At this year’s Boat Race of the North, Newcastle convincingly beat Durham for the second year running, winning all four senior events. Having only been re-established last year, the 2016 Boat race exceeded the marker set down by last year’s event, proving that it’s here to stay on the Tyne for the foreseeable future. Raced over 1500m from the Redheugh Bridge to the Millennium Bridge, the many spectators that lined the course saw two of the biggest university rivals in the North East battle it out to be crowned Champions of the North. Expanding on the success of last year’s four races, there were eight races proposed this year; first, second and novice ranked eights from the men’s and women’s squads, an alumni race, as well as a local derby between two North East Rowing Clubs; Tyne Rowing Club and Tyne United Rowing Club. Unfortunately, both Newcastle and Durham failed to produce enough ex-members who were keen to row in the alumni race, so the alumni race was cancelled, taking the total number of races to seven.
Kicking things off were the novice women. Having both had excellent results at BUCS regatta the weekend before, this was to be a tight race between both women’s crews. Durham took an early lead off the start, like they did the weekend prior, sitting a length up on Newcastle women at the mid-point of the race, the Swing Bridge. Coming into the final straight Durham pushed to extend their lead in the last few minutes of the race, crossing the finish line 2 ¾ lengths in front of Newcastle. Similarly to the women, the novice men were ready for a dog fight with their Northern rivals. Durham had a very strong first half of the race, but after the Swing Bridge, the Newcastle Men kicked into another gear, drawing almost level by the finish. Unfortunately, they just ran out of water and Durham pipped them to the post leaving the standings at 2-0 to Durham.
Next up were the women’s second eight. After having an unstoppable year, winning both BUCS Head and BUCS Regatta in style, Newcastle were the hot favourites. Surely enough, they took an early lead on Durham and built on it throughout the race, flying past the spectators on the riverbank and winning by a massive 5 ½ lengths. The men’s second eight, who were also medal winners at BUCS regatta, demonstrated their strength by convincingly beating Durham after a tightly contested middle section of the race.
Heading into the final two races, both Newcastle first eights were eager to extend the winning streak in pursuit of that all-important, overall Boat Race title. The women were first to take the water, and after not racing Durham at BUCS, all was to play for now. Both crews went out hard, keen to assert their dominance, but it was Newcastle who found the stronger rhythm and pulled away, finishing with a 4 length lead over Durham. The last race of the day was the men’s first eight, who have really gone from strength to strength over the past few months. This showed in their performance, gaining an early advantage at the start of the race and comfortably winning by 2 ¼ lengths. This final victory left the overall standings at 4-2 to Newcastle, leaving us to lift the trophy and retain the title of Champions of the North.
Altogether, it was a massively successful day for Newcastle as a boat club, boasting real depth throughout the squad, whilst also proving a hugely popular event with the public. It was fantastic to see the Quayside alive with supporters, producing an immense atmosphere as the racing took place. This strong set of results puts the club in an excellent position as we begin training for the summer racing season down South.
Words: Kelsey Stoddart
Photos: Al Johnston, Srinjoy Sen