HEAD OF THE LAKE AWARDS

THE HISTORY OF OUR AWARDS AND PEOPLE WE HONOR THEM WITH

Sherri Cassuto Women's Masters 1x Cup

In 1979 Sherri moved to Seattle and joined Lake Washington Rowing Club where she rowed under Frank Cunningham and Bob Ernst. She went on to be on several National and Olympic teams as both a sweep rower and a sculler from 1984 to 1989. At the time, it was rare to make it onto the National Team without coming up through the "normal" pipeline. In 1985, she and UW Alum Susan Broome, with Bob Ernst as coach, won the first international medal for USA women in the pair. 

Sherri competed in the Head of the Lake Regatta off and on for more than 3 decades. At the first Head of the Lake Regatta in 1981, Sherri raced in the Open Single and went on to win in the same event in 1982 and 1988, then won the Women’s Masters Single in her age category in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

In January 2014, Sherri was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer and was given six months to two years to live. She battled the disease with the same dedication that she gave to competitive rowing. Her positive attitude and lifetime commitment to fitness enabled her to keep going. After a two and a half year fight, Sherri passed away on April 29, 2016.

 

Sherri’s determination continues to inspire people from many generations. Lake Washington Rowing Club is honored to be able to dedicate the Women’s Masters Single to Sherri Cassuto.

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Sherri Cassuto (right) with former HOTL Director Rachel Alexander (left) at HOTL 2015 for the first presentation of the Sherri Cassuto Cup

Gordon McWilliams Men's Masters 1x Cup

Gordon McWilliams was a devoted board member of the George Pocock Rowing Foundation and an accomplished masters sculler. Gordon and his friend Tom Hull worked closely together to support Emil Kossev’s work with elite scullers at the Pocock Rowing Center. An avid skier and outdoorsman, Gordon discovered rowing later in life and became a passionate and highly competitive sculler who loved nothing more than early morning rows with his close friends. His infectious enthusiasm and dedication to our sport made him a beloved figure around the boathouse. Beyond rowing, Gordon was a talented architect with CNA and a devoted husband and father to his wife Mary and his children, Angus and Kate.

In 1997 and 1999, Gordon won the Men’s Masters 1X in his age category at the Head of the Lake, accomplishments that gave him great joy. In early 2000, Gordon’s life was tragically cut short by an avalanche that struck him while skiing. To honor his memory, the Pocock Foundation established the Gordon McWilliams Endowment in support of elite rowers and the Gordon McWilliams Cup to recognize winners of the Head of the Lake Men’s Masters 1x event. Since its inception in 2001, there have been many winners of this cup. Tom Hull was one of the first. Kent McCleary, Rob Leet, John Christiansen, Hank Koerner, and Bob Heacox were the winners in 2014.

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Lucy Pocock Stillwell Women's Open 1xCup

Lucy Pocock was a pioneer in women’s rowing, paving the way for other women to race while also inspiring more women to take up the sport. Lucy began winning races in 1906, proving that ladies were not too delicate for sport. She was the sculling champion of England in 1910-1911. In 1912, she became the first Thames Ladies Championship Sculler. She later paid for herself, her father and her younger sister to travel to Canada to join brothers George and Dick at their shell building business in Vancouver, B.C. In the fall of 1913, they moved to Seattle to build shells and work with Hiram Conibear’s University of Washington crews.

At that time, there was a ban on women’s rowing due to lack of facilities and concerns about the physical demands rowing placed on women. Women were limited to ‘form competitions’. A quote from one of the rowers that was posted on the locker room door around that time said “I like to row, but I like to race even better”. In 1913 the facilities were rebuilt and women’s crew was reinstated. She became the first coach of the University of Washington’s woman’s rowing team. She often coached the women while rowing a single. 

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William Tytus Men's Open 1x Cup

Bill Tytus began rowing at Green Lake as a teenager where he and three other young men traveled around the Pacific Northwest and as far south as San Francisco to race. They traveled with a four strapped to the top of a convertible and typically won.

During his formative years he was coached by Ted Nash, Charlie McIntyre, George Pocock and Stan Pocock. Bill was a driven, fierce competitor with an independent mind. He often rowed in the middle of the lakes so he wouldn’t have to worry about where he was going and could just concentrate on pulling hard. Bill also discovered the Pocock boat shop, which was housed in the north bay of Conibear Shellhouse at the University of Washington. Hanging around the shop, he was put to work making brass oarlocks and started a life-long friendship with the Pococks.

Bill finished his undergraduate education at the UW and committed himself to racing at the highest level of competition. He became a member of the U.S. National Team from 1969-1971. During his competitive career Bill won Junior Nationals in a four, took second at the Intercollegiate Rowing Association Nationals in an eight, placed second at the 1969 Henley Diamond Sculls, stroked the U.S. eight at the European Championships and was second in the single scull at the Pan Am Games.

In 1985 Bill took over Pocock Racing Shells from Stan and has led the company for over 30 years, bringing innovative design and construction and the use of advanced materials to the racing shell industry.

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Women's Championship 8+Cup
Men's Championship 4+ Cup
Sponsored by Pocock Racing Shells

Pocock Racing Shells was founded in Seattle, Washington in 1911 and has been an integral part of nearly 100 years of American rowing.​ George Pocock was the lead boat builder during the early days of the University of Washington's men's rowing program, building the boats that carried the Husky Crew to national and international victories, notably the Husky Clipper, the shell that the Huskies rowed to victory at the 1936 Olympics.

Throughout the history of the company, Pocock Racing Shells has maintained a deep connection with the rowing community in the Pacific Northwest.

Pocock Racing Shells has been a significant supporter of the Lake Washington Rowing Club and the University of Washington for decades. They have are also annual sponsors of the Head of the Lake Regatta.

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Pocock Racing Shells’ John, Bill, and Kate Tytus

Frank Cunningham Club All Points Cub
Francis Cunningham Junior All Points Cup

If there is one person who can be singled out as an integral part of the history and longevity of Head of the Lake, it has to be Frank Cunningham. Frank was a Harvard-educated coach, teacher, author, boat-repair whiz, and an icon in Seattle rowing circles. His philosophy on rowing, as told in his books The Sculler at Ease and Ask Frank, is foundational to Lake Washington Rowing Club as well as rowers around the world.

Frank came to LWRC as an accomplished rower and coach, and in 1975 ensured the longevity and autonomy of the club by leading the construction of its first independent boathouse. In 1979 Frank helped organize the first Head of the Lake and trained many competitors for it thereafter, including Sherri Cassuto. He remained a critical and irreplaceable presence at the club until he passed away in 2013 at the age of 91. 

Because of this dedication to the sport of rowing and commitment to Lake Washington Rowing Club, we honor Frank with both the Junior and Club All Points Trophies.

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Bob Ernst Collegiate All Points Cup

Bob Ernst served as both the men's and women's rowing coach at the University of Washington during a 42-year association with the school. Bob also coached the U.S. Olympic women's rowing teams from 1976 to 1988. Over his coaching career, Bob was an eleven-time Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year, Women's Coach of the Year in 1987 and Men's Coach of the Year in 1990–1993, 1995–1997, 2003, 2004, and 2007. He was inducted into UC Irvine's athletic Hall of Fame in 1984, the National Rowing Foundation Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) Hall of Fame in 2015.

During his time with the University of Washington, Bob helped provide support for the Head of the Lake and bolstered a relationship between the Husky teams and Lake Washington Rowing Club. To show our appreciate for his years of support and his dedication to collegiate rowing, we dedicated the Collegiate All Points Cup.

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