Runaway wins. They’ve become routine in feature races of recent Windermere Cups, but both the Washington men’s and women’s varsity boats are likely to face stout challenges in this year’s regatta.

Washington’s No. 1-ranked men and its sixth-ranked women will row against members of Great Britain’s national team, products of what UW director of rowing Bob Ernst considers the world’s top rowing program, in the 28th annual Windermere Cup on Montlake Cut on Saturday.

A 24-race schedule begins at 10:20 a.m. The men’s title race is slated for 11:45 a.m., while UW’s women varsity eight will row 10 minutes earlier. (Note: Th
e Montlake Bridge will be closed to traffic between approximately 9:20 a.m. and 3 p.m.)

UW’s varsity boats have each won their last seven Windermere Cup races, all by substantial margins. The men have won all but one of those by more than 10-second gaps; the women have done so in five of their seven wins. Both last lost in 2006 to the Russian national team.

Ernst, in his 40th year at UW and these days serving as the women’s varsity coach, anticipates some drama in both main events. It’s how he planned it.

“I wanted to invite Great Britain here because they’re the best program in the world,” he said, “and I’m tired of people implying that we invite cupcakes here so we have somebody to pound on.”

Great Britain collected nine rowing medals, more than any other country, at the 2012 London Olympic Games. No Olympians are rowing in Seattle, though men’s eight coach Rob Dauncey says Dan Ritchie, who is here, would likely have been on Great Britain’s bronze-winning Olympic eight crew had he not suffered an Achilles tendon injury.

Both national teams (funded by a national lottery, as are all United Kingdom Olympic sports) carry 30 rowers, and Seattle will see some of its top performers. Ritchie was part of Britain’s 2013 world championships team that won gold.

“We brought some of the best guys we have,” Dauncey said of his eight-man crew who will row Saturday. “They’re probably ranked seventh through 15th.”

Recent Windermere Cup results
The Huskies men have won 21 of 27 Windermere Cup races, the women have won 19 of 27. The past five years:
Men, year Results
2013 UW 5:45.0, Cornell 5:57.1, Dartmouth 6:03.7
2012 UW 5:45.0, Argentina 5:59.8, Virginia 5:59.9
2011 UW 5:43.2, Stanford 5:55.7, Cambridge 6:02.5
2010 UW 5:39.5, Syracuse 5:49.3, Oxford 5:51.5
2009 UW 5:39.5, Oregon State 5:52.1, Brazil 5:59.7
Women, year Results
2013 UW 6:35.6, Cornell 6:46.2, Dartmouth 6:57.3
2012 UW 6:35.9, Gonzaga 6:53.6, Argentina 7:03.5
2011 UW 6:42.6, Oklahoma 6:57.1, Cambridge 7:05.3
2010 UW 6:27.5, Syracuse 6:44.0, Oxford 6:54.6
2009 UW 6:29.4, Miami 6:46.1, Brazil 6:59.5