Monthly Archives: September 2013

THANK YOU for telling us what you think of DARC

The survey is now closed – in excess of 100 members responded. Thank you for all your views and the many suggestions for improvement. The data is now being analysed. The report will be presented to the exec committee on 12th November, with a full report to members, together with recommendations, by 20th November. Watch this space for the draw for the £50 prize.

We all know someone like that, but we really do want your opinion. What do you find satisfying about being a member of the club and what causes you dissatisfaction or frustration.

WHY BOTHER? You might win £50 * .. and it only takes 10 minutes

We are a large and successful club, BUT the mix of the membership has changed dramatically over the last few years, and we know there are some difficulties and tensions. We want the membership to help us to be clear about the most important issues that need to be tackled.


  1. If you receive the membership updates via email there will be a link to the survey, simply complete it and submit and your views  which will automatically be added to the Survey result OR
  2. Go to the Members Portal on the D.A.R.C. website. Register on the Portal if you havn’’t already (it’s dead easy) and then you can complete the survey and be part of all communications in the future

OR if you can’t go online

3. Complete a paper version of the Survey (in the foyer of the club) and put it in the ‘postbox’

The Survey is anonymous as we want to know what you really think – we will not attribute any comments made to individuals, but you can choose to leave us your email (*TO ENTER THE £50 PRIZE DRAW) and so we have a more complete mailing list to communicate with members.


“I know these surveys you complete them and never hear anything again.”

We will put together a report to the new exec for early November. And then by 21st November a full report of the survey results for all members with an action plan.

We don’t promise to solve all the issues that come out of the survey, but we will ensure that the priority issues are tackled by the exec, with the support of members, over the next year.

Please complete the survey now or by 19th October at the latest. By the way, how would you spend the £50 ??

Andy Jaggard and PR action group

How to stop wrecking boats!

In Cornwall they used to wave lanterns at night to attract seafarers onto the rocks. No lanterns required at DARC – boat wrecking is becoming a regular occurrence, with 2 top boats badly damaged in the last couple of weeks.

We need to stop breaking boats now.

Marking the shallows

The Club has bought some mini buoys. These will be in place by the weekend on the shallows to show the area over which boat hulls should not go, together with posts indicating the start and end of the shallows.

With the crew going downstream close to the concrete wall there is room for the upstream crew in the centre of the river. But take no risks, if in doubt STOP and GIVE WAY to the downstream crew. If you are doing a couple of trips turn at the regatta start to avoid ‘the shallows’ entirely.

Come clean and report Damage

Want to see grown men cry. How do you think the Captain and the Boat Warden feel when they hear news of yet another boat wrecking incident. And for the damage to go unreported is even more of a sickener.

Boat warden Bill Grant explains, “There is a tendency to not report damage perhaps just putting a fin back in and sticking some tape over it.” Accidents do happen .. but that’s different from carelessness and sheer negligence .. if you do some damage

  1. Enter it in the book
  2. email  to order obtain/order any components
  3. identify the cause of the accident, the location, how to avoid something similar in the future and share the information
  4. offer to help with repairs

USE THE HIRE CAR PRINCIPLE (Crunch through the gears and leave sand on the upholstery??) No crews should ALWAYS check their boats before taking them on the water, and before putting them away. That way we can know if the damage was caused by the previous users. Clean and check all moving parts before the outing ,and wash the hull and decking down afterwards.

LOOKING AFTER BOATS Follow the Explore rowers lead. They give as much care and attention to getting the boat from the boat shed to the water and back, as to their rowing. Clean and check all moving parts before the outing, and wash the hull and decking down afterwards. As Bill says, “A clean boat is a happy boat, and it goes FASTER too”.

