The weekend of 11 September saw the eight major universities of South Africa descend on Kowie River, Port Alfred, to take part in the annual Boat Race Festival. The men’s A team made it into the A final for the first time since 2007 and walked away with a silver medal, just behind the University of Pretoria.
Other contenders of the event included the University of Witwatersrand (WITS), University of Pretoria, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal (UKZN), University of Cape Town (UCT), Stellenbosch University, University of Johannesburg (UJ) and Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU).
The first Rhodes race of the event was the C team race, where the Rhodes women placed second. The rest of the event saw every other Rhodes team finishing on the podium, with the men’s B placing third, the women’s B coming second in their A final, the women’s A coming third in their B final (after narrowly missing an A final), and the men’s A coming second in their A final.
Chairman of the Rhodes University Rowing Club, Jed Theron, spoke highly of the success of Boat Race 2015, especially considering Rhodes were the only ones to make podium finishes in all the main races along with UCT.
“If you compare the size of our varsity to the size of the varsities we compete against, it shows just how well we did,” Theron says. “The men’s A crew returned to the A final for the first time in nearly a decade. This was very special to me.”
Theron added his praise of the women’s A crew, who “closed the gap on the likes of UCT and UJ. A gap that was significant last year.”
Member of the Men’s A team, Brad Betts, says that this result was long awaited: “We did expect to make the A final and hopefully win the final, but came up against a very strong Tuks crew.”
Theron and the Rowing Club can be proud of their achievements, where “the regatta was a huge success and we can take many positives from it in the quest of returning back to the pinnacle of SA university rowing.”
Words by Ntuthuko Mlondo and Gabi Bellairs-Lombard