Graham Croker

Melbourne University edged out Sydney University in men’s and women’s eights in the inaugural Boat Race challenge held on the Yarra River in Melbourne on Saturday.
In the tradition of the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race, Sydney University issued a challenge to Melbourne University to incorporate an inter-University race as part of the annual Head of the Yarra regatta.
With SUBC and MUBC – the two oldest boat clubs in the country – celebrating their 150th anniversaries this year, the challenge was issued to make the race an annual event.
Both clubs had form on the board for the challenge. Sydney University had the 2009 NSW Rowing Championship title under their belt, while Melbourne University had won five of the past eight Head of the Yarra crowns.
Rowed over an 8.6km course, the race called on exceptional skills from coxswains and crews to negotiate bends in the river and local knowledge proved crucial for the hosts.
Melbourne University Composite won the Female Open Eight in 28 minutes 18.72 seconds from Mercantile (28:31.39) and Sydney University (30:36.38), while Melbourne University won the Male Open Eight in 25:33.06 from Sydney University (25:59.48) and Mercantile/Banks (26:21.41). A second Sydney University eight finished sixth in 28:06.14.
The Sydney University men’s eight included Nick Hudson, who was a silver medallist in the quad scull at the 2009 World Championships, while the women’s eight included Liz Kell, a 2006 world champion in double scull and 2008 Olympian, and Bronwen Watson, the 2007 and 2008 world champion in lightweight quad scull.
The Melbourne University men’s eight included Beijing Olympic silver medallists Cameron McKenzie-McHarg and James Marburg.