AUS and NZ Universities rowing a draw

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Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) athletes recently competed in the Trans-Tasman Universities Regatta, this year held in Queenstown, New Zealand, with the men from Australia and the women from New Zealand taking the points for three wins each.

The format of the regatta saw University Men’s and Women’s Eight’s representing both Australia and New Zealand over three days, racing two 2kms on Lake Hayes and one 5km on Lake Dunstan.

The Men’s crew for Australia was a full SUBC line up of William Raven, Alex Purnell, Andrew Judge, Jacob Bicknell, Jack Hargreaves, Campbell Watts, James Benson, Matt Murray with Jacob Flanagan and Jayson Gilchrist alternating in the bow seat, coached by Dustyn Butler.

The Women’s crew for Australia was a composite of five SUBC, three UQBC and one Griffith University rower, Caitlin Hockings (UQBC), Ellen Pozzi (UQBC), Olivia Ashby (SUBC), Taneille Wilshire (Griffith), Carina Simpson (SUBC), Dyone Bettega (SUBC), Bridgette Court (UQBC), Loren Parsons (SUBC) and Isobel Sherwood (SUBC), with Laura Triggs (SUBC) travelling as an injured crew member, the coach was Debbie Fox.

The first day of racing saw the crews from Australia adapting to the colder climate, with a strong hit of lactate and heavy breathing being felt in the second part of the race. The men were up first, with the Sydney Uni crew dominating from the start, stretching out to a good lead and then holding pace as they moved away from the kiwi’s right up to the finish line – The margin being 18 seconds by the 2km marker.

The women’s race was somewhat more exciting. With a closely contested first 500m, the Kiwis then began to stretch out to a few seats lead through the 1000m mark. The Australian crew found a good rhythm in the second half of the race to close the deficit and go on to win by 0.2 seconds. Unfortunately, with a late illness in the women’s crew, Australia were forced to use the male spare for this race, and as such the points were awarded to the Kiwis for the win.

The second day of racing was a good opportunity for the crews to build on what they had learnt from the first hit out.

This time the women were off first, with the kiwis wanting to shut down the race early and not let it get into a dogfight in the second thousand. New Zealand were successful in gaining the early advantage and went on to stretch out the lead, with the view of the Australians sitting behind making it easy to push off them. The New Zealand crew won by 12 seconds.

The men’s race saw a similar outcome from day one, with the Australians charging out to a substantial lead. The challenge this time was to extend the winning margin and practice a sprint to the line. The Aussies executed a well formed race, going on to win by a margin of 25 seconds, and cracking the 6 minute mark in extremely cold water and with a head wind.

Racing was followed by a lunch between all crews including a gondola ride up Bob’s Peak.

The final day of racing occurred after a rest day, with racing intended to be over 5km at Lake Dunstan. Unfortunately, due to heavy winds, the racing was cut short to a 1000m sprint with the men off first.

The wild winds and freezing cold water was not favourable for rowing, particularly with the Sydney crew having an outrigger boat, causing a large amount of water to splash over the rowers and to fill the boat up with a heavy load. This, however, did not stop the racing occurring, with the men having the closest of races, winning by just over a canvas with the lead changing numerous times. Athletes were suffering so much from the conditions that they had to be rushed into warm showers to prevent hypothermia. The women’s race still went ahead even in the wild conditions. This final race saw a close battle between both crews, with the Kiwis coming away winners by half a length.

At the conclusion of racing, due to the male reserve filling in for the first win on the women’s side against the Kiwis, the series was determined a draw – The men from Australia and the women from New Zealand taking the points for three wins each.

Overall it was a successful trip, with athletes learning and making improvements across all races, while gaining valuable international racing experience.