Opening Day 2021:
Rock Around the Dock

Opening Day 2021 Trio

(L-R) Admiral Chris Falskow, Admiralette Karol Cahan,
Vice Admiral Pete Rosvall

Opening Day 2021

Message from the 2021 Trio

After much thought, The Seattle Yacht Club leadership and Opening Day Trio regret to inform you that the 2021 Opening Day festivities have all been cancelled due to the ongoing pandemic. The logistics of an event of this size under the expected restrictions is just not possible. The UW Rowing Regatta and Windermere Cup information will be forthcoming.

To the greater Salish Sea boating community, UW Rowing and Windermere Cup fans, and all who look forward to the traditional Opening Day events - stay tuned as we are working on a contingency plan and will inform you all as soon as possible.
Thank you for your support of Seattle Yacht Club’s Opening Day and we look forward to continuing the tradition as we have since 1920!


Admiral Chris Falskow
Admiralette Karol Cahan
Vice Admiral Pete Rosvall

Bob McConnell, Commodore
Pam Sanford, Vice Commodore
Phil Calvert, Rear Commodore


Reciprocal Guest Registration & Parade Registration

Opening Day registration has been closed.

History of Opening Day

Opening Day, the official opening of Seattle's boating season sponsored by Seattle Yacht Club, includes a celebration of many kinds of water activities. This year's festivities will include a morning of crew races, a sailboat race, and, of course, the grand Opening Day boat parade on Saturday, May 2, 2020.

From its earliest days Seattle has celebrated important occasions with water festivities.

One particularly notable early celebration was scheduled for the Fourth of July 1895. The papers reported that the Elliott Bay Yacht Club, the forerunner of the Seattle Yacht Club, held a regatta including several classes of boats in Elliott Bay. The grand climax was to be an illuminated naval parade at 9:00 p.m. on the bay followed by a naval sham battle. The Post Intelligencer described the scheduled events: " . . .a monitor is to be bombarded and then blown up. . . The parade will consist of two lines of yachts, brilliantly illuminated with Japanese lanterns and armed with Roman candles instead of cannons. The monitor will run the gauntlet, spitting red and blue balls at the fleet, which in return will bombard the monitor until her magazine catches fire and she blows up, throwing out myriads of stars, balls and rockets." Alas, the wind was too great for the event, extinguishing the candles, and the yachtsman and spectators went home disappointed.

In May 1908, the battleship brigade, later known as the Great White Fleet, stopped in Seattle on its round the world tour. Seattle organizers festooned the city, held land and water parades, dances and receptions to honor the fleet. Area yachtsman organized a welcoming committee to sail out and meet the visiting armada as it sailed into Elliott Bay.

The following year Seattle hosted the Alaskan-Yukon Exposition on the University of Washington campus. The Seattle Yacht Club acted as the official host to visiting boatmen. As part of the festivities, the Commodore and his club members arranged a public "Potlatch Parade" which took place at the Seattle Yacht Club clubhouse, which was still located in West Seattle.

According to the 1964 reminiscences of a Seattle Yacht Club member, the first Opening Day took place in early May 1913. He recalled a parade and a regatta in Elliott Bay.

The first Opening Day parade through the Montlake Cut was in 1920 after the Seattle Yacht Club moved to its new (and present) facilities in Portage Bay. Spectators lined both sides of the Cut to view the 25 or 30 boats as they paraded by, flying their dress flags. The boats finished the celebration with a regatta in Lake Washington sponsored by the Queen City Yacht Club.

The Opening Day Parade and Regatta became a spring tradition, which survived the war years. Opening Day 1946, was the biggest and most festive ever. It included members of every yacht club in Puget Sound and the Royal Vancouver and the Royal Victoria Yacht Clubs from British Columbia, Canada.

A theme was first used for the 1959 Opening Day, Hell's a Poppin, and, since then, participants have decorated their boats around a theme. Prizes are awarded to the best-decorated and best-dressed boats in several categories.

Over the years, Opening Day activities have changed. Events such as the University of Washington crew races have become a part of the day's traditional festivities. Many spectators watch these popular races through the Montlake Cut from the shore, boats or TV. Opening Day 2018 marks the 32nd anniversary of the Windermere Cup.

The commissioning ceremony on the Seattle Yacht Club lawn is attended by the Commodores of participating yacht clubs and starts off the Opening Day festivities. The clubs' burgees are hoisted, dignitaries are recognized, the Chaplin says a prayer, and the band plays!

As always, the Opening Day Parade starts at noon the first Saturday in May with the blast of a cannon and the raising of the Montlake Bridge. Seattle Yacht Club's Opening Day has become the nation's largest regional celebration of water, spring and the opening of boating season.

Participating yachts will be decorated to illustrate this year's theme for Opening Day, "Boating Through the Decades".

And, if tradition is honored, there will be sunshine, breezes and, maybe, a few showers.

Opening Day in Seattle is a family affair; families decorate their boats for the festivities and parades; families spread blankets on the shoreline and spend hours watching and picnicking. Families dream of the boats they someday will own.

The boating season officially never ends in the Seattle area. It tapers off during the blustery, wet days of winter, but the faithful keep sailing and cruising. Opening Day, however, kicks off a busy spring and summer of boating for many avid boaters in the Seattle area.

