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Sydney and Melbourne share line honours in Australian Boat Race

26 October 2015
Rowing talent on display in historic sporting showdown

The University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne have shared the spoils at this year's Australian Boat Race, with Sydney's men's and Melbourne's women's teams seizing victory over the weekend.

Sydney's men's eight continued their winning streak to five-one over Melbourne, taking line honours by an impressive margin of eight lengths against the home side.

Meanwhile Melbourne's women's eight outperformed the Sydney crew, winning by almost 10 lengths to extend their undefeated run to six-nil since the 'modern era' of the race began in 2010.

Hundreds of spectators cheered the crews along from the banks of the Yarra, turning out in force to witness a stunning display of athleticism, heritage and sportsmanship on the 4.6 kilometre course from Burnley to the University of Melbourne Boat Club.

Under blustery conditions the Sydney men's eight crew dominated from the starting line, swiftly gaining an edge over their opponents and finding their stride early in the race.

With Olympic hopefuls Sasha Belonogoff and Cameron Girdlestone (BEd '2011) at the helm, crew tactics and dedication paid off with the Sydney men's crew powering on to a convincing win.

History repeats in race results

For Sydney men's captain Belonogoff, the crew's on-water success was particularly satisfying in light of their last unsuccessful bid to unseat Melbourne on rival territory in 2013.

"We showed that we are a new crew and a stronger crew and that strength has emerged from the disappointment two years ago," said Belonogoff, who graduated this year with a Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Sport Science).

"Cam [Girdlestone] and I have had a lot of time to build our combination and build our rhythm and the six blokes behind us did a great job of backing that up. We just seemed to get into more of a maintainable rhythm…That's where the race was won."

Belonogoff is a likely starter for the Rio Olympics next year after helping qualify Australia in the men's double scull, while fellow teammate Cameron Girdlestone is also a contender for the men's quad.

The win sees the return to Sydney of the Edmund Barton trophy, named in honour of Australia's first Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton, who himself rowed for the University of Sydney in the Australian Boat Race in 1870.

The University of Melbourne's women's crew will hang on to the Bella Guerin trophy for another year, with crew captain Alice McNamara saying she was thrilled by the result of her fifth race.

"We just went out 110 per cent through that first corner and I think once we were through that first corner slightly in front, we knew our speed was superior," said McNamara, a two-time world champion and Doctor of Medicine student.

"We have got fantastic experience in the club and I'm just soaking up the atmosphere now – it's just a fantastic day."

The friendly rivalry between the two universities stretches back to 1860 when the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne first raced against one another.

Now in its sixth year, the Australian Boat Race showcases the cream of the rowing crop, with multiple Olympians and Olympic hopefuls joining crews on both sides this year.

Australian Boat Race Highlights 2015

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