Dick Tonks and Shanghai High-Performance Rowing Heading to Windermere Cup

UW rowing through the Montlake Cut (Photo: RR)

Press Release:

Washington Rowing, along with Windermere Real Estate, welcomes the Shanghai men's and women's High-Performance Rowing teams from China as the headlining opponent for the 31st annual Windermere Cup, scheduled for Saturday, May 6, 2017.

The annual spring rowing event on the Montlake Cut is held in conjunction with the Seattle Yacht Club's Opening Day parade which signals the beginning of boating season in Seattle. The entire event is a joint effort between Washington Rowing, the Seattle Yacht Club and Windermere Real Estate, with Windermere serving as the title sponsor of the main racing event.

"We're honored to welcome the men and women of Shanghai to this year's Windermere Cup and to add them to the list of more than 40 teams that have competed in this event over the past 31 years," said O.B. Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate. "We invite everyone to come down to the Montlake Cut on May 6 to watch the races and enjoy what has grown into the largest free community sporting event in Seattle."

This year's Windermere Cup matchup with the Chinese team is significant due to the University of Washington and the Pac-12 Conference's strong and lasting relationship with China. As Pacific Rim neighbors, the UW and China share not only an ocean, but also a diverse and interlocking culture. Washington has one of the largest international student programs of any university in the world and hosts students from all across globe, with the majority of those students coming from China.

2017 Men's and Women's Windermere Cup: Washington and China

The 2017 Windermere Cup matchup will mark the third time that a team from China has traveled west to compete in the Windermere Cup. Their first appearance came 27 years ago when the People's Republic of China took home the Windermere Cup ahead of Navy, Washington, and Cambridge. Twelve years later the Chinese men's rowing team returned for the 2002 Windermere Cup.

China will bring boats made up of the Shanghai Province's best rowers, who are currently training to compete in the upcoming Chinese National Games, regarded as one of the most prestigious rowing competitions in the world. A victory in the China Games for the Shanghai Province would provide financial stability for the entire team and their families for a lifetime.

"China is a country that has some of the best athletes in the world," said Washington Rowing men's head coach Michael Callahan. "Competing against a high caliber team like this will certainly be a big test for our guys."

Longtime New Zealand National Team coach Richard "Dick" Tonks began coaching the Shanghai rowers full-time after last summer's Rio Olympics. Tonks is one of the most decorated rowing coaches of all-time, earning Halberg's Coach of the Year on five occasions. He was also named the World Rowing Coach of the Year at the World Rowing Awards three separate times. No other coach has won the award more than once.

Over the years Tonks has coached his crews to a total of seven Olympic medals, six of them gold, and advanced his teams to 25 World Championships, claiming 13 gold medals.

"Dick is one of the premier coaches in the rowing world," said Washington Rowing women's head coach Yasmin Farooq. "He built the New Zealand National team from the ground up. Now that he is coaching the Shanghai team, we know that we cannot underestimate what they might be able to do."
The Shanghai men's and women's teams competed in many international regattas in 2012 and most recently rowed in the 2016 Olympic cycles. It will be a tough test for Washington to compete against some of the best rowers in the world.

"Windermere is all about supporting the community," Callahan said. "Once again Windermere has provided an opportunity to showcase the Pacific Northwest rowing community on the world stage by bringing Shanghai to Seattle."

Windermere Cup History and Information

The Windermere Cup got its start 30 years ago when Windermere Real Estate founder, John Jacobi, joined up with the University of Washington to create the annual rowing event. They wanted to bring the best team in the world to Seattle's Montlake Cut, which at the time was the Soviet Union. That occasion marked one of the few athletic competitions for the Soviets inside the U.S. in 25 years, since relations were strained during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union brought both its men's and women's crews and won both races in convincing fashion. After that, the precedent was set for what has become one of the world's premier rowing events, and certainly a staple of Seattle's rowing community.

The 2017 Windermere Cup will include a number of events during the week leading up to race day. The Seattle Yacht Club's Opening Day parade through the Montlake Cut will immediately follow the racing. Further details will be announced at a later date. For more information visit windermerecup.com.


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