It is the seventh time that the Sydney men have been victorious over the University of Melbourne, while the women claimed the title for only the second time. Both crews race in eights.

Weather conditions threatened to cancel the event that took place on Sunday 14 October. With two days to go the forecast was ominous, but on Saturday the wind forecast had been downgraded to moderate and the rain reduced to only scattered showers.

Conditions were tough for the participating crews. White-capped waves, head wind and current made the 4.3km course quite challenging.  This year, the race took place in Sydney Harbour with the start near Woolrich and the finish line under the Pyrmont Bridge in Darling Harbour.

2018 Australian Boat Race, Sydney, Australia © FISA

 

The crews had sheltered water at the start line in between the Woolrich and Greenich landmasses, but once they emerged into the open waters of the harbour, the waves and current picked up. In the women’s race, Sydney University used their favoured southern-station start to take an early lead in the calmer water. They took a boat-length advantage over Melbourne, which they were able to hold through the tougher conditions and across the finish line.

In the men’s race, Melbourne took the early lead, but only by half a boat-length. Sydney held on and proved to have the better tactics and steering through the middle of the race. They were able to take open-water and hold it through to the finish line.

Modelled on the well-known Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race in the United Kingdom, the Australian Boat Race started in 2009, as part of the existing Head of the Yarra Regatta in Melbourne. The rivalry between the two universities goes back to 1860 when they met for the first time on the Yarra. The official boat race was brought back in 2009 as an attempt to revive the on-water tradition. The regatta course alternates location between the Yarra River in the heart of Melbourne and Sydney Harbour. The crews are formed with a combination of current students and alumni and Olympic level rowers are not strangers to the event.

This year, Rio Olympic silver medallist Alexander Belonogoff made history by becoming an eight-time winner of the Australian Boat Race and winning every Boat Race he has contested for the University of Sydney. Rio silver medallist Joshua Booth raced for Melbourne.

The 2019 event will head back to the Yarra River where the University of Melbourne may have the home advantage. 

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