Boat clubs gear up for match race fever

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Men’s and women’s crews from the boat clubs at Sydney University and Melbourne University are tailoring their training for the annual Australian Boat Race, to be held on Sydney Harbour on Sunday, November 4.

The fourth instalment of the resurrected match race between eights from the two universities will start at Woolwich at 8.20am with the women’s eights, followed by the men’s match race starting at 9.20am.

To ensure optimum spectator viewing and television coverage, organisers with the assistance of a number of NSW government agencies, have plotted a new 4.3km course. The 2012 race is to be filmed for later broadcast and viewers will see the harbour and many of its landmarks at their best.

The course starts near Woolwich Point at Hunters Hill and heads east-south-east down the inner harbour towards the city. The crews will start just inside the mouth of the Lane Cove River and do a slight turn at Greenwich Point before crossing just north of Balmain, initially at Long Nose Point, Birchgrove.

Crews will then pass across Snails Bay and negotiate the narrows between Goat Island and Simmons Point, where the water can be turbulent depending in tide and wind conditions.

While passing Darling Street Wharf the eights will change from a south-east course to a southerly course which will take them past the new Barrangaroo development site, King Street Wharf on the left and the Maritime Museum on the right as they close in on the finishing line at Darling Harbour.

Each racing boat and some crew members will be fitted with lightweight, high resolution cameras and microphones to enhance the television coverage. And Sydney Harbour Ferries have adjusted their early morning Sunday timetables to ensure a wash free racing course. Roads and Maritime are also assisting with vessel patrols to regulate traffic in the area of the race.

The event will be post-produced and shown from December on Foxsports in Australia, Skysports in New Zealand and ESPN/Star Sports through 31 countries in Asia.

The Australian Boat Race was revived in 2009 to mark the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the two rowing clubs. Such was the success of the race down the Yarra River in Melbourne the two universities decided to make it an annual event – the antipodean version of the Oxford-Cambridge boat race.

Melbourne University won the men’s and women’s races in 2009 when they were held as part of the annual Head of the Yarra regatta.

But Sydney University’s men’s eight took revenge in 2010 when they dominated on a 7.3km course across Sydney Harbour – starting near the Leichhardt Rowing Club, following the Balmain peninsula in a loop past Cockatoo Island and into the Lane Cove River and finishing at St Ignatius College Wharf. Melbourne University made it two from two in the women’s eight.

Sydney University men’s eight made it back-to-back wins when they won the 2011 event with a corner-cutting technique on the Yarra in a race that sparked much drama and media and spectator interest.

By now a stand-alone race between two old university rivals, rowed on the main waterways of the two great cities, the 2011 event lived up to the prospect. Sydney University won the 4.2km men’s eight, rowed on the old King’s Cup course, in exciting fashion and Melbourne women’s eight, with four national A representatives on board, won their third straight match race.

The Edmund Barton Trophy is on the line in the men’s event and the Belinda Guerin Trophy being contested by the women’s eights.

A VIP lunch will be held at Darling Harbour following the presentations.

For more information on the race, please visit the official website:

All spectators, alumni and family are encouraged to follow the race on a “First Fleet” Ferry. To book, visit:

You can also follow all the pre-race updates on the official Australian Boat Race Facebook page at: