By Fleur Rollason
Port Alfred was rocked by the sounds of hooting and squealing tires as supporters chased rowing boats down the river. South Africa’s top university rowing crews and their supporters descended on the Kowie River for the annual Mutual and Federal Universities Boatrace.
Boatrace consists of men’s crews rowing over 6km and the women over 4km. Heats started on September 14, with the women’s B crew heats taking place first. Crews are let off with a 30-second gap and places are decided on times. Rhodes went off first having won in 2005.
Rhodes’ women’s B crew completed the heads race with the fastest time. Wits University competed in the first and second final with Rhodes. In the men’s B crew race, Wits and the University of Johannesburg (UJ) were placed in the first and second final.
The women’s A crew heat saw Rhodes finish with the fastest time and they were placed in the first and second final with Wits. The men’s A crew heat was the last event of the day with
Rhodes once again holding the fastest time. UCT was placed in the final along with Rhodes after having a fantastic race to come second.
The Rhodes men’s B crew final took place on Friday to determine third and fourth place. A small crowd was there to cheer our men on to claim third place over Stellenbosch in howling wind. No times are available as the race had to be restarted.
Saturday dawned still and cool, the perfect day for the rest of the finals. The women’s B crew had a great race against Wits to win the final in a time of 17:11 minutes. An exciting day of racing followed with a close race between Stellenbosch A crew and Tuks A crew, with Tuks just winning, placing them fifth overall. Wits won the men’s B crew final beating UJ.
Rhodes women’s A crew completed the final to ensure a clean sweep for a second year in a row for Rhodes in the women’s section. They won their final in a time of 12,38 minutes. Times varied a lot due to weather conditions and the tide. The men’s A crew final was the last event of the day and Rhodes was able to reclaim the Cambridge Rudder from UJ.
At prizegiving the Stellenbosch and UCT men’s crews were named the most improved crews and Wits women claimed the most improved trophy for the women’s crews. Wits and the
Rhodes crews were presented with their winning medals and trophies.
No Boatrace is complete without an enthusiastic crowd and rowdy afterparty. The crowd was out in great force for the finals on Saturday and spectators and rowers were able to enjoy a great afterparty on Saturday.