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Australian Boat Race Clash Set for Yarra River 22nd October

Men's and Women's eights from the universities of Sydney and Melbourne will meet on The Yarra River for the Annual Australian Boat race on Sunday morning 22nd October.

Aus Boat Race 2015 - men's eights - Sydney held and early lead over Melbourne University

Aus Boat Race 2015 - men's eights - Sydney held and early lead over Melbourne University

Over recent years Sydney has dominated the men's race and Melbourne is unbeaten in the modern era since 2010 in the women's race.

The Yarra course begins in Toorak and the crews will race into the city finishing just before Princes Bridge.

The course will pass under six bridges starting with the Church St bridge in Toorak just after the start. Crews will pass a number of landmarks including AAMI Stadium, the MCG, Federation Square, Boathouse Drive, Flinders St Station, Federation Square. The course length is approximately 4.5 km.

This course was first used for the modern Australian Boat Race in 2013 when there was a controversial clash in the men's race which put Sydney out of contention.

The Australian Boat Race Yarra Course starting on the right in Toorak and finishing just before Princes Bridge in central Melbourne.

The Australian Boat Race Yarra Course starting on the right in Toorak and finishing just before Princes Bridge in central Melbourne.

Australian Boat Race Course details


Church/Chapel Street Bridge – Shared Arch:   1100m Distance from start -

South Station- South of Centre Arch; North Station-North of Centre arch

Cremorne Railway Bridge – Shared Arch:   1450 m

South Station- South of Centre Arch; North Station-North of Centre arch

Punt Road Bridge:    2100m

South Station- Centre Arch; North Station-North Arch

Morrel Bridge – Shared Arch:   2400m

South Station- South of Centre Arch; North Station-North of Centre arch

Swan Street Bridge:   3300 m

Judges Box   3700m

Melbourne University Boat Club  -   4000 m

South Station-South Arch; North- Centre Arch

Princes Bridge – Shared Arch:   4500m

South Station- South of Centre Arch; North Station-North

Australian Boat Race Yarra Course – Major Marks and Distances

Start to :

Top Herring Island                                                         500m

Bottom Herring Island                                                  700m

Chapel St Bridge                                                            1100m

Cremorne Bridge                                                           1450m

Punt Road Bridge                                                           2100m

Morrell Bridge                                                                2400m

Swan St Bridge                                                               3300m

Judges Box (traditional Upper Yarra course)                 3700m

MUBC                                                                              4000m

Finish                                                                              4200m

                 Before the race crew captains issue the traditional challenge - at the 2016 race on the lawns of Sydney University

                 Before the race crew captains issue the traditional challenge - at the 2016 race on the lawns of Sydney University

2015 Australian Boat Race – Men’s Eights -a Coach Perspective

2015 Australian Boat Race – Men’s Eights -a Coach Perspective


SUBC Racing past MUBC ABR 25 Oct 15 SUBC Men's eight cross to the southern bank as they race past the boatsheds on the Yarra ABR 25th Oct 2015


The Australian Boat Race is an event SUBC look forward to every year. With only a fifty percent winning record on the Yarra since the race's re-creation in 2010, I was nervous as a coach, knowing how much it means to MUBC to impress on their home turf. The men's race went to another level in 2013 with clashing oars and an extremely tight battle for most of the race. In 2011, the lead changed a number of times and Melbourne came home very strong in final stages to only just miss out. So for us, we were going into this year's race not taking anything for granted and using the first few days to readjust to the bends and the flow. Our preparation was great but I knew with the calibre of guys in the Melbourne boat, it wasn't going to come easy.


In what is a relatively hectic pre-race period (for domestic rowing events), the crew chat was centred around staying internal, and being gutsy - not necessarily by rowing harder per se- but by rowing well, and executing skills, and keeping form, for the whole race.


