Monthly Archives: May 2015

National Schools’ Regatta results

There were some very creditable performances from the DARC Juniors at last weekend’s National Schools’ Regatta in Nottingham, the best coming from Aiden Rushforth and Hope Cessford in reaching the finals of the J16 and girls J16 single sculls. The Championship 4+,  girls Championship 8+, girls Championship 4x- and girls J16 double sculls crews all reached semi-finals.

Full results are available here.


Descendants of Harry Clasper wanted

A reunion of the Clasper family is planned for Saturday, May 30, from Noon until 2pm at South Shields Library in Georg Square (South Shields Town Centre).

Relatives of Harry Clasper, the famous Geordie rower, are being invited to a family re-union in South Shields to celebrate a play that commemorates the 170th anniversary of Harry and his brothers bringing the World Championship to the North East for the first time.

It was a feat that Jarrow-raised Harry Clasper repeated a further eight times from 1845, making him the most famous rower in the world.

Dunston-born Harry was the man the Blaydon Races was written for and 130,000 people crowded the streets of Newcastle to pay their respects when he died in 1870, aged 58.

“Hadaway Harry”, as he was nicknamed, will be the subject of a new play by North East playwright Ed Waugh, whose national and international hits, co-written with Trevor Wood, include Dirty Dusting, Waiting for Gateaux and Maggie’s End.

Ed who is responsible for writing the popular Laffalang, and most recently The Accidental Activist, said: “This is an amazing story. As well as being a champion himself, Harry trained North East world champions and designed the boats still used in the Olympics and boat races today.”

He continued: “I’ve had fantastic support from David Clasper, Harry’s great, great nephew, whose great great uncle was the cox in the winning team in June 1845 and who has written two books on the subject.

“Rowing was the mass sport of the working class before football and the Tynesiders beating the “unbeatable” Thamesmen caused a national sensation.”

Harry, a former Durham miner, was one of 14 children and, in turn, had 12 children himself.

Ed added: “I keep getting approached by people who are either related to Harry or who know people related to Harry and we thought getting members of the family together would be a fantastic way of officially launching the play.

“It’s a project that will hopefully bring to people’s attention how Harry was probably the greatest sportsman the North East has ever produced.”

The Clasper re-union will take place at South Shields Library in Georg [sic] Square in the town centre, as the prelude to a four-week Harry Clasper exhibition in Riddick’s, the former shoe shop on Fowler Street, South Shields (NE33 1NA).

The Clasper Family re-union runs from noon until 2pm on Saturday, May 30.
Anyone with Harry Clasper memorabilia is asked to bring it along to show attendees.

As well as an exhibition about Harry Clasper, Ed will give a talk about why he wrote Hadaway Harry.

Entry to the event is free and everyone is invited to attend.

Hadaway Harry, which has been supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England and South Tyneside Council, is a funny and poignant tribute to a North East hero, and will be performed in venues that have a resonance with Harry’s life.

All tickets on the tour cost only £10 and can be obtained as follows:

Maritime Trust (Boathouse), South Shields, NE33 1LQ
Monday, June 29 – 2.30pm/7.30pm
Tuesday, June 30 – 2.30pm/7.30pm
Wednesday, July 1 – 2.30pm/7.30pm
Tel (0191) 4247788

Gala Theatre, Durham (as part of the Durham Miners Gala programme)
Thursday, July 2 – 7.30pm
Friday, July 3 – 2.30pm/7.30pm
Tel 03000 266600

The Low Light, North Shields, NE30 1JA
Saturday, July 4 – 7.30pm
Sunday, July 5 – 2.30pm/7.30pm
Tel (0191) 2574506


Discovery Museum, Newcastle
Tuesday, July 7 – 7.30pm
Wednesday, July 8- 2.30pm/7.30pm
Thursday, July 9 – 2.30pm/7.30pm
Tel (0191) 232 6789 or (0191) 2774100

Bede’s World, Jarrow
Friday, July 10 – 7.30pm
Saturday, July 11 – 2.30pm/7.30pm
Tel (0191) 4892106 or 4247788
For further information visit

National Schools’ Regatta 2015

The 2015 National Schools’ Regatta takes place at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham over the weekend of May 22nd to 24th. It is the largest regatta for juniors in Great Britain. Held annually the regatta offers events for Junior rowers between J14 and J18. It was first raced in 1947, and has since grown into what is a world class event enjoyed by clubs and schools across the United Kingdom.

