Coming off the back of a very successful weekend of racing at BUCS Regatta, both squads were back training straight away for one of the boat club’s favourite events of the year, The Siemens Boat Race of the North.
Conditions were a strong head wind against the tide meaning testing conditions for all crews racing over the 1500m course from the Redheugh Bridge to the Millennium Bridge. With some changes from the crews that raced at BUCS Regatta, this would be a real test of how the athletes can get in any combination and still perform with little preparation. This year there were four senior races and two novice races. With the crowd gathering the NUBC President Barnaby Stroud-Turp ran the coin tosses with all Durham coxes choosing the Gateshead side and Newcastle coxes preferring the Newcastle station.
The first race of the day was the novice women. After getting a slight lead off the start the Newcastle crew were unable to hold this lead and Durham drew level. From 200m to the swing bridge the lead alternated between both crews as they made slight gains on each other. Going into the swing bridge the girls from Newcastle were down by just two seats. After a midway push through the bridge from both crews, the Durham eight opened their lead to half a length. Despite a strong second half of the race from the Newcastle crew the girls from Durham continued to move ahead finishing with a one length lead.
Up next was the novice men. After having a shaky start in the choppy conditions, they were a couple of seats down in the early stages of the 1500m race. After finding their rhythm going under the King Edward VII Bridge they drew level into the middle section of the race. After a big push through the swing bridge, Newcastle came out with a one-length lead over Durham. Continuing to push on the novice men opened a convincing 2 length lead into the finish.
The first of the senior races was the women’s second eight. After replicating the fast starts they had shown last weekend at BUCS the women's second eight took four seats out of Durham before the stride. Going into the swing bridge they were well ahead but were keen to leave the Durham eight behind them. After cox Charlotte Hill called a big push going through the swing bridge they emerged with a fair amount of clear water. In the second half of the race, the girls kept pushing ahead finally winning with the verdict – easily.
The fourth race of the day was the men’s second eight comprising of a mix of lightweights and heavyweights. With the conditions still very choppy the start would be as important as the previous races. After a strong start from both crews, Newcastle led by two seats after 400m. Going into the swing bridge Newcastle had pulled out to a ¾ length lead, however, Durham pulled back a couple of seats while the crews couldn’t see each other. The Newcastle eight kept strong for the last 500m of the race pulling out in front to win the race by ¾ length clear water.
The penultimate race of the day was the women’s first eight. Another fast start gave the eight a slight lead in the first 100m. Moving into their race rhythm the Newcastle crew started to move away from Durham into 500m. Durham managed to hold onto the Newcastle boat going into the swing bridge. The boat from Newcastle decided to push before the swing bridge to open a dominating lead on their opponent. In the second half of the race, the girls from Newcastle continued to increase the distance on their rivals finishing with a comfortable lead.
With the tide now going out quickly the water was the worst of the day for the final race, the men’s first eight. Another impressive Newcastle start gained the eight 2 seats in the first minute. Pushing on through to the swing bridge Newcastle’s 1st eight led by half a length. Showing their higher top end speed the Newcastle boat came out of the swing bridge with clear water on the Durham boat. Starting the sprint to the line under the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle’s top boat finished the day with a 2 and a half length lead on Durham.
After a strong performance from all the Newcastle boats, the final result was NUBC winning the Boat Race of the North 5-1 and retaining the title of Champions of the North!
Written by David Stephenson
Photos by James Waller and David Stephenson