Opening Day 2023

May 6, 2023

Admiral Lance Rummel
Admiralette Nicole Wilkin
Vice Admiral David Sanford


Opening Day Information

Reciprocal Guest Registration

History of Opening Day


Seattleites consider Opening Day their own special tradition. That’s when families picnic along Montlake Cut, parents pointing out to their young children Seattle’s colorfully decorated vessels, ranging from rowboats to tugboats and Coast Guard cutters. Large boats perform precise maneuvers in the narrow Montlake Cut as they compete for the Wilson Trophy, and rowing crews work their oars in their streamlined shells and sculls for the rowing races. Some people claim that a bald eagle usually flies over the parade, adding nature’s blessing. Meanwhile, open house events and ceremonies at the SYC Clubhouse entertain visitors. Seattle has always celebrated important occasions with water festivities. Early events, as on July 4, 1875, were boat races. In 1879, the newly formed Seattle Yacht Club assumed responsibility for that year’s Fourth of July regatta. The Daily Intelligencer wrote that “The Seattle Yacht Club desires to give notice that the first sailing race of their club will come off on the Fourth of July…. The regatta bids fair to be one of the grandest ever sailed upon this coast, and will be open to all comers. Nearly 20 sloops are entered. Yachts from Portland, Shoalwater Bay, and Victoria will be allowed to enter.” Native Americans in full war dress also raced ten fast canoes.

It was the Elliott Bay Yacht Club that first used the term, “Opening Day Celebration,” on May 1, 1909, when it held three sail races. (The Elliott Bay Yacht Club and the Seattle Yacht Club merged in October that year.) Also in 1909, SYC Commodore H.W. Goucher promoted a “Potlatch Parade” of yachts as a featured event of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (AYP) Exposition. The Seattle Yacht Club was the official host for boaters during the Exposition. Visiting yachtsmen and national dignitaries enjoyed the hospitality and camaraderie of fellow boaters as they gathered in the SYC Clubhouse, built on pilings just south of the West Seattle ferry landing. This extravaganza turned out to be one of the highlights of the Exposition, and many historians consider it the first Opening Day. SYC members met on April 20, 1911, to plan for April 29, the 1911 Opening Day. Many Club boats were on display, flags flew at the docks or as they cruised nearby, and bands performed during the afternoon. There were powerboat, sailboat, and dinghy races.

The first SYC Opening Day Parade in the Montlake Cut occurred on May 1, 1920, to celebrate commissioning the grand new Clubhouse on Portage Bay. The parade included as many commercial vessels as pleasure craft. With the Montlake Bridge not yet built, sailboats and fishing boats lazily cruised through together. Spectators lined both sides of the Cut to view the 25 or 30 boats as they paraded by. The depression years in the 1930s were hard times for everybody, including recreational boaters. However, by this time, Opening Day took place each first Saturday in May, and the 1932 event featured nearly 60 boats in the parade and regatta. In 1940, race instructions dictated that a parade of boats would start at 1:00 PM and that owners were required to decorate them. According to a May 1940 Seattle Times Yachting Page, Club members and guests paraded “out through Portage and Union Bays to Lake Washington, past crowds of spectators on the canal banks .... In the flotilla were steam yachts, powerboats, sailboats, sloops, stars, flatties, knockabouts, dinghies, and snipes.

During World War II, Opening Day shifted to Sunday. Uncle Sam had commissioned many of the area’s private boats into the Navy and Coast Guard, and gas was strictly rationed. Private boaters were allowed 15 gallons per quarter-year. Though there were few participants, the SYC organized sail races for enthusiastic competitors. Scores of wounded and convalescent sailors, marines, and coastguardsmen from Seattle’s US Naval Hospital enjoyed a day’s outing on Club boats. The war ended, and in 1946, Commodore James F. Unicume called on his fellow Seattle Yacht Club members to plan the biggest and most festive Opening Day that Seattle had ever seen. All boaters in the area were invited, including members of every yacht club in the Puget Sound area and those from Royal Victoria and Royal Vancouver Yacht Clubs. Larry Calvert was Admiral of the Day, and Con Knutson, Vice Admiral. They didn’t wear today’s grand uniforms with extravagant hats, epaulets, and braid. Instead, they wore saddle shoes to spoof their exalted positions, creating levity at a time when everyone needed it. Jerry Bryant was the first Parade Marshal, performing his duties in a runabout. The Coast Guard cleared Montlake Cut and led the parade with one of its cutters. Over 300 boats, decked out with colorful signal flags, proceeded two by two along the channel. Sailboats went first to minimize bridge openings and traffic jams on Montlake Boulevard.
In 1947, nearly 400 boats took part in Opening Day. The Clubhouse was the star of the celebration, as flags fluttered, paper lanterns swung in the May breeze, searchlights played over the area, and boat lights shone all night. Three orchestras took turns playing, one of them roving along the pier to serenade aboard-ship parties. By 1948, over 700 craft took part in the event. Commodore Arthur Russell stood for an hour and a half saluting the boats as they passed his viewing station.

