Nov. 12, 2006
SEATTLE, Wash. - Gonzaga University's men's and rowing fall season came to an unexpected end Sunday morning.
The annual Head of the Lake Regatta, which brought more than 2,500 rowers to Seattle from around the United States, was cancelled on Sunday due to high winds. The cancellation was the first in the regatta's 26-year history.
A series of storms have battered the Pacific Northwest for the past week with high winds, rain and snow. On Sunday morning, winds in the Seattle-area reached 15 to 25 knots making for unsafe rowing conditions on the three-mile rowing course on the inland waterway connecting Lake Washington to Puget Sound.
Rowing shells, which have just a few inches of freeboard - the distance from the water's surface to the top of the boat's gunwale, can take-on water in rough-water conditions, making for an unsafe condition.
"USRowing officials for the regatta and Seattle Harbor Patrol surveyed the course this morning and determined that small craft warnings and two to five foot swells in our Lake Washington starting area and Lake Union were unsafe for rowing," said Ben Porter, Director of the Head of the Lake Regatta. "We are disappointed about the cancellation. However, safety of athletes is always our primary concern," said Porter. "The storms that we have been experiencing this week are unusual. It's rare that conditions in Seattle are un-rowable."
Since its inception in 1981, the Head of the Lake Regatta has grown to become the largest fall rowing regatta west of the Mississippi River. Rowing crews from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, District of Columbia and British Columbia were in Seattle to compete in the 2006 event
Participating colleges included University of Washington, Washington State University, Gonzaga, Western Washington University, University of Puget Sound, Pacific Lutheran, Seattle University, Oregon State, Oregon, Portland State, University of Portland, Stanford, UCLA, Loyola Marymount, Oklahoma City University, University of British Columbia, University of Victoria, Vancouver College, and Simon Fraser University.