Melbourne's university women remain unstoppable in Boat Race
The Australian Boat Race is in its fifth year of reinstatement and the rivalry between the University of Sydney and University of Melbourne in the men's and women's eight continued at full strength for the 4.4km head race.
This year the race took place against the iconic setting of Sydney's harbour bridge bringing Melbourne out of the comfort zone of their back yard. But this did not stop the University of Melbourne women's eight preserve their winning streak.
The University of Melbourne women employed a well-planned race that saw the University of Sydney crew unable to overtake them. Melbourne finished with a very convincing 28 second lead. This win gave Melbourne five wins in a row since the Boat Race was re-established in 2010. Sydney's crew boasted a number of returnees from the 2013 crew including Rebecca Humphris, Emma Thomas and Lydia Yerrell. While Melbourne comprised of a number of members of the Australian junior or under-23 team including Hedda Cooper, Claudia Zucchelli, Jenifer Cleary and World Champion Alice McNamara.
Melbourne University leads the women's race under Pymont Bridge ©Angus Chilton
For the men, Sydney evened the 2014 score by finding success. The University of Sydney's crew had to work their way past Melbourne to get into the lead and it is there that they remained for the rest of the race. Stroked by bronze medallist from the 2014 World Rowing Championships, Fergus Pragnell, Sydney not only took advantage of knowing the course but were also motivated by their loss to Melbourne in 2013. The crew also included 2014 World Championship bronze medallist Alexander Belongoff and national team member Cameron Girdlestone. Melbourne's crew was stacked with Australian national team members included John Linke, George Ellis, Issac Smith and 2008 Olympic Champion David Crawshay.
The race went across Sydney Harbour from Woolwich to Darling Harbour and was followed by an enthusiastic fleet of 18 ferries and speedboats with rowers also contending with the distraction of a camera crew above in a helicopter. Regular Sydney Harbour traffic was made to wait to cross the race course during race time.
The Australian Boat Race continues the tradition that dates back to the early 1900s when races between different university eights were very popular. The Sydney against Melbourne university race rotates between Sydney Harbour and Melbourne's Yarra River every second year.
For more information: http://www.australianboatrace.com/