• The winning Melbourne University Boat Club Men's and Women's Open squads. Photo: Peter Casamento.

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David Scott (Media Unit) University of Melbourne: T: 8344 0561 M: 0409 024 230

The University of Melbourne has come out on top in at an Oxford v Cambridge style showdown at  this afternoon’s  51st Head of the Yarra.

The University of Melbourne took out the Women’s Open event, 28:18 ahead of Sydney in a time of 30:36. The Melbourne University Boat Club (MUBC) men’s team took out the University Challenge and the Open Men’s event, with a time of 25:33, ahead of Sydney University Boat Club (SUBC), with a time of 25.39.

The two clubs faced off in the Open Section of the 8.6km time trial event exclusively for eight oared crews, joined by more than 2000 rowers and 204 boats around Australia, New Zealand and China. 

The teams featured some of the cream of Australia’s rowing talent: Beijing Olympic Silver Medalists’ Cameron McKenzie-McHarg and James Marburg rowed with the Melbourne University Boat Club, while Matt Ryan rowed with the Sydney University Boat Club’s first team.

In the women’s teams Dual world Champion in the Lightweight Division, Alice MacNamara and Beijing Olympic rowers Kim Crow, Sarah Heard and Lizzy Patrick rowed for MUBC, while Liz Kell, who as well as rowing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the Australian Women’s Double Scull world champion in 2006, rowed with the SUBC.

The Melbourne University Boat Club has now won six of the past nine Head of the Yarra races, while the Sydney University Boat Club is the 2009 NSW State Rowing Champion.

The rivalry builds on a history of rowing rivalry among Australia’s universities. In the early 1900s the annual intervarsity boat race for eight oared crews between Australian universities (the original competing universities in those days were Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide) was a major event on the national rowing calendar alongside the various interstate races. 

Established in 1859 (MUBC) and 1860 (SUBC), the two clubs are the oldest rowing clubs in Australia and are home to many Olympians and national representatives. 

The rivalry is set to become an annual event in the tradition of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, which have raced against each other every year since 1829 on the River Thames.