After notable successes by the Juniors last year Durham ARC has 8 entries in the Regatta –

  • J16 1x Aiden Rushforth
  • J15 4x+ Matthew Edge, Aidan Crilley, Matthew Skinner, Harry Coe and cox Mollie Coe
  • 1st 4+ Jacob Lutz-Nattress, Jamie Patterson, James Snowball, Matthew Abbiss and cox Elise Sanderson
  • WJ16 1x Hope Cessford
  • WJ15 2x Rebecca Jackson, Tess Armstrong
  • WJ16 2x Olivia Brown, Hope Cessford
  • Championship Girls 4x- Jess Harris, Carina Sowerby, Lauren McMillan, Katie McDaid
  • Championship Girls 8+ Corinne Hatton, Hannah Iqbal, Charlotte Jackson, Alex McMullen, Sarah Coleman, Ellen Blowey, Georgia McMillan, Laura Phillips and cox Julia Dominy

Good luck to all!

Find out more about the National Schools’ Regatta here

Land’s End to John O’Groats Charity Cycle Challenge

On the morning of Saturday 28th February 2015, Bill Grant, an active member of Durham Amateur Rowing Club (DARC), suffered a medical episode resulting in him falling off his bike and into the River Wear. With help from members of the public paramedics began medical procedures on the river bank, until the Great North Air Ambulance arrived.

The ambulance airlifted Bill to hospital within an hour of the incident, but sadly he passed away a short time later in hospital.

A University College man, graduate of Durham University Business School and former member of Durham University Boat Club Bill worked tirelessly and voluntarily for DARC in his capacity as Boat Warden as well as voluntarily coaching crews and umpiring at regattas. He was also a committee member for the Diocese of Durham.


Following Bill’s death DARC Chairman Martin Judson said

“When you wanted a volunteer, Bill was there, willing to help.”

“He was a character with a loud infectious laugh. He was one of those nice guys it is good to have around.”

“How do we fill boots like those?”

To thank the Great North Air Ambulance and the members of Durham Amateur Rowing Club for the work they did to ensure the best possible care for Bill Grant after the tragic incident Michael Hall, Thomas Jackson, Elliiot Kay and David Beeby will be completing the 1000 mile Land’s End to John O’Groats End to End Cycle Challenge between July 21st and August 1st.

“We are cycling to honour the hard work done by the Great North Air Ambulance and all those involved”, said Elliot.

Donations in support of their efforts can be handed to one of the team members in person, given to either John or Graham behind the bar at DARC, or made online to one of the team via Justgiving

All donations will be split equally between the Great North Air Ambulance and Durham Amateur Rowing Club.

Blustery conditions for Tees Regatta

Durham ARC entered 15 crews in this year’s Tees Regatta on Saturday May 16th, comparable with the 17 entries at Chester-le-Street on April 18th but well down on the 49 entered for last week’s cancelled day at Durham City Regatta.

Tees is the third of the scheduled annual regattas in the Northern region and takes place on a 4-lane 850 metre buoyed course between the Tees Barrage and the River Tees Watersports Centre, passing under the Infinity Bridge.

Racing got underway on a bright but blustery day, the strong headwind making conditions difficult for competitors and officials, with 155 races over a 9-hour period.

There were 7 wins for DARC, four of them from the Juniors squad – Matthew Abbiss and James Snowball in the J18 pair, Matthew Edge, Aidan Crilley, Matthew Skinner, Harry Coe and cox Molly Coe in the J15 coxed quad, Carina Sowerby, Lauren McMillan, Olivia Brown and Katie McDaid in the Women’s J18 coxless quad, and Tim Hopper and Harry Ward in the Novice double.

The Senior Women’s crew of Fe Ashton, Claire Adams, Becky Ward, Rebecca Wallace and cox Emily West (pictured top) secured victory in the Women’s IM3