I have to say, I didn't see the start of the race because the coverage cut out at the start line - but from what the boys have told me, it was the best start we did all week, where everything clicked, everyone was focused, and on the same page. This set up a great platform to get into the rhythm we had practiced all week, and which is normally our strength as a club. I think once the nerves settled after the start, the execution of that rhythm was spot on, set up by two really experienced guys in Cam Girdlestone and Sasha Belonogoff. For the bulk of the race, sitting in the mid to low thirties, the rhythm was consistent and set up by good pressure and intent under the water. It was pleasing to see that we never were happy or complacent with our lead and it continually stretched out over the four kilometre course. Will Raven did a great steering job and was ruthless in his demands for the guys to keep their foot on the gas. As someone who was involved in the saga that was 2013, it was extremely satisfying to dominate the way we did this year. It is something that sticks with you for a while - win or lose - so it's nice knowing we got the job done and we have some really good potential in big boats for the rest of the season.


Racing under Swan St Bridge ABR 2015

Last but certainly not least, there aren't much better things in life than beating  our southern neighbours . (particularly on their home course)!


We look forward to next year where hopefully we can make another statement on the great Sydney Harbour, at the home of Rowing.


Bronze Boys get Gold

Bronze Boys get Gold


Fergus Pragnell and Sasha Belonogoff both returned from the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam with bronze medals - Fergus in the men’s four and Sasha in the men’s double scull. Both, with help from their crew, were able to reverse last year’s result on the Yarra and take Sydney Uni men to gold. Fergus came into his familiar stroke seat and while Sasha moved from sculling to sweep in the five seat of the Sydney University men’s eight. Fergus has extensive experience in the stern big boats – he has won seven consecutive Kings Cups for New South Wales and always in stroke or seven. He had stroked the Sydney men’s crew in the Australian Boat Race in 2011, 12 and 13. Earlier this year Sasha had won both the national men’s single scull championship and the President’s Cup single scull in the Interstate regatta.

Joining Fergus and Sasha were national senior representative scullers Nick Hudson and Cam Girdlestone in seven and two respectively. Alex Purnell (Australian U 21 rep was bow) and three first year students from the eight that won the Championship event at Canadian Henley in August rounded out the crew – Campbell Watts in six, Tom Whitehead in four and Jake Bicknell in three. Experienced cox Will Raven took the coxens seat.

Sydney won the toss and chose the southern lane which they felt would suit their plan to push through the mid part of the 4.4 km course. Melbourne’s situation was not helped when their captain, Josh Booth, was ruled out on medical grounds just as he was about the board a flight to Sydney on Thursday.

Fergus Pragnell:  “The conditions were challenging, more challenging certainly than when it was last held on Sydney Harbour a few years ago. We got away to a good start. We won the coin toss and elected to start from the southern lane, knowing it would be a disadvantage early. But it was a risk worth take and it paid off. We wanted to be fast, but also efficient, but not use up all our energy early.”

Cam Girdlestone: “The water got very lumpy into the race – especially around Goat Island – and we had to keep up the tempo and the work but make sure we worked as cleanly as possible in the conditions.”

Sydney pushed hard around the kilometre mark and from 1 to 2 kms were able to push out to a solid lead.

The final result was Sydney in 14 mins 13 seconds ahead of Melbourne 14 mins 26 seconds

Sydney University Boat Club Fundraising Raffles

Great Prizes and limited tickets in $100 and $50 Raffle Drawn 3.00 pm 12 Noon Sunday 23rd June, at Scots College Boatshed


Two fantastic prizes headline our Limited Edition raffles to raise funds for our 2013 National Team representatives.

Our $100 ticket raffle has only 100 tickets for sale only with a top prize of a 7 days accommodation at a luxury apartment at the Big White Ski Resort about four hours west of Vancouver in British Columbia. Prize is available November/December 2013 or March April 2014 ( see Stonebridge condo info sheet).

$100 Prize Pool

$100 Prize Raffle Ticket Form

We also have a $50 ticket raffle - only 100 tickets will be sold – and two terrific prizes are available, First prize is a new model 139cm LG Smart HD TV along with a home theatre system – prize value is $4,500. Second prize is a long weekend at a holiday home overlooking Pittwater at Palm Beach.

