The two oldest Australian rowing clubs will go head to head at this year’s Head of the Yarra in a university showdown at the nation’s rowing classic being held this weekend.
This is quite the challenge considering the Melbourne University Boat Club has won five of the past eight Head of the Yarra races, while the Sydney University Boat Club is the 2009 NSW State Rowing Champion.
This year, the University of Sydney will send two men’s and a women’s team to Victoria to take part in the Open section of the event. The challenge will see some of the country’s leading rowers go head to head at the popular event exclusively for eight oared crews. In total, more than 2000 rowers from all over the country, New Zealand and China will be vying for the fastest times over the grueling 8.6km Yarra River course, with the largest group ever of 204 boats competing in the event.
The universities are Australia’s first two universities and have just been announced as among the nation’s top world ranked academic performers in the Shanghai Jiao Tong World University rankings.
Established in 1859 (Melbourne University BC) and 1860 (SUBC), the two clubs are the oldest rowing clubs in Australia and are home to many Olympians and national representatives.
The rivalry is set to become an annual event in the tradition of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, which have raced against each other every year since 1829 on the River Thames.
The rivalry builds on a history of rowing rivalry among Australia’s universities. In the early 1900s the annual inter-varsity boat race for eight oared crews between Australian universities (the original competing universities in those days were Melbourne University, Sydney and Adelaide) was a major event on the national rowing calendar alongside the various interstate races.
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