This year the Melbourne and Sydney University rowing crews will be wearing highly contrasting rowing suits when they clash in the annual Australian Boat Race.
Melbourne will row out of the South station and Sydney out of the North station in both men’s and women’s races following the Australian Boat Race traditional coin toss this morning.
Meeting in front of the boathouses between MUBC and Yarra Yarra, the first coin toss decided stations (lanes) for the men’s Australian Boat Race. As is custom, the visitors had the opportunity to call heads or tails and Sydney Captain Will Raven chose heads. With Melbourne men’s representative Edward Walmsely looking on, the coin came down tails and it was the home crew’s choice for stations. Melbourne chose South.
Next up, Sydney’s women’s Captain Dyone Bettega had to decide if she’d follow Will Raven’s call of heads, or take the chance on tails. She chose heads as well, and much to the delight of Melbourne’s Captain India McKenzie, the coin again fell tails. Another coin toss in favour of the hosts and the Melbourne women will also row out of South station.
Melbourne coach Franz Imfeld was equally pleased with the little bit of luck that was the coin toss.
“North or South, it doesn’t really matter. Each has its advantages at different parts of the river. It’s good to have an early win under our belts – even if it’s only the coin toss” said the debutant Australian Boat Race coach.
It had also been agreed pre-coin toss that the Melbourne and Sydney College crews would row out of the same stations as their respective Australian Boat Race crews. Hence, Melbourne’s Ormond College crews will row out of South station and Sydney’s St Andrews (men’s) and Wesley (women’s) will row out of North station.
With the coin toss completed, both Universities have now locked down their crews for Sunday’s showdown.
India McKenzie and Dyone Bettega will captain the Melbourne and Sydney women’s crews respectively, whilst Jackson Harrison and William Raven lead the men’s crews.
Olympic experience includes Melbourne’s Sarah Banting and Josh Booth, whilst Sydney boasts Cameron Girdlestone and Alexander ‘Sasha’ Belonogoff.
The 2017 Australian Boat Race is on this Sunday 22 October with racing starting from 9.00am.
University of Melbourne students Jackson Harrison and India McKenzie have been named men’s and women’s captains for the Australian Boat Race, taking place on the Yarra River next Sunday, 22 October.
“I’ve sat on the sideline since the inaugural event wondering if I could make such a crew. The moment the opportunity presented itself to apply for Master of Teaching and then join the team, I was sold,” he says.
“These guys are not only talented oarsmen, but are tremendous leaders in their own right. It’s an absolute privilege to be recognised as captain, and something that I hold with the highest regard.”
Competing for her third time, Bachelor of Environments student, India McKenzie is hopeful she can lead the women’s crew to their ninth consecutive win.
“There’s a strong tradition of success with Melbourne University women’s rowing and we’re honoured with the challenge of defending such an impressive victory streak, especially on home waters,” she says.
“While we certainly feel the pressure, the key for us will be focusing on getting the process right. Continuing that tradition would be exhilarating, but it’s important not to get distracted and concentrate on the task at hand.”
The University of Sydney men’s team, hoping for their fourth consecutive win, will be captained and coxed by economics student William Raven, who also serves as the Vice-President of the Sydney University Boat Club. For Raven, who will be competing in his seventh Australian Boat Race, the event is unique not just for its longer and more winding river course, but for the competition that plays out on the water.
“The race has many undertones, with a massive rivalry not only between the universities, but also between the boat clubs and the state rowing teams, with NSW and Victoria usually fighting it out for the top spot at the interstate regatta,” he says.
Bachelor of Medical Science student Dyone Bettega, who will captain the women’s team, says the race is a classic example of putting one’s pride on the line in exchange for the honour of claiming the title.
“The event fosters friendship, teamwork and sportsmanship within each crew but more importantly, among competitors. I look forward to being a part of the tradition for another year and I wish the crews all the best on race day,” she says.
University of Melbourne Doctor of Medicine students and Rio Olympians, Sarah Banting and Josh Booth will add an extra competitive edge to the crews, ready to face off with their fellow Olympians and University of Sydney alumni Cameron Girdlestone and Alexander ‘Sasha’ Belonogoff.
University of Melbourne rower Alice Arch will return home shortly with a shiny new keepsake – a silver medal from last month’s World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida.
It has been a breakthrough year for the Bachelor of Science (Honours) student as she’s forced her way into the Australian senior women’s Lightweight Quad Sculls’ crew. Having previously represented Australia at the World University Championships and at U23 level, Arch was invited to Rowing Australia’s National Training Centre in Penrith, NSW at the start of 2017 where she’s made the jump into senior ranks.
Arch and her Australians team-mates (Amy James, Georgia Miansarow and Georgia Nesbitt) entered the World Championships as one of the form crews, having won the gold medal in the previous World Cup #3 in a World Best Time. The race for the gold medal was a battle between Australia, Italy and China and it was the Italians that eventually held off a fast-finishing Australian crew to win the World title.
Alice Arch, in speaking to Rowing Australia post-race said, “I’m stoked. We are obviously disappointed that we didn’t get gold as that was our goal, but we’re really happy as a crew to have won silver today.”
While Arch hasn’t been able to train with her University team-mates so far this year, her World Championship success and experience will certainly be a valuable addition to the Melbourne women’s crew as they look to maintain their eight-year unbeaten streak in the Australian Boat Race on the Yarra River later this month.