Student rowers set for monumental ferry challenge

Newcastle Rowing ChallengeA team of 16 rowers from Newcastle University Boat Club (NUBC) are to attempt to race a DFDS Seaways cruise ferry across the North Sea from the International Passenger Terminal in North Shields to Amsterdam next weekend (Friday 6 November).

The 496 kilometre (308 mile) endurance test ­ known as the DFDS Seaways North Sea Challenge ­ will involve the team linking two rowing machines together on the deck of the DFDS Seaways cruise ferry, Princess of Norway, and attempting to row the 496 kilometres in less than the cruise ferry’s average crossing time of fifteen and a half hours.

Boat Club spokesman, Andrew Curry, said: "This will be a monumental challenge, a test of the physical and mental endurance of each athlete’s ability to push themselves to the limit".

"Rowing is a sport that promotes healthy living and extreme physical fitness, two attributes that will definitely be needed during this gruelling challenge. There is very little room for error, and specific training began in earnest two months ago. The 16 athletes have been selected on the back of fitness, sprint and endurance trials, because every member of the team must be able to compete at the top of their game for 15 hours straight in order to complete the challenge", he said.

John Crummie, UK Managing Director for DFDS Seaways added: "We sail daily to Amsterdam but it is not every day that someone wants to race us! It’s a real challenge for the students to try and beat our cruise ferries; they travel at around 18 knots per hour. Of course they won’t have the waves to contend with! We are always keen to support charity, and these students have really come up with an ingenious way to raise money for their club. I wish them good luck."

DFDS Seaways’ cruise ferry leaves North Shields at 5.00pm and the rowers will row continuously throughout the night. They will row in a relay, two at a time, for around three minutes per session, taking short periods of rest time in order to rehydrate and get calories back on board. Four support staff members will be travelling with the team to ensure they are competing within their physical limits.

Ferry Captain, Jens Knudsen, said: "This is the first time I have had an activity like this one on board my ferry! Whether or not they are able to complete the distance in a faster time than the ship will depend upon their level of fitness and stamina."

The rowers are undertaking the challenge in an attempt to raise £10,000 in sponsorship towards the £30,000 average annual running costs of the Boat Club.

Report from Newcastle University Boat Club

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