RHODES men's rowing captain Tristan Wentworth is predicting a tight tussle when the annual Varsity Boat Race is held on the Kowie River in Port Alfred from today until Saturday.
Eight institutions – Rhodes, University of Cape Town (UCT), UKZN, Wits, NMMU, University of Johannesburg (UJ), University of Pretoria and Stellenbosch – will compete in the men and women's races.
Time trials are being held today, and Wentworth said the pressure would be on from the start. "Because the river can only take two teams at a time, the time trials today act as qualifiers for the final day's racing," Wentworth said.
"If you end out of the top two in time, you are out of the final."
"You have to be up to speed from the start because if you take a bad line or mess something up, you can easily miss out on the final."
Rhodes men, after falling off the pace a bit last year, are determined to do well.
"I would think the leading teams will come from Rhodes, UCT, Tukkies and UJ," Wentworth said, "but the event can be very unpredictable. We finished the sprint season in April and there's been no competition since.
"But the teams work hard to prepare, and you are never quite sure what is going to happen."
Rhodes rowing administrator Sanel Sobahle said the women's crews were looking strong.
"I am expecting them [A and B] to place very well, as they did last year, with both making the finals," she said.