Sydney University?s Men?s Eight achieved a rare feat last Saturday by winning the Oxford and Cambridge Cup for the third year in a row. The six finalists made up the last race of the finals day of the Australian University Rowing Championships and with almost identical times in the heats it looked like a race between Sydney and Adelaide as favourites for the 2006 Cup.
The Adelaide crew looked fast in their heat coming home a bit faster than the Sydney crew over the last 1000 meters.
Anchoring the Sydney Eight were 20006 U23 Silver Medallists, Fergus Pragnell and Chris Clyne from the Aussie U23 four while their two crewmates from the Australian four were key members of the Adelaide crew.
The final was rowed in good conditions at Penrith with Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne crossing the opening 500 within 2 seconds, Sydney at this stage shading Adelaide by 1.6 seconds. The timing did not register at the 1000 mark but Sydney looked to have held their lad of the 500 with the other crews dropping back out of contention.
The Sydney crew was laden with experience but also had four members who had not had a ?big? winter in terms of training. The job of Aussie Eights cox Marty Rabjohns was to ensure that the crew did try and take too much advantage of their early pace knowing that Adelaide would be strong in the second thousand.
As the crews moved towards the 1200 metre Adelaide were trying to mount challenges which Sydney Uni covered. Deep into the last 500 Adelaide moved quickly and with excellent timing, precise bodywork and high tempo they cut quickly into Sydney?s lead. With 100 metres to go the margin as down to a third of a length and while Adelaide continued to close the gap in the final run to the line Sydney held their form and did enough to cross just under a quarter of a length ahead. The official margin was just 0.64 of a second with Sydney recording a very slick time for this stage of the season of 5.51.76.
Four members of the Sydney Uni Eight joined an exclusive club of university rowers who have won the Oxford and Cambridge Cup three years in a row. Fergus Pragnell, Chris Clyne, Pat Wilson and Andrew Wilson were all members of the winning crews in this event at Lake Barrington in 2004 and at the Hinze Dam in 2005. It was also a first up win for SUBC coach Phil Bourguignon who joined our club in January after completing a year as AIS Scholarship coach.
The crew was Marty Rabjohns, Fergus Pragnell, Chris Clyne, Terrence Alfred, Nick Hudson, Andrew Wilson, Pat Wilson, Damon Hietbrink and Will Chambers.
Intervarsity rowing has been contested since 1860. The first ten years saw haphazard competition between Sydney and Melbourne unis and official competition began with Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in 1870 in fours. With the donation of the trophy by the colleges of Oxford and Cambridge in 1896 the competition moved to eights and this premier race of university rowing has been held regularly since that time.
Sydney University last won the ?triple? in 1960-61-62. Other ?triples? by our club were in 1907-8-9, 1947-48-49 and in 1935-36-37-38 SUBC won four in a row.
In other results from this years AUC Rowing, Sydney won the men?s title, Melbourne the women?s and Melbourne won the overall in a close contest from Sydney and Macquarie.