In the early 1950s, the Club formalized the present structure of Opening Day: ceremonies on the Clubhouse lawn, the parade through the Montlake Cut, sailboat races on Lake Washington, a sundown ceremony again on the SYC lawn. Other yacht clubs in the Puget Sound area were invited to participate in the parade and to compete for the race trophies. By 1955, over 900 boats raced on Lake Washington and competed for best-decorated prizes.

Opening Day 1956 attracted 1,143 boats. In 1959, the first Opening Day theme, Hell’s a Poppin’, added to the fun, and since then, participants have decorated their boats around a specific theme. The SYC now awards prizes to the best-decorated and best-dressed boats in several categories. The most notable change in 1959 was the newly included third officer of the day, the first Admiralette, Jean Harthorn. Today, as in the past, Opening Day admirals and admiralettes are chosen for their promotional duties such as visiting other yacht clubs to advertise Opening Day and because they have worked especially hard for the Club. As in the 1950s, admiralettes’ hats are still custom-made for each year’s office holder to keep.

In 1971, the SYC invited the University of Washington rowing crew to stage a race preceding the parade. Montlake Cut had always been a favorite rowing venue, and from the day it opened, Husky crews had practiced and competed there. In 1976, log booms were placed on both sides of the course to create flat water for the Olympic standard 2,000-meter rowing course. And another tradition was born. Skippers started tying their boats to the log booms on Friday for prime viewing of the races and the parade on Saturday. A decade later, UW rowing coaches Dick Erickson and Bob Ernst teamed up with SYC member John Jacobi to create an event bringing world-class crews to the 1986 Opening Day. That’s how the Windermere Cup began. Each year some of the best international, national, and local crews compete in what is described as one of the premier rowing venues in the world.

Earlier, in 1977 a Seamanship Award was created to reward good maneuvering skills. The rules require groups to carry out drills in the parade with fleets of five or more power or sailboats. Each fleet must adhere to strict rules on spacing and maneuvering, holding position, crew at attention, consistent attire, and overall nautical appearance. In 1978, SYC members Chester and Pat Wilson donated a small cannon mounted on a teak base as the competition’s trophy. Unhappily for the SYC, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club won the trophy each Opening Day until 1981. Then, the SYC’s grimly determined “Red Fleet,” consisting of seven red sailboats organized by Audrey Salkield, won it back. Today, the Wilson Seamanship Trophy passes from club to club.

A new parade idea emerged in 1989. Art patron and SYC member Max Gurvich created “Art to Sea” to incorporate public art displays on boats, sponsored by regional corporations. Local artists and UW art students were assigned to boats and asked to design large pieces of art decorating both sides of the vessel. These spectacular designs attracted a lot of media attention, including that of NBC’s Today Show and National Geographic Magazine. Over the decades, the Seattle Yacht Club’s Opening Day has become the nation’s largest regional celebration of spring and the beginning of boating season. The Opening Day Parade starts at noon on the first Saturday in May with the blast of a cannon and the raising of the Montlake Bridge. Participating yachts are decorated according to the year’s theme. Crews for boats in the Wilson Seamanship competition wear white gloves, white Navy hats, navy blazers, white pants, and shoes. A US Marine, or a Mountie for a Canadian boat, stands in the bow of each boat and presents a salute to the current SYC commodore. And, if tradition holds, there will be sunshine, breezes, a few showers, and the eagle will fly over.