$50 Prize Pool

$50 Prize Raffle Ticket Form

Check out our info packages for these two raffles along with order forms attached. To purchase tickets please contact our SUBC parents or send the ticket forms to

Or fax to 02 9559 1366.




Lunch for Sydney University National Team Representatives

Lunch Flyer

2 Noon Sunday 23rd June, Scots College Boatshed Tickets $95

Parents and the Committee of Sydney Uni Boat Club have arranged a lunch at the beautiful Scots College boatshed on 23rd June to raise funds for our rowers selected in Australian Junior and U23 National Rowing Teams for 2013.

This year 10 rowers and 3 coaches from the Boat Club will represent Australia – nine in U23 and Juniors and four at senior level.

U23 and Junior rowers are not fully funded and our lunch and associated raffles and auctions aim to raise sixty thousand dollars to send our athletes away fully funded.

So please join us on the 23rd and celebrate the success of our young rowers and send them away with the backing they deserve.

Lunch booking form attached – please email your booking to

Or call Chris or 0410 406 790 if you would like to attend.



Canadian Henley Fundraiser

Canadian Henley Fundraiser

The Sydney University U23 Men’s Eight crew was given a rousing farewell from more than 150 parents and supporters before the commencement of their Canadian tour later this month. The “Canada” lunch, held at picturesque Scot’s College boat-shed last Saturday, was staged to raise much-needed funding for the crew on their four-week tour.

The crew of ten Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC) athletes and with Coach Rick van Hooydonk will compete at this year’s Ontario Rowing Championships (27-29th July) and then at Canadian Henley at St Katherine’s from 5-12th August 2012.

Initiated in 1880, Canadian Henley Regatta is one of the major regattas of the North American rowing season.

The athletes taking part in the strong Men’s Eight consist of – Thomas Sacre, , Hamish Playfair, Jack Hargreaves, Peter Koster, Nicholas Wheatley, Tom McClintock, Jon Rundle, Kit Cunningham-Reid and cox Will Raven with Ryan Barraclough competing as a sculler and acting as reserve.

SUBC Vice-President Chris Noel says “We are sending this team away to an iconic rowing event – we see this as an important development trip and one which we believe will expand our rowers horizons.”

Tom MCann SUBC President was pleased with the success of the event: ‘I would like to thank Scots College for allowing us to use their beautiful boatshed for our Canada Fundraiser and also would like to say a big thanks to the SUBC parents led by Rebecca Wilson and Julie Playfair for their hard work in putting the event together.”

If you missed the lunch but would like to assist the crew , donations can still be made through Sydney Uni Boat Club. Contact Michaela Waldbauer on or call 9559 1300 and ask for Micha.

Canadian Henley Tour 2012

Canadian Henley Tour 2012


A Sydney Uni team of 10 rowers and coaches is planning a development tour to Canada in July and August. The men’s eight will head to Ontario on 20th July and compete initially in the Ontario Rowing Championships 27-29th July and then at Canadian Henley at St Catherine’s from 5-12th August. Canadian Henley Regatta is one of the major regattas of the North American rowing season. It was initially held in 1880.

To raise funds for the trip the Boat Club is holding a “CANADA LUNCH” at The Scots College Boatshed on Saturday 7th July at 12.30 pm. Tickets are $95 each.

Book now!

SUBC to Christen New Boats

SUBC will christen two Empacher four and five Sykes pairs on Saturday 15th October at our training centre at the Uni of New South Wales Boatshed at Tarban Creek.

The new heavyweight four will be named after Adam Spencer, 702 ABC radio breakfast host and former Sydney Uni Senate member. The naming honours Adam’s contribution to Sydney University and to Sydney Uni Sport over many years.

