5:45pm Sunday 15th June 2014
ORGANISERS have hailed the 181st Durham Regatta a resounding success.
Crowds lined the banks of the River Wear through Durham City for the 'Henley of the North' to enjoy the racing and entertainment.
More than 600 crews contested almost 700 races over the two action-packed days.
Regatta spokesman Andy Jaggard said: “The regatta has gone really well. The weather was a bit grey to start with on Saturday, but when the sun came out later it was really lovely.
“It got a bit grey today (Sunday, June 15), but the crowds have really turned out. There has been some great racing.
“There were nearly 800 entries this year, but we could only accept around 700 crews. That meant races every two minutes from 8am to 7pm, which was quite a challenge to achieve.”
The premier event was the Grand Challenge Cup, known simply as The Grand. This year marked the 160th anniversary of The Grand, which is run run over a distance of a mile-and-a-quarter.
It was won by Newcastle University, who beat Durham University by a convincing six lengths.
Among the guest of honour this year were the 1954 Durham School crew, who were celebrating their win of The Grand 60 years ago by taking to the water again.
Graham Whitaker, the cox, sadly died last October and his daughter Helen Whitaker took his place.
In 1954 the school entered six crews and won five cups with the 1st crew winning both the Wharton and The Grand.
David Huggins, the stroke, travelled from Brisbane, Australia, to be reunited with Trevor Hardy, and Alan Terry. John Lindsay died a few years ago but John Terry – Alan’s younger brother, who also rowed at Durham School – deputised for him.
Some innovations to the racing programme this year included time-trials for the high-performance crews, who were then allocated to a series of knockout events.
Entertainment included live bands, bungee jumps with the Army. There were also a variety of trades stands.
The regatta began as a celebration of the 1815 Battle of Waterloo. The event included the “firing of cannon and a substantial supper with a plentiful supply of strong ale for the Waterloo men”. The annual procession of boats continued for many years, but the Durham Regattas in its present form dates to 1834.
Next year organisers are planning a pageant re-enactment of some of the early races and will be trying to trace descendants of the 43 Waterloo men at first Durham Regatta.
For more information on Durham Regatta, visit durham-regatta.org.uk.
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