Women’s eight win ‘The Great Race’

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By Shari Wakefield

Sydney University Rowing Club’s Women’s Eight have won ‘The Great Race’ on the Waikato River in Hamilton, New Zealand.

The Great Race is part of the Gallagher Great Race Festival, which features the two premier University of Waikato crews (men and women) challenging international competition on their 4.2km upstream course.

‘The race was very difficult to watch as the current and river position change the perspective of the race.  We actually hit a few low hanging trees and logs which knocked us back a bit and at one stage I thought we had lost too much ground on the leading Waikato crew.  Coming into the home straight, we were down by 1-2 boat lengths and Ali the cox steered the girls right in close to the bank and we lost sight of them completely, as did the commentator.  When they re emerged, with 200m to go we were still 1/3 of a length down.  We probably led the race for the last 20 seconds of a 16 minute race,’ said Phil Bouguignon.

The Sydney University Rowing team, coached by Alan Bennett, consisted of Olympians Sally Kehoe, Sarah Cook and Elizabeth Kell, as well as Charlotte Walters, Emma Costello, Emma Cook, Ailsa Tremayne, Ashleigh Peppernell and Alison Williams.


‘Both myself and AB [Alan Bennett] were almost ill with nerves waiting for the crews to come into sight and couldn’t believe the final sprint the girls pulled out after going flat out for almost 15 minutes by then,’ said Bouguignon.

The win certainly put us in the spotlight again as a team to beat both domestically and on these international occasions.  It certainly topped of a long season for our senior rowers and taught our younger rowers how to perform at the next level up

The crew arrived two weeks prior to the race and were given the opportunity to visit attractions and places of interest throughout North Island.

The team was also given the opportunity to use the world-class rowing facilities at Lake Karapiro.