Seattle Yacht Club is once again hosting Seattle’s Opening Day of boating season on May 7, 2016. This is the 96th annual celebration dating back to 1920 when Opening Day festivities were first held in the Montlake Cut. The theme this year is A Great Escape.
Opening Day officially kicks off with a Commissioning Ceremony at 8:45 a.m. on the Seattle Yacht Club lawn. It begins with music provided by the I Corps Army Band-Rainier Brass. Commodores and presidents of regional yacht clubs from Olympia to Vancouver, British Columbia and area boating organizations participate in the ceremony, along with the commodores, trustees, and flag officers of SYC. Other officials include professionals in the marine and naval industry who are selected as judges for the boat parade competition. The Master of Ceremonies is SYC Past Commodore Tom Foti.
The burgees of the participating area yacht clubs will be raised along with the country flags of Canada, Japan and the United States. Four Canadian yacht clubs will be in attendance as well as guests from Suma Yacht Club from Seattle’s sister city of Kobe, Japan.
Collegiate and local crew races start the festivities at 10 a.m. in a unique venue through the Montlake Cut and past hundreds of spectator boats with fans cheering on their favorite team. The crew races culminate with the prestigious Windermere Cup with the University of Washington men’s and women’s team competing against visiting teams.
The on-the-water regalia finishes off with a two-hour long parade of boats entered in various categories of competition and decoration — from Classic Sail and Power, Youth-sponsored Decorated, Decorated Sail and Power, to Working Boats. The parade starts with boats under spinnakers, which get everyone’s attention as they slide all too close to the spectator boats.
Finally, awards are presented back on the lawn at Seattle Yacht Club to the energized crowd at 6 p.m. The Closing Ceremony follows the Awards Presentation where the flags are retired to Taps played by a bugler from the University of Washington band. Opening Day 2016 will then be one for the books.