Opening Day offers some outstanding photo and story opportunities. You'll not find anything like it in the U.S. or, to our knowledge, in the world. The only thing comparable is an annual parade of commercial vessels in Venice, Italy.

Opening Day 2020 Schedule

All 2020 events have been canceled.

Opening Day 2020 Program

All 2020 events have been canceled.


Opening Day Map

Opening Day Map

Dock Zero 2020 Moorage Information


Dock Zero 2020 Moorage Requests, Rules & Regulations

Dock Zero Moorage Requests


Dock Zero Rules & Regulations

  1. All yacht clubs must provide a dockmaster - please email name and cell number to
  2. The rights and privacy of others must be respected.
  3. All boats must check in upon arrival, no earlier than Sunday, April 26,2020. We need a contact name and phone number as well as the number of people on board.
  4. All skippers must fill out the fire plan. A copy will be kept at the Front Desk and a second copy should be kept on the boat. It is encouraged that all on board are made familiar with the fire plan. Part of the fire plan is that skippers will have fire extinguishers on their boat and will spend the nights on their boats while on Dock Zero. It may be possible to have a skipper who is rafted to you monitor your boat if that plan is arranged with and approved by the Dock Zero moorage director. No open flames are permitted on Dock Zero! This includes barbecues, tiki torches, blow torches, flame throwers, etc.
  5. As a courtesy to other boaters, generators and diesel furnaces shall not be operated before 0700 or after 2200 hours.
  6. Skippers of each boat with pets aboard will be held responsible for the actions of their pets at all times aboard and ashore. Dogs MUST be kept on a leash at all times while off the boat. This includes floats, docks, lawns, etc. No pets are allowed in the clubhouse, rest rooms or showers at any time. Skippers will clean up after their pets.
  7. Use of conventional marine toilets with overboard discharge of untreated waste is prohibited.
  8. Boats moored on Dock Zero cannot leave cars parked in SYC parking lots.
  9. Trash must be placed in trash receptables and dumpsters. No trash will be allowed outside of or adjacent to trash receptacles and dumpsters. Every effort will be made to provide adequate trash capacity. If the cans/dumpsters are full, PACK IT OUT! No decorating materials are to be left in the fire lanes or parking lot. Any club that violates this rule will have their future Dock Zero space allocation reduced or even eliminated.
  10. All boats must be off Dock Zero no later than 1800 Sunday, May 3, 2020.
  11. Communications on VHF 68.

Dock Zero Rafting Rules

For 2020, the Dock Zero rafting rules have been amended, based upon Seattle Fire Department guidance.
  • Boats with an overall length greater than 60' are not allowed on Dock Zero.        
  • Boats less than 40 feet may raft up to 4 boats.
  • Boats over 40 feet must stern tie.
  • Boats over 45 feet must put down a bow anchor.

Dock Zero Fire Plan

Statement of Purpose

This Fire Plan is a supplement to the SYC Portage Bay Dock Fire Plan. Dock Zero represents a new set of circumstances that require site specific responses.


  • 2A20BC extinguishers to be distributed the length of Dock Zero. Rented from Western Fire and Safety, 12 units for 880' of dock, approximately 75' spacing, mounted on poles.
  • Portable water pump (gas powered) located at the head of the dock.
    Steel cable, fire ax and assorted firefighting equipment located in fire box at head of Dock 1.
  • Dedicated response boat secured to the end of Dock Zero, keys in the control of the watch officers. Boat is equipped with towing bollard and wire cable.

Watch System

We will establish a watch system to supplement the facilities staff of Seattle Yacht Club. Currently the facilities staff makes an hourly survey of all docks. This will continue and we will add two people on a 2-hour rotation from 2200 hours to 0600 hours starting the evening Wednesday, April 29 through the morning of Sunday, May 3.

There will be a designated watch captain for each night that will have responsibility for that evening’s rotation. There will be a log kept to indicate who was on watch. The log will be in the form of a check in sheet that will have space to indicate the watch stander’s name, club affiliation, boat name and contact information as well as time on duty. The log will be kept at the Seattle Yacht Club's Front Desk.
Watch officers will be equipped with a radio tuned to the frequency that is monitored by the front desk and facilities staff. They will also have cell phones for contacting the 9-1-1 operator in the event that it becomes necessary.

If, at the end of any watch, the next person, or persons, scheduled for watch duty do not show up, the watch standers will report to the watch captain for that evening. He will decide if they should continue, if they are alert, or if he will take the next watch. If neither of those options is possible, the watch captain will notify Bob Morgan via cellular phone at (206) 931-8788 who will have final responsibility for staffing the next watch.


