SUBC History - Excellence since 1860

Sydney University Boat Club is among the oldest sporting clubs in Australia, founded in 1860. Known in rowing circles as the "The Home of Rowing", the club has produced great rowers at University, State, National and International level.

The club first competed against Melbourne University on the Yarra River in May 1860 and later joined with Adelaide and Melbourne Universities to start the Australian University Championships in 1870. In the first "official" Intervarsity Race between four form these three universities the future " first Prime Minister" of Australia, Edmund Barton, rowed in the No 2 seat for Sydney University.

In 1890 the Sydney University Boat Club joined with Rugby, Cricket, Lawn Tennis and Athletics clubs to form the Sydney University Sports Union which has now become Sydney University Sport and Fitness  - the lead body managing sport at the University of Sydney.

The Boat Club competes each year at the Intervarsity competition where it aims to win the overall championship and in particular the Oxford and Cambridge Cup for the Men's Eights. This magnificent trophy is probably the most beautifully crafted in Australian men's rowing. The cup was donated in 1893 by Old Blues of Oxford and Cambridge for competition between men's eights of the Australian Universities.

Until 1939 The Sydney Uni Boat Club rowing shed was located in Blackwattle Bay at the end of Glebe Point Road. During WWII the boatshed was resumed for use by the defence forces and then demolished post war. From 1946 to 1964 the club operated as a tenant in other clubs including Mosman, St Ignatius College and at other locations.

In the late 1950's Thyne Reid (a former alumnus of the club) purchased a large waterfront house in Wrights Rd , Drummoyne and gave this to the University for the use of the Boat Club along with funds to build a boatshed on the waterfront section. His idea was that the house could be used as the main club centre and the eight bedrooms could accommodate rowers who needed a place to stay while attending university.

The University encountered some issues with the local Council and neighbours in building the new shed despite apparently getting planning permission. In 1961 a decision was made by the University to take over the site and instead offer to build the Boat Club a new rowing shed at another location.

An active Committee of SUBC led by one of our most famous coaches Dr Eric Longley and Dennis Rourke located a site in Burns Bay, off the Lane Cove River near Figtree Bridge. The boatshed site was all over high water and a lease was arranged from the Maritime Services Board. Access was needed through a Council Park and after some lobbying by the club Committee the Lane Cove Council agreed to a licence arrangement for the club to access the planned boatshed. Building started in late 1962 and the new 2 bay large A-Frame shed was completed in December 1963. The Boat Club moved into the new shed in January 1964.

Unfortunately our benefactor Andrew Thyne Reid died suddenly on 7th December 1963 so he did not live to see SUBC crews boating from the new shed but he saw its construction almost completed.

The Thyne Reid Boatshed in Burns Bay served the club well until March 2006 when an arsonist who was active in the Lane Cove area set a fire under the building which destroyed the shed and over 60 racing boats.

History repeated itself as SUBC again became a tenant of other clubs - first both the high performance squads of the men's and women's clubs used temporary shed attached to St Ignatius College for five years to 2012n and when the temporary DA on these expired the men moved to a rented bay at the Uni of New South Wales Boatshed in Tarban Creek and the women's squad moved to join the women's club and masters rowers at the Glebe boatshed of the Sydney Uni Women's Rowing Club.

In the latter half of 2015 following submission of a new design for a shed at the site in Burns Bay a development application was granted by Lane Cove Council. Negotiations to fund the new shed were agreed between the Boat Club, Sydney University Sport and Fitness and the University.

In early 2016 a tender was let by Campus Infrastructure Services to Adco Constructions to build a new four bay boatshed in Burns Bay. The shed was completed and the Boat Club moved into these wonderful new boatshed on 18th February 2017. The official opening of the new facility was held 26th May 2017.

In September 2015 the Presidents of Sydney University Boat Club ( Steve Newnham) and Sydney University Women's Rowing Club (Bronwen Watson) put a proposal to merge the two clubs into The Sydney University Boat Club to a Special General Meeting of their clubs. The proposal was agreed and the one club was formed. This was a particularly important milestone for rowing at Sydney University. The amalgamation streamlined club and coaching administration and enabled the club to plan as one unit for the squads to operate from the new boathouse.

Sydney University Boat Club aims to offer competitive opportunities for students and graduates from junior to senior levels of rowing.

At the 2008 Olympics six Sydney University rowers represented Australia - two in the men's eight, two in the women's eight and two in the men's four with Francis Hegerty and Matt Ryan winning silver medals in the M4-. Ten Sydney University rowers competed for Australia at the London Olympics.
Ten Sydney University Rowers competed for Australia at the London 2012 Olympics.
At the Rio 2016 Olympics Sydney University had three representatives with Cameron Girdlestone and Sasha Belonogoff winning Silver in the Men's Quad.

In 2017 SUBC rowers are representing Australia in the National Senior Training Centre Squads and also in the 2017 U23 and U21 teams. Five SUBC rowers were in the NSW men's youth eight which won the Wilkinson Trophy at the Interstate Regatta by over five seconds. 

The Boat Club also aims to send prospective developing rowers overseas for competition each year. This year - 2017 - the club sent one sculler to Royal Henley, six U23 women to Canadian Henley and around 35 rowers and coaches on two competitions to China for the International Universities Rowing Regattas and to Korea as well.

In 2018 Sydney University Boat Club won the New South Wales Championship Honours Trophy for the highest points by a club and the Centenary Oar at the Australian Rowing Championships for the highest point scoring club. At the national level at the senior World Championships Jack Hargreaves won gold, Nick and Alex Purnell and Campbell Watts won silver and Georgie Gotch won bronze. Two former long term coaches from SUBC, Andrew Randell, and Mark Prater coached the men’s eight and men’s quad respectively to silver medals.

In 2018 Nine SUBC athletes represented on the senior rowing team, 6 represented on the U23 team along with 2 coaches and 2 represented on the U21 team along with one coach.

At Intervarsity level Sydney Uni won both the Men’s and Women’s Championships and the famous Oxford and Cambridge Cup ( Men’s Eights) for the 41st time - bringing the club within one win of matching our arch rivals Melbourne.

In the 10th modern version of The Australian Boat Race - Sydney Uni won over Melbourne in both the men’s and women’s events.


The Oxford and Cambridge Cup

The Oxford and Cambridge Cup