ROWING AT NIGHT It’s that time of year again so if you do decide to row at night

  1. Make sure you have all the correct lights and that they are working properly
  2. Have an experienced cox and crew who can react quickly in an emergency
  3. Do not assume that other river users will be navigating safely or have adequate lights

Carol at British Para Rowing Camp 2013

Carol participated in the British Para Rowing Camp 2013, held at the London Regatta Centre on Royal Albert Dock. last week-end. Carol, the first Para rower in D.A.R.C. has been classified as LTA VI (legs, trunks and arms – visually impaired) by British Rowing classifiers. Carol suffered a traumatic brain head injury in a car crash in 2010, and has lost sight in one eye and is visually impaired in the other, with no peripheral vision. The weekend was a great success, and Carol was given expert training and help from British Rowing coaches, including the lead coach for the British Rowing Para Olympic team, Tom Dyson.


World Masters in Varese

Wins for ‘E’ eight and ‘F’ four, “Apple-boy” bags four golds, but Gill claims five … whilst the WAGS lunch and shop Milano

Seventeen DARC oarsmen and oarswomen travelled to Varese in Northern Italy for the World Masters Rowing Chamionships. Over 600 races spread over 4 days with competitors from 28 year olds to 85 year olds from all corners of the World.

With 38 entries DARC had the most UK entries (from the 400 plus UK entries .. Germany had 700 plus). The venue was stunning, an eight lane world class course on the beautiful Lake Varese, with the Alps as the backdrop. It was HOT, but conditions were near perfect with calm conditions. Not only that, but a year ago Sarah Rutter had booked us the Veccia Riva Hotel on the shores of the lake, adjacent to the finish. With the white gazebo pitched on the lawns of the Hotel, the DARC enclosure was complete, and we all came to rely on the DARC roar with 250 metres to go. (Lets draw a veil over Sarah’s attempt to erect the gazebo on the VIP lawn, and her altercation with the Carabinieri)

The DARC ‘Enclosure’

The DARC Enclosure

So here’s how it works at the World Masters. With 100 plus entries in many of the events in the different age categories it would be impossible to run the event as a traditional regatta with knock-out rounds. Therefore each event is sub-divided by age and country into a series of 7 or 8 boat, straight ‘finals’ – so, for example the ‘F’ single sculls had 14 ‘finals’ starting with the younger competitors moving through to the older ones. This means you are often racing people from the same ‘vintage year’ as yourself.

Anyone (old enough) can enter, so first-timers there for the experience (means beer), vie with ex-Olympians. The competition is very hot, but with such a range of ability, everyone can find their level with close racing at the front, in the middle, and at the back of each field. There are ‘clubs’ that cherry-pick their athletes from right across their country, and ‘International’ crews drawn from more than one country. So to compete with these crews for a club such as DARC is a tough ask.

First timers, George Adair and Gerry, experienced oarsmen, but relatively new to sculling performed creditably in their double scull and appreciated all the advice and support. Novice scullers Helen Adair and Sarah Rutter have been training every day for weeks and had a gutsy and neat scull down the course.

Varese world masters rowing 2013 DARC WE2x

And the Adairs and Rutters combined for a good scull in their mixed quad (better known as a ‘Double Mr and Mrs’)

There was a smattering of 3rds, 4ths and 5ths all requiring good rows from practised and experienced crews … and then like buses ..

Gold for the ‘E’ eight rowing through the opposition in the last 250 metres to win by half a length.

Varese world masters rowing 2013 DARC E8 winners

And Gold for the ‘F’ four

And Gold for John Appleby in his single scull … or “Apple-boy” as dubbed by the commentator at the medal ceremony. In the mixed quad on Sunday, he also won gold with the Durham/Strathclyde composite, so the Apple-boy bagged 4 golds

Gill Prescott continued her impressive record with 5 wins: WD1x; WC2x and D 2x with Ailie Ord of Strathclyde Park; WC4x with Ailie, Liz Davison (also Strathclyde Park and Eva Rankin of Loch Lomond) and finally MxF4x with Ailie, John Appleby and Gordon Kerr of Nithsdale. Gill was delighted,

“This is the third year in a row that Ailie and I have won both C and D2x so really pleased with that hat trick! Very happy to have won again in my single as I still find that mentally my toughest event. Finally had a great last race in the mixed 4x and nice to finish on a win with a fellow Durham crew member, John Appleby” (Apple-boy, Apple-boy, Gill, but thanks and well done.)