SYC Trio - History

How are the Trio members selected?

Each year the Rear Commodore selects the new Vice Admiral. This Vice Admiral will be Admiral
when the Rear Commodore becomes Commodore. The selection process is based upon
recommendations from the outgoing Admiral, input from the other Commodores & Club
leaders, and preferably he has been a member of the Opening Day Committee.
The Past Admiralettes select the new Admiralette. Suggestions for candidates are collected
from the Women's Group and considered. Past Admiralettes understand the duties of the role
and review qualifications to make their final decision by a vote amongst themselves. There is
unique criteria that only the Past Admiralettes understand regarding the job, so it is they who
present the new Admiralette (see below).

The new Trio is announced at the annual Opening Day Wrap-Up Party held at the Elliot Bay
Outstation in early June. The announcement of the new Trio’s theme remains a secret until it is
revealed in the October Binnacle.

DeAnne and John Brenneis, past Admiral and Admiralette, have written the above article for inclusion in the Opening Day website.


Why do we have an Admiralette, when was the first one, and what does she do?

The title of “Admiralette” was given to the newly created position for the 1959 SYC Opening Day festivities. According to Virginia Cluck, the second Admiralette, the new tradition was initiated by the Opening Day Admiral, who suggested the club add some glamour to the admiralty by appointing a woman to serve as “hostess” during the biggest SYC event of the year. They asked a popular member of the SYC WG, Jean Harthorne, if she would do the honors. Each year the WG sponsors a luncheon in honor of the Opening Day officers, which is named the Trio. Before an Admiralette was added, the luncheons honored only the two Admirals.

Throughout the year the Admiralette, alongside the Admiral and Vice Admiral, participates in promotional events as ambassadors for the Seattle Yacht Club. Leading up to the grand finale on the first Saturday in May, they visit many area yacht clubs from Olympia to Canada presenting their Opening Day theme and generating excitement. The Admiralette is responsible for scheduling all the visitations, as well as managing her many Opening Day sub-committees. Her yearlong duties begin after the June announcement and continue for two weekends past Opening Day, attending two Canadian Sailpast events.

In the early days, over 60 years ago, the Admiralette was to be a member in good standing of the SYC WG, demonstrate leadership qualities, and serve as chairman of activities for both the SYC WG and the SYC. This criterion has broadened over the years beyond the Women’s Group since the club has grown immensely in size. Suggestions for candidates come from the Women’s Group membership and are reviewed and decided on by the Past Admiralettes who nominate her and make the phone call asking her if she would like the job. The Admiralette wears a white skirt or pants, white shoes and gloves, a fitted navy
waistcoat adorned with brass buttons and gold braid, and the much coveted Admiralette hat adorned with a feathered ostrich plume. It is a great honor to serve as Admiralette and is a memory that lasts a lifetime.

This Admiralette article was published in the Centennial book and revised on September 2022 by a past Admiralette.

Online Merchandise

Shop here for SYC Opening Day 2024 merchandise. 

Opening Day Week 2024 Schedule

Opening Day May 4, 2024 Program

Time Program
8:30 a.m. Band Concert, SYC Lawn
8:40 a.m. Commissioning Ceremony, SYC Lawn
9:20 a.m. VIP Boats Load - All guests must be on board by 9:30
9:30 a.m. Official VIP Boats parade to moorage
9:30 a.m. Montlake Cut Closed to ALL Boat Traffic
10:15 a.m. Windermere Cup Crew Races start
11:50 a.m. Last Crew Races end
12:00 p.m. Official Parade begins
3:00 p.m. End of Official Parade (approximately)
4:00 p.m. Montlake Cut open to marine traffic (approximately)
4:00 p.m. Montlake Bridge resumes normal operations
6:00 p.m. Trophy Presentations, SYC Lawn
6:30 p.m. Closing Ceremony and Lowering of Colors

Opening Week Menus

Saturday, May 4 - Ward Room Dinner Menu


Marine Room Special Menu


Marine Room Kids Special Menu

Marine Room Buffet Menu

Opening Week Dining Hours

Uniform of the Week


Opening Day Map

Dock Zero

Dock Zero Overview

Seattle Yacht Club providing moorage to members of other yacht clubs in the Pacific Northwest is a long tradition for Opening Day. If you are a member of any of the following clubs, please contact your dockmaster to be added to the group registration: Classic Yacht Association, Corinthian Yacht Club (Tacoma), Cougar Yacht Club, Day Island Yacht Club, Everett Yacht Club, Fox Island Yacht Club, Gig Harbor Yacht Club, Meydenbauer Yacht Club, Navy Yacht Club, Rainier Yacht Club, Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Royal Victoria Yacht Club, Seattle Singles Yacht Club, Tacoma Yacht Club.

