MORE than 50 rowers took part in British Rowing’s first ever Great Tyne Row on Sunday.
The crews covered 25km along the Tyne from Newburn, in challenging conditions through the Quayside bridges to the Fish Quay.
Big waves prevented the crews making the final stretch to Priors Haven beach.
Rowers came from as far afield as Oxford and London, and were joined by local club crews.
Chris Dixon, chairman of Tynemouth Rowing Club, said: “This was a great opportunity for Tynemouth Rowing Club and the northern region to welcome rowers from across the country and to show off the wonderful and unique experience rowers at our club get to enjoy.”
Winning crew, Fitzwilliam College Cambridge Billygoats, completed the epic challenge in just under two hours.
Crew captain, Roland Beevor, said: “That was amazing. Towards the end, the waves were getting a little big but having our family cheer us on from the Millennium Bridge was really special.”
Di Ellis, the chairman of British Rowing, travelled to Tyneside to be part of the weekend’s celebrations.
“Catching up with the crews for a beach barbecue she said: “This has been a truly inspirational day.
“With a year to go until the Olympic and Paralympic Games the Great Tyne Row was an encouragement to the local community and a huge opportunity for the sport through Explore Rowing.”
The new stable boats make it much easier to learn the sport, and are also encouraging more adventurous rowers to take on challenges such as the Great Tyne Row.
Jess Eddie who rows for the GB Rowing Team, has a demanding training schedule in the run up to the Olympics, but last week she found time to send a good luck message to the crews: “The Tyne’s a bit more challenging than the lake we train on, but that also makes it a really fun and hard task to go out there and row.”
“Being a rower from Durham I looked back into my heritage, and it turns out that my great grandad used to be a professional rower on the Tyne so I have quite strong links to the river.”
Carol Bell, head of culture and major events at NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The Open Weekend was a great opportunity to look forward to the London 2012 Olympic Games and celebrate the sporting prowess of Great Britain. The Great Tyne Row utilised the River Tyne and the famous cityscape of NewcastleGateshead to great effect and we’re proud to support British rowing.”
To find your nearest Explore Rowing club and to find out more about the Summer Series Events visit www.explorerowing.org