Durham turn heads at Siemens’ Boat Race of the North but Newcastle retain title in style

There was drama on The Tyne over the weekend

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Newcastle University retained their North East rowing supremacy after triumphing over Durham University in the Siemens' Boat Race of the North.

The 2022 event proved the most dramatic affair in 12 years with the Durham rowers claiming a win in the Men's 1st 8 race for the first time since 2010.

The Wearside rowers also triumphed in the Women's 2nd 8 race, but it wasn't enough to fend off a triumphant Newcastle University Boat Club.

The Blue Star rowers started strong with a convincing win in the Women's 3rd 8, the first race of the day.

Powering across the finish line at the Millennium Bridge, 1,500 metres down from the starting point at the Redhuegh Bridge, the day's first winners were cheered on by a buoyant and busy Quayside.

The Men's 3rd 8 race was a close affair, but Durham could do little to hold off a Newcastle crew who surged well in the final 500 metres.

With the Tyneside rowers 2-0 up after the first two events, everything looked to be following the trends of recent years.

Newcastle University retain the titleNewcastle University retain the title
Newcastle University retain the title

Since 2017, Durham had only managed one win in 20 races with Newcastle retaining the trophy ever since 2009 without too much of a challenge.

However, as the Women's 2nd 8 race powered down the Quayside, it was the rowers in purple who had oceans of clear water on the Blue Star crew.

Taking the overall scores to 2-1, the Durham women slapped the water in celebration.

As the Newcastle boat rowed home past the crowds, one athlete asked the spectators if the men had indeed won both of the first two races - when the response came back affirmative, she responded, "that's embarrassing".

With the scores 2-1, Durham had to continue their winning ways in the Men's 2nd 8 race to stand a chance at an overall win.

The challengers did put up a strong challenge in that event with Newcastle struggling to break into a clear water lead, but a final push from Durham was ultimately too little too late as Newcastle triumphed.

Boats race on The TyneBoats race on The Tyne
Boats race on The Tyne

That result confirmed that Newcastle University would retain the trophy, the best Durham could salvage being a draw at 3-1 down, but just moments later the overall win for Newcastle was confirmed by the Women's 1st 8.

There was little competition as the two universities' top women's crews battled it out, Newcastle looking to barely break a sweat as they swept under the Millennium Bridge to rapturous applause.

With the overall winners confirmed, all eyes then turned to the quickest boats of the day in the Men's 1st 8s.

Having won this race at every event since 2010, the crowds' eyes baulked as Durham moved ahead of Newcastle and fended off the home crew's frantic bursts - jubilant celebrations followed as a coach on the Durham launch bellowed, "They didn't have anything!" to supporters on the bank.

The Durham University Men’s 1st 8 celebrateThe Durham University Men’s 1st 8 celebrate
The Durham University Men’s 1st 8 celebrate

With boats back on racks and rowers with faltering legs nursed back to fitness, the trophy presentation began.

Despite another victorious year for the Blue Star, who waited patiently to pick up the overall award, little could be done to wipe the smiles off the Durham rowers' faces.

That Men's 1st 8 triumph was the club's biggest coup in a long time and there's a sense this Boat Race of the North performance was not a loss, but a renewed sense of threat thrown at the Newcastle club.

Then again, as Blue Star captain Stan Cannons sprayed bubbly over his raucous teammates as they celebrated their win, it's a reminder that it'll take a lot more from Durham to knock Newcastle off their triumphant perch.