Monthly Archives: April 2015

War of the Roses 2015

On Saturday April 25th a group of 8 daytime and Masters rowers went to Bradford ARC to take part in the War of the Roses, a scratch regatta involving clubs from across the Northern, North Western and Yorkshire regions – from Hull and Runcorn to Talkin Tarn and Hexham. The event has become a firm favourite with the daytime rowers following a memorable first visit last year.

The format is unique, with registered participants arriving from 11am to be issued with crew numbers, find their crewmates and discuss tactics in time for racing to commence at 1pm. The organisers attempt to allocate crews of mixed sex, club and ability to take part in a knockout in 4+s followed by a similar competition in 4x+s but with crews reallocated. This leads to general mayhem but is great fun, incredibly sociable and a great way to make new friends.

The Northern Region was well represented with a sizeable contingent from Hexham, Durham and Tees. Races take place over a short but picturesque course on the River Aire, adjacent to the Saltaire World Heritage Site, using committee boats with a rapid turnaround of crews between races so no adjustment of foot stretchers is permitted. For added variety one of the 4+s is stroke-rigged and the other bow-rigged.

The day concludes with an Eights challenge between crews drawn at random to represent the White Rose of Yorkshire and the Red Rose of Lancashire, from whence the name is derived.

With 31 teams taking part Durham fared well in both the sweep and sculling formats with representatives in each final, and Vaughan’s crew beating Colin’s in the sweep final.

Gerry was delighted to be selected for the Red Rose crew in the 8s race only for them to be defeated comfortably by a White Rose eight consisting of 7 women and one man. Of course it’s less about winning than about taking part, but don’t tell Bradford that as the historic rivalry between Lancaster and York is still very much evident!


Bradford provided a plentiful supply of cakes, soup and bacon butties as sustenance throughout the day, until 7.30pm when it was time to retire to the splendid Victorian clubhouse for the traditional curry supper. It made a change for Gene, who can usually be found in the kitchen at DARC, to have the opportunity to take part without having to prepare the meals. After a convivial evening it was time to wend our weary way home, definitely a winning formula worth replicating.

More photos here.

Nottingham Explorers visit

On Tuesday April 28th the daytime rowers entertained a group of 6 recreational rowers from Nottingham Rowing Club, known as the Nottingham Explorers, who had asked to visit us. They are an expanding group of experienced tourers who have already rowed at exotic places such as Amsterdam and Venice and are always on the lookout for new and interesting locations to visit. Several of the group were combining the day with a longer stay to take in the attractions of the area. To make a day of it we invited some of our regular visitors from Hexham and Tees Rowing Clubs to join around 20 of the daytime rowers from Durham.

Sadly Tees couldn’t make it but a group of 7 came from Hexham. Gerry put up the flags and bunting to celebrate a new venture in DARC hospitality.

Activities commenced around 10.30am with bacon butties and coffee in the bar, followed by a leisurely paddle in the 2 stable quads plus Roger Tarry, the 125 and Auntie Betty, to show our guests the river, before all returned for a sumptuous buffet lunch prepared by Gene, Debbie and Rita.

Numbers are difficult to assess as several people came and went throughout the day, but by the afternoon there were enough rowers, coxes and officials left to make up 5 crews to stage some fun races between the stable quads. Caroline organised the draw, with teams composed of randomly selected representatives of the 3 clubs, with everyone getting 3 races each. Although this was Nottingham’s first ever experience of racing the outcome was very positive. Everyone had a great time before getting off the water at 3.30pm to round off the day with yet more coffee and cakes.

There are more photos of the day, a most convivial event, consolidating relations, boosting the coffers and whetting our appetite for further visits and tours.

Bag packers top a grand!

The Club has undertaken some sterling fundraising efforts over recent months. The Juniors squad takes part regularly in bag-packing days at local supermarkets as a means of raising vital funds. Members of other squads also join in to act as packers and supervisors. The session on February 21st at Morrisons, Doxford Park raised £933 while on Easter Monday the £1000 barrier was surpassed for the first time with a total of £1023 being raised on April 6th at Sainsbury’s Arnison Centre store.

The Boat Race Ball on April 11th also raised around £500.

The Club is reliant on the efforts of its members to provide funds with which to purchase new boats and equipment so all efforts are appreciated.

The next bag packing day has been arranged for May 30th at Morrisons in Consett. Please see Alan Granlund or email if you would like to take part.

