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Boat Race winners the University of Cambridge men's crew will almost certainly be fielding a crew with more big race experience when they take on Waikato University in Hamilton’s Gallagher Great Race on September 5th – but it could be experience on the challenging course that counts.
The young Waikato University crew named to contest the annual race is made up of athletes totally new to the race, while the Cambridge crew is expected to have two or three from their victorious 2008 team.
Even so, the Waikato crew will have – by far – the greater experience and knowledge of what is one of the most challenging stretches of river in world rowing and in Ainslee Ashton have a very experienced and knowledgeable steerswoman.
The home team usually contains a couple of New Zealand's elite rowers but they were unable to recruit any of the country's top talent this year with many preparing for the world championships starting at Lake Karapiro at the end of October. Giacomo Thomas and Finian Scott from the New Zealand Under-23 team are in the boat, however as is local boy Andrew Myers who was in the national Under 21 team.
The Waikato University women's crew will also face a tough battle to win back the Bryan Gould Cup from a strong Sydney University line-up, but does contain a number of quality performers and former squad members like of Odette Sceats, Erin Tolhurst, Kate Reymer and Alyce Pulford with Ivan Pavich as cox. Pavich is the nominated cox for the New Zealand men’s eight which will race in the World Championships.
The Gallagher Great Race – in its ninth year – is one of only a handful of one-on-one rowing challenges over long distance in the world and has helped put Waikato University, Hamilton and young New Zealand rowing talent on the world rowing map over the past decade.
WAIKATO MEN’S TEAM
Matthew Glenn (Hamilton) Age: 21 Weight: 86kg Height: 1.89m Background: Represented New Zealand at this year's World University Games. Won two silvers with NZ quad and eight at the 2007 Youth Cup.
Richard Harrison (Napier) Age: 20 Weight: 91kg Height: 1.89m Background: Represented New Zealand at this year's World University Games. Won gold in the Under-21 double sculls at the BankLink New Zealand National Championships.
Andrew Healey (Tirau) Age: 19 Weight: 95kg Height: 1.88m Background: The former crew member of the AON Maadi Cup-winning Hamilton Boys High School eight won gold in the pair and eight and bronze in the four at the Youth Cup Regatta in Sydney this year.
Giacomo Thomas (Havelock North) Age: 19 Weight: 85kg Height: 1.83m Background: Won gold in the u-21 double sculls at the national champs and bronze in the quad at the 2009 Junior World Championships.
Anthony Berkers (Ngatea) Age: 19 Weight: 86kg Height: 1.87m Background: Won gold in the Under-16 quad at the AON Maadi Cup regatta.
Andrew Myers (Cambridge) Age: 27 Weight: 90kg Height: 1.96m Background: Has represented the Waikato Regional Performance Centre and the Cambridge Rowing Club at recent national and North Island championship events.
Jonathan Nabbs (Cambridge) Age: 19 Weight: 92kg Height: 1.85m Background: The Waikato Regional Performance Centre member was part of the St Paul's College crew that finished fourth in the coxed fours Springbok Shield final in 2008.
Finian Scott (Cambridge) Age: 19 Weight: 70kg Height: 1.77m Background: A member of the NZ lightweight four at this year's World Under-23 championships and won gold in the Under-21 eight and silver in the Under-21 double sculls at the BankLink New Zealand national champs.
Matt Lobb (Cambridge) Age: 19 Weight: 76kg Height: 1.86m Background: Represented NZ at last year's Youth Cup in Sydney, winning gold in the double scull and quad and silver in the lightweight single.
Ainslee Ashton (Hamilton) Age: 20 Weight: 54kg Height: 1.65m Background: Coxswain for the Waikato University men's eight for the past two Gallagher Great Races.