SEATTLE - The Washington men's and women's rowing teams breezed to victories in choppy waters in the 25th Windermere Cup on Saturday.
Both crews won the event for the fifth consecutive year. An estimated 40,000 fans watched the races.
The Washington men's eight, the top-ranked collegiate team, covered the 2,000-meter course in 5 minutes, 43.2 seconds. Stanford, ranked No. 11, finished second, 12.5 seconds back, and Cambridge placed third, 19.3 seconds behind the Huskies.
The No. 7-ranked Washington women's eight finished in 6:42.6. The Huskies defeated Oklahoma by 14.5 seconds and Cambridge by 22.7 seconds.
We knew it was going to be a pretty big wind from the south and when that pushes on the lake here it puts a pretty good roll in the water, said Washington men's coach Michael Callahan. We knew the start would be very ... rough and we had to be really aggressive there and kind of get in the race.
The Washington men have won 19 of the past 21 Windermere Cup races. Stanford and Cambridge stayed close initially with Washington, but the Huskies pulled away at about the midway point.
They're looking pretty good, Cambridge men's coach Mark Beer said of Washington. I think they are going to be the ones to beat the next few weeks. They've got a great setup with top-class coaches, top-class equipment and water here.
The Huskies compete May 15 in the Pac-10 championships on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, Calif., and June 2-4 in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships on the Cooper River in Camden, N.J.
Cambridge finished its regular rowing season about a month ago and did not bring its top rowers to the event.
The 20 to 26 mph winds created quite a challenge for the crews.
They were pretty high, Washington's No. 3 seat Robert Munn said of the waves. The middle of the race and even the beginning of the race we were trying to stay real focused and stay real internal. But you could tell the boat was rocking a little bit.
Washington women's coach Bob Ernst, in his 38th year of coaching at the school, said the wind typically blows about 7 to 10 mph on the course.
On a 1 to 10 scale on our race course this is a 7 or 8, Ernst said of the wind. We've seen days worse than this, but we don't even like to practice out there when it gets much worse than this.
But the Huskies do practice in windy conditions, which works to their advantage.
We're so used to taking starts in the first 500 out there when it's just as ugly or worse than it is today, Ernst said. With both the guys and the gals crews, we've got great crews and there aren't very many crews in the whole world that are going to match up against us.