In the event of an emergency, the occupants of any boat who observe a fire shall call 9-1-1 and tell the operator that there is a boat fire, or describe other emergencies, at Seattle Yacht Club, 1807 East Hamlin Street. The next point of contact should be the watch officers on duty at the time. This should be accomplished by sounding five short blasts of the boat's horn to attract the attention of the on duty watch. The on duty watch officers will then:
  1. Contact the on duty facilities staff to make sure that there is an area cleared for the responding vehicles. The on duty Maintenance Duty Person is in initial charge of emergency response at Seattle Yacht Club.
  2. On VHF Channel 16 notify the Harbor Patrol of the emergency.
  3. In the event of fire aboard a boat begin waking the crew of neighboring boats in order that they may be moved away from the fire. In the event that a boat cannot be moved (for example a boat rafted inside of a burning boat) make sure that all such boats are evacuated.
  4. Station one of the watch officers at the head of Dock 0 to assist responders. This will insure that responders will reach any boat with a non evident (medical) emergency as soon as possible.
  5. In the event that the watch officers discover the emergency (fire, someone in the water, etc.) their first response should be a call to 9-1-1. Then they can proceed to the steps outlined above.

Evacuation and Access

A Fire Department access lane shall be maintained through the parking lot to Dock Zero at all times. No parking will be allowed in this lane at any time.
In addition, at the west end of Dock Zero, a dedicated public safety area will be maintained as a dedicated landing area for public safety vessels. No moorage will be allowed in this area at any time.
In the event of a boat fire, that boat is not to be set free. If it appears that the initial fire cannot be controlled, the best option may be to take it under tow using the dedicated Fire Response boat that is equipped with towing bollard and steel cable. Under no circumstance is the boat to be cast adrift. Boats in the vicinity of the burning boat are to move away from the dock and the burning boat so that the fire does not spread.
In the event of a medical emergency, guests shall stay on their boats and keep the dock clear for medical units that may be responding to the emergency.

In the event of a fire, only those people necessary for moving boats away from the dock shall remain on board. All other guests are to evacuate the dock and report to the Concierge booth, located outside at the southwest corner of the clubhouse. A list of guests will be maintained at the Front Desk, there will be a copy at the Concierge booth. If the Concierge boothis closed for the day, a watch officer will be stationed there to check guests in.

Boats that leave Dock Zero will keep clear of the dock and be aware of any water born response.

Boats that leave Dock Zero in a fire emergency are requested to monitor Channel 68. Instructions concerning a return to Dock Zero will be given on that channel.

In the event of an evacuation, Seattle Yacht Club and the Dock Zero committee will rely on the registration form that the boat’s captain must file on arrival at Dock Zero to make sure that all guests are accounted for. Boat captains are responsible for their guests and shall keep the committee informed of any changes in their guest list.

In order to facilitate access for any emergency response, guests shall keep the dock clear of any chairs, tables, ice chests or any item that could block access. We must make sure that there are no impediments to swift response.

SYC Dock Zero Contact  - VHF 68

Dock Zero Wi-Fi

The Club's Wi-Fi network will be opened to public users of Dock Zero and visitors to the Mainstation during the Opening Day festivities. The Wi-Fi service name (SSID) is SYCguest. A password key is not required.

Concierge Services


Log Boom Moorage


Please refer to the Map for the parade route, log boom location and other information. The log boom is on the northern boundary of the parade route. Note that additional moorage is available on the South side of the parade route near Foster Island.

The log boom is provided by Seattle Yacht Club and University of Washington. You use it at your own risk. Neither Seattle Yacht Club nor University of Washington are responsible for any injury or damage claims. Please use good judgment and good nautical practices when maneuvering and mooring. Pay attention to weather conditions, and help your fellow boaters.

This is a volunteer effort. If all goes well, the log boom will be installed the Thursday before Opening Day, and removed the Monday following.

For more information, please see the 2020 Log Boom Application page on the University of Washington Athletic website and complete the Windermere Cup Moorage Donation Form.

Guidelines for using the Log Boom Moorage

  1. If you choose, you can show support by making a donation when asked.
  2. Please cheerfully follow the directions given by SYC Marshal Boats.
  3. Please respect the clearly marked area on the west (shore) end of the log boom reserved for University of Washington VIPs.
  4. On Opening Day, no watercraft may cross or be on the parade route while it is closed. The parade route closes at 0940 and does not reopen until the SYC Marshall Boats announce the parade route has re-opended, which will be sometime after 1430, depending on the length of the parade.
  5. Moorage is "first come, first served". You may save a spot for your buddy who is a few minutes behind you, but DO NOT try to reserve multiple spots with line, tape or other devices. Please welcome your neighbors. You will meet some great boaters.
Come on down and have a great time!

Anchoring Along The Parade Route


Parade Information

Definition of Classes

Husky Band Boats

This class is organized by SYC. This class is not judged.

Club Officers' Salute  

This class is not judged.  This class allows flag officers to represent their yacht club or boating organization and salute Opening Day officials, while passing in review. This class will not be judged, but each boat (power or sail) will be dressed in proper nautical flags, and the crew will be dressed in proper nautical attire. Any yacht club or boating organization is limited to one entry in this class.

Saluting – The Opening Day committee requests that you salute the Admiral of Opening Day only. He, the Vice Admiral and the Admiralette will be standing on a transom platform on the second VIP vessel on the starboard side after you exit the ship canal going east. The Judges’ vessel will be the vessel immediately following the Admiral’s vessel.

