What a race. The Gallagher Great Race is an elaborate event that has the twists and turns to set it apart from any other race. To top that off, you are competing against other crews for the best position on the 3.85km course to avoid the oncoming stream that can ruin even the best boat’s speed. This year, Sydney University Boat Club competed against a strong and experienced Waikato University Crew and some fresh faces rowing for the Cambridge University Crew. Our crew was defending the Harry Mahon Trophy, which we had won on our second attempt in 2012.

This race report courtesy of Will Raven who steered the Sydney Uni men’s eight in this event:

“The erg challenge on Thursday night resulted in Waikato having first choice of lanes taking the middle starting station, followed by Cambridge choosing the western bank, then Sydney University being left to start on the east station.

We had known leading into the erg that the result would play a key role in the way the race on Sunday would pan out, being left out in the stream in the eastern station, we knew we had a hard task to be able to take the early lead that often wins river races like this. We had a strong start, but due to heavy stream after the first crossing we didn’t have the desired overlap to force Waikato into the stream.

Shortly after the first crossing Cambridge were forced out into the stream by a surge from our Sydney crew, and were left at the back of the race pack. Cambridge had many pushes, but to the credit of the Sydney Uni crew we were able to counter them, and move away throughout the remainder of the race.

With Cambridge out of the way, the hunt was on for Waikato. The remaining two river crossings did not offer any tactical opportunities to cross in front of Waikato and establish position on the inside of the bank, due to the Waikato crew having similar tactics of crossing as early as possible, so as to not allow us any chance of passing as the Sydney Uni crew did to them last year. The only remaining opportunity for the Sydney crew to win was in the final stages of the race, with the leading crew through the last bridge having to pull into the stream for the final hundred metres of the race, this allowed the remaining two crews a opportunity to sprint home for the win. With our crew having closely tailed the Waikato crew at all crossings, and not letting them out of reach through the majority of the race, the sprint was beginning to look like a real possibility. The margin as Waikato pulled out into the stream was half a length clear water; the Sydney crew lifted, but was unable to close the full length and a half to gain the lead. The final result was Waikato; two thirds of a length back to Sydney University, and a further few lengths back to Cambridge University.

A huge Thank You to the Gallagher Great Race Team for hosting such an enjoyable week of Gala Balls, Crew Dinners, Erg Challengers and so much more. Also, Thank You to our crew sponsor’s, Foster Construction, for their support throughout the campaign.