Sydney University men?s and women?s teams dominated the 2005 NSW Rowing Championships held at Penrith last weekend 26-27th February. From Saturday morning to late Sunday with the concluding race, the Men?s Championship Eights of NSW, Sydney University crews were at or near the lead in nearly all Championship events contested from U19 to Open categories.

Following success in winning the U21 Eights for both men and women and featuring in composite crews that finished 1st and 2nd in the Elite Coxless Pairs Sydney University opened their campaign again on Sunday morning with consecutive wins in the U21 Men?s Pair, Men?s Elite Coxless Four (composite with UTS) and Men?s Elite Coxed Pair. Further wins followed through the day in the Men?s U19 Quad Scull and Men?s Under 19 Coxed Four.

In the uni camp there was increasing optimism that 2005 would see SUBC end a 30 year drought since the club last won the Men?s Champion Eight of NSW, traditionally the last race on the program.

At 4.03 pm the Sydney Uni Women stepped forward with a strong row to take out the Women?s Eight championship and successfully defend their crown first won in 2004. The senior men?s group were confident as their paddled away from the boating area. Arch rivals UTS, defending eights champions had a few of their silver medallists from Athens missing or not in full training and 2005 being a post Olympic presented the opportunity for Sydney Uni rowers to move up to the next level and the eights would present that particular opportunity. As the men?s eights left the starting blocks it was Sydney University No 1 who grabbed and early lead. UTS chased hard cutting the initial advantage as the crews went deep in to the second 500. At the half way point SUBC led by 1.4 seconds and another 3 seconds behind UTS were Sydney Uni No 2.

The uni crew and spectators sensed now that the dominance of UTS in this event of the past five years or so was about to end as the crews crossed the 1500 mark with SUBC 1.6 seconds ahead. The third five hundred had been nearly even despite gallant efforts from UTS to bridge the lead. The last 500 went quickly as Sydney Uni wound out their finish to complete the sector in a split of 1m 26 secs and pulled away to win by 2.44 seconds, nearly a length.

On hand to see the win was Joe Donnelly, coxen of the last Sydney Uni winning Eight at the 1975 NSW Championships. That crew which included Chris Shiners, Ian Luxford, Steve Newnham, Ted O?Loughlin, Tim Conrad, and Phil Walker sent five members to the 75 Kings Cup crew which blew away the opposition at Lake Kurwongbah by 3.5 lengths.

In the overall point score Honours Trophy Sydney University won convincingly with 69.75 points from second place Sydney Rowing Club on 26 points. Our photo shows Women?s Captain Yasmin L?Estrange with the Men?s State Championship Squad and holding the Honours Trophy, the Q L Deloitte Trophy ( Men?s Eight) and the NSW Sports Club Centenary Trophy ( Women?s Eight).

This performance was certainly the best ever by Sydney University at a NSW Championships and probably one of the most impressive overall wins by any club. Now our rowers must recover for the National Titles and Selection Regatta commencing 7th -13th March where the competition from other elite clubs and state and national sports institutes will be that much tougher.

Nevertheless it is a suitable time to congratulate all our oarsmen and women on a superb effort. Of course the key to success is great coaching and in the last year we have been fortunate to have a team of dedicated and brilliant coaches that have trained, planned and recruited well. On the men?s side Senior coaches Marty Rabjohns and Andrew Randell with assistants Ed Yorston and James Tyree and on the women?s side senior coach Alan Bennett and Intermediate coach Zita van de Walle.

It is also opportune to thanks our supporters at this time. Sydney Uni Sport, CEO Greg Harris, Michelle Nancarrow, Angela Harris, Kate Charge and Rob Smithies and President Bruce Ross and his Management Committee. Also thanks to NSWIS and NSWIS CEO Charles Turner for support.

The 2005 NSW State Championships will be etched in the memory of those rowers who had the opportunity to be in our squad for this event and will go down in our Club's long history as a very special occasion.