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Harvard Men, Waikato Women Prevail in Gallagher Great Race

Harvard Men, Waikato Women Prevail in Gallagher Great Race

The Harvard men’s eight, led from the start and maintained a solid lead to claim victory in the Gallagher Great Race on Waikato River in Hamilton today, the first men's crew from the USA to do so.

Cambridge and Waikato universities had some early tussles off the start line, with Waikato taking over second position for the majority of the race.

However, in the final straight Cambridge made the most of their advantage on the west bank and sprinted for the finish, beating the home crew by 0.17secs, and relegating them to third. Harvard’s dominant performance means that they are the first crew from the USA to win the coveted Harry Mahon Trophy.

Meanwhile the women’s Waikato home crew executed their tactics to perfection, putting on a dominating performance which saw them finish in open water. Putting pressure on Sydney early in the race paid off for the crew as they led from start to finish. Trans-Tasman rivals Sydney and Melbourne finished second and third respectively. This is the Waikato women’s crew’s 11th win in the event’s 14 year history.

The Gallagher Great Race pitted university crews from Harvard, Cambridge, Melbourne, Sydney and hosts Waikato in the unique 3.85km boat race, which sees crews row upstream into the strong currents on the Waikato River, negotiating their way under three bridges.

The men’s race produced a fierce battle between all three crews; Harvard, the famed Ivy League American college, ten-time winners Waikato University and the prestigious Cambridge University.

The three crews sprinted at the start line, with Harvard taking prime position on the east bank, Waikato only eased off after Cambridge closed the gap. Mid way through the race the young Waikato crew made another charge at Cambridge and were successful at moving themselves into second position, only to be out-sprinted on the finish line.

Harvard captain James O’Connor said his crew had led from start to finish and that “it was a good a race as they could have hoped for”, especially as they had spent just four days rowing together.

“The Gallagher Great Race is great because no one gives up, it’s a fierce contest right until the end, no one can take a stroke off. We worked hard and it’s great to get the win, first and foremost for each other, and secondly for Harvard”.

Meanwhile Waikato University, led by U23 world champion Jackie Kiddle in stroke, also lead the way from the east bank in the women’s race, with Sydney remaining close and Melbourne dropping back.

Captain Christie Davis said the crew was pleased with the win.

“Tactically it wasn’t perfect. The strategy we tried at the start didn’t quite work out, but it did pay off because it forced Sydney into the current and they had to sit out there and work for it.

“The win is huge for us; we didn’t want a repeat of last year. Our coach, Nick and cox Morgan have been instrumental to our strategy and the crew really came together”.

The race culminated a week-long of activities including the indoor row, school visits, corporate, university and schools eights rowing on the Waikato River.


Gallagher Great Race, Women: Waikato University 15min 40.60sec, 1; Sydney University 16:21.11, 2; Melbourne University 18:14.35, 3.

Men: Harvard University 13:23.12, 1; Cambridge University 13:29.05, 2; Waikato University 13:29.22, 3.


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