Category Archives: Club News

Club News and Announcements

All well on the northern regatta front

As we reach the midway point of the northern regatta season with Wansbeck Regatta this weekend it’s worth reflecting on the state of play of British Rowing’s revised Competition Framework.

There has been a 50/50 split between those regattas adopting the old system and new system, including some in the fortunate position to be able to host a day of each. Chester-le-Street and Durham City (Sunday) were bold and embraced the new ranking index system, Wansbeck and Talkin Tarn have declared their hand and will follow suit. Tees and Durham City (Saturday) chose the cautious approach, adopting the old points system. Hexham will do likewise on June 3rd.

Tyne Regatta also decided to play safe by sticking with the old BROE system, only to find entries in short supply and cancellation unavoidable. The reasons are unclear – many events with few entries in each was a determining factor.

Durham Regatta is also hedging its bets by adopting the old system on June 10th and the new one on June 11th.

Feedback suggests that in the regattas so far staged there has been a full entry and a successful outcome. Indeed Chester-le-Street enjoyed one of its best turnouts ever. One of the aims of the Ranking Index approach is to ensure closer racing for all competitors. Scrutiny of winning margins from published results may offer some insight. As an example, 102 out of 262 i.e. 39% of races on the Saturday of Durham City Regatta (old system) returned a winning margin of ‘easily’ whereas on the Sunday (new system) there were 18 ‘easily’ verdicts from 84 races (21%). Closer inspection of a larger sample of data may be necessary to ascertain the extent to which the objective has been achieved.

Come April 2018 every event will run under the new competition framework. We await developments with interest.

One section of DARC enjoying a revival of fortunes is the Senior squad, with the men’s and women’s squads recently combining under the guidance of Phill Tully, the women’s elite coxless quad (Liz Law, Taya Parker, Alison Danforth and Beth Holmes) gaining two victories at Durham City and notably the women’s IM3 coxed quad (Emma Lyons, Ruth Hodges, Emily Hanscam/Taya Parker, Michelle Joubert and cox Christie Lau) winning at both Durham City and Tees Regattas, the same crew devastated after the incident on March 14th when a block of concrete was dropped on their boat, Peter Burdess, as it passed under Baths Bridge, attracting considerable media interest, and causing what was thought at the time to be irreparable damage. Thankfully this was not the case, the crew remained unscathed, and crew and boat were reunited with more positive impact at the two events.

The men’s IM3 coxed quad (Tom Maddick, Joe Owen, Nick Baird, Reece Stockport and cox Becky Jackson) also tasted victory at Durham City Regatta  and there was a further win for Ruth Hodges and Emily Hanscam in a double scull at Chester-le-Street.

European Junior Championships

After 2 years of intensive training with the Great Britain Junior Squad Hope Cessford is making excellent progress, taking part recently in the European Junior Championships in Germany. This follows a successful 2016 during which Hope represented Durham ARC in the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race and at Henley Women’s Regatta, before Hope and Lauren Irwin (Chester-le-Street ARC) won at the Metropolitan Regatta at Eton Dorney and in the Elite Women’s Pair at Durham Regatta (above). The pair then went on to represent Great Britain for the first time at the World Junior Championships in Rotterdam last August.

Hope is the Northern Region’s only representative in a 32-strong GB Juniors squad announced recently. When not with the GB squad she is coached in Durham by Gordon Beattie.

On Saturday May 6th the GB Women’s coxless 4 of Ella Morgan (Henley RC), Mary Wright (Henley RC), Hope Cessford (Durham ARC) and Flo Donald (Lea RC) finished 2nd in heat 2 at the Munich DRV Junior International Regatta, 2 seconds behind winners Germany in 7.30.64, qualifying for the A final on Sunday May 7th where they finished 5th in 7.30.52 behind four German crews. Also on Sunday Hope and Flo were 2nd in 7.48.18 in the heat of the Women’s Pair, two seconds behind the other GB pair of Ella Morgan and Mary Wright from Henley before conditions led to curtailment of racing.

Great Britain then sent a small squad to the European Rowing Junior Championships in Krefeld, Germany on May 20th and 21st, including Hope and Flo Donald of Lea RC, who qualified in 2nd place in heat 2 of the Women’s Pair behind eventual champions Romania in a time of 8.00.25. In the second semi-final the GB pair finished 2nd to Germany in 7.47.57, a result that put them into the A final on Sunday where they finished 5th in 7.56.32. Full results can be found here.

Krefeld is a new venue for international regattas and the European Junior Championships is a relatively new event introduced in 2011 but entries continue to grow, with this year’s regatta attracting 532 athletes from 33 nations. 

The World Rowing Junior Championships take place this year at Trakai, Lithuania on August 2nd to 6th.

Lunchtime pilates sessions

Pilates teacher Jane Rae is offering twice weekly lunchtime pilates sessions to members on Mondays and Thursdays between 12 noon and 1pm at a cost of £3 per session.

Brilliant for improving core strength, posture and the all important ‘reach’ required for rowing. Any member is welcome to join in. When the weather is fine classes are held outside but they are normally held in the Club hall next to the bar.

Enquiries to Paddy Deans at

Hope in GB team for Munich

British Rowing today announced the team to represent Great Britain at the International Deutschen Ruderverbandes (DRV) Junior Regatta in Munich over the weekend of May 6th and 7th. The 32-strong team includes Hope Cessford of Durham ARC.

