Durham Regatta, also known as the Henley of the North, is held over two days and is the second oldest Regatta in the UK. Most races are held over the short 700m course with some events being run over a longer 1800m course. The long course goes through the arches of Elvet Bridge which are only just wide enough to fit the oars through. This presents a difficult and different challenge for whoever is steering the boats. As the final race for the Women’s squad before Henley Women’s Regatta this would be an important day of racing. As Durham University’s home stretch of river and many events having both Durham and Newcastle boats entered this would be a chance to see who is the fastest University in the North over a range of boat types.
The Boat Club was hoping to defend its titles in the Championship Eights and Championship Coxed four and its reputation as the top Boat Club in the North. The Men’s squad had a strong run in the semi-final of the Grand Challenge Cup (Championship Coxed Fours) over the long course beating Durham University in a time of 5:39.7 which put them through to the final against Durham University’s top Coxed Four. After a tough start into the strong head wind Durham University were leading going into half way however a strong performance in the second half by Newcastle’s top crew put them ahead to win by half a canvas. The top Men’s eight were racing in Championship Eights and had a bye to the final. Despite a technical problem with the boat in the first couple of strokes they managed to keep rowing and beat St Hild & St Bede College in a time of 1:57.8.
The lightweights were racing in Open men’s categories which they will be doing in a couple of weeks at Henley Royal Regatta so this was a perfect opportunity to test their speed in some new combinations. The top lightweight boat was racing in Championship Coxless Fours and beat Cambois Amateur Rowing Club by 2 lengths over the long course in their Semi Final. This put them into the final against our neighbors in Newcastle, Tyne Amateur Rowing Club. After putting the four from Tyne under pressure in the first half of the race the boat from Tyne went through the wrong arch of the bridge and got disqualified. The newly formed lightweight quad had a tough race to start the day over the long course against Northumbria University. After a strong first half of the race leading Northumbria by three quarters of a length they had to stop after not managing to line up for the narrow arch through Elvet Bridge.
The Development Temple Eight and the second Prince Albert Coxed Four had hard races at Durham after both crews having limited time in the boats to prepare. Both crews will look to step on before their races at Marlow Regatta this weekend.
For the Women’s Squad this would be an important race as their last race before Henley Women’s Regatta begins on Friday. Strong results were expected from the women’s squad and as always they didn’t disappoint. The top Women’s boat, the senior coxless four, of Em Ford, Lola Anderson, Nicole Lamb and Frances Russell walked through their semi-final on the long course against a four from Durham University winning in a time of 6:24.1. As with the top men’s boat this put them into the final against the top Coxed four from Durham University. They performed well in the final winning by four lengths which bodes well for their Henley races.
The Academic Eight had a tough semi-final after a crab in the first 20 strokes put them behind an eight from Durham University. The girls fought back but narrowly lost by 1 foot over the 700m course. The Durham eight moved to the final to face Newcastle’s Senior Eight who had had a bye straight to the final. After a strong start into the strong headwind that had hindered the Academic eight in the semi-final, they pulled out a lead over the eight from Durham and won in an impressive time of 2:14.3 given the conditions. A relatively new combination Senior quad stroked by Charlie Adams had a great day out starting by beating Durham Amateur Rowing Club by a verdict of easily over the long course in their semi-final. Their final was against our Newburn neighbors, Tyne Amateur Rowing Club. Showing their strength over the 1800m course they pulled out a clear lead crossing the line 3 lengths in front.
Overall a strong day of racing for the Boat Club with wins across the men’s and women’s squads, in both sweep and sculling events, showing our depth coming into the last couple of weeks of the season.
Words and Photos by David Stephenson