182nd Durham Regatta

The 182nd Durham Regatta will take place on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th June 2015.


The 181st Durham Regatta took  place on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th June 2014, where crews from all over the UK competed on the picturesque River Wear, against the backdrop of Durham Cathedral.

The regatta is now so popular, that we had to turn away eighty crews ,that applied for entry, and we still had almost 700 crews racing. With this record entry, the schedule is demanding – races every two minutes from 8am in the morning till 7pm at night for 2 days. That would be difficult enough on a large expanse of water, but is tougher still on a narrow, winding river, with crews launching from all parts of the river.

Nigel van Zwanenberg, Chairman of the Durham Regatta commented, “I’m always amazed by just how many people contribute to making the regatta work so well – Army and Air cadets, Rowing club members, students from the University, members of the regatta from all walks of life, the umpires, and many more – and all are volunteers. We really are grateful to them and to all the competitors and supporters for making Durham regatta such a successful and friendly sporting event.”


The origins of Durham Regatta are closely tied with the commemorations to honour the “glorious victory” at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. There is some certainty that a parade of boats took place in the years preceding the founding of the regatta in 1834. There were firework displays and regatta balls at the City’s Assembly Rooms. Events also included ‘the firing of cannons’ and ‘ a substantial supper with a plentiful supply of strong ale and punch for the Waterloo men.’

Next year we plan to commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo and Durham regatta’s special links with it. The search for the Waterloo men’ and their descendents will be a major project for the Regatta throughout the year … and when we find them we intend to repeat the hospitality offered to them in the 1830’s.

… so if you have a family story of a relative who survived Waterloo or the Peninsular war and mustered with ‘other brave fellows’ on the banks of the Wear to display their banner and fire off cannons each June – please let us know

Nigel van Zwanenberg – email chairman@durham-regatta.org.uk

Gerald Blake – email gerald@gblake7.wanadoo.co.uk



What is Durham Regatta?

Durham Regatta has its origins in the annual procession of boats, organised by the Sheriff of County Durham and the Rt. Hon. William Lloyd Wharton, in June 1815 to celebrate the ‘famous victory’ at Waterloo. The event included the ‘firing of cannon and a substantial supper with a plentiful supply of strong ale for the Waterloo men’. Next year’s 2015 regatta will mark 200 years since Waterloo and we are planning a spectacular celebration. The annual procession of boats continued for many years, but Durham Regatta in its present form dates back to 1834, with racing taking place over two days from Prebends Bridge to Pelaw Wood.

The regatta is the second oldest in the country, preceded only by Chester Regatta and pre-dates Henley (the “Durham of the South”, by 5 years). Today, the regatta takes place over a 750m ‘short course’ on the scenic River Wear in Durham City, regularly attracting in excess of two thousand competitors and ten thousand spectators from across the United Kingdom.  In recent years, the regatta has also attracted international entries.

The Grand Challenge Cup over the iconic ‘long course’ of one-and-a-quarter miles, including negotiating the narrow arches of Elvet Bridge, is the most coveted prize at any regatta in the North of England. This year marked 160 years of ‘The Grand’. Some innovations to the racing programme this year included time-trials for the high-performance crews, and then allocation to a series of knock-out events. These new ‘Championship’ events were a resounding success with close and exciting racing.