Toughest course yet – Sydney challenges Melbourne to Oxford/Cambridge style duel

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In the great tradition of The Boat Race – a rowing duel between Oxford University Boat Club and Cambridge University Boat Club – the University of Sydney has challenged the University of Melbourne to test its mettle against our champions.

This weekend the University of Sydney will send two men’s and a women’s rowing team to Victoria to race against University of Melbourne teams in what is expected to become the Australian version of The Boat Race.

The competition will form part of the Head of the Yarra competition, the largest rowing event in Australia. It will take place over an 8.6km course which University of Sydney coxswains have been studying in a bid to counter the home-ground advantage.

The University of Sydney Boat Club is the 2009 NSW State Rowing Champion while the University of Melbourne has won five of the past eight Head of the Yarra crowns.

The University of Sydney squad will include Nick Hudson, who was a silver medallist in the 2009 Rowing World Championships in the Quad Squlls. It will also include Liz Kell, a 2006 World Champion in Double Sculls and a 2008 Olympian; and Bronwen Watson, the 2007 and 2008 World Champion in Lightweight Quad Skulls.

The University of Melbourne squad will include Beijing Olympic silver medallists Cameron McKenzie-McHarg and James Marburg.     

In the UK the Boat Race was first held in 1829 and has been held annually since 1856, with the exception of the two world wars.

An estimated quarter of a million people watch the race live from the banks of the river, in addition to about nine million who watch it on UK TV, and about 120 million who watch it on TV outside the UK.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor Dr Michael Spence said he was confident Sydney would be victorious and looked forward to the fierce rivalry the event would create.

“The two boat clubs are the oldest in the country, both celebrating 150 years this year, and come from two of the oldest and best universities in Australia” Dr Spence said.

“We compete for the best and the brightest students and so it seems only fitting that we extend our competition to the water as the best universities in the UK have done.”

Media contact: Sarah Stock: 0419 278 715 Out of hours contact: 0434 609 790