The lightweight four will be named after Andy Sneddon. Andy passed away last year at the age of 100 years. He rowed for school and in the 1930 Intervarsity race in Perth. – he was an accomplished lightweight rower with Sydney Rowing Club and a university blue in rowing. Andy’s famiily will be on hand to christen the boat.

Other boats being christened include John Boultbee IV, Bruce Ross II, Marty Rabjohns and the Dom Bressan.

Christenings are from 12 noon to 1.00 pm with dreinks, food and club picnic from 1-2pm

Henley Fundraiser Successful

Henley Fundraiser Successful


Sunday 5th June was the ideal winter’s day for this event – cool but sunny with the Parramatta River sparkling. Parents, friends and rowers turned out to raise money to send Coach James Macartney and rowers Jason Waddell, Ryan Edwards, Ryan Barraclough and Hamish Playfair to the UK to contest 3 regattas in the coxed four – including Royal Henley.

With some great prizes on offer and Ray Hadley doing the auctioning the trip funds were raised very quickly indeed. Wine, champagne and Pimms flowed along with great food – all prepared by the parent organizing group.

Many of the current rowers acted as bar staff for the day – see atatched photo.

The crew flwe out Sunday night and have already setled into training in the UK. The crew will race fopr Thames Rowing Club in the Brittania for coxed fours at Royal Henley 29th June -3rd July.

Strathclyde Fundraiser Lunch

Over one hundred and ninety parents, friend and supporters of Sydney Uni rowing gathered at Dockside darling Harbour last Sunday 17th June for the ?Strathclyde Fundraising Lunch?. The purpose ? to raise funds for the Sydney Uni rowers selected in the 2007 U23 Australian Team. Lunch got underway with the introduction of the U23 Men?s Eight (seven members from SUBC) and Renee Kirby and Charlotte Walters from the U23 Women?s Quad. Renee and Charlotte had travelled from Melbourne where they are currently training. Cam Girdlestone (the tenth U23) could not attend due to training, study and distance issues (Cam is training in the U23 Lightweight Four in southern Tasmania) but did send a note of thanks and some video and photos of his crew in training.

Peter Longman of ABC Sport had graciously given his time to act as MC and once the introductions were complete and entrees consumed Peter introduced our two guests Tom Herschmiller and Liz Kell. Tom is in third year in the Sydney Uni graduate medical program and has rowed for SUBC in two winning State Elite Eights and a winning Oxford and Cambridge Cup crew. Before his arrival at Sydney Uni Tom had rowed for his native Canada, attending the Sydney Olympics and winning the 2003 World Championship in the Coxless Fours and gaining a silver in the same event at the Athens Olympics where his crew was beaten by Great Britain in a classic race. Liz Kell is the reigning World Champion in Double Sculls having teamed up with fellow Sydney Uni rower Brooke Prately to win the title at Eton in August 2006.

Liz and Tom were interviewed about there experiences at the top of our sport internationally and gave some insights into what is required for success at the highest level. The organizers had arranged for a screen and video footage showing Liz?s win in 2006, Tom?s silver medal race and the U23 Eight and Lightweight Four in recent training.

After main course SUBC Vice President, Chris Noel introduced Professor Andrew Coats, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Sydney University and responsible for ?Community? which includes the co-curricular programs and institutions of the university. Andrew spoke of the importance of co-curricular activities in making the student experience at Sydney University special and highlighted how sport can be, not only a great experience for the student, but can project a highly positive image of the university to the community.

Andrew presented funding to the team from the Sydney University Travel Grant demonstrating that Sydney University is tangibly involved in supporting the programs that Andrew had mentioned of being so important. From the size of the applause it seemed that the U23?s and their supporters were most appreciative of the assistance from the university.

After main course was finished there was a frenzy of fund-raising with a raffle (a number of the prizes courtesy of a donation from alumnus Eric Carter), mystery wine bottles and a live auction and silent auction. In the silent auction, the writer was outbid by Darryl Madden for the Big Brother Eviction tickets and the Gold Coast accommodation and in the live auction went down to a rampant Craig Lister for the framed and autographed U23 oar (which by the way had been magnificently framed and presented by Warwick Girdlestone).

