Last chance of victory for oarsome threesome

Sunday is the last chance saloon for three competitors in the Northumbrian Water University Boat Race.

Sunday is the last chance saloon for three competitors in the Northumbrian Water University Boat Race.

Joe Leiserach, Henry Pelly and George Laughton, rowing for Newcastle University, have never been on the winning team - and this is their last chance.

All three row in the men's first eight - George and Henry being the current World and European University champions in the heavyweight men's double and men's quad events, and Joe being selected to join the Row Extreme World Rowing Challenge in 2008.

But none has so far been on the winning side in the University Boat Race, and they graduate this summer.

This year's event takes place on the Tyne this Sunday and the trio are determined to finish on a high.

Joe said: "In 2005, the year that Newcastle's men's first eight won the race, Henry and I were out injured, and George was on international duty. For us, this year is our last chance for a victory on the Tyne."

He added: "We beat Durham at the British University Sports Association event last weekend, so we know we can beat them again.

"But the Boat Race is always a bit of a lottery, with a lot depending on river conditions and whether we're starting on the Newcastle or Gateshead station."

But Martin Hill, president of Durham University Boat Club, says his team is out to stop them.

He said: "Newcastle did very well at BUSA and had a good race in the eights final. But they were favourites last year and we won on the day. Our preparation is going well and we believe that we can do the same this year. After all, this is the Boat Race. Anything can happen."

The prospect of a closer-than-ever competition is good news for spectators, organisers and title sponsor Northumbrian Water and new Associate Sponsor, Port of Tyne.

Graham Rayner, chairman of the Boat Race Executive Committee, said: "Northumbrian Water's decision to extend their support for this event beyond their original 10-year sponsorship period is a measure of their regard for the Boat Race.

"More and more spectators are turning out to watch the action."

The race takes place over an 1,800-metre course from Dunston Staithes to the finish line under the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Sunday's events.

11.00 am Dragon Boat Race 1 (500 metres)

11.15 am Dragon Boat Race 2 (500 metres)

11.30 am Team Sailing, Canoe Sprint Races, Canoe Water Polo Match

12:45 pm Schools Mixed Eights

1.00 pm Freshwomen's Eights

1.15 pm Freshmen's Eight

1.30 pm Women's First Eight

1.45 pm Men's First Eight

2.00 pm Crews' Presentations, in Baltic Square

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