OARS have been crossed to mark a challenge that will see the best students rowers in the North-East meeting head-to-head.

The region's ninth Northumbrian Water University Boat Race takes place on the River Tyne, in Newcastle, on Sunday, May 8.

It sees the leading male and female crews from Durham and Newcastle universities meeting in a series of showpiece races, finishing in front of the crowds on the Quayside between 4.30pm and 5.30pm. There will be entertainment from 2.30pm.

It has become a regular event in the rowing calendar, attracting thousands of spectators, but it has twice been blighted by bad weather on the river. Durham have won six completed men's senior races.

Newcastle University Boat Club president, Henry Pelly, said: "Our squad has been working really hard and we've developed an excellent team spirit among the rowers."

His challenge was accepted by his opposite number, Durham University Boat Club president Maggie Paxton.

She said: "Our form recently has been excellent, but we're definitely not complacent."