The first rowing race of the new year got under way last Saturday, with crews racing against the clock over 4,500metres from Scotswood to Newburn in two divisions.

In the first division of the Tyne United New Year Head race, three Hexham RC masters quad sculls took to the water.

The men’s masters E (average age over 55) of Kevin Oates, Graeme Wilson, Ben Haywood-Smith and Steve Ludman won their event and were the fastest masters quad of the day with a time of 16.28.3. Also in the masters E event, Hexham’s Andrew Corder, David Gold, Matthew Eastburn and Rob Patterson covered the course in 18.38.7.

Meanwhile, rowing masters F (average age over 60) of John Young, Rob Aubrook, Graeme Marples and Bruce Howorth came home in 18.28.7.

In the afternoon race, three further crews had Hexham Rowing Club representation.

Hexham’s open men’s quad of Sam Earnshaw, Stuart Heslop, Andrew Bainbridge and Chris Burn (all under 30) had a great race, sculling nip and tuck alongside their opposition from Tyne RC right up to the finish line. The Hexham crew won through and beat the Tyne crew by 3.2 seconds with a time of 15.51.

But if that was a close result, the next Hexham crew had an even closer race. The Team Northumbria composite masters E eight, with four Hexham RC crew members on board, Kevin Oates, Ben Haywood Smith, Steve Ludman and Graeme Wilson, coxed by Elizabeth Waterman from Hexham, were chasing rivals, Tyne RC. Both crews rowed exactly the same time of 15.56.8 and it was a dead heat.

However, because the Hexham composite eight were the older crew, they were pronounced winners.

The final Hexham crew competing were the ladies masters F quad of Deb Aubrook, Jill Young, Gill Patterson and Karen Spur. They were up against a very speedy ladies northern composite crew, which won the event.