This weekend will be the 100th regular season dual race between University of Washington and Cal when the two schools’ varsity eight boats line up. The race, that will begin this Saturday around 10:20 AM at the Montlake Cut, is one of the most storied rivalries in college rowing and it all began in 1903 just down the hill from Madrona at Leschi Park (map).
Back then Seattle was still a young city, and Madrona was even a younger neighborhood. Madrona, which was platted in 1889, was considered way out of town and the developer had to create a trolley car and entertainment at the beach to draw prospective residents to the neighborhood. (Click here to read the history of Madrona.) A little over a decade later, in 1901, the University of Washington formed their crew team and in 1903 Cal came to Seattle by steamship to race them. I can only assume Cal, who had a crew team since 1868 was the favorite to win. The race was delayed because the UW equipment failed, and the Cal crew did a 1.5 mile exhibition run in which I assume went in front of Madrona since that is where more people would have lived. Eventually, UW fixed their equipment and won the race and the rivalry began.
This weekend, UW and Cal will meet for the 100th time. Cal, ranked #2 nationally, will arrive by plane and with a team made up of people from across the globe, facing the #1 Huskies ….. and all of this started 108 years ago on the shores of Lake Washington in front of the Madrona / Leschi area.
Click here for tomorrow’s schedule of crew events.