Classic Sail and Classic Power

Any restored boat (power or sail) whose restoration is in keeping with the original design. Minimum age for a powerboat entry is 40 years; sailboat 25 years. One boat per entry. Any yacht club, boating organization or individual may have more than one entry in this class. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: hull, paint and brightwork, restoration of original vessel, nautical appearance of crew and total overall impression.

Dressed Sail and Dressed power

Any single boat (power or sail), with an overall nautical appearance and proper use of dress flags. Only nautical signal flags may be used. Each entry is limited to one boat. Any yacht club, boating organization or individual may have more than one entry in this class. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: ships' company at attention, proper use of nautical flags, consistent attire of crew, overall appearance and proper Captain's salute to reviewing party (Admiral, Vice Admiral and Admiralette).

Each dressed entry will be judged on the following:
  1. Spacing (10 points max)
  2. Holding position (10 points max)
  3. Crews at attention (10 points max)
  4. Consistent attire (10 points max)
  5. Overall nautical appearance (10 points max)

Wilson Seamanship

Any fleet of five or more boats (power or sail), which exhibits good seamanship. Each fleet will be considered one entry. Any yacht club, boating organization or group of individuals may have more than one entry in this class. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: fleet spacing and maneuvering, fleet holding position, fleet crews at attention, fleet consistent attire and fleet overall nautical appearance.
Saluting – The Opening Day Committee requests that you salute the Admiral of Opening Day only. He, the Vice Admiral and the Admiralette will be standing on a transom platform on the third VIP vessel on the starboard side after you exit the ship canal going east. The Judges’ vessel will be the vessel immediately following the Admiral’s vessel.
Each entry will be judged on the following:
  1. Fleet spacing and maneuvering (10 points max)
  2. Fleet holding position (10 points max)
  3. Fleet crews at attention (10 points max)
  4. Fleet consistent attire (10 points max)
  5. Fleet overall nautical appearance (10 points max)

Cougar Yacht Club  

This class is not judged.

Cougar Yacht Club and band boats.


This class is for sailboats that wish to transit the parade route with their spinnaker flying (as wind allows). Boats must have an engine running for safety for the entire length of the parade route. Skippers must transit the parade route with bow forward (do not power through in reverse to fill your spinnaker). Skippers must maintain safe speed and separation when flying a spinnaker. This class is not judged.

Youth Sponsored Decorated

Any single boat (power or sail), sponsored by any yacht club or boating organization's youth group (aged 21 or younger) that decorates to the established Opening Day theme. Each entry must be substantially decorated, with decorations visible on both sides. The decorations must be completely designed and executed by the youth group. Each entry is limited to one boat. Any yacht club or boating organization may have more than one entry in this class. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: adherence to theme, originality, costumes, use of sound and overall impact.

Sponsored Decorated

Any single boat (power or sail), sponsored by any yacht club or boating organization that decorates to the established Opening Day theme. Each entry must be substantially decorated with decorations visible on both sides. Each entry is limited to one boat. Any yacht club or boating organization may have more than one entry in this class. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: adherence to theme, originality, costumes, use of sound and overall impact.

Decorated Sail and Decorated Power

Any single boat (power or sail), not sponsored by a yacht club or boating organization that decorates to the established Opening Day theme. Each entry must be substantially decorated, with decorations visible on both sides. Each entry is limited to one boat. Any individual may enter. Any yacht club or boating organization may have more than one member who enters this class, so long as the entry is not sponsored by the club or organization. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: adherence to theme, originality, costumes, use of sound and overall impact.

Novelty Decorated

Any single boat, or fleet of boats (power or sail), that is decorated in a humorous or novelty manner, to the established Opening Day theme. Each single entry or fleet (fleet = four or more boats) will be considered one entry. Any yacht club, boating organization or individual may have more than one entry in this class. Each entry must be substantially decorated with decorations visible on both sides. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: adherence to theme, originality, costumes, use of sound and overall impact.


Any fleet (fleet = four or more boats), which exhibits crowd-pleasing spirit AND enthusiasm in attire, decorations and actions. Each fleet will be considered one entry. Only one entry will be accepted from any yacht club, boating organization or group of individuals. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: crew and guest actions, attire, fleet spirit, fleet seamanship and fleet overall look. The use of advertising is NOT permitted. Proper etiquette and attire will be strictly enforced.

Decorated Commercial

Any single boat or fleet of boats (power or sail) decorated to the established Opening Day theme. Note that fleet entries may only be made with special written permission of the Parade Director. Each entry should be substantially decorated with decorations visible on both sides. For special fleet entries, each boat in the fleet must be substantially decorated with decorations visible on both sides. Advertising is limited to two equal signs (one port; one starboard), with letters no higher than 18 inches, and the sign no longer than 10 feet. Only the sponsor's name, logo and Web site (no phone numbers) may appear on the sign. The sign shall not identify any yacht club. For fleet entries, only one boat of the fleet may display signage. Burgees may be flown in accordance with normal flag etiquette. Acceptance of entries is at the sole discretion of the current Seattle Yacht Club Commodore.

