The women’s eight crew from the University of Melbourne have claimed their fifth consecutive Australian Boat Race title, comprehensively out-rowing the University of Sydney on Sydney Harbour this morning.
Lead by captain Jennifer Cleary, the women’s eight got off to a strong start and were never headed 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 that 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.”
“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 of the morning, the University of Sydney won the men’s eights race by under 10 seconds to reclaim the Edmund Barton Trophy.
Melbourne men’s captain Peter 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. We gave it a real good crack.”
“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 two universities have a long tradition of rowing competition dating back to early races in the 1860s on the Yarra.
In 2009 the current Vice-Chancellors of Melbourne and Sydney, Prof Glyn Davis and Prof Michael Spence, agreed to an annual ‘match race’ to feature current students and up to two alumni in each team.
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.