If you are not a member of one of the above clubs (including a member of Seattle Yacht Club), please submit a registration application before the deadline of Friday, March 22nd at midnight Pacific.
Completing the application is not a guarantee of moorage on Dock Zero. Priority will be given to boats that are participating in the Opening Day Parade.
Our goal is to send out confirmations of your moorage or addition to the waitlist by April 1st end of day. If you have questions, please email [email protected]. Our goal is for our volunteers to respond to emails within 24 hours.
As we know in boating, plans can change last minute. With this in mind, we will be maintaining an active waitlist and may contact you up until Thursday, May 2nd if there is last minute availability on Dock Zero. Similarly, if you have a confirmed reservation and will not be able to utilize moorage, please notify your club’s dock master and [email protected] to release the space to boats on the waiting list.

Dock Zero Rules & Regulations

  1. All yacht clubs must provide a dockmaster - Please Email name and cell number to [email protected].
  2. The rights and privacy of others must be respected.
  3. All boats must check in upon arrival, no earlier than Sunday, April 28, 2024. Radio VHF 68 to coordinate docking before final approach to Dock Zero. We need a contact name and phone number as well as the number of people on board.
  4. All skippers must fill out a 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 0! 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. All boats must be off Dock Zero no later than 6pm Sunday, May 5, 2024.
  10. Communications on VHF 68.
  11. Rafting:
  • Boats 60’ or longer are not allowed on Dock Zero
  • Unless an exception is explicitly granted, all boats must stern-tie to the dock
  • Boats 40’ or longer 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. Every boat is prepared with their own Fire Plan.

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, May 2 through the morning of Sunday, May 6.

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 front desk of the Seattle Yacht Club.

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 Lance Rummel via cellular phone at (206) 661-2156 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 Zero 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 desk, located at the South West corner of the clubhouse. A list of guests will be maintained at the front desk, there will be a copy at the Concierge desk. If the Concierge desk is 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.

Concierge Services

The concierge committee welcomes you to Opening Day 2024!

We hope the Concierge Tent will be an early stop when you arrive at Seattle Yacht Club. For your convenience, the Concierge Tent will be located outside at the SW corner of the SYC Clubhouse and open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday of Opening Day week.

Concierge staff will provide visiting boats with the Opening Day Skipper’s Kit, complete with menus for various dining venues, schedules for the week, operating hours for the Ship’s Store, and a copy of the all-important Opening Day publication. For those wishing to make purchases at the SYC Clubhouse, Concierge staff can direct you to the Front Desk to obtain temporary account information. And for those planning on participating in the Opening Day Parade, Concierge staff can advise you when and where to obtain Opening Day parade numbers.


Amenities Offered at the Concierge Booth

Opening Day Information
Agendas for the Week
Navigating the SYC Main Station
Parade and Windermere Cup Schedules
Public Transportation Information
General Information
Complimentary Daily Newspapers
Boating Magazines
Local Points of Interest


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 2024 Log Boom Application page on the University of Washington Athletic website and complete the Windermere Cup Moorage Donation Form.

Guidelines for using Log Boom Moorage

  1. Please consider showing support by making a donation when asked.
  2. Please cheerfully follow the directions given by SYC Marshall 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


In furtherance of the responsibility to protect life and property on the waters of the city and in exercise of the authority granted by Ordinance 87983, as amended, the Port Warden (Chief of Police) hereby designates the following permitted anchorage area:

Opening Day of Boating Season Parade

Designated Anchoraqe Area:
The waters along the south side of the Lake Washington Ship canal from the east end of the Mountlake cut to the East terminus of the Lake Washington Ship canal (approximately Webster Point).

