Friday, 22nd June 2018

A unique river row that pits competitors against time and tide – and supported by South Shields Marine School - will sail down the Tyne to South Tyneside on Saturday, June 30.

Billed as one of the UK’s most unusual and challenging sporting battles, the South Shields Marine School Annual Row is a test of endurance and teamwork.

Now in its ninth year, seven teams from across the country will compete in the eight-nautical mile race from Newcastle’s Quayside to South Shields.

Each aims to win the prized Marine School Challenge Cup and raise cash for the Seafarers UK and TS Collingwood Sea Cadets charities.

To be competitive, they must aim to cross the finishing line at the marine school-operated Marine and Offshore Safety Training Centre (MOST), in Wapping Street, South Shields, in around 80 minutes.

Michael Speers, Head of School at MOST, said: “This is a unique challenge on one of Britain’s best-known rivers, starting in one of its most celebrated cities.

“Seeing the craft and competitors lined up across the river, close to the Millennium Bridge, waiting to start is a wonderfully inspiring sight.

“The row is a gruelling and energy-sapping event which requires training, teamwork, dedication and desire to overcome the odds.

“All who compete take it seriously and do their very best to win, but while it is highly competitive, it is also based on a friendly rivalry.

“To be able to row the Tyne from Newcastle to South Shields is a privilege and an unforgettable experience.

“Added to that is the fact that the teams raise hundreds of pounds to support two important seafaring charities.”

The race, first held in 2010, starts at Newcastle Quay, slightly downriver from the Millennium Bridge, at 11am.

Rowers representing South Shields Marine School have won for the past two years, crossing the finishing line at a minute ahead of their nearest rival in 2017.

They overcame five other teams to win in one-hour and 21 minutes, two minutes faster than in 2016.

Runner-up was American Bureau of Shipping, followed by North East P & I Club, Fleetwood Nautical Campus, Tyne Metropolitan College and South Tyneside College Ladies Team.

The challenge is so gruelling that fresh crews take over at two swap-over points.

The first is at Hebburn Marina, 3.4 nautical miles downriver, and the second at Tyne Dock, a further 3.2 nautical miles away.

Seafarers UK makes grants to nautical charities that look after the welfare needs of seafarers, ex-seafarers and their dependents.

A collection for Seafarers UK and TS Collingwood Sea Cadets will be made on the day.

The event began in 2010 when 24 South Shields Marine School cadets took part.

A year later – the school’s 150th anniversary - other nautical colleges were invited to join, with the Marine School Challenge Cup being introduced on 2012.

For the fourth year running, the winners and runners-up medals are being sponsored by South Shields Ferry, under the aegis of Tyne and Wear Passenger Transport Executive/Nexus.

The race will be followed by entertainment including a barbecue sponsored by national catering company Sodexo, which operates food and drink services at South Tyneside College.

A presentation of winners’ medals and the cup will also take place.