Boats, crews mark Seattle’s 103rd opening day

All my life I’ve heard Seattle described as the “boating capital of the world.”
     Usually that was accompanied by pseudo-data that based the ranking on most boats owned per capita.
     That seems plausible when you consider all the water surrounding Seattle – lakes, Puget Sound, rivers. Yet a web search reveals other locales also lay claim to the boating-capital title.
     Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is one. Phoenix is another, according to its realtors. And Minnesota claims to be the top state for boating, not surprising for the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”
     It’s tough to find a lone, reliable source to verify such claims. About all I could learn for sure is that Minnesota does, in fact, have the most boats per capita of any state, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. And the country with the most boats per capita? New Zealand.
     But Seattleites fancy themselves the center of the boating universe, and on the first Saturday each May, who can argue? This Saturday, May 7, is the opening day of boating season.
     That means boat parades, a log boom, revelry, and Windermere Cup crew races through the Montlake Cut, sunny or not.
     Seattle’s opening day dates to 1913, when the festivities took place on Elliott Bay. In 1920 Seattle Yacht Club moved to Portage Bay, and the celebration shifted to the Montlake Cut.
     The annual tradition grew in scope and glamour, with University of Washington crew races joining the spectacle in 1970. In 1987 the races gained a corporate sponsor, and this Saturday marks the 30th running of the Windermere Cup.
     Saturday’s festivities begin after 9:40 a.m., when the Montlake Cut closes to all boat traffic. The crew races run from 10:20 to 11:40, and the parade of boats starts at noon and lasts until about 2:30 p.m. Check out the full opening week schedule.

by  Jon Osterberg

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