Crews line up for annual Tyne river race to South Shields

South Shields Marine School team with race organiser, Tommy Proctor, middle of front row.
South Shields Marine School team with race organiser, Tommy Proctor, middle of front row.
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People are being urge to support the eighth annual Tyne Row river race.

Billed as one of the UK’s most unusual and challenging sporting battles, seven teams will compete against each other over an eight-mile course from Newcastle Quayside to South Shields later this month.

Supported by South Shields Marine School, and first held in 2010, the race attracts competitors from across the country.

Each will be aiming to win the prized Marine School Challenge Cup and raise cash for two seafaring charities.

The event starts at 11am on Saturday, June 17 and the teams will be looking to cross the finishing line in around 85 minutes.

They will be aiming to steal the crown from South Shields Marine School’s own team, which won the 2016 race in 1hr 23 mins.

The challenge is the brainchild of Tommy Procter, 70, a former tugmaster and retired lecturer at South Shields Marine School, which is part of South Tyneside College.

He said: “The Tyne Row brings people together in a highly competitive challenge, They train hard for it and always look to win, but they also enjoy a great sense of camaraderie with other competitors and teams.

“While the race is taken very seriously, and all are looking to win, the underlying impetus is the challenge itself and the raising of money for charity.”

The race starts at Newcastle Quay, slightly downriver from the Millennium Bridge.

Competitors race to a finish at South Shields Marine School’s Marine and Offshore Safety Training Centre, in Wapping Street, South Shields.

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, and the second at Tyne Dock, a further 3.2 nautical miles downriver.

South Shields Marine School’s chosen charities are Seafarers UK, which makes grants to nautical charities and TS Collingwood Sea Cadets.

The event began in 2010 when 24 South Shields Marine School cadets took part, and a year later – the school’s 150th anniversary - other nautical colleges were invited to join in, with the Marine School Challenge Cup being introduced on 2012.

For the third 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.

South Shields hotel The Little Haven has sponsored South Shields Marine School’s rowing kit.