Top-ranked Washington rowers dominate 26th Windermere Cup
On a cool, calm morning on Montlake Cut, Washington boats put on another dominant Windermere Cup performance, winning all but one of the key races by healthy margins.
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At Saturday's 26th annual Windermere Cup, Virginia men's rowing coach Frank Biller got eyewitness confirmation of what he already knew: No. 1 Washington has one formidable crew.
"UW is just way ahead," Biller said after placing third in the men's varsity eight Windermere Cup race, a split second behind Argentina (a boat rowed by national-team members) and nearly 15 seconds behind the Huskies. "Maybe Cal (ranked No. 3) and Harvard (No. 2) following.
"They're just a spectacular program."
On a cool, calm, partly cloudy morning on Montlake Cut, Washington boats put on what have become typically dominant Windermere Cup performances, winning all but one of the key races by healthy margins.
The lone upset: The University of Victoria won the women's freshman eight race, topping the UW-1 boat by nearly nine seconds.
The Washington men's varsity eight, the defending Intercollegiate Rowing Association champion, won in 5 minutes, 45 seconds, followed by Argentina (5:59.8), 20th-ranked Virginia (5:59.9) and No. 19 Oregon State (6:03.6).
The sixth-ranked UW women won the women's Windermere Cup in 6:35.9, far ahead of Gonzaga (6:53.6) and Argentina (7:03.5). UW's men and women have now won six straight Cups.
UW's second-varsity boats both won Erickson Cascade Cup races: the men (5:48.5) by 27 seconds over Oregon State and the women (6:44.3) by 3.5 over Otago, one of New Zealand's top collegiate women's crews. The UW men's freshman eight won in 5:45.7, almost matching the varsity's time. UW boats finished 1-2 in both varsity four races.
Rob Munn, a Redmond grad, rowed his final race on the Cut in the V8 boat.
"We ripped off a pretty good start and set the pace all the way down the course," he said. "We made sure we were really locked in from the first stroke to the last stroke."
Coach Michael Callahan was pleased with the win, though not the time.
He had detected a slightly elevated flow rate in the Cut after recent rains.
"It wasn't as fast as I expected," he said. UW rowed a 5:30 while defeating Cal on April 21.
The Cup's course record is 5:31.75, set by the Croatian Olympic team in 2001. Was he aiming for that time?
"Always," Callahan said with a smile. "We had a couple of targets early on that we missed. That's a goal for our guys."
Next up: the Pac-12 championships next Sunday and the IRAs at the end of the month.
"Even when you have positive results, how do you keep the urgency in the crew going?" Callahan said. "That's a key for us.
"We have to talk about it, the guys have to manufacture it and we have to get better."
• Argentina veered into Oregon State's lane midway through the men's V8 race, and oars clashed.
"It was interesting having four boats on the race course," Callahan said. "We don't have lane markers, so it became a heated battle out there.
"We would call it 'getting out of their station,' impeding on another boat, so it was pretty hard-fought in the middle. The referees tried to split the boats multiple times, and they did, but they kept coming back to each other. I think it was unintentional. It's so loud here, you can't hear the referee telling you to move over. It's unfortunate; you want clean runs down the course. But some paint chips came off, let's put it that way."
• The OSU coach is Steve Todd, a 1999 UW grad and past rower who was wearing his ring from UW's 1997 championship season.
"It got rough out there," he said. "Argentina kind of wandered over into our water, and our guys had a few seats at the time, sitting on a lead. We didn't assert ourselves into the lead after we clashed. We kind of faltered in our rhythm after that. It was a big distraction in the middle of the race, and we kind of fell apart. That's part of racing, though."
• UW's freshman men's eight had some crazy prerace moments.
"One of our guests took our oars," Callahan said, adding that UW customarily loans gear during the Cup. "So we had to scramble, and it felt like we were in a NASCAR pit crew. We had changed links and gearing on the oars, so someone had to come in here (the Conibear Shellhouse), change another set of oars and drive them back out to the boat. It's a calamity on the water, trying to take the oars out on the water, because the boat might flip. So they're tossing oars in and out of the water, trying to get ready for the race. It was pretty funny. I wish we had a video of it."
• The Huskies rowed a new shell named after William Peter Allen, a Puyallup rower who died at age 21 while scrambling on a mountainside with some teammates near Snoqualmie Pass last September. Rowers also wore patches in honor of Allen.
"It was pretty important for our guys to have the Peter Allen cross the line first," Callahan said, noting that Allen's parents attended the race.
• Munn on his final home-course race: "It was really nostalgic going out there and lining up for the last time. Mathis (Jessen), my pair-a-partner (and fellow senior), talked about it before the race.
"We kept our eyes open and really enjoyed the moment."
• UW women's coach Bob Ernst was pleased with the varsity-eight performance.
"For the part that I could see, the first 1,000 meters, I thought it looked pretty solid," he said.
• Virginia boatman Roger Payne rowed for UW as a lightweight in 1974 and is a former Oregon State women's coach. After seeing Cal and Harvard, he's most impressed by UW.
"They're a dominant crew," he said. "I would not be surprised if they won the IRAs by open water."