Around 900 athletes from 16 nations, aged between 15 and 18 will take part in the regatta, organised by World Rowing, with strong contingents from Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic as well as Great Britain.

Hope who is coached at Durham by Gordon Beattie first represented GB at the World Junior Championships in Rotterdam last August in the women’s pair along with Lauren Irwin, then of Chester-le-Street ARC. Hope is the northern region’s only representative in the squad for Munich. Lauren, who now represents Durham University Boat Club, won a silver medal in the women’s four last weekend at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Regatta in Nottingham.

The Munich regatta takes place on the course used for the 1972 Olympics and comes two weeks before the Junior European Championships in Krefeld, Germany.

Restored scull unveiled at River & Rowing Museum

The final chapter was written in the restoration of ‘J Hopper’ with the unveiling of the finished article on March 27th 2017 at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley.

J Hopper (formerly named Maxwell) is a single clinker scull named after an eminent Hexham-based professional sculler of the 1920s and 1930s called Jack Hopper. It was rescued from the scrapheap and purchased for £50 in 2012 by former Durham ARC off-peak member, and still regular visitor, Roger Bean, who then set about restoring it to its former glory. Much of the ground work took place in the loft of Clive Hole’s boathouse, with Clive’s assistance, recompense for storage coming in the form of whisky.

Roger sought the assistance of former boatbuilder and historian Clive Radley who helped to trace the boat’s fascinating history. Moving away from Durham the project continued, Clive Radley acting as benefactor and putting Roger in touch with Bill Colley who set about completing the restoration to a standard suitable for the River & Rowing Museum.

A re-christening ceremony took place at Richmond on October 21st 2016.

The story is covered in detail in the following 2 blog entries posted to ‘Hear the Boat Sing’ in September 2015 and October 2016.

Richmond-upon-Thames, Part I: A Reminder of the Golden Age of Boating

Long lost Minute Book reveals club history

The Club Minute Book covering the years between 1923 and 1951 has come to light recently, enabling Barry to add some fascinating facts from the club history to the timeline which can be found on the club’s website.

As well as this it has been possible to fill in some gaps in the historical record of wins. The revised list of wins from 1860 can be found here.

The missing minute book came to light among personal belongings following the death last year of former club chairman John Short.

Durham Regatta website launch

The launch of Durham Regatta’s new website took place at Durham ARC on Monday this week. 

The new design honours the rich history and traditon of the Regatta but has a contemporary, modern feel. The website is also optimised for all mobile devices – ensuring that everyone can easily access the information relevant to them.

Durham Regatta dates back to 1834 making it the second oldest regatta in the United Kingdom after Chester Regatta. It predates the Henley Royal Regatta by 5 years. The Durham Regatta Committee dates back to the Regatta’s inception, although today Durham Regatta is run as a limited company.

The 2017 Durham Regatta takes place on June 10th and 11th.

Volunteer of the Year Awards

Recognising the volunteers who make a significant contribution to the sport the awards presentation to the winners of British Rowing’s Volunteer of the Year for 2016 took place at a lunch at the River & Rowing Museum at Henley-on-Thames on February 4th.

Winner of the Event Administration award for the Northern Region, on behalf of Durham Regatta was Richard Mortimer of Durham ARC.

Coverage will appear in Rowing & Regatta magazine and in the British Rowing Almanack in due course.

Richard is pictured along with Nicci Slipman of Hexham RC receiving their awards from guest speaker Dame Katherine Grainger.

Photo by Nick Middleton.

Pelaw Wood update – winter 2016

Durham County Council has issued the following update about restoration work in Pelaw Wood.

Following thorough analysis of the second landslip, a design to stabilise the ground has been completed. Additional soil nailing works were also required to stabilise the steepest parts of the bankside. A mesh will be installed at the surface and vegetation allowed to grow through. Work continues to stabilise the slope using stone and ‘geoweb’ retaining walls, which we have used to keep as much of the existing material in place as possible.

Some trees have had to be removed in consultation with our tree officer where access to carry out the works was not possible. As many of the existing trees have been retained as possible.

Soil nailing works will take around 5 weeks to complete, however there will be further  work to stabilise the ground which will take until early 2017 to complete.

We are hoping to reopen the footpath in February 2017.

For regular update and more information on the scheme please visit

Geoff celebrates 60 years at DARC

On October 31st 2016 Geoff Graham completed 60 years as a member of Durham ARC with a small celebration in the clubhouse.

Geoff has taken on innumerable jobs around the club over the years, having raced for the club, coached numerous crews and even helped to build the old clubhouse

As an oarsman he achieved success winning the Lady Herschel Plate for Novice coxed fours at Durham Regatta in 1963 and the Rushworth and Storey Cup for coxed fours in 1966, then, rowing as a pair with Bill Parker, winning the MacFarlane-Grieve Cup for senior pairs in 1968.

The Boston Marathon provided further notable successes including winning the pair in 1971 and 1973, and in 1974 being a member of the overall winning crew, a coxless four of GS Graham, WT Parker, J Hedley and JC Kenyon, then winning the fastest 8+ in 1975.

As club captain in 1982 he was able to report a then club record of 62 wins in open events, a total surpassed the following year with 72 wins thanks to a strong junior contingent. Eleven of these wins went to the ladies coxed four coached by Geoff, with a crew of A Lund, A Page, C Fraser, A Dawson and cox Tommy Maddison, including gold medals representing England at the Home International in Glasgow.

In recent times there has been much success with the women’s performance squad including Gill Prescott and Helen McMillan.