Effective Period:
This regulation will be in effect from Noon (1200 hours) on Wednesday, May 1, 2024 through Noon (1200 hours) on Sunday, May 5, 2024.

Special Regulations:
Anchored vessels shall not be left unattended overnight or for a prolonged period of time during the day (more than 4 hours).

Small rafts of vessels may be monitored by a responsible party tied along side, provided they have the ability to contact the owner and have the ability to access the cabin in the event of an emergency.
lt is allowed that the owner may leave the vessel to transport passengers and supplies to and from the vessel, get a meal and walk pets.

Spectators shall not block, loiter in, or impede the through transit of traffic in navigable waters of the Lake Washington Ship Canal or any portion of Union Bay.

It shall be permissible to for vessel operator to drop an anchor in Union bay as long as the vessel is being tied, stern to, on the spectator Log Boom.

Vessel anchoring along the south side may drop a secondary anchor in the Lake Washington Ship canal as a stern anchor, provided that they do so without obstructing the flow of commercial traffic and that no portion of the vessel is floating within the navigable waters of the ship canal or race course. (the vessel owner shall adjust the anchorage when told to do so by members of the Seattle Police Harbor Patrol Unit or designated safety vessels from Seattle Yacht club and University of Washington crew) Vessels anchoring along the south side shall not secure any lines to the shore, trees, benches, docks or walk ways of the Arboretum the pilings that are on the east and west side of Foster Island or the Fountain.

Adrian Diaz
Chief of Police / Port Warden


Parade Information & Parade Registration

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. 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, the Commodore of Seattle Yacht Club, and the Judges’ vessel. The Admiral, the Vice Admiral and the Admiralette will be standing on a transom platform on the first VIP vessel on the starboard side after you exit the ship canal going east. The Commodore will be standing on a transom platform on the 2nd VIP vessel. The Judges’ vessel will be the vessel immediately following the Commodore’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, the Commodore of Seattle Yacht Club, and the Judges’ vessel The Admiral, the Vice Admiral and the Admiralette will be standing on a transom platform on the first VIP vessel on the starboard side after you exit the ship canal going east. The Commodore will be standing on a transom platform on the 2nd VIP vessel. The Judges’ vessel will be the vessel immediately following the Commodore’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 USCG Cutter
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 Chief Seattle fire boat

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
S Spirit 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 Founders 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 2024 Opening Day Trio, Admiral Dave Sanford, Admiralette Alesha Shemwell and Vice Admiral Christian Lockwood, announce the new Opening Day Theme for 2024: Pirates & Pursuers!

Parade Entry Registration

Single Entry Parade Registration Form

Fleet Entry Parade Registration Form

Parade registration closes on Thursday, April 25, 2024 at 5:00 p.m.


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

Parade Instructions

Welcome! These are instructions for vessel participation in the 2024 Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day Parade.

If you want to participate in the Opening Day Parade, follow these instructions. You will find the following sections below: General Guidelines, Registration, Boat Numbers, Dates and Times, Day of the Parade, Awards and Safety Considerations. Print these instructions. Read them well before the day of the parade and bring them with you to Opening Day.

General Guidelines

  • Opening Day Parade activities begin at the Seattle Yacht Club before sunrise and end late Saturday evening, May 4, 2024. The Boat Parade itself begins at noon in Portage Bay at the west end of the Montlake Cut and ends at approximately 3:00 p.m. at Webster Point. A more detailed timeline is available on the SYC Opening Day website. Portage bay and the parade route through the Montlake Cut will have restricted access before the parade begins, and it may be crowded on the water after the parade ends. See the “dates and times” section below for more details and timeline.
  • A vessel may not participate in the Opening Day Parade unless it registers using the SYC Opening Day Registration website at All vessels must register no later than Thursday, April 25, 2024. Vessels not successfully registered will not be allowed to participate in the parade. Prior to registering, review the definitions of classes on the SYC website. As part of the registration process, you will be asked to select a "class", i.e. the group or section of parade within which you will participate.
  • Receiving a parade invitation does not constitute registration. You must register even if you have received a verbal or written invitation from SYC. Parade registration does not include moorage. You may also request moorage on the SYC website registration page.
  • Every vessel in the parade must display a 2024 Opening Day Boat Number. Vessels without 2024 Opening Day Boat Numbers will not be allowed to participate in the parade. See below for more information on boat numbers, how to get one, and where it must be displayed.
  • All participating boat owners must agree to decorate or exhibit their boat in accordance with class definitions. The Parade Director has the authority to hold back any vessels not in accordance with the class definitions.
  • No religious or political signs of any sort are permitted.
  • Entrants are responsible for removal of litter or decorations left in water.
  • Limited commercial signs are allowed only in the Decorated Commercial class. Please contact the Parade Director for signage approval if you intend on displaying a commercial sign on a vessel registered in this class.