Proving that there IS life beyond rowing, the WAGS lunched, shopped, and had a great day out in Milan (16000 steps on the pedometer) including a trip up the Duomo. And they also found time to give fantastic vocal support in some key races.

And so to the awards …

The Biggest Bar Bill award: To Martin Judson succeeding last year’s winner Paul Stanley .. sorry Martin we owe you a few pints

The Ladies Luncheon club award: Jointly to Maggie Appleby and Moira Jaggard for searching out wonderful Italian restaurants in the hills around the lake, and selflessly tasting the menus

The WAGS top shopper award: To Sandra for 2 dresses, a white lacy top, leggings, and various accoutrements

The WAGS last minute shopper award: To Mary ‘Is-it-reduced’ Gordon for a 100 euro dress at Malpensa airport. “Shall I text Derek?” (who was on a 12 hour drive back through Europe) .. “No, I don’t give a damn

The Closest brush with the law award: To Sarah Rutter for her near arrest by the Carabinieri whils erecting the Gazebo on the VIP lawn .. “Chinchin, Mr Carabinieri, do you fancy a beer?”

The Fixer award: Also to Sarah Ruttter for booking the Hotel a year ago, for her calm organisation of the bookings, the money, the comings and goings, and, crucially, negotiating the booze allowance with the Hotel in lieu of puddings. Thanks Sarah.

Dinner Veccia Riva

The Most Chilled Spectator award: To guest WAG, and ex Olympian, Diana Bishop who continued her knitting whilst husband Tom (ex DARC, now Quintin) recorded yet another win. (To be fair, she did look up briefly over the top of her glasses as he passed)

The Intrepid Traveller award: To Maureen Stanley for accompanying Paul and Derek on their long drives across Europe and back, towing the trailer (and for counting all of the – how many was it Maureen? – emergency exits in the 16 kilometre tunnel through the Alps!) And THANKS Paul and Derek for towing the boats. Your reward will come in .. Belgium?

Trailer ready to go home

And finally ..

The Cross-Cultural Understanding award: To the German rower staying at our Hotel who explained, “You English, you like to row nicely, skilfully, but you need to understand, for us Germans we row .. we row to go to work”.  OK …. we know, pretty boys lose.

As John Appleby said. “We first went to Trakai (Lithuania) in 08 …  and were amazed by the hoards of boats .. watching Moscow Dynamo going down the course in an eight in 3 minutes was .. eye-watering. But now we pick up things year by year ..”

Australia next year .. too far in the minibus, Maureen?

So it’s Belgium in 2 years time. Why not come and join us.

As for me .. in the single, I came second, just .. to a German sculler. I was trying to scull “nicely”? My advice for 2 years time .. Go to vwork on your training now.

Buongiorno, prego, ciao …

The Secret Sculler says ..”Get the Exec. you deserve”


Sculling down the Wear these misty Autumn mornings it suddenly struck me (no, not a Browns boat, and not a flower pot off Baths Bridge – although I had one of those a few years ago) ..

It’s that time of year again .. the AGM .. time to appoint a new Executive Committee. And with lots of time on the slide, I’ve come up with a brilliant 4 step plan to get the Exec that you deserve:-

Step 1: Don’t bother going to the AGM

Step 2: Or if you do, don’t give it any thought, turn up, and vote for your friends

Step 3: Help pressgang some unlikely victim into a vacant position

Step 4: Moan all year about the exec’s inability to deal with some important issues

O.K. it’s a big club, very successful in many ways, but tribal, if you know what I mean. Why not get the exec you want rather than the one you deserve? Here’s an alternative 4 step plan;

Step 1: Take an active interest in who is standing for the key positions

Step 2: Ask potential candidates what they stand for, and what they intend to do, if they get elected.

Step 3: Attend the AGM and vote for the best candidates

Step 4: Hold them to account for the rest of the year, for doing what they said they would – and support them in achieving it.

Secret Sculler’s Sermon – end of.

P.S, AGM is on 27th September