180th Durham Regatta attracts oarsome turnout

THOUSANDS turned out to line the riverside at Durham for one of the country’s oldest regattas.

THOUSANDS turned out to line the riverside at Durham for one of the country’s oldest regattas.

The 180th Durham Regatta, dubbed the Henley of the North, saw 600 crews from across the UK take to the waters of the River Wear to enter almost 500 races.

And this year – inspired by the London Paralympics – adaptive rowing races were held for the first time.

An estimated 8,500 people took advantage of the sunny weather, a contrast to the heavy rain last year that caused the event to be cancelled for what is though to have been the first time in its history, to cheer on the rowers who took part in a race nearly every two minutes throughout the two days.

Durham Regatta chairman Nigel van Zwanenberg said: “There’s been a fantastic atmosphere, with lots of smiles and real solid enjoyment.

“I think there were around 5,500 people on Saturday and another 3,000 on Sunday.

“I think the Olympic success in rowing could have been a factor in the almost record number of entries we had this year and also the crowds, although the weather also helped. The adapted races also went well and we hope it will all encourage more people to take part in the sport.”

The regatta, the second oldest in the country, started as a celebration of the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Kat Copeland, Olympic Gold medallist at London 2012, won the Novice Single Sculls at Durham Regatta in 2006.

Amongst the hundreds of trophies handed out was a special award to honour and thank Keith Yates for his service to the Regatta.

Keith has dedicated 60 years of his life to the two-day spectacle, and has commentated on the event since 1976.

“I don’t know if Keith’s 60 years at Durham Regatta is the absolute record, but he has been a marvellous supporter of the regatta over the years, taking on all sorts of roles and doing them all exceptionally well”, says Doug Stewart, Durham Regatta President.

Spectators also enjoyed the traditional classic car rally held on the racecourse alongside the regatta, and for the first time the Durham Branch of the Campaign for Real Ale hosted a Beer Festival.

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