Yaz Farooq didn’t really believe the scouting report she got three years ago from UW men’s rowing coach Michael Callahan.
Farooq was getting ready for her first Windermere Cup as the new UW women’s coach.
“Callahan says it’s like rowing in a stadium, and I’m like, ‘OK,’ ” she said, sounding unconvinced. “But it is rowing in a stadium. There is one (rowing) stadium in the world, and it’s here, in Seattle. It’s just amazing.”
Because of that, UW has no trouble finding the best rowing teams in the world to come for the experience of racing in the Montlake Cut, with fans on each side and above. The German national men’s and women’s teams are coming for the first time for Saturday’s 33rd Windermere Cup.
Also competing are the Boston University men’s team and the UCLA women’s team.
“When I think about the three greatest rowing events in the world that I have had the opportunity to participate in, the three that come to mind are the Olympics, the Royal Henley Regatta in the U.K. and the Windermere Cup,” Farooq said. “The crowd at the Windermere Cup is among the greatest rowing crowds in the world and you guys (UW’s opponents) are going to experience it and it’s really cool.”
The German men’s national team is considered the best in the world. Although the team’s top rowers are staying home, some of the top under-23 rowers in the world will be here, along with a few senior-level competitors.
“We only have top athletes,” said German men’s coach Peter Thiede through interepreter Tabea Schendekehl, a junior on the UW women’s team from Dortmund, Germany, where the national team trains.
The UW men, second in the nation the past two years and coming off a victory over rival Cal, should get a good test Saturday, even if Germany didn’t bring its very best eight.
“Like their coach said, there are no non-top athletes in Dortmund,” Callahan said. “You have to be in a very select group to go there. I think we’re pretty similar. It’s probably a draw in overall talent, pedigree and resumes.”
Farooq said she is not sure what to expect from the German women.
Schendekehl, one of three UW rowers from Germany, is expected to be in the stroke position for the women’s varsity eight. She knows several of the Germans and is looking forward to the competition.
“I am really excited to see what they can do, and I am excited for them to see this and experience this,” she said.
The event starts Friday night for the first time with 600-meter sprint races for the men and women. Racing begins Saturday morning at 10:16 with the first collegiate race at 10:52.
The UW men drew lane No. 3 for Saturday’s top eight competition, with Boston in lane two and the German team in lane 4.
In the women’s top eight, the Germans are in lane two, UCLA in lane three and UW in lane 4. The Huskies’ second varsity eight will compete from lane one.
As always, it figures to be great theater.
“It’s a party out there on those boats,” said Farooq of competing on opening day of the boating season. “It’s chaotic, it’s crazy, it’s wild, and it spans 2,000 amazing meters.”
The Windermere Cup races are being dedicated to former UW rower and booster Blake Nordstrom, who died this year.