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Honours even in 14th University Boat Race

(10 May 2010)

Durham and Newcastle Universities shared the honours in a thrilling 14th University Boat Race.

Newcastle University claimed victories in the first two races of the day on the River Tyne, the Freshwomen's and Freshmen's eights, with Durham fighting back to win the Senior Women's and Senior Men's races.

The draw means that Newcastle University, as the 2009 champions, retain the overall 2010 event title.

In an exciting curtain-raiser to the University races, a closely-contested showcase race between composite crews from schools in the Tyne and Wear areas was won by the Durham boat. Only a few inches separated the Durham and Newcastle boats as they crossed the finish line, with victory eventually being awarded to the Durham crew, made up of 16- and 17-year-olds from St Leonard's, Durham Johnston, Washington and Durham High Schools.

In the first University race of the afternoon, Newcastle's Freshwomen stormed ahead from the early stages of the race, going on to win easily by five lengths. Newcastle's Freshmen also won comfortably by a distance of two lengths, after pushing hard in the closing stages of the race.

The Senior Women's event saw Durham University begin to redress the balance, holding on to a very slight lead despite Newcastle's women putting in a tremendous effort in the last few lengths of the race. Durham eventually won by less than half a length.

With the results standing at 2 - 1 to Newcastle, the Senior Men's race was set up to be the title decider. All eyes were on the River Tyne at the Swing Bridge, where Newcastle looked to be leading by a short distance.

But Durham's determination to fight back from the disappointment at losing in 2009 seemed to give them extra impetus and, as the crews surged towards the finish line, Durham's boat edged into the lead. Newcastle's disappointment was clear to see as Durham celebrated victory by the narrowest of margins - about a foot, known in rowing terms as a 'canvas'.

President of Durham University Boat Club, Benji Dawes, said: "We put in a really strong performance in what was a very tough race, but the men held their nerve to claim a great victory in the end. Durham and Newcastle are both strong forces in rowing in the UK, and a close result like this is really good for rowing in general".

Newcastle University Boat Club's President, Andrew Corrigan, who was in Newcastle's defeated Senior Men's crew, said: "To lose such a close race is devastating. We set off ahead of Durham at the start of the race, so we were able to see them, and to be rowed through in the last few metres of the race is really painful". However he added: "I'm very proud of the Freshwomen and Freshmen, who put in really great performances".

Colin Blackburn, Director of Sport at Newcastle University and Chair of the Boat Race Executive Committee, said: "The results today have gone to form, based on the two universities' placings at the BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sport) Regatta last weekend. Honours are even today, which I think is a fair result on the day, given how close the races have been".

Peter Warburton, Director of Sport at Durham University, added: "Given that the University Boat Race is contested by two of the strongest rowing universities in the country, today's results were always going to be a very close call. It is a fantastic result for our two senior crews, but credit must also go to Newcastle's rowers, who pushed us to the limit in the final two races of the afternoon".

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