Sydney's men snatch victory in Australian Boat Race

31 October 2011

The University of Sydney's top rowers divided the spoils with the University of Melbourne in the latest chapter of the Australian Boat Race on Sunday -- one of Australia's oldest sporting rivalries.

The University of Melbourne's women's eight retained their crown on Melbourne's Yarra River, comprehensively defeating their University of Sydney counterparts. However, in the men's race Sydney beat Melbourne by centimetres in a thrilling finale witnessed by hundreds of onlookers at the finish line close to Federation Square.

Under grey skies, the men's crews swapped the lead several times as they fought the blustery conditions over a 4.2km course through central Melbourne, with Sydney having won the coin toss and chosen to start on the north bank.

"It was an absolute dog race the whole way down," said Sydney's men's captain and London Olympics hopeful Nicholas Hudson.

"We didn't row that well in the first half of the race and they got a bit of a lead on us, but then we hit a great rhythm in the middle and crept back up on them," added Hudson, an environmental science graduate planning to study for a master's in project management.

Sydney's men also won in 2010, but Sunday's race on the Yarra presented different challenges from last year's 7.3km open water course on Sydney harbour. This time the crews were at close quarters for much of the race and had several bridges to negotiate.

Captain of the Sydney men's eight Nick Hudson raises the trophy.
Captain of the Sydney men's eight Nick Hudson raises the trophy.

Sydney's captain and coach both praised cox William Raven, whose steering was a key element in the crew's fightback, making the most of bends in the river to ensure his crew could just hold off a final surge from Melbourne on the line.

"He steered a perfect course," said coach Mark Prater. "He kept the guys calm and in control."

In the women's race, a strong Melbourne outfit featuring several Olympians retained the title they won convincingly in 2010. The young Sydney crew drew on the experience in their midst of back-to-back world champion gold-medallist Bronwen Watson in the stroke seat but were outpowered by the Melbourne eight, captained by Kim Crow, a two-time silver medallist at the world championships.

The 2010 men's race was the first time in 150 years that the boat clubs from Australia's two oldest universities had met head-to-head. The record books show that in 1860 Melbourne won a race held on the Yarra River. Among the Sydney team then was a young Edmund Barton, who went on to become Australia's first prime minister in 1901.

Captain of the Melbourne's women's eight, Kim Crow, receives the  trophy.
Captain of the Melbourne's women's eight, Kim Crow, receives the trophy.

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