The races will start at the Redheugh Bridge and finish at the Millennium Bridge

There’ll be even more action to delight the crowds on the banks of the Tyne next weekend with the Siemens Boat Race of the North.

This will be the 19th time that two of the region’s leading universities, Durham and Newcastle, go head to head in the battle for supremacy on the river.

Taking place on Saturday 11 May, the contest this year will coincide with the carnival-style celebrations at the Champions Rugby Village on the Quayside, with thousands of sports fans expected to turn out for the weekend.

The Siemens Boat Race of the North will see seven rowing races will take place on the river starting at 1.30pm, and building up to the blue ribbon events –  the men’s and women’s 1st eights.

The rowing will provide an early afternoon sporting spectacle for the fans on the Quayside as they wait for the rugby action, which kicks off at St James’ Park at 5pm.

Tariq Albassam of NE1 Ltd who helped to bring the event to the River for a 19th year said: “We have enjoyed working to bring the Siemens Boat Race of the North back to the Tyne and the NE1 Newcastle City Marina, and this year, it will be fantastic for the rowers to have thousands of people cheering them on.

“Newcastle will be fighting to defend its winning title on home water and we know the rowers will give the crowds on the Quayside a great afternoon of races to enjoy.”

Unlike the famous Oxford vs Cambridge boat race, which is 6.8km long, the Siemens Boat Race of the North is more of a sprint at 1,500 metres.

Depending on the river conditions, each race will last approximately five minutes.  Racing starts at the Redheugh Bridge and finishes at the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

The University boat race is a fiercely contested event, which Newcastle has dominated since its return in 2015.  Due to the Beast from the East, last year’s event had to be rescheduled and instead took place on the river Wear, at Durham Regatta.  But despite losing home advantage, Newcastle retained the coveted trophy with wins in both the men’s and women’s 1st 8 races.

Thousands of sports fans are expected to congregate on the Quayside to enjoy all the activities that are being laid on for the visiting rugby fans.  A large screen positioned at Newcastle Law Courts will broadcast both the rugby match and the University rowing races for the crowds to enjoy.

There will be plenty of family friendly activities, food and drink stalls, live bands and a stage for entertainment as part of the Rugby Fan Village.    The village will be open from 10am – to 11pm on Saturday and a firework finale will bring the weekend to a close at 10.30pm.

The public will be able to zip-wire off the Tyne Bridge as well as try their hand, or their foot, at kicking a rugby ball into the Tyne as well as other sporting challenges linked to both the rowing and the rugby.

Engineering company, Siemens is sponsoring the Siemens Boat Race of the North for the next two years and the public will be able to enjoy the Siemens Energy Rowing Machine Challenge, with prizes will be available for those who record the fastest times.

Local club, Tyne Amateur Rowing Club will also be scouting for new rowing talent among the public who take part in the Challenge.

The Energy Challenge will also raise awareness of the demands of energy generation, as well as how the energy system is changing in the UK.

Colin Henry, Head of Business at Siemens said” “As a major North East employer with a strong partnership with Newcastle University we’re delighted to be sponsoring the Boat Race of the North and creating the opportunity for local rivals, Newcastle and Durham to thrash out their competition on the river for the 19th year.

“It is a pleasure to support our local universities where we have so many activities running which are looking at sustainable energy.

“I’m sure each race will be a hotly fought contest, and we are delighted to be playing our part in adding to the major celebrations on the Quayside.”

Katherine Bulmer, Event Organiser and President of Newcastle University Boat Club said: “The Boat Race of the North is a fantastic event that highlights the longstanding rivalry between the two universities.

“It is a chance to showcase the talent that both clubs have on offer in the heart of the city centre.  To race through the iconic bridges that cross the Tyne is something really special and means a lot to all of the rowers involved.

“We are delighted to be running this event in conjunction with the rugby celebrations and hope that we can convert a few rugby fans into rowing enthusiasts! A huge thank you must be extended to NE1, Siemens and Newcastle City Council for enabling us to put on such a spectacle.”

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