Registration Procedure

  • Registration closes: 5:00 p.m., Thursday, April 25, 2024.

Boat Numbers

  • Boat Numbers are preprinted and consist of a letter and number, e.g. B 12, C 4.
  • Every vessel in the parade must display a 2024 Opening Day Boat Number. Vessels without 2024 Opening Day Boat Numbers, including those attempting to reuse a previous year’s boat number, will not be allowed to participate in the parade.
  • The skipper, or other designated representative, must pick up their vessel’s boat numbers from the Seattle Yacht Club at 1807 E Hamlin Street, Seattle WA prior to the day of the parade. For registered vessels, boat numbers are available to be picked up at the Seattle Yacht Club on Thursday and Friday before the parade (specific times below).
  • Each vessel will receive two boat numbers. One must be displayed on the starboard bow as close to the stem as possible. The second must be displayed on the stern, facing aft. If you have a dinghy on your transom, display the boat number on the bottom of your dinghy facing aft.
  • Each boat number issued by the Seattle Yacht Club will be assigned to only one vessel. You must display the boat number assigned to your vessel; do not switch boat numbers with other vessels or neither vessel will be allowed to participate in the parade.

Dates and Times

  • February 2024 Registration opens
  • April 25, 2024 Registration closes at 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time.
  • May 2, 2024 Boat numbers available at SYC in the Heritage Room, 10am – 12pm, 4pm-6pm
  • May 3, 2024 Boat numbers available at SYC in the Heritage Room, 9am – 11am, 3pm – 5pm
  • May 4, 2024 Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day Parade
  • 8:00 a.m. Vessels begin to gather in Portage Bay
  • 9:30 a.m. SE Portage Bay and Parade route (Montlake Cut) closed
  • 10:20 a.m. First crew race (East to West)
  • 11:30 a.m. Last crew race
  • 11:45 a.m. Crew shells transit West to East
  • 12:00 p.m. Montlake Bridge raises/firing of noon cannon
  • 12:00 p.m. Opening Day Parade begins
  • 2:45 p.m. Last parade vessel enters Montlake Cut
  • 3:30 p.m. Vessels permitted to transit East to West
  • 4:00 p.m. Vessels permitted to transit West to East
  • 6:00 p.m. Award and Trophy presentation at SYC

