The viewing areas along the north and south shores of the Montlake Cut on race day are available on a first-come, first-served basis. You may also watch from the Montlake Bridge. The bridge closes to car traffic at 9:40 - 3:00 PM and you can watch the races from the bridge from 9:40 -11:45, but you need to be off the bridge by noon when the cannon blast signals the beginning of the Boat Parade. That is when the bridge goes up to let the boats through.
The area around the Montlake Cut get very congested on the morning of the races. Consider taking Metro, Light Rail or riding your bike down to the event.
The Windermere Cup races begin at 10:00 a.m. but the Montlake Bridge closes to car traffic at 9:40 a.m. It is best to arrive between 9 and 9:30 a.m. to get a spot on the Cut to watch the races.
After the races, all of the competing crews, with the exception of the teams competing in the Windermere Cup and Erickson Cascade Cup, will wait at the west end of the Montlake Cut in Portage Bay until all the races are over and then they will row back through the Cut to the Conibear shellhouse to put their boats away. This creates quiet a spectacle every year. Afterward there is an awards ceremony on the JumboTron Stage on the North side of the Montlake Cut, west of the Montlake Bridge, where awards are handed out, approximately between 12:30 - 2:00 PM. Many of the athletes gather there after the races.
This year competitors for the Windermere Cup Trophy will include the men and women’s national teams from Germany, the men’s crew from Boston University, the women’s crew from UCLA, and of course the men and women’s varsity eights from the University of Washington.
Germany: The German National Federation has been a leader in international competition for years. Most recently, the German men took gold in the 2018 World Championship in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, after setting the world record for the fastest time in the 2017 World Championship. Likewise, the women's squad has seen a lot of international success, including a gold in the women's quad event in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
UCLA: Since becoming a varsity program in the 2001-02 season, the UCLA Bruins have been a consistent national competitor. Among their many achievements, the Bruins have competed in four NCAA Championship tournaments.
Boston University: One of the oldest programs in rowing, Boston University has been consistently competitive in the Intercollegiate Rowing Association . The BU men's team finished 8 of 24 in the 2017-2018 season championship.
This year’s theme for the 2019 Opening Day Boat Parade is "Boating through the Decades". This theme encourages reflection on the many changes that have taken place since 1913 when the Montlake Cut opened Lake Washington to Lake Union and the first Opening Day celebration was held. Today Washington is one of the top ten boating states in America and Seattle’s Opening Day of Boating season is one of our cities most loved traditions.
Since that decade much has happened: the roaring 20's with a boat building boom and prohibition; the bust of the Great Depression in the 30's; the war and heartache in the 40's; the 50's with the growth of the middle class and the development at that time of devices, gadgets and appliances that made boating more accessible; the 60's with increased awareness outside our community of music, cultures, and flying to the moon. Then, the decades of computers and technology that allow us to reach beyond and explore our Salish Sea with such pleasure and ease. Seattle’s boating world has expanded and continues to enrich our lives. - Admiral Bob Brown, Vice Admiral Chris Falskow, Admiralette Rose Peck, Vice Admiral Chris Falskow