Success at Strathclyde Park

The first multi-lane regatta of the season took place at Strathclyde Park over the weekend of April 25th/26th with the Juniors sending a large contingent. This is a major event which takes place under the banner of Scottish Rowing and attracts entries from all over Scotland and the north of England.

Pride of place went to the J18 girls – Katie McDaid, Carina Sowerby, Lauren McMillan and Jess Harris (pictured with coach Gordon Beattie). Following an unbeaten head season when they were often the fastest women’s boat on the river they continued their impressive form with victories in the coxed 4 on Saturday (with cox Rebecca Jackson) and the coxless quad on Sunday.

There were also victories for the Restricted 2 coxless quad of Elliot Kay, Richard Matthewson, Robbie Lyons and Cameron Cutts, the Novice coxed 4 of Josh Stephenson, Tim Hopper, Elliot Kay, Jacob Lutz-Nattrass and cox Elise Sanderson, the Women’s Masters double of Gill Prescott and Helen McMillan, the Women’s Masters coxless quad of Gill Prescott with a Strathclyde Park and Loch Lomond composite, and many other creditable performances.

More photos

Full results

Regatta season gets underway at Chester-le-Street

The local regatta season got underway on Saturday April 18th with the first event taking place over a 750 metre course on the River Wear at Chester-le-Street Amateur Rowing Club. This year’s Chester-le-Street Regatta attracted 304 entries from around 20 different rowing clubs with races commencing at 8.30am and continuing at 2-minute intervals throughout the day.

DARC entered 17 crews and scullers and secured 5 victories, the Women’s J13 and J14 4x+, the Women’s Masters D 4x+ crew (pictured) of Claire Staines, Nicola Field, Angela Purvis and Sarah Wheater, coxed by Lynn Pain, the Open Masters D 4+ of Stephen Kay, Martyn Calkin, John Liddell, Rob Coe and cox Maddy McCarthy (below), and Andy Jaggard in the Masters F 1x. One of the most keenly contested races was the Senior Club Mixed Eights in which DARC won through 3 rounds before losing out in the final against Queen Elizabeth High School.

This was the first of 7 annual club regattas in the northern region, the next one, Durham City Regatta, takes place over 2 days at Durham Amateur Rowing Club on Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th May, followed by events at Tees, Wansbeck, Hexham and Tyne before the season’s finale at Talkin Tarn on July 4th.

This year the Saturday of Durham City Regatta will follow the standard format with races in all categories taking place over a 700 metre course, while the Sunday will be a Bill Grant Memorial event in aid of the North East Air Ambulance. Sunday racing will include Durham College Rowing Challenge Eights, and Durham City Scratch Eights and Quads, all over a 500 metre course. Other fundraising events including an ergo challenge and dragonboating will also be available.

Full results from Chester-le-Street

Durham Regatta volunteers needed

Preparations for this year’s Durham Regatta, which takes place over the weekend of June 13th and 14th, are moving into full swing. Regatta Chairman Nigel van Zwanenberg yesterday unveiled the Regatta’s first charity partner – Row2Recovery.

Founder members of Durham Regatta include the University of Durham, Durham School and Durham Boat Club, known today as Durham Amateur Rowing Club. The Regatta, first staged in 1834, originated as a parade of boats in celebration of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon in 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo, so the partnership with Row2Recovery, a charity that combines the armed forces with rowing, is highly appropriate.

Row2Recovery’s flagship partner Gateshead Community Rowing Club, will be hosting a stand at this year’s Regatta and will be entering adaptive teams.

This year’s plans also include some re-enactment races, recalling the style of racing from the 1830s and 40s, and volunteers are being sought to take part in these!


RE-ENACTMENT RACES WILL TAKE PLACE BETWEEN 1.30 AND 2.30pm ON THE SATURDAY (13TH JUNE) – note all other racing will stop during this period.

We need

  1. Scullers for a Skiffs race (in Brown’s boats) using old sculling blades and wearing authentic rowing kit – 6 to 9 people needed. Please sign up with you contact details
  2. Paddlers for a “Wear Scurry Race” – this will probably be in punts, using miners’ shovels – and you will need to dress up as 19th century miners! 12 – 16 people needed. Please sign up with your contact details

Obviously there will be advice on dress, a briefing, and a dry run, sorry, that should read a wet run, nearer the time.