Working Boats

Open only to actual working boats. Each entry is limited to one boat. This class will not be decorated. No advertising messages or phone numbers will be allowed other than owner/sponsor/association identification consisting of two signs (one port; one starboard) with letters no higher than 18 inches, and the sign no longer than 10 feet. Only the name and logo is allowed. This is strictly enforced. Each entry will be judged on the following categories: hull condition, paint and brightwork, consistent attire of crew, adherence to established class rules and total overall impression.


City of Seattle fireboat.  This class is not judged.

Parade Order

Each entry will parade with boats from the same class and in the following order:



Class Name

1st A Virginia V, Fire Boat, SFD Fireboat #1, KC Sheriff Marine Unit
2nd B Husky Band Boats
3rd C Club Officers' Salute
4th D Classic power 40' and over
5th E Classic Sail
6th F Classic Power under 40'
7th G Novelty Decorated
8th H Dressed Sail
9th I Dressed Power
10th J Wilson Seamanship
11th K SYC Invitational
12th L Cougar Yacht Club
13th M Spinnaker Group
14th N Youth Sponsored Decorated
15th O Sponsored Decorated
16th P Decorated Sail
17th R Decorated Power
18th S Spirit
19th T Decorated Commercial
20th U Working Boats
21st V SPD Harbor 4
22nd W SFD Chief Seattle

Classes of boats will proceed through the parade route in alphabetical order. Within each alphabetic class, boats may proceed in any numerical order.


The panel of Judges is selected from military installations, and Art organizations around Puget Sound. Their decision is final. Take-home Trophy Plaques remain with the winning skipper(s), and are awarded as follows:



Class name


D Classic Power 40' and over 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
E Classic Sail 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
F Classic Power under 40' 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
G Novelty Decorated 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
H Dressed Sail 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
I Dressed Power 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
N Youth Sponsored Decorated 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
O Sponsored Decorated 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
P Decorated Sail 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
R Decorated Power 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
T Decorated Commercial 1st, 2nd, & 3rd
U Working Boats 1st, 2nd, & 3rd

Perpetual Trophies that remain at Seattle Yacht Club:




Class D Golden Potlatch Trophy "Best classic power yacht 40' and over"
Class E Old Timers Trophy "Best Classic Sailboat"
Class F T.B.D. Trophy "Best Classic Power Yacht under 40"
Classes H & I Mariner Friedlander Opening Day Trophy "Best Dressed Sail"
"Best Dressed Power"
Class J Wilson Seamanship Trophy
Class N Tim Berger Memorial Trophy "Best Youth Sponsored Decorated"
Class O Past Commodores Trophy "Best Yacht Club Sponsored Decorated"
Class P Admiralette's Trophy "Best Decorated Sail"
Class R Lady President's Trophy "Best Decorated Power"
Class G Golden Potlatch Trophy "Best Novelty Decorated"
Class S Group Spirit Trophy "Best Spirit"
Classes T & U Commercial & Working Boats Trophy "Best working boat"
Classes N, O, P, R, and S Admiral's Trophy SYC Grand Sweepstakes "Best overall decorated yacht"

Parade Theme

Seattle Yacht Club’s 2020 Opening Day Trio, Admiral Chris Falskow, Admiralette Karol Cahan and Vice Admiral Pete Rosvall, announce the new Opening Day Theme for 2020: Rock Around the Dock.

Rock Around the Dock leaves the type of music and decorations wide open for the parade competitors. SYC encourages a variety of entrants making this years parade fabulous and entertaining!

Parade Entry Registration

Parade Registration - Single Boat - Opens January 15, 2020; Closes April 23, 2020

Parade Registration - Fleet - Opens January 15, 2020; Closes April 23, 2020


For other questions about parade instructions or participation, please email the Parade Director.

Parade Instructions


Wilson Seamanship

  1. Each entry shall consist of five or more boats, power and/or sail.
  2. All boats within a fleet must be owned by members in good standing of the entering club, organization or individual.
  3. No boat shall have more than two uniformed military or public safety officers visible as deck crew.
  4. Any yacht club, organization or individual may enter more than one fleet in this class.
  5. Each fleet will be considered as one entry. 

Each entry will be judged on the following: 

  1. Fleet spacing and formation holding (maximum 10 points)
  2. Maneuvering (maximum 10 points)
  3. Crews at attention (maximum 10 points)
  4. Crews in consistent attire (maximum 10 points)
  5. Overall fleet nautical appearance (maximum 10 points)
         Total possible score: 50 

Clarification of Judging Criteria 


The Wilson Opening Day Seamanship Trophy was established by a Deed of Gift granted in 1978 to Seattle Yacht Club. The Deed, Second Section, Paragraph 8, directs that “This award shall be presented each year to the Yacht Club who is determined to have best competed in the Opening Day Parade according to rules of seamanship and courtesy according to criterion determined year to year solely at the discretion of the Seattle Yacht Club.”

Each of the five criterions that the judges will consider is discussed below: 


1. Fleet Spacing and Formation Holding (10 points total)
The fleet should demonstrate their ability to form up and hold tight, consistent boat to boat spacing and matched speed. This speed is distinguished from the maneuver described below when formation may be broken to execute that part of the competition. 

2. Maneuvering (10 points total)
Opening Day tradition includes the crisp execution of a precise and interesting maneuver in addition to those fleet spacing and formation holding skills scored separately under Item 1. 

