Race a Great Result for Cambridge
A few thousand Waikato rowing fans left the banks of the Waikato River slightly disappointed yesterday as Cambridge University defeated Waikato University in the annual Gallagher Great Race.
Despite threatening clouds, crowds lined the river banks to see the two university teams clash for the fifth time since the race started in 2002.
Some sat with cask wine on the damp bank, while others were treated to glasses of bubbly in the sponsors' lounge at the Ferrybank. There was barely a spot of free grass left in the minutes leading up to the men's race, which started just after 1pm.
Waikato University Bachelor of Music student Chase Douglas heightened the home crowd's spirits with an outstanding a cappella performance of the national anthem.
Minutes later the race began, as did the screams from the bank urging on Waikato.
Japanese drummers Tamashi Taiko, from Auckland, added to the atmosphere, beating increasingly faster as the boats approached the finishing line.
Mooloo bells rang out as the crowd chanted "come on Waikato" – but it was soon evident Cambridge's lead was just too big.
Race organiser Rob Hamill said it was a great crowd turnout and on a par with previous years.
Despite the loss, he said he was impressed with the Waikato team effort.
"I went in saying they were the underdogs, but they did so well the way they hung in there.
"They could have fallen right back, but they didn't."
But it wasn't all doom and gloom for Waikato, with the women's team taking home the Bryan Gould Cup after beating Sydney University.
After the racing was done, the crews and many spectators celebrated at a victory party at The Cook Bar and Cafe.