Volunteers should sign up on the list on the notice board at DARC.
Any questions should be directed to Andy Jaggard ( ) or Nigel van Zwanenberg (

Boat Race Ball

History was made on April 11th 2015 with the Women’s University Boat Race for the first time being staged on the same Tideway course and on the same day as the Men’s race, both being televised live by the BBC. DARC decided it would be a good idea to follow suit, breaking new ground of its own by organising a Boat Race Ball on the same day.

Following an informal afternoon of watching the Grand National and the two Boat Races unfold on the big screen members changed into more formal attire for dinner and entertainment provided by a live band.

The result was very pleasing, with over 60 people attending on the night, and innovative menu and seating arrangements trialled successfully. The first innovation involved seating most of the guests for the meal in the bar, which was refurnished using the conference furniture. This allowed a dance floor to be kept available without the need to move tables. it also meant people could escape the band which was quite loud!

Next was a brand new menu designed by Gene, Graham and John, which was delicious, especially the sauce in which the chicken was cooked. Most of the meal was served carvery/buffet style making service faster and allowing people to choose what goes on their plate. A massive thank you to Gene, Anne, Joyce and Gordon who pretty much ran the kitchen themselves – quite a task – especially when the fire alarm decides to go off repeatedly!

Once the meal was over there was a live band, another first for after a meal. The Pretty Weeds are a local north east based band with a good range of music, very loud but they played something to most people’s taste at some point in the evening. The older members took to the dancefloor enthusiastically – Clive, Roger, Ian and their respective partners leading the dancing for most of the night, with the younger element dancing in a more reserved manner in the bar area.

All in all a very nice evening, bringing in about £500 profit between the food, bar and raffle – definitely a new event for the annual social calendar.

Earlier in the afternoon a small crowd assembled to watch the Grand National and the Men’s & Women’s Boat Races. The highlight of the afternoon was Clive guessing the finishing time of 17 minutes and 34 seconds exactly to win the sweepstake, much to the disappointment of Captain Castling who thought he had nailed it!

Women’s Eights Head of the River Race 2015

The Women’s Eights Head of the River Race took place on Saturday 14 March 2015 on the Thames. DARC Masters Performance squad arrived in London, filled with inspiration on the day of Bill Grant’s memorial service, determined to do him proud.

Those who had travelled earlier had the boat re-rigged before the rest of the crew arrived later in the evening. This was very much appreciated as it made the next morning a lot less stressful! With individuals fuelled to the max. with porridge, bananas, cereal bars and energy drinks, the crew were able to do final checks before boating at 8.46am precisely from Barnes Bridge.

As the boat was being carried to the water the Masters crew recognised some of the crew boating just in front – the Olympians Heather Stanning, Helen Glover, Katherine Grainger, and of course our very own, home grown, Jess Eddie who yelled out “ Good luck DARC” to us as her boat launched. Jess’s crew went on to win the Head pennant and she cheered for both the Masters crew and the Senior Women, who were rowing in the boat named after her!

The weather was fairly kind – not too cold for that time of the year but there was a bit of a breeze.

It is always a great spectacle to see so many women’s crews lined up for the start of such a prestigious event knowing the history of this stretch of river. And then each boat, one by one, following the coxes’ instructions (well more or less!), spinning on command and building up to get to the start at a good pace and hopefully maintaining it throughout the race!

All that training with coaches John Lund and Andy Jaggard, and the hard work on the ergos, paid off as the crew secured a very respectable result – 2nd in the Masters D category, 11th out of the total 26 Masters boats, and 153rd out of a total of 304 boats, in a time of 23:20.4 minutes (22:25.4 masters handicap adjusted). Excellent!

The crew got a nice surprise to see John Bishop (hot from Comic Relief the night before) standing on the landing as they lifted their boat off the water. He was supporting his wife who was in another Masters crew which DARC had beaten, of course! John was very obliging and agreed to a couple of photo opportunities, in return for a promise to pledge a donation to Comic Relief.

A treat by the “carer” Mark, who later drove the crew over to the Putney Bridge area, really added to the whole enjoyment of the day. A walk along to the finish area of the race, a sneaky peek at a Cambridge crew and some well-earned liquid refreshment before a tasty Italian meal, completed a great event!

The crew, coxed by Nigel van Zwanenberg, consisted of: Angie Lund; June Davison; Gabrielle Moore; Clare Blowey; Helen “Red” Adair; Susan Jackson; Jacki Patrickson, Heather Hirst, with Sarah Rutter as chief welly bag monitor/cheer leader!