A LONG-STANDING celebration of rowing returned to its traditional pomp and glory at the weekend.

The Durham Regatta was back in its full format for the first time in four years, after interruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak and a rain deluge cancellation in 2019.

Although a racing programme returned last year, lingering Covid restrictions meant spectators were not encouraged to attend, with none of the usual off-river entertainment provided.

Read more: Durham Regatta: 14 pictures as crowds flock to the banks of River Wear

But the 189th regatta was a throwback to pre-pandemic days, with almost 50 clubs, colleges and schools, from the Midlands to Scotland, sending crews to take part in back-to-back competitive racing on the River Wear over the weekend.

It featured a busy opening day schedule of 260 races, which were spread over 11-and-a-half hours from 8am.

The Northern Echo: Durham Regatta 2013

All took place over the traditional 700-metre short course along the Racecourse, in Durham, while Sunday’s 175-race schedule featured 30 over the gruelling 1,800m long course, ending alongside the Count’s House on the cathedral and castle peninsula.

One of those ‘long-haul’ races was the blue riband Grand Challenge Cup for Championship Coxed Fours.

It saw the Lancaster University quartet pipping Tyne ARC for the prestigious title.

While there was lots to whet the appetite of the rowing aficionado, there was also plenty of off-course entertainment this year, with music, food and drink, plus classic cars and a Viking re-enactment group among the bankside offerings.

The Northern Echo: Durham Regatta 2013

More than a few bottles of Pimms were consumed along with other quintessential British summer drinks in the refreshment marquees and on the riverbanks.

Regatta official Colin Lawson said while it was a long busy weekend for the huge team of volunteers, it appeared to run reasonably smoothly.

“I think some people must think that it just happens, but a lot of work goes into it.

“We were lucky that there were a lot of people with experience of putting it on for many years, although there were a few changes with things like parking arrangements.”

The Northern Echo: Durham Regatta 2013

The regatta, the second oldest in the world behind Chester, emerged from river pageants staged on the Wear in the 1830s to commemorate Wellington’s 1815 victory at the Battle of Waterloo over Napoleon’s French army.

It has only failed to take place during world wars, due to bad weather and the coronavirus.

Following its return to something like “normal service” organisers will be hoping to continue to make a splash on the Wear on the second weekend of June for many years to come.

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