Day of the Parade

  • Skippers should monitor and be alert for instructions from the Parade Director over VHF Ch. 68. Skippers should start to monitor Channel 68 at 1100hrs for information and updates. The Parade Director's official vessel is the Portage Bay. It will be anchored at the West entrance to Montlake Cut, just north of SYC Dock 4. The Parade Director’s radio call sign is Parade Control. Please listen for instructions on the radio channel, do not assume the order or timing of the parade. The Parade Director will be in charge of the schedule. 
  • Seattle Yacht Club Parade Marshals will patrol Portage Bay and the parade route. Each skipper will immediately follow all instructions from the Parade Marshals and law enforcement officers. The Parade Director has the authority to use official action if any skipper fails to follow the instructions of the Parade Marshals.
  • The Southeast end of Portage Bay and the parade route (Montlake Cut) will be closed to all but official parade boats from 9:30 a.m. until approximately 3:30 p.m. Boats wishing to transit the operation area may do so until 9:30 a.m. This means that you will not be allowed to transit Montlake Cut to Webster Point in either direction between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
  • At 9:30 a.m. the Parade Director will halt all traffic in Portage Bay between the University Bridge and Webster Point. No entry to, or exiting from, the North log boom will be allowed between 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m., as crew races will be in progress. If you are participating in the parade and coming from Lake Washington, you must be completely through Montlake Cut and into Portage Bay prior to 9:30 a.m. If you do not make it, you will not be allowed to participate in the parade.
  • The parade will start on orders from the Parade Director. The lead boats may include vessels from the United States Coast Guard, United States Navy, King County Sheriff and Seattle Police Department or other lead vessels chosen by Seattle Yacht Club.
  • Thereafter the parade will continue alphabetically by class, i.e. Class A, Class B, Class C, etc. Vessels are not required to transit by number within their class, i.e. B 06 may transit before B 04. Skippers must continue to monitor VHF Ch. 68 at all times for directions from the Parade Director on staging, spacing, special maneuvers and other information relevant to the parade. Be ready, but do not move to the area near the entrance to the cut until the Parade Director calls your group.
  • Steer a straight course, with the bow going in a forward direction. Keep parade tight, one to two boat lengths between boats. Maintain not less than five knots and NO turns off course until clear of Webster Point. Special maneuvering will be allowed only for the Wilson Seamanship Fleet or as granted by the Parade Director. If you wish to obtain permission for special maneuvering, please contact the Parade Director well before Opening Day to discuss your plans. Obey the instructions of the Parade Director and the official Marshal Patrol Boats.
  • Go down the Parade Route with your group. DO NOT go with an earlier group because you don’t want to wait for your group to be called up, or with a later group because you missed yours. Failure to follow this rule will result in being barred from future Opening Day parades (at least).
  • The last boat in the parade, the City of Seattle Fire Boat, will enter the east end of the Montlake Cut at approximately 2:30 p.m., transit to the East end of the parade route, turn, and transit back to Portage Bay. No vessels will be allowed though the cut until after the Seattle Fire Boat has transited back West through the Montlake Cut.
  • After the parade ends, boats will be allowed to travel the cut East to West only for approximately 1/2 to 1 hour, then will change to both directions. The Seattle Police Harbor Patrol will be running the traffic control, please stay on the right side of the cut in your travel direction. The Montlake Bridge will be opening only on the 1/2 and full hour for sailboats and larger vessels.
  • One more time… in the interests of safety and the enjoyment of all involved, the instructions of the Parade Director and the Marshal Boats are to be followed at all times! Failure to monitor Channel 68, comply with instructions, or operating your vessel in an unsafe or illegal manner will result in penalties ranging from being barred from future participation in Opening Day, fines, and/or criminal citations. Let’s follow the rules and all have a good time.


  • All boats competing for awards must pass through Montlake Cut (West to East).
  • Each skipper will execute a Right Hand Salute upon arriving at the first reviewing boat (Admiral of the Day) holding salute until past the third review boat (SYC Commodore). Do not salute with the American Flag (don't dip the flag).
  • The Judges' vessel will be anchored in the reviewing line, just past the Admiral of the Day’s vessel and will be clearly identified.

Safety Considerations

  • HOMELAND SECURITY: All vessels in the parade must pre-register with the Seattle Yacht Club and display a valid boat number. Do not exchange boat numbers, try to use numbers from previous years, etc. Any boat not displaying a valid 2023 boat number that matches the boat name as registered will be considered a security threat and will be removed from the parade by security personnel.
  • All emergency communication should be transmitted on VHF Ch. 16 or via cell phone 911. Non-emergency communication with the Parade Director should be conducted on VHF Ch. 68.
  • A $2,500 fine and/or jail sentence could result from throwing water balloons or any other objects from your boat.
  • In keeping with the Seattle Yacht Club's strict policy of protecting our environment, please be ecologically minded by refraining from using overboard discharge heads, releasing balloons, using plastic streamers or in any way polluting our waterways.

On behalf of the Seattle Yacht Club, thank you for your participation and we look forward to a successful and fun Opening Day Parade!
Questions? Contact [email protected]

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 criteria 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 Admiral of Opening Day, the Commodore of Seattle Yacht Club, and the Judges’ vessel. Please refer to Parade Information, Wilson Seamanship Salute for details.
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 but must 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 came 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.

