Students gear up for annual River Tyne boat race

The 2017 race winners, South Shields Marine School.
The 2017 race winners, South Shields Marine School.

A unique river race which pits competitors against time and tide will sail down the Tyne to South Tyneside on Saturday.

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 will compete in the eight-nautical mile race from Newcastle’s Quayside to South Shields.

Supported by South Shields Marine School, which is part of the new Tyne Coast College, the race attracts competitors from across the country.

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 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.

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.”

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

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.