The Great RaceThe Boat Race sparked a similar event in our new home town, Hamilton. This is known as The Great Race
The Gallagher Great Race Festival is a rowing regatta on a 4.2km upstream course on the Waikato River through central Hamilton. The feature races of the festival sees the two premier University of Waikato crews (men's & women's) challenging International competition. The penultimate race of the festival has the two women's crews racing for the Bryan Gould Cup and then culminating in the actual "Great Race" between the two men's crews who race for the coveted Harry Mahon Trophy (Harry Mahon, one of the most influential coaches of the 1980s in NZ and internationally).The race takes place between the University of Waikato Senior Men's 8 crew and an international University crew (previously Cambridge, Oxford, Harvard and Washington Universities) who are invited to NZ to compete.
The Great Race is held on a 4.2km "against the flow" course through central Hamilton, on New Zealand's largest river - the Waikato. Waikato means "flowing water" and the 425km long Waikato River, begins life in the snows and ice fields of Tongariro National Park. Before entering Lake Taupo it is known as the Tongariro River for part of its length. On leaving Lake Taupo it flows in a well-defined bed through steep uplands before reaching the flat plains of the middle Waikato basin. After passing through the Taupiri Gorge it reaches flat country and finally enters the Tasman Sea south of Auckland at Port Waikato.
The course, which begins at Ann St Reserve and finishes at Ferry Bank Park, has four significant bends in the river. The effect of a bends is to alter the course of the river current from one side of the river to the other. As it is very difficult to row into a current, the racing crews are constantly trying to find the "slack water" and are often changing course in order to do so.
Previous Crews & Victories
(w = winner)
The other main rowing event of The Season is
The Henley Royal Regatta
Rowing at Henley
As the Regatta was instituted long before national or international rowing federations were established, it occupies a unique position in the world of rowing. It has its own rules and is not subject to the jurisdiction either of the governing body of rowing in England (British Rowing) or of the International Rowing Federation (F.I.S.A.), but is proud of the distinction of being officially recognised by both these bodies.
Unlike multi-lane international regattas, Henley still operates a knock-out draw with only two boats racing in each heat. This entails the organisation of up to 90 races on some of the five days. To complete the programme by a reasonable hour, races are started at 5-minute intervals.
The length of the Course is 1 mile 550 yards, which is 112 metres longer than the standard international distance of 2,000 metres. It takes approximately seven minutes to cover, so there are often two races at once on the Course for much of the day. The number of races is, of course, reduced on each successive day, leaving only the Finals to be rowed on the last day.
There are 19 events in total: 6 classes of race for Eights, 5 for Fours (3 coxless and 2 coxed), 4 for Quadruple Sculls, and races for Coxless Pairs and Double Sculls. In addition there are single sculling races for both men and women. 1993 was the first year women competed over the Course in a full Regatta event when a new event for Women Single Scullers was inaugurated. In 2000 an open event for Women’s Eights was introduced, whilst in 2001 there were new events for Women’s and Men’s Quadruple Sculls.
In 2004 there were significant changes to the Coxed Fours events. The top event, The Prince Philip Challenge Cup, was withdrawn due to declining interest internationally. There are now two events at the lower level – The Britannia Challenge Cup, restricted to just club crews, and an event for student crews, The Prince Albert Challenge Cup.