Comments on this subject from recognized sources include:
The Wilson Opening Day Seamanship Trophy Deed of Gift prescribes a competition governed “…according to rules of seamanship.” Commonly accepted definitions of seamanship include skills in boat handling and steering with accuracy and precision:
Boat handling ability is at the very heart of good seamanship. Some of the finest exhibitions of boat handling are given by boaters who have never read printed pages on the subject of seamanship. Their proficiency, developed over long years of meeting every conceivable situation manifests itself almost as an instinct, prompting the skipper to react correctly whether he can think the problem out beforehand or not.” – Chapman - Piloting & Seamanship copyright 2009.
“Ship-Handling – A fundamental skill of professional seamanship is being able to maneuver a vessel with accuracy and precision. Unlike vehicles of land, a ship afloat is subject to the movements of the air around it and the water in which it floats. Another complicating factor is the mass of the ship that has to be accounted for when stopping and starting.”  Wikipedia – search on Seamanship, January 2010

3. Crews at attention (10 points total)
The crew should stand the same distance apart at least on the starboard side. The crew shall not break attention during review past the Judges’ boat.
The Opening Day Committee requests that you salute the Trio of Opening Day only.
4. Crews in consistent attire (10 points total) 
The crew should be in consistent attire.
Details such as dress, button color, scarves, gloves, and hats should be judged as being consistent from crew member to crew member, but it is not mandatory that they be worn. It is possible to have only certain captain/crew members wearing hats but these individually must be uniform within the fleet.
5. Overall fleet nautical appearance (10 points total) 
Fleets made up of identical boats will not receive any additional points for being so constructed.
Signal Flags may be used by much be hung correctly according to Chapman’s Piloting & Seamanship. (It is noted that the governing protocol of some clubs does not permit the use of signal flags while underway. Judging criteria shall only consider that any use of signal flags be consistent within a fleet and that they are properly displayed, not whether or not flags are used.)

Parade Winners, Past and Present

Opening Day Rowing Regatta / Windermere Cup



Rowing has been part of Opening Day beginning in 1970 when Seattle Yacht Club and the University of Washington's rowing coach, Dick Ericson, collaborated to add a collegiate rowing regatta to the Opening Day celebration. In 1987, Windermere Real Estate established the Windermere Cup and began sponsoring world class international competitors who come to challenge the University of Washington and other elite college crews on the Montlake Cut course.  Over the years, the regatta has expanded to include Junior and Masters (post-college) rowers, as well as the First Responder's Cup, an annual grudge match between athletes from Seattle Fire Department and Seattle Police Department. Although many refer to the entire Opening Day Regatta as the Windermere Cup, the name applies only to the final two races featuring international crews.


Junior and Collegiate Events: Coordinated by University of Washington's rowing program.  Registration and qualification questions should be directed to Julia Paulsen, Director of Operations.
Masters Events: Coordinated by Seattle Yacht Club's Rowing Committee. Registration and qualification information is shown in the Rules and Policies section below.  Additional questions can be directed to the
Rowing Committee.


Additional Information:

Rules and Policies for Masters Events

Updated 9/11/18

Application and Selection Timeline

Northwest masters rowing clubs shall apply to participate in the regatta based on the following timeline:
  • February 1: Application sent to each club’s authorized representative
  • February 15: Regatta application must be submitted by 12:00 noon
  • March 1: Clubs will be notified of selection and invited to register on Regatta Central
  • March 15: Regatta Central registration must be completed by 12:00 noon
  • One week prior to regatta: Lineups uploaded to Regatta Central, lanes assigned by random draw
  • Regatta is the first Saturday in May


SYC Rowing Committee has established the following events to be raced on a recurring annual basis. A total of eight masters’ race starts with four lanes each start:



30+ 8 30+ 8
40+ 8 40+ 8
50+ 8 50+ 8
60+ 8 60+ 8

Club Entry Selection

Entries for each event will be selected based upon the following policies:
  • Entries Are Not Automatic - Clubs must apply for each event they would like to compete.
  • Selection Priority - Clubs will be selected to each event in three tiers: Guaranteed Entry, Priority Entry, and Lottery Entry. 
    • Guaranteed Entry: The first slot per event is offered to the club that won the same event at Opening Day the prior year.
    • Priority Entries:  The second and third slots per event are selected from clubs that applied for same event the prior year but were not selected, and clubs that finished within 3% of fastest time for same event at the most recent Head of the Lake regatta (HOTL)*.
    • Lottery Entry:  The final slot per event is selected from all other entries, including unselected Priority entries. 
    • Waitlist Entry: A fifth club will be identified to backfill in the event a selected fails to register. 

* For Priority Entries, a club receives a ballot in the Priority Pool if it applied for the same event the prior year, but was not selected. A club also receives a ballot for each boat finishing within top 3% of the same event at HOTL. Therefore a club may have multiple ballots in the Priority Pool for selection to a specific event. The 3% factor shall be based on raw time plus penalties but no age handicap. Since regatta age brackets don't fully align, HOTL masters 8s results (US Rowing age brackets) earn priority ballots as follows:  AA&A for 30+, B&C for 40+, D&E for 50+, and F+ for 60+.

