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On your marks, get set, row!

Date Released: Thu, 13 September 2012 15:59 +0200

With Intervarsity done and dusted, the annual Mutual Federal University Boat Race, which takes place in Port Alfred this week, will see the town fill up with university students from across the country.

Preparations are well under way for the event which opens on Thursday and culminates in an exciting final on Saturday, with rowers from nine South African universities taking on the Kowie River in a series of races.

The event is hosted and organised by Rhodes University and the two Rhodes crews will be searching for the victory which has eluded them for many years. The Rhodes men's and women's crews both last won in 2007. The heads races on Thursday will determine who meets whom in the finals.

Participating Universities are Rhodes University, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, University of Cape Town, Stellenbosch University, University of KwaZulu-Natal, University of Johannesburg, University of Witwatersrand and the University of Pretoria.

“This will be the11th year that Mutual Federal, a member of the Old Mutual Group, has sponsored this prestigious race, which has proved to be a highlight on the universities’ sporting calendar,” said Caroline Da Silva, Executive: Sales of Mutual Federal.

“It is a very spirited event, with students from around the country coming to support their teams. Even our brokers from the Eastern Cape come to watch the races, as the small town of Port Alfred buzzes with excitement for these three days.”

“The Mutual Federal Universities Boat Race is the biggest regatta in the country, so training for the race begins well before September,” explained Sean Kerr, a Trustee of University Rowing. “The Kowie River itself, with its tides and sharp bends, is also renowned for being tricky and unpredictable, so the rowers spend a lot of time in Port Alfred during university holidays learning to navigate the course.”

“This year’s favourites for both the men’s and women’s races are Rhodes and the Universities of Johannesburg and Cape Town while the University of Pretoria is also a strong contender in the men’s event.

The Saturday finals are always eagerly anticipated and strongly supported,” Kerr said. The annual boat race has been hosted by the town of Port Alfred since its inception and Da Silva believes that the hospitality of this Eastern Cape community is part of what makes this event such a success.

“We at Mutual Federal would like to extend our gratitude to the people of Port Alfred who prove every year to be the perfect hosts. We would also like to thank the organisers, administrators and safety overseers who give their time and energy in making this a memorable and esteemed event year after year. We wish all the students well.”

By Stephen Penney

Source: Grocott’s Mail

Photo source: Grocott’s Mail