Our University of Sydney Men’s and Women’s Eights have taken the double victory in beating their University of Melbourne counterparts in the ninth edition of the iconic Australian Boat Race staged in Melbourne, October 22, 2017.
Sydney University won three of the four head-to-head races on the program. St Andrew’s College Men’s Eight proved too strong for Melbourne University’s Ormond Colleg and Sydney Uni’s Wesley College threw everything at Ormond in going down by just one-boat length in the Women’s Colleges Eight race.
However, there was no going past the history–making triumph of our Sydney University Boat Club’s (SUBC) Women’s crew in downing the eight-times defending champion Melbourne University Boat Club’s (MUBC) Women’s Eight by a mighty four-boat lengths. The Melbourne crew kept to their task to the very end but there was no denying the Sydney Women’s rowers today. This win, over a 4,200 metre course, was sweet and beyond compare given the dominance of the Melbourne crew in recent years.
There was much excitement in the air that our SUBC Women could finally break Melbourne’s stranglehold on the Bella Guerin Trophy as our rowers had beaten Melbourne at the recent Australian Uni Rowing Championships on the Gold Coast. The belief and form of the SUBC crew held true and there was no happier person than Sydney Captain, Dyone Bettega as she held up the trophy at the presentation.
“We’ve always had heart in our racing. That passion combined with strong preparation and good coaching got us there,” Bettega said. This incredible win by the Sydney University Women’s Eight was a changing of the guard.
The Australian Boat Race Men’s event, also over 4,200 metres on a classic but winding Yarra River course in the heart of Melbourne was a spectacular show. SUBC, with the flashing yellow oars, started strongly to edge their bow in front. As the river narrowed on one section the two boats came perilously close together with the bow oar of the Melbourne boat and the blade of Sydney Olympian and number seven rower in the boat, Sasha Belonogoff millimetres from clashing. The Sydney crew under the experienced command of Cox and Captain, Will Raven held their nerve and continued to push hard, extending to a three-quarter of a boat length lead. SUBC found a powerful rhythm and extended their advantage to cross the line four-boat lengths ahead.
Raven, competing in his seventh successive Australian Boat Race said, “It’s a great rivalry and puts rowing on the map. Today we rowed the best line and river racing has that edge where you get to play out tactics around the bends.”
The SUBC Men’s crew in retaining the Edmund Barton Trophy made it four consecutive wins and an amazing seven from nine since the Australian Boat Race was re-introduced in the modern era in 2009.
The Australian Boat Race represents Australia’s oldest sporting rivalry staged between two great Universities and two great cities. The Vice-Chancellors of both Universities agreed to celebrate 150 years since the founding of SUBC and MUBC with the resurrection of this iconic annual rowing challenge in 2009 and it has really captured the imagination of the two University communities and sporting public generally. A large crowd of spectators lined both sides of the river cheering on the crews, with rowers all straining in their distinctive team uniforms.
The preliminary College races rowed over 2,100 metres underscore the tradition and strength of rowing in the college and sporting DNA of both Universities. St. Andrew’s win tops a remarkable three in a row and Zac Whitehead was a proud crew Captain on the presentation dais. The Wesley College Women’s crew, in their debut outing at the Australian Boat Race, put up a great tussle against Ormond College with the lead changing back and forth in the early stages. The College races feature the winning Intercollegial crews from both Universities.
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. Congratulations also to the University of Melbourne in staging a highly successful and enjoyable 2017 Event. Sydney University will be proud hosts of the Australian Boat Race in 2018.
Our 2017 Australian Boat Race SUBC squads were:
Men’s Eight: William Raven, Coxswain and Captain; Cameron Girdlestone, Stroke; Alexander (Sasha) Belonogoff , Leon Chambers; Jake Bicknell; Andrew Judge; Devlin Wals; Marcus Britt and Jack Hanley, Bow. Morgan Brooking was Reserve. Coaches: Don McLachlan and Dustyn Butler.
Women’s Eight: Rebecca Harrison, Coxswain; Wallis Russell, Stroke; Georgie Masters; Dyone Bettega, Captain; Emma Fessey; Harriet Hudson; Carina Simpson; Laura Triggs and Elizabeth Treloar, Bow. Reserve was Jaime Ford. Coaches: Alfie Young and Debbie Fox.