University of Washington Rowing Program
Windermere Cup
Regatta Central (event information and past results)
Here Now (live results of the races as they happen)

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:

Women Men
30+8 30+8
40+8 40+8
50+8 50+8
60+8 60+8

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. *Out-of-region clubs are welcome to reach out to the SYC Rowing Committee to express interest in competing on Opening Day. Interested out-of-region clubs have the potential to be considered for an event that is undersubscribed by Northwest clubs; invitations extended to out-of-region crews are at the sole discretion of the SYC Rowing Committee. Any out-of-region club that races at Opening Day is not guaranteed an automatic entry the following year.
Maximum Entries per Club - For each event, only one boat per club. A club may not have more than six master’s 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. *Out-of-region clubs are welcome to reach out to the SYC Rowing Committee to express interest in competing at Opening Day. Interested out-of-region clubs have the potential to be considered for an event that is undersubscribed by Northwest clubs; invitations extended to out-of-region crews are at the sole discretion of the SYC Rowing Committee. Any out of region club who races at Opening Day is not garunteed an automatic entry the following year.

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 Seattle Yacht Club, University of Washington and Windermere Real Estate. Key contacts include:
Log Boom Moorage: University of Washington ([email protected])
Junior and Collegiate Regatta Selection: University of Washington ([email protected])
Masters Regatta Selection: Seattle Yacht Club ([email protected])
Opening Day Boat Parade: Seattle Yacht Club ([email protected])


Mark Mayer Opening Day 2024 Race & Party

See details on Regattas page. 

Parking Information

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

  • Please keep in mind that many members and guests will be visiting our Club during the week before Opening Day.
  • Starting with Men’s Lunch on Thursday, the well-attended Friday Lunch, and then Opening Day on Saturday, you may have to use alternate parking any of these days.
  • The Parking and Security Committee requests that everyone carpool for events the week of Opening Day as parking is limited. Only one car per family will be allowed.
  • Guests on Dock Zero are to be advised that parking at SYC likely will not be available.
  • Do not leave any valuables in your car; carry with them you.

For the following: **Violators will be towed**

  • Please respect the fire lanes and reserved spots – do not park in those areas.
  • Please understand that handicapped parking is for day use only.
  • 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.


Sound Transit's Link light rail station is located on the University of Washington campus at Husky Stadium within easy walking distance to Seattle Yacht Club. Link service extends from the University of Washington Husky station toward the north to Northgate and to the south beyond SeaTac airport.

Eastside parking and transit information is below. All of these bus routes stop at the University of Washington Medical Center (Pacific Avenue); within easy walking distance to Seattle Yacht Club:
  • South Kirkland Park & Ride: 10610 NE 38th Place - Transit options to UofW Medical Center: Metro 255
  • Evergreen Point Bridge Park & Ride: Evergreen Point Road in Medina & SR 520 - Transit options to UofW Medical Center: Metro 255 or 271 and Sound Transit 542 or 556
  • Redmond Park & Ride: 16160 NE 83rd Street, Redmond – Transit options to UofW Medical Center: Sound Transit 542
  • Eastgate Park & Ride: 14200 SE Eastgate Drive: - Transit options to UofW Medical Center: Metro 271

Press Information

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 the first Saturday in May 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 2024 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: Pirates & Pursuers!

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.

2024 Press Release

Press Contact

2024 Opening Day Press
Seattle Yacht Club

[email protected]

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 2024 Pirates & Pursuers 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.  Email the Opening Day Press Chair at [email protected].

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.  Marshall boats will be available on Opening Day.  By reservation only.  Email the Opening Day Press Chair, Nicole Williams, at [email protected].  Visiting yacht clubs make the Seattle Yacht Club a picturesque backdrop for taping or broadcasting information about Opening Day and the crew races. 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 at [email protected].  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 [email protected].

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 [email protected].

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 2024

The Pirates of Portage Bay

A piratical poem of pursuing!

Adapted from Pirates of Penzance by Gilbert and Sullivan

Wi-Fi Network

The Club's Wi-Fi network will be open to visitors to the Mainstation during the Opening Day festivities. The Wi-Fi service name (SSID) is SYCguest. A password key is not required.


Submit your photos to [email protected]

View Opening Day 2024 Photos here: Opening Day 2024 - Seattle Yacht Club (

Follow SYC on Instagram @seattleyachtclubofficial and follow the Trio @syctrio