Marine school rowers prove they’re ‘oarsome’

WINNERS ... South Shields Marine School crew with their trophy and, below, at the end of the race.
WINNERS ... South Shields Marine School crew with their trophy and, below, at the end of the race.
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SOUTH Tyneside’s very own version of the famous Oxford and Cambridge boat race ended in victory for a borough-based crew.

A team of rowers from South Shields Marine School triumphed for the second year running, in the unique race down the River Tyne.

They clinched the annual Challenge Cup – organised by South Tyneside College – by beating seven other crews.

In a repeat of last year’s charity event, they won the eight nautical-mile challenge – from Newcastle Quayside to South Shields – in 83 minutes.

Two minutes behind came the college’s general engineering team, who fought off a determined challenge by Fleetwood Nautical Campus, part of Blackpool and Fylde College, for second place.

The American Bureau of Shipping was fourth, followed by Bernhard Schulte Shipping, South Tyneside College Ladies’ Team, City of Glasgow Nautical College and the North East P & I Club.

Mayor of South Tyneside, Coun Fay Cunningham, also secretary of South Shields’ Missions to Seafarers – the beneficiary of this year’s fundraising – presented the winners with the cup.

The event, now in its fifth year, is the brainchild of Tommy Procter, 67, a former tugmaster and retired marine lecturer at the college, which operates the marine school, and John Perry, 68, also a former marine lecturer and ex-BP master mariner.

It sees teams split into three squads of four, with crews changed twice en-route.

Mr Procter said: “I am thrilled that South Shields Marine School has once again claimed the cup.

“The race was very competitive and very tough, but everyone who took part really gave it their all and everyone had a great day.

“The glorious weather was an added bonus. Now we start planning for next year.

“I am hoping to add to our current roster of teams by getting others on board.”

CPO Jim Simpson and his colleagues at TS Collingwood Sea Cadets, at Wapping Street, in South Shields, were praised for helping to train the marine school and college teams.

TS Collingwood Sea Cadet Unit and the college’s Marine Safety Training Centre, also in Wapping Street and the race’s finishing point, were thanked for providing safety cover from six support vessels.

Mr Procter added: “Their work certainly did the trick, with everybody who came to the training sessions benefiting from them. As every year, everything was first class.”

Other centres to be approached to provide teams include Warsash Maritime Academy, near Southampton, and Liverpool John Moores University.

More than £230 has been raised, and anyone who would like to donate can do so at

Twitter: @shieldsgazpaul