Our University of Sydney Men’s Eight have beaten Melbourne University Men’s Eight in convincing fashion to retain the Edmund Barton Trophy in the seventh edition of the annual Australian Boat Race in Melbourne this morning, October 25, 2015.
This result was reversed in the Women’s Eights with the Melbourne University Boat Club decisive winners over our Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) crew just minutes later. University of Melbourne women maintain their unbeaten status in the modern era of this classic event and a firm grip on the Bella Guerin trophy, named after the first female graduate of Melbourne University in 1883.
These 2015 results mirror last years when Sydney Uni hosted this time honoured event on Sydney Harbour. The Yarra River course though is a very different proposition as crews navigate a few tricky bends and multiple sandstone bridge arches that span the waterway. A large and vocal crowd of spectators cheered on the crews from both banks.
In favourable conditions for rowing, our Men’s Eight despite losing the pre-race toss enabling Melbourne the favoured southern side, forged an early lead in the 4.6 kilometre race. From then on SUBC never faulted as they pushed hard to extend their lead throughout. With a wealth of experience in the boat, especially the stern where current Australian Rowing Team reps, Cameron Girdlestone (Stroke) and Sasha Belonogoff, in Seat 2 and Captain, set the tone helping SUBC maintain its supremacy. After today the overall tally stretched to five wins from seven for our men’s crew. It was great vision to see Belonogoff congratulate every member of the crew as they stepped ashore on the muddy river bank after the race.
Our Women’s Eight captained by Holly Lawrence were gallant in defeat as they initially matched it with Melbourne over the same 4.6 kilometre course. Despite striving to maintain contact, Melbourne proved too strong as the race progressed and eventually they won by approximately 10-12 lengths. Despite the loss there is broad consent our Women’s crew has much to look forward to and was buoyed by a strong squad and preparation for this event.
A real highlight for our Women’s Eight was the return of perennial Australian rowing representative Liz Kell, after a five year enforced hiatus from the sport due to back problems. A double scull 2006 World Champion with her then sculling partner, Brooke Pratley, Kell is working hard to regain that form to put her in the selection mix for the Rio 2016 rowing team.
In the earlier inter-collegial races, which proved an omen for the main event, our St. Andrew’s College Men’s Eight secured a commanding win over Ormond College, from the University of Melbourne. The tables were turned though in the Women’s Eights with Ormond showing St Andrew’s a clean set of blades to cross the line approximately eight lengths ahead over the 2 kilometre course.
Even though there is a fierce rivalry between the respective Colleges and Universities the Australian Boat Race is known for the wonderful spirit displayed by all competitors and there are many friendships between the opposing crews.
Huge congratulations go to all our competing University of Sydney crews, coaches and support staff. Sydney University will be proud hosts of the Australian Boat Race in 2016.
Our 2015 Australian Boat Race SUBC squads were:
Men’s Eight: William Raven, Coxswain; Alexander (Sasha) Belonogoff , Captain; Cameron Girdlestone; Campbell Watts; Jacob Bicknell; Alexander Purnell; Tobias Wehr-Candler; Andrew Judge; Angus Robinson; Reserve, Andrew Bartholot. Coaches: Mark Prater and Tom Sacre.
Women’s Eight: Claudia Lowe, Coxswain; Holly Lawrence, Captain; Olivia Ashby; Elizabeth Kell; Carina Simpson; Laura Triggs; Fiona Ewing; Loren Parsons; Rebecca Humphris; Reserve, Emma Fessey. Coaches: Debbie Fox and Esther Verburg.