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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 7 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 paddleboats, sailboats, antique boats and mega-yachts in the annual Opening Day parade sponsored by the 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 2016 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: "A Great Escape."

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.

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Press Contacts

Michelle Sailor
2014 Opening Day Press Chair
Seattle Yacht Club
(206) 617-9049

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

Please read about "Press Opportunities" and check "Press Releases" for more Opening Day information.

For general questions about Opening Day, please contact the Seattle Yacht Club directly at 206.325.1000.

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Press Links

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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 2016 "A Great Escape" 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 (206) 617-9049 or email

Parade Director's View

The Seattle Yacht Club 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. The 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, 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 Committee at

Photographs or Taping in the SYC Clubhouse

The Seattle Yacht Club is private property and all press must registers 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 Committee 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.

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Parking at the Seattle Yacht Club

As you can imagine, parking at the 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.

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Press Releases

Michelle Sailor
(206) 617-9049

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Press Releases:




Page last updated 2/10/2016 by T. Treat