The Washington rowing teams along with the Seattle Yacht Club will host the 30th annual Windermere Cup on Saturday as the last regular season race before the Huskies head to the Pac-12 championships.

Bringing together both national and international competitors, the Windermere Cup is the most attended event in collegiate rowing and presents an extremely competitive atmosphere.

The women’s varsity four will kick off collegiate competition starting at 10:59 a.m.

“It should be a very competitive race for us, we have a very strong team,” women’s head coach Conor Bullis said. “I think it will be a really good challenge for every boat. They’re all expecting a really good race.”

The UW women will face Cambridge University and the University of San Diego in Saturday’s events. Cambridge will be making its fourth appearance in the cup, its first time competing on the Montlake Cut since 2011.

“I look at the Windermere Cup as all about the racing,” Bullis said. “But there are so many other things going on. There’s nothing like this and I think that’s really unique and special. You could go to the Olympics and maybe have less excitement there than you would here.”

The Windermere Cup is held on Opening Day of boating season, and there is always a boat parade on the cut to celebrate after the conclusion of collegiate competition. The annual event draws crowds from all over, with fans watching from the Montlake Bridge, the log boom on the water, and the grass along the cut.

“I always say it has this championship atmosphere because there are so many people at it, and so much energy surrounding it,” men’s head coach Michael Callahan said. “It is a really unique Seattle affair. It’s the rite of passage for spring in Seattle.”

The UW men will compete against the Russian national team as well as Stanford on Saturday. The Russian national team won the first Windermere Cup in 1987. This year will be its fourth appearance in the regatta.

“We’re going to be racing against a veteran Russian team,” Callahan said. “They’re going to test us, we’re going to have to row really strongly from start to finish. That’s the No. 1 goal.”

There will be a “Dawg Pack” section near the video wall and stage with free snacks and other giveaways.

Reach reporter Liz Cusanelli at Twitter: @liz_cusanelli17

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