When the dust had settled the ?boss? (Anne Lister) seemed happy that the targets had been reached and with the success of the lunch and the supporting grants from Sydney University, The NSWRA Bromley Trust and NSWIS the Sydney Uni U23?s were now fully funded and could concentrate 100% on their training till they depart on 12th July.

Spotted at the lunch were a few SUBC alumni including Australian representatives Steve Newnham (1974 and 1979) and Iain MacDonald (1961). Also on hand were Jane Spring, long term President of Sydney Uni Women?s Rowing Club and David Evans CEO of NSW Rowing.

For five sets of parents it was ?d?j? vu all over again?. Anne and Craig Lister, Diane and Tony Connolly, Kerrie and Mike Allsop, Lee and Dick Estens and Pam and Warwick Girdlestone all had their sons in the 2004 and 2005 Australian Junior Fours. New parents to this ?team? for 2007 included Elaine Kirby (daughter Renee won gold at U23?s in 2006), Bev Alfred, Tony and Pru Goswell, Phil and Shelley Boyce (Tony and Phil are 1970?s alumni of SUBC) and Rob Walters.

Special mention must go to Anne Lister who both hosted and fed the fund-raising meetings with assistance from Craig on the BBQ and Kerrie Allsop who went far afield managing the wine sales.

When the writer departed late afternoon a considerable body of guests were still chatting and drinking ?a sure sign of an enjoyable and successful day.

Peter Antonie Addresses Junior Four Lunch

With the ever-professional Gordon Bray in charge and 1992 Olympic rowing gold medallist on hand as guest speaker the Fundraising Lunch for the 2005 Aussie Junior Four got into full swing Sunday at the Le Montage centre at Leichhardt. Gordon had an entertaining tale to tell of one of his early experiences covering rowing in the 70's when he was obliged to "preview" the head of the River from the bank while actually standing in a phone box halfway to Penrith.

Peter enthralled and inspired the crowd with his love of rowing history, his respect for the greats of the past and some very entertaining stories from his near thirty year career in competitive rowing.

After Peter's talk Gordon issued some probing questions and the crowd settled in to support the silent auction and the main auction to raise funds for the Junior Four trip to Brandenburg, Germany. A highlights video of Peter's 1992 Gold Medal performance from Barcelona was played to strong applause from the audience.

Food and service from the staff at Le Montage were excellent and a very relaxed atmosphere saw the last guests expelled at 5.30 pm. Parent's and friends of the crew families and members of their schools ( Kings Joey's and Shore) supported the event strongly and SUBC friends also filled a number of tables. This writer confesses to being extremely pleased when one of his associates purchsed one of two bottles of Grange on offer and promised to share it when we meet next over dinner.

The event was supported as well by a number of past State and National rowing representatives including Steve Newnham and Ted O'Loughlin (1974), Stephen Handley, Marty Rabjohns and Rhette Ayliffe and 2003 Olympic silver medallist Dan Burke.

Our photo shows Peter Antonie relaxing after his speech with Dan Burke.

Sydney University Boat Club and the 2005 Aussie Junior Four are grateful for the effort Peter made to come from Melbourne for the day and for the wonderful atmosphere he helped create - his contribution plus that of the crew Parents , Gordon Bray and auctioneer Richard Page contributed to a very successful day.

Big Night At SUBC Annual Dinner

About one hundred guests assembled unde a marquee on the Linley Point pontoon for the 2004 Annual Dinner. This year the occasion had added glamour as we welomed a large contingent from SUWRC at Glebe.

President , Mark Hoffman presented the Club awards for both 2003 and 2004.

These were:

Most Successful Oarsman: 2003 Francis Hegerty

2004: Matt Ryan and Mike Valli

Most Improved Oarsman: 2003 Ian Allsop

2004 Fergus Pragnell

Best Clubman : 2003 Tim Williams

2004 Ian Allsop


Heavweight Coach , Andrew Randell spoke about what is required to develop success at a rowing club ( although this could apply to any high peformance activity). Following is an extract from Andrew's speech.

