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The 129th Riverview Gold Cup Regatta was held on the Lane Cove River last Saturday (1st December) in scorching conditions tempered at times by a light sea breeze. The Gold Cup men’s eights was considered by pundits as a contest between Sydney Rowing Club and Sydney University with most feeling Sydney were slight favourites.

On the day Sydney had to withdraw Chris Morgan (Simon Nola) while Sydney Uni had to sub for Ryan Edwards and Sasha Belonogoff (illness) and Tom Sacre (recovering from a push bike accident). Both crews won their heats and their semi-finals with comparative ease though SUBC showed signs of some good form with a faster time.

Sydney University were fortunate to have Fergus Pragnell come up from Melbourne on Thursday to train with the eight and take the stroke seat.

For the final Sydney were drawn in lane 2, University in 3 with St Ignatius Riverview in lane 1 and Kings lane 4.The tide was running out ( against the crews) and near low point while there was a very slight tail breeze. The Sydney University crew pre-race talked about the need on such a short course (1400 metres) to take an aggressive approach, maintain a high rating but row with smoothness and composure.

Because of the dog-leg course the crews have a staggered start. Both the favoured crews move out of the start quickly above 40 and it seemed that Sydney University might have just a seat advantage at the 200 metre point. The uni boat had settled at 40 strokes with Jonny Rundle in 6 backing up the rhythm from stroke Pragnell.

At the 500 metre mark the Sydney Rowing Club crew moved up and took a slight advantage. From here to the 850 mark the two club crews fought a battle for the lead as the crews raced almost evenly. At the 850 mark a surge by Sydney Uni saw them take seats quickly and by the leaning pile the lead had extended to three quarters of a length. Riverview were running third and Kings School in fourth.

As the crew rounded the pile and straightened for home it was Sydney Uni upping the rate to 41 who moved out to clear water over Sydney. On the line it was University first in 4.03.8 about 3.5 seconds ahead of Sydney, 14 seconds to St Ignatius in third and 19 seconds to Kings in 4th.

Sydney University first won the Gold Cup in 1908 and did not win again till 1962. Since 2000 SUBC has been a regular winner of this prestigious trophy. The 2012 was SUBC’s fifth in a row.

For Sydney Uni cox, Toby Lister this was his eight Gold Cup – possibly some sort of record.

Interestingly the boat used was the “Gavin Brown” and Empacher eight. Since this boat was purchased in late 2008 it has won 4 King’s Cup, 5 Gold Cups, and 4 NSW Elite Eights Championships. 3 Australian Boat Races and 2 Nationals U23 Eights Championships.