Sept. 11, 2005
HAMILTON, New Zealand - The powerful Waikato University men's crew, featuring five New Zealand national team members, defeated the visiting University of Washington eight on Saturday during the Great Race on the Waikato River.
The Kiwi crew included Nathan Twaddle who rowed in the winning pair at the world championships in Gifu, Japan. Waikato stroked to an early lead on the 4,800-meter (nearly 3-mile) course and sustained its advantage throughout the race.
A crowd estimated at 20,000 lined the banks, watching the crews navigate up river against a strong cross-current.
The Huskies had won Thursday's ergometer competition, surprising the more experienced Waikato rowers and sending a message that Saturday's race would be a close competition.
"It was significant, actually," Great Race director Rob Hamill said of the Kiwi victory. "Washington beat everyone in the indoor competition the other night and every year the team that has won on the machines have gone on to win on the river, so we were very nervous."
Each year a foreign crew is invited to compete against Waikato in a spectacular event that is televised throughout New Zealand. Previous Great Race visitors included English crews from Cambridge and Oxford.
Washington sustained a serious setback when its most accomplished rower, senior Ante Kusurin, was not allowed into the country. The native of Zagreb, Croatia placed second in the "B" final of the men's double sculls at last week's World Rowing Championships.
Kusurin was planning to travel from Japan to join his UW teammates, but Croatia is regarded as a high-risk country by the New Zealand Immigration Service and his visa request was denied.
The athletes from UW traveling to New Zealand along with Coach Bob Ernst were -- Toby Dankbaar, Drew Fowler, Steve Full, Rob Gibson, Dustin Kraus, Tad McCrea, Kiel Petersen, Craig Tyler, Adam Van Winkle and coxswain Mary Katherine Langlais.