"This experience taught me the importance of the very first ingredient in any successful shed - a common GOAL. This goal must be supported by a majority of persons acting on the board of the organisation.

Once a goal has been set and supported at a senior administrative level, work can commence towards the next two ingredients found within successful sporting clubs: quality coaching staff and quality infrastructure. Without quality coaching you will not only have trouble attracting athletes to the program but those who come might not be able to fulfil their potential. Quality equipment of equal or better standard than your opposition are a must, as are auxiliary training facilities such as weight training, ergometers and the like. Medical back up and sports science testing also have their place. Consequently, universities are excellent places at which to develop high performance sports programs. They have a range of facilities that can be harnessed for use across a number of sports thereby maximising efficiency of usage. Additionally they have a steady finance stream with which to maintain or develop this infrastructure. Generally, the only ingredient missing is quality coaches.

The fourth ingredient is the recruitment of talented athletes. A sound knowledge of the requirements of your chosen sport is essential, as is some form of talent identification program. Identification of suitable talent maximises the potential of your coaching staff through minimising the time spent coaching unsuitable athletes. It also minimises overuse of equipment and unwarranted strain on auxiliary facilities. Generally speaking, if both the coaching staff and equipment is of high quality, athletes will be attracted to the center.

The fifth but equally important ingredient is the fostering of an ethos within the shed that promotes attributes required for success in any area of life. Attitudes are paramount in this process: a positive attitude, a never-say-die attitude, a competitive attitude, a professional attitude. These attributes must permeate from within the shed and become the culture of the shed. Such an ethos is developed over time, not only through the success of the club?s athletes but through the type of guest speakers that are brought in to mentor the athletes, through the discipline and consistency demonstrated by coaches and senior rowers within the shed and by the professionalism of auxiliary staff, such as weights coaches and sports science experts. Every club member bears the responsibility of developing a winning club ethos.

Much of what I have just outlined may sound elitist. However, my experience at Drummoyne Rowing Club was that such a program could successfully coexist with a strong Masters and Social rowing program. Between 1997 and 2001 over thirty DRC rowers were selected on National teams. During this time they won the point score at the National Masters Championships on one occasion and regularly finished in the top three places. However, a caveat that I would make in this instance is that the goals for these groups must be clearly established, priorities set and boundary lines accurately indicated. Such boundaries need to include boat allocation (elite boats should be just that and kept for the elite athletes), pontoon access and speed boat access. Only when goals, priorities and boundaries are clearly established can conflict between groups be minimised to productive levels.

In summary, successful high performance sports clubs require clear direction, quality coaches, quality infrastructure and quality athletes. When these four attributes are combined with a wining ethos permeating strongly throughout the club, success is guaranteed. Such a model has been followed successfully by the SUBC over the past 10 years and has resulted in the selection of over 20 athletes in Nationals team in 2003 and 2004 along with several gold, silver and bronze medals at World Championships."

Following Andrew's words Robbie Williams, cox of the 2004 Aussie U23 Coxed Four gave a detailed account of racing in heats and final that ended with the crew winning the gold medal. Robbie recounted how the coach of the British crew who closed in quickly on the Aussies near the line had commented that " another 10 metres and we would have had you". Robbie replied " We only train to last 2K"

The formalities wound up with Vice President, Chris Noel reading a long list of thank yous to all those involved in contributing to an overall very successful year. Special mention went to the parents of the Junior Four and U23 Fours who raised funds to send these crews overseas.

The highlights of the year were considered to be the "Honours" Trophy as the top club (with our sisters at SUWRC) of the NSW State Championships, The Gold Medal to the U23 Coxed Four, winning the Oxford and Cambridge Cup.

Partying continued late. The portaloo seemed to be the only casualty of the evening.