Tuesday, 3rd July 2018

Neither time nor tide could prevent history repeating itself when South Shields Marine School won the annual Tyne Row for the third successive year.

A squad of the marine school’s own trainee mariners convincingly clinched the annual eight nautical mile challenge, which starts at Newcastle Quayside and ends at South Shields, on Saturday, June 30.

They led from start to finish, completing the course in around 104 minutes – 12 minutes ahead of their nearest rival, the ‘Oarsome Women’ team, comprising staff from South Tyneside College.

The marine school’s rowers powered ahead at the sounding of the starting clacson and stretched their lead over the entire race, including at two new crew changeover points downriver.

In almost perfect rowing conditions, they crossed the finishing line on the Tyne at the Marine and Offshore Safety Training Centre (MOST), at just after 1pm, winning the prized Marine School Challenge Cup.

The race is organised and supported by South Shields Marine School, which operates MOST and is part of the new Tyne Coast College (TCC).

The ‘Oarsome Women’ team finished second in four minutes under two hours, with American Bureau of Shipping third in two-hours one minute, and Fleetwood Nautical Campus, a maritime training centre near Blackpool, a further 17 minutes behind.

A fifth competing squad, from Tyne Metropolitan College, North Shields, had to be supported over the last few hundred yards.

Michael Speers, Head of School at MOST, said: “The conditions on the river were hot but the water was at low tide and relatively calm – it was very good rowing conditions.

“However, that does not hide the fact that covering such a distance on a tidal river is anything but easy and a lot of sweat and possibly even some tears went into it from all who took part.

“The South Shields Marine School squad put in a lot of training in the months before the race and that showed with its dominant display.

“They started strongly and never let up and were largely out of sight quite early on, winning impressively for the third time in a row.

“Full credit goes to all the teams who took part and who made this such an impressive event and one of which the North East can be proud.

“We take the race seriously, but it is underpinned by great sportsmanship and good humour, ingredients which add to it being so special.

“Although the teams generally have a maritime connection, we would encourage organisations from other sectors to take part next year.”

The row, which began in 2010, is billed as one of the UK’s most unusual and challenging sporting battles.

It proves so gruelling that fresh four-person 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.

Last year the marine school team finished just a minute ahead of the American Bureau of Shipping, a maritime standards classification society.

The race also raises funds for two nautical charities, Seafarers UK and TS Collingwood Sea Cadets.

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

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

The winner's cup and team medals for first and second place were presented by South Shields Marine School Principal, John Roach.

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