Support Melbourne rowers as they battle Sydney Uni in the 2015 Australian Boat Race

October 15 / 169

Rowers celebrate after the 2013 Boat Race.
Rowers celebrate after the 2013 Boat Race.

An Olympic gold medallist and a Rio Olympics qualifier will lead the University of Melbourne’s crews as they race Sydney University on the Yarra for this year’s Great Australian Boat Race, an event designed to recreate the tradition of Oxford v Cambridge rivalry in Australia.

University alumnus David Crawshay, who won gold at the 2008 Beijing Games in the double scull, will be leading the University’s men’s bid for victory in this year’s race, which will see crews from both universities go head-to-head on a 4.6km course from Burnley to Southbank on Sunday, October 25.

In the women’s crew, Jennifer Cleary, who is studying a Bachelor of Science at the University, is a likely candidate for the 2016 Rio Games having recently helped Australia qualify for a spot in the women’s quad scull.

Melbourne’s unbeaten women’s team has dominated the regatta’s modern era and will be aiming to continue their unbeaten streak. 

Challenging Melbourne’s strong line-up, the University of Sydney’s men’s crew features captain Alexander “Sasha” Belonogoff, a bronze medal-winner at the 2014 World Championships, who recently booked a Rio berth for the men’s double scull, and alumnus Cameron Girdlestone, who also helped Australia qualify in the quad scull.

Sydney's men’s crew has enjoyed most of the spoils in recent years, with victories in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

The annual Australian Boat Race showcases the very best of current and alumni talent from the nation’s two oldest universities. Their friendly on-water rivalry stretches back to 1860, when the universities first faced off against each other in a race along the Yarra (Melbourne won this first event).

In 2009, to mark 150 years since that first race, the Vice-Chancellors of Melbourne and Sydney, Professor Glyn Davis and Dr Michael Spence, agreed to an annual ‘match race’ to feature current students and up to two alumni in each team.

Staff and students are invited to come along to watch the action and support our crews. Racing kicks off at 9am at Burnley and will wind up by 11am near the University’s boatsheds at Southbank.  Free breakfast and coffee will be available.

Story by Crystal Ja.

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