Durham Regatta 2017 report

Colin LawsonNews, Reports

‘Whatever the weather – stay calm and go to Durham Regatta’ – this weekend many people did just that. Thousands of spectators were treated to the sight of some 600 crews competing in a packed programme of over 450 quality races. And despite the challenges presented by the adverse conditions, rain on Saturday and strong winds on Sunday, the racing finished on schedule – a testament to the planning and organisation that went into Durham Regatta 2017.

grand challenge cup

The Grand Challenge Cup


Newcastle University won the Regatta’s premier race for the Grand Challenge Cup, beating local rivals Durham University by the tiny distance of just ‘half a canvas’ over the 1800m Long Course. In other championship races, Newcastle’s women’s and men’s squads did well in the bigger boats, while Durham dominated the singles and pairs.

In Junior rowing, Chester-le-Street had remarkable success, with 13 wins across the two days of the Regatta. There was also a strong showing from Durham School and wins for Queen Elizabeth High School, Cambois, Hexham, and Durham Amateur Rowing Club. Other spoils went to local club crews with Tyne Rowing Club being notably successful.

Yorkshire crews, especially those from York City and Leeds University clearly benefited from the journey to Durham by winning 8 trophies, including the prestigious Lowe Challenge Bowl. The Mayor’s Plate also went to a crew from outside the region – Hull University.

Entertainment, sponsors and volunteers

children chasing bubbles

Credit: Chris Longley

The action wasn’t all on the river though. There was a classic car rally, free entertainment from comedy acts Musical Ruth and the Bread and Butter Theatre Company, and music from local schoolchildren of the Durham Music Service and a variety of brass bands. Braver souls tried out the inflatable bungee run. Younger spectators were delighted by the chance to have their faces painted, catch up with Jesse Ward, the ‘Bubbleologist’, and the opportunity to watch the classic Punch and Judy show.

The commentary combined the best of the old with the new. Our commentator pairs provided lots of information, anecdotes and conversation, as well as Twitter feeds, links to the Regatta website and to Instagram.

Each year the Regatta supports local traders and this year was no different. Our diverse audience profile once again enabled local traders to cater for markets not found elsewhere in the North East. Several of the trade stalls sold out of products and others reported making positive marketing leads for future sales.

Durham Regatta and all its supporters have benefited significantly from Concision’s generous sponsorship of the Regatta, through the creation of our new website, their help with the live results service and their advice and support over the last few months. The Regatta is particularly more than grateful to Daniel and Iglika from Concision.

It takes several hundred volunteers to run Durham Regatta. They come from a range of contributors – the Regatta’s own members, DARC, Durham University, Army Cadets, Durham School, St Leonard’s School and the wider public. This year the volunteers completed over 500 ‘shifts’. Thanks to sponsorship from Cooper Mini Durham and BMW, our volunteers were clearly identifiable, each sporting a branded tabard, and each volunteer received a Durham Regatta cap as a token of our appreciation.

prize evening Durham Regatta 2017

Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell (left) and Jess Eddie (right) with the Women’s coxed quad from Durham ARC

Olympians light up the Regatta

Olympians Jess Eddie and Nathaniel Reilly O’Donnell (‘Noddy’) were on the riverbanks on Saturday, and many people took the opportunity to chat with them and take pictures.

For those lucky enough to be at the Gala Theatre Prize giving on Sunday night, the occasion was lit up by the Jess and Noddy show. The two Olympians were relaxed and clearly enjoyed themselves – joking with the audience, posing for photos with the winning crews, and making it a memorable night for many of the younger (and older) prize winners. Many thanks to Jess and Noddy, and we hope their Durham Regatta memorial ‘pots’ will enhance their collections.

A great end to a great Regatta.