Split decision: line honours shared in Australian Boat Race

October 14 / 147

Captain Jennifer Cleary (C, with trophy) and the victorious women's eights
Captain Jennifer Cleary (C, with trophy) and the victorious women's eights

The University’s women’s eight crew has claimed their fifth consecutive Australian Boat Race title, out-rowing the University of Sydney on Sydney Harbour last Sunday.

In 2009 the Vice-Chancellors of Melbourne and Sydney, Professors Glyn Davis and Michael Spence, agreed to an annual ‘match race’ to feature current students and up to two alumni in each team.

The two universities have a long tradition of rowing competition dating back to early races in the 1860s on the Yarra.

This year’s race marks the fifth anniversary of the head-to-head event, after a time-trial competition as part of the Head of the Yarra regatta in ’09. 

Led by captain Jennifer Cleary, the women’s eight got off to a strong start and were never overtaken as they rowed into Darling Harbour a full 28 seconds in front of their rivals to claim the Bella Guerin Trophy.

Jennifer Cleary said the team were pleased the race went according to plan.

“Our plan was to get out in front and stay there, to try and control the race from the start,” she said.

“The conditions were quite good and a pleasant surprise as we expected it to be a bit choppier than what we are used to on the Yarra.

“So it was great to get the win, we’re very happy with the result, and it’s particularly special to claim victory on Sydney’s home turf!”

In the second race, the University of Sydney won the men’s eights by under ten seconds to reclaim the Edmund Barton Trophy.

Melbourne men’s captain Stuart Alexander said he thought his crew competed well right to the finish line.  

“Once they (Sydney) got in front and stayed in front it became quite a difficult race, but I was really proud of how we hung on until the very end,” he said.

“It’s a great event for the sport, and it’s growing every year. I remember that compared to when I rowed in the first race a few years ago, the crowds are certainly much bigger and the rivalry has really captured the rowing fraternity’s imagination.”

Since head-to-head competition between the two universities resumed in 2010, the overall tally stands at five-nil Melbourne’s way for the women’s eight, and three-two Sydney’s way in the men’s. 

The University of Melbourne is a nationally recognised Elite Athlete Friendly university.

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