  • Club Eligibility - Clubs must be registered as Organizational Members of US Rowing as of the application date.  All clubs must have a physical presence (boathouse facilities and rower residency) within British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.  
  • Maximum Entries per Club - For each event, only one boat per club.  A club may not have more than six masters’ entries total in the regatta for a given year. 
  • Clubs Within a Club - Clubs within a shared boathouse may apply and compete as separate clubs.  
  • No Composite Boats - All rowers must be registered with US Rowing as a member of the club named on the entry, live in the metropolitan area of that club, and row with that club on a regular basis (at least one day per week).  If mixed gender events are scheduled, the boat may include two clubs (one club for each gender). 
  • No-Show Penalty – To discourage clubs from applying or registering for more events than they can compete, a no-show penalty applies.  If a club applies for and is selected to compete in a specific event, but fails to register for that event prior to the March 15 deadline, the SYC Rowing Committee will offer entry to that event to the waitlist club.  If by April 1 the entry remains unfilled, the club originally selected to that event is barred from that specific event the following year.  Any club scratching after April 1, whether the entry is backfilled or not, is also barred from that specific event the following year. 
  • Master Rowers - All rowers must be Master category per Rule 4-104.1(d) of the US Rowing Rules of Rowing, as may be amended by the SYC Rowing Committee regatta rules. 
  • SYC Discretion - As the masters’ regatta host, SYC Rowing Committee reserves the option to amend or waive these policies in its sole discretion. 


Why only 8s for the masters’ events?
With a limited number of starts, rower participation is maximized racing 8s rather than smaller boats such as 4x.  If additional starts become available in the future, we will strive to add 4x masters events.
Why are the events now fixed, rather than changing every year?
We wanted to eliminate uncertainty about which events will occur each year, and we wanted to introduce a guaranteed entry for the prior years’ event winner.  Fixed events also eliminates the confusion introduced by the survey process used in the past and allows crew selection to occur earlier in the year.
Why is there a Priority Entry process?
The Priority Entry selection process improves the odds of participating each year based on the competitive results of the club, and also provides improved odds to clubs not selected the prior year.  We chose the Head of the Lake Regatta results as the best indicator of each club’s competitive participation in a large regional regatta.
Why don’t you let in crews from outside of the Northwest?
As a celebration of Northwest masters’ rowing, the regatta is committed to the clubs and rowers based in our region.  By special invitation from the SYC Rowing Committee, the regatta may periodically include crews based outside of the Northwest.
Who “owns” the club’s entries?
The club named on the entry owns each entry and is responsible for its members’ participation. Crew selection within each club is up to the internal processes of each club.  
Why are there no mixed gender events?
The event selection was based upon the highest demand events within the masters’ rowing community.  Unfortunately, due to the limited number of masters’ regatta starts, we are not able to accommodate mixed gender events at this time.  If additional starts become available in the future, we will strive to add mixed gender events.
Who runs Opening Day and the Windermere Cup?
Opening Day and the Windermere Cup is a collaboration of the University of Washington, Seattle Yacht Club, and Windermere Real Estate.  Key contacts include:

Mark Mayer Opening Day 2020 Race & Party

This event has been canceled.

Parking Information

Parking tips for SYC members and guests during Opening Day Week: 

~ Violators will be towed ~
  • Please keep in mind that many members and guests will be visiting our Club during the week prior to Opening Day.
  • The Parking and Security Committee requests that everyone carpool for Opening Day events as parking is limited. Only one car per family will be allowed.
  • Guests on Dock Zero are advised that parking may not be available.
  • Starting with Men’s Lunch on Thursday, the well-attended Friday Lunch, then Opening Day on Saturday, you may have to use alternate parking any of these days.
  • Please respect the fire lanes, handicap parking and reserved spots – do not park in those areas.
  • Also, carry any valuables with you and do not leave them in your car.
  • As usual, any cars left in the upper parking lot Opening Day morning will be towed. 

Wishing you a fun-filled Opening Day week from the Parking and Security Committee.

Alternate Opening Day Transportation Information

Sound Transit's Link light rail station is located on the University of Washington campus within walking distance to Seattle Yacht Club.  Link services stops south toward Capital Hill, Downtown Seattle to Sea-Tac Airport.   

Eastside parking and transit information is below. All of these routes stop at the Montlake flyer stop, within walking distance to the views of the parade and crew races:
  • South Kirkland Park & Ride: 3677 108th Ave NE, Bellevue - Transit options to Montlake: Metro 255
  • Evergreen Point Bridge Park & Ride: Evergreen Point Road in Medina & SR 520 - Transit options to Montlake: Metro 255 or 271; Sound Transit 545

Press Information 2020

Opening Day Press Center

A colorful and traditional rite of spring, the only one of its kind in the world, brings many people to Seattle's inland waterways on May 2 as boaters celebrate Opening Day of the boating season. Spectators crowd the shorelines of Seattle's Portage Bay and Montlake Cut as boats, many of them decorated, parade past judges and spectators watching aboard boats anchored along the parade route.

