachting season. This year there are 19 events on the racing schedule, including races for masters and junior crews.
Windermere Real Estate will commence the weekend's festivities with a fireworks display over Lake Washington's Union Bay, Friday, May 5 at 9:30 p.m. The Windermere Cup Sky Light Celebration will be arranged to music broadcast live on KMTT FM (103.7 "The Mountain").
The Opening Day Regatta has been a traditional part of the ceremonies surrounding the beginning of yachting season since 1970, and the women's intercollegiate races were added to the schedule in 1976. The regatta is the preliminary event to the Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day Boat Parade. The theme for this year's boat parade is "Caribbean Carnival," featuring more than 20 classes of boats adorned with tropical decoration.
The Windermere Cup regatta, along with the Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day Boat Parade, combine to mark the beginning of the region's much-anticipated boating season with one of Seattle's largest free public events. Huge crowds annually line the shores of "The Cut" and position their boats along the racing and parade course to witness the stirring displays of competition and pageantry.
Spectators are encouraged to view the Windermere Cup races from the shores of the Montlake Cut on Saturday, May 6. This is a free community event with parking available at surrounding University of Washington lots. The Montlake Bridge will be closed to car and pedestrian traffic from 9:40 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. The races begin at 10:20 a.m. and are followed by the boat parade.
The Huskies have had extraordinary success in past Windermere Cup races, taking advantage of the home course and vocal support from the large crowds. Washington was victorious in 14 of the last 15 Windermere Cup men's competitions while the UW women won 11 of the last 14 titles.
"For two decades, the Windermere Cup has brought this community together to celebrate our love of the water, the athletes of the University of Washington and the oldest inter-collegiate sport in the nation," said Jill Jacobi-Wood, Owner of Windermere Real Estate. "The people of Windermere are honored to make this happen year after year and we will continue to share this event with friends across the region and around the world."
For many visiting athletes, the Windermere Cup marks their first visit to the United States and Windermere Real Estate takes pride in providing a unique experience for these participants. As part of its generous sponsorship, Windermere offers transportation and accommodation for visiting teams along with sightseeing trips, mementos, and opportunities to give back to the local community through several programs, including a special visit to Children's Hospital.
"It's just a great testament to that company. It's a common culture for a company to have a brand and a sense of identity that they bring to their particular business and their particular community," McElvaine explained. "The Windermere Cup event is a great visual for how that can work for a corporation, how they can really get committed to doing something with excellence. It shows in the quality of the event. We probably see more of it behind the scenes because it has to do with how they treat the athletes. The athletes that compete in the Windermere Cup feel that they are the most important athletes in Seattle on that day."
2006 Windermere Cup Field
Central Florida (women only), Michigan (men only), Russian Rowing Federation, University of Washington
Viewing the Windermere Cup Sky Light Celebration
Spectators are invited to a free viewing party at Husky Ballpark, with the gates opening at 8:00 p.m. on Friday evening, May 5. The Husky marching band and cheerleaders perform at 8:45 p.m. followed by the brilliant 20-minute fireworks display. No-host parking is available at the E-1 parking lot off Montlake Boulevard.