"Trip of a lifetime” for university crews in China
Crews from the University of Otago (New Zealand) and Cambridge University (Great Britain) took top honours at the 8th Annual International University Rowing Regatta, held in Chengdu, China.
The annual event is both a chance for racing and cultural exchange, attracting some of the World’s top university teams, including Harvard and Yale (United States), Melbourne and Sydney (Australia), London and Oxford (Great Britain) and a number of Chinese institutions.
The Cambridge women finished first in the unique two-race format that determined a ranking of crews by combing the finish times of the heat and final. “You didn’t necessarily have to win the final to win the overall,” says James Lee, Cambridge’s club coordinator and coach for their women’s winning four.
Cambridge made crunching the numbers easy by winning both the heat (11 seconds ahead of Harvard, who ultimately ranked fourth) and the final (ten seconds ahead of Yale, who were second overall).
The rowers had nothing but praise for the event.
“China was an incredible experience,” says Daphne Martshenko, President of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club and member of the winning crew. It was “an opportunity not only to race a number of international programmes, but also to experience the beauty of Sichuan Province.”
On the men’s side, Otago University’s top eight captured first while London University came a very close second. After a narrow second place in a tight heat won by London, Otago reversed the finish order with just enough of a lead to finish less than one second ahead in the final rank.
Otago’s top women’s crew, the eight, completed an incredible undefeated streak into its fifth year with a string of victories throughout an extended July tour in China which included a number of regattas. The eight raced in three 1000m regattas held in Hangzhou, Cixi City and Changsha. In both Hangzhou and Changsha they bested Italy’s Trieste University.
The middle regatta in Cixi City followed a different format. “Cixi was a fun regatta,” says Holly Fletcher, who coached the Otago crew. “The eights were mixed between different countries. We raced with the Italians (Trieste University).”
For Otago stroke Maisie Scott, it was “the trip of a lifetime. Coming out on top against Trieste University was amazing,” she says, “but also getting the chance to race with them showed us that rowing is the same all over the world, which is a pretty cool thing.”
Otago Manager, Glen Sinclair summed up the experience of all visiting crews from around the world: “Over the two weeks the teams get to know each other extremely well and the normal comments are that the student athletes are very similar in personality no matter what country they come from.”
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