There are small boats, motorboats, rowing and paddle boats, sailboats, antique boats and mega-yachts in the annual Opening Day parade sponsored by Seattle Yacht Club. There are racing shells from top-caliber collegiate and international rowing teams.  This year's races will feature teams from around the country and the world competing in the 2020 Windermere Cup Crew Races.

Seattle Fire Department boats move by in a cloud of spray, as well as sailboats with spinnakers flying. Two small flotillas of yachts carrying members from the University of Washington Husky and Washington State University Cougar Marching Bands set the musical tempo for the day.

Participating yachts will decorate to this year's theme: Rock Around the Dock.

Opening Day in Seattle is a family affair - families decorate their boats for the festivities and parades, families spread blankets on the shoreline and spend hours watching and picnicking.

The boating season never officially ends in the Puget Sound area. There may be less extended cruising during the blustery, wet days of winter, but the faithful keep sailing. Opening Day, however, kicks off the happy spring and summer days of boating for many avid boaters in this area.

Sponsored annually by the Seattle Yacht Club, Opening Day can trace its roots to a Fourth of July celebration on Seattle's waterfront in 1895.  In 1920, shortly after the Lake Washington Ship Canal was completed, linking Seattle's inland lakes with Puget Sound, the celebration moved to the fresh waters of the ship canal, Portage Bay and the Montlake Cut.

Opening Day offers some outstanding photo and story opportunities. You'll not find anything like it in the United States or, to our knowledge, anywhere in the world. The only comparable event is an annual parade of commercial vessels in Venice, Italy.

There are lots of story possibilities in the weeks prior to Opening Day as families and friends and businesses decorate yachts, and racing crews from around the world practice for Saturday's regatta.

We'd be pleased to help you cover Opening Day events in Seattle. We think it's a unique celebration offering a great time and a good story.

Press Contact

Susan Phinney
2020 Opening Day Press Chair
Seattle Yacht Club

(206) 491-6970

Seattle Yacht Club's Opening Day Committee welcomes coverage of Opening Day events.

For general questions about Opening Day, please contact Seattle Yacht Club directly at (206) 325-1000.

Press Opportunities

View the Crew Races and Parade on the SYC Press Boat.

Departing the dock immediately after the 9:00 a.m. commissioning ceremony on the Seattle Yacht Club lawn, head out on a beautiful volunteer yacht with front row seats to the Windermere Cup Crew Races and the 2019 Boating Through The Decades Boat Parade. Yacht returns to SYC at the end of the parade, around 3:00 p.m.  A day on the Press Boat offers front row (boat) seat photo opportunities as well as information about parade entries. By reservation only.  Call the Opening Day Press Chair at (206) 491-6970 or email

Parade Director's View

Seattle Yacht Club's boat, Portage Bay, provides an excellent viewing platform for the press anchored near the finish line of the crew races and the starting area of the boat parade. Portage Bay is the nerve center for the Parade Director, Marshal boats, USCG and Harbor Patrol.  It gives a unique, inside look into how the parade is actually put together and executed.

Cruise the Log Boom

On Friday before Opening Day and on Opening Day following the crew races, you and your crew can be escorted on a volunteer yacht to cruise the waterway, through the Montlake Cut, and to the log boom to photograph and film enthusiastic Opening Day spectators. This is a popular cruise for some of our local weather reporters, and spots fill up quickly.  Marshal boats will be available on Opening Day.  By reservation only.  Call (206) 617-9049 or email

Broadcast or tape from the SYC Docks, Lawn or Parking Lot

Decorated boats from visiting yacht clubs make the Seattle Yacht Club a picturesque backdrop for taping or broadcasting information about Opening Day and the crew races. The Seattle Yacht Club is private property and all press must register in advance at the Front Desk of the Club and be escorted on the property at all times.

Interview the Admiral, Vice Admiral or Admiralette

This year's Trio of Opening Day officers is available for press conferences, TV, print and radio interviews.  Please contact the Press Chair, Michelle Sailor, at (206) 617-9049.  The Trio will be in attendance at the press conference with Windermere Foundation and Washington Huskies Athletics Department typically held on the Wednesday before Opening Day.

Broadcast or Tape from an SYC Boat

Press Committee members can arrange member volunteers and their boats to be available for interviews and broadcast/taping locations.  The Seattle Yacht Club is private property and all press must register in advance at the Front Desk of the Club and be escorted on the property at all times.  Contact the SYC Press Chair at

Photographs or Taping in the SYC Clubhouse

Seattle Yacht Club is private property and all press must register in advance at the Front Desk of the Club and be escorted on the property at all times.  Press photographs or taping is not permitted inside the Club, however, with advance notice, and depending on the time, special arrangements may be made.  Contact the SYC Press Chair at

Feature a Parade Class in Your Publication

Parade entrants are generally eager to talk about their parade entries in the Opening Day Boat Parade.  In the past, many successful features have been done on entries with historical significance, unusual designs or interesting ownership histories.

Parking at Seattle Yacht Club

As you can imagine, parking at Seattle Yacht Club and on neighboring streets can be quite difficult during Opening Day activities on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. To ensure you get the press parking priority you deserve in exchange for covering our event, contact the Club at (206) 325-1000.

Women's Drama Group Play 2020