Sydney University Boat Club start the years international racing with success in Shangyu, China. The club sent a crew with a mixture of recent alumni and current students to compete in the World Famous Universities Rowing Regatta in Shangyu, China.
The regatta was held from the 22th-25th of May, including training, racing and cultural experiences for all crews. The journey to Shangyu was far from smooth, with all flight delayed, and one flight cancelled mid-flight due to a storm preventing landing in Hangzhou. With the SUBC crew arriving a day later than planned into Shangyu, this resulted in missing the crucial training sessions required to set the boat up. The crew managed to get a very short paddle in prior to racing, and identified a few things that needed to be tweaked on the boat.
Race day consisted of an opening ceremony attended by many delegates, including Five Time Olympic Champion Steve Redgrave, followed by three rounds of racing. Each round of racing saw four boats across, with a heat, semi and final. SUBC showed great form early in all races, claiming comfortable wins in both the heat and semi, over quality crews from Shanghai, Otago and Princeton. Through the early rounds of racing the crew shut down both races at the half way mark, paddling home for the victories, this kept the power dry, with none of the competition really knowing what to expect from us in the final. In the final the crew had the slowest first half we’d had all day, however this saw the field dead level with three crews across fighting for the win, with Princeton well off the pace. As the leading three crews Shanghai, Yale and SUBC came into the final 250m the crews were still locked level, even in unison as the bows surged to the line. Within this final sprint Shanghai and SUBC moved a few seats ahead of Yale, and were in a close dual of who could jack the rate the most and sprint to the line. The final result saw SUBC surge to victory by a canvas over Shanghai, with Yale a further canvas back.
This result was particularly pleasing for the Sydney University crew, as many of these athletes who are now alumni haven’t rowed in close to five years, and for the most part are stuck behind a desk in corporate life. The passion and commitment to the race, and the support each athlete gave each other to get over the line in front is exactly how it was when these athletes stepped back from the sport. This commitment to the full crew buying in to one idea, one focus and one common goal is what eights racing is all about, and it was so pleasing to see that even after time out of the boat, the passion to race for your mates and the club is still alive and well within this crew.
Post racing the crews were swept back to the hotel to change and go to a forum with the local high school, this forum consisted on school students and universities presenting about what rowing means to them, and the benefits that being part of rowing have added to their life outside of the boat. The crews then went onto a gala dinner, where all universities cam e together to celebrate what was a great day of racing for all involved. The following day saw a number of cultural excursions, with the first being to the site of the future Electronics Games Town in Shangyu, where they have a two-year plan to become the electronic gaming hub of China, on a grand scale. The next stop was to an ancient garden, where it is said that the ‘Chinese Romeo and Juliet’ took place, this was followed by a tour of the house and town where the poet who told this love story had lived.
With all formalities over, and one night left in China, the crew decided to head into Shanghai, as our flights were departing from there the following day. The crew had a great night in Shanghai, checking out the famous Bund, where you can view some of the tallest towers in China, along with a vibrant business district. The final morning in, saw athletes go exploring, many went in search of ancient temples, and others went in search of a bargain at the markets.
The tour was a great success for all involved, and was great to see a number of alumni reengaged with SUBC. The club would like to thanks all involved in organising these regattas, primarily the Chinese Rowing Association and the local Government of Shangyu for hosting such a fun and culturally filled event.
The crew consisted of:
Cox/ Coach: William Raven
Stroke: Ryan Edwards
Seven: Tom Sacre
Six: Ed DeCarvalho
Five: Tom Bowditch
Four: Phil Blacklaw
Three: Nikita Belonogoff and Tom Whitehead
Two: Jack Rath
Bow: Jack Cook
Check out the Video of the Final broadcast on China's CCTV - with Sydney Uni winning narrowly.