The U23 Men’s eight event at the 2010 Nationals started with the Melbourne Uni crew as firm favourites having had several pairs and six rowers in the final of the U23 pairs. Melbourne were favoured over Mercantile and these two crews were drawn in lanes 2 and 3 with defending champions Sydney Uni on the spectator side in lane 5. Sydney Rowing Club were in lane 1 and West Australian Rowing composite in lane 4.
The polished combination of Melbourne Uni had the fastest start and first 500 – they went to the early lead of one second over Sydney Uni at the 500 and pushed this out to close to 2 seconds ( 3/4 length) at the halfway mark. As the crews approached the 1400 metre mark Sydney Uni was clearly raising their tempo and coming back on Melbourne Uni – although the timing hut gave both crews the same time at the 1500 metre mark it was clearly Melbourne Uni who had crossed about a third of a length ahead.
Sydney Uni were now challenging and as they did Melbourne Uni on the far side responded. Cox Will Raven called the crew up in a few further steps as they finally drew level with Melbourne Uni. Stroke Toby Ledgerwood was pushing the rate up into the forties as the big yellow Empacher of SUBC lifted and shot to the lead with less then 200 metres to go. Urged on by Nick Purnell in the five seat (fresh from his win in the Open Coxless Four) the Sydney Uni crew responded as they defended this title – so hard-won in Tasmania in 2009. As the finish came it was Sydney Uni who crossed 1.4 seconds (half a length) ahead of Melbourne Uni with Mercantile third six seconds behind.
It is rare to see an eight in top level competition come from 2 seconds down to win convincingly. The performance of the SUBC crew in this race was simply one of the best – credit to all the crew and cox Will Raven and their Coach – Mark Prater.
The crew was:
Will Raven Toby Ledgerwood Cam Girdlestone Sasha Belonogoff Nick Purnell Ryan Barraclough Ryan Edwards Matthew McCormack Hamish Playfair