Departing 12th July Sydney Uni Boat Club’s Men’s Eight travelled to China by invitation to compete in the “World Famous Universities Regatta” in Shangyu, Shaoxing. In the men’s competition, this regatta featured four crews from international universities and four from Chinese universities. Shangyu is a district in Zhejiang Province between the capital Hangzhou and the major port of Ningbo and is a bit over two hours by car southeast of Shanghai.
The eight squad had been in training for a couple of months and including some of the crew that had been to Brisbane at the beginning of July to compete in the Trans-Tasman University competition against New Zealand universities and the University of Queensland.
Coming off the back of that campaign the previous week, our crew looked to build and improve upon their performance. In the heats, SUBC came 1st with the fastest time going into the A Final, ahead of Oxford University, Melbourne University, and Otago University. A few hours later in the final, after delays caused by thunder, rain, and lots of lightning, Otago clinched the Gold by 1.3 seconds ahead of SUBC in 2nd, Oxford 3rd, and MUBC in 4th. Although disappointing not to take out the Gold, the team was happy with their effort and to have competed alongside some of the top international universities.
The Sydney University crew was: Oliver Klotz, Hayden Mounter, Alex Page, Will Gregory, Henry Wilcox, Max Elliot, Josh Hewitt, and cox Tom Shaw. Will Raven was the tour manager.
In addition to the successful rowing regatta, the team was able to enjoy the local customs and lifestyle of Shangyu and Shanghai. Throughout the trip, the organising committee coordinated cultural experiences each day for all the international crews to partake in. The team enjoyed a multitude of opportunities to socialise with the other university rowers including the local Chinese crews, many of which had not experienced racing against international schools. The team also appreciated experiencing the authentic Chinese food that the organising committee provided at the hotel, as well as dining in local restaurants. It was clear how cuisine and history is ingrained in the Chinese culture as well as embedded in their long-standing traditions.
Throughout the week, the squad also received guided tours of The Shangyu Museum, Shaoxing Lu Xun and the Tomb of Da Yu. We learned lots from visiting these local landmarks of famous ancient figures of Shangyu’s history and culture. We concluded the historical visits by meeting local school kids who were eager to practice their English as well as participate in a Q&A discussion regarding the lifestyle of University rowers.
Our Chinese hosts were especially pleased to find that one of our crew, Charlie Carr, had quite a good grasp of Mandarin. Charlie was able to communicate well with our hosts, translate at times and provide a great connection between our team and the locals. Thanks, Charlie, for your long six years studying Mandarin.
The night before racing, a welcome banquet was held for all competing universities. SUBC shared time with all the rowers including the crews competing in the Women’s Quad Event, which included the teams from Harvard and Cambridge University.
Ending the trip, the team had some time in Shanghai, where we visited the local markets to get gifts and souvenirs for our families and indulge in the Shanghai Markets. The trip concluded in a rooftop bar in "The Bund", overlooking the architecture and stunning views of the Shanghai Tower before returning home.
Overall, SUBC is deeply grateful for the opportunity to have competed in China against other high-caliber universities and to have fully immersed ourselves in the local culture. We took away lots of new experiences, made new friends, and soaked up the culture of Shango and Shaoxing while proudly representing the University of Sydney on an international stage.
Special thanks to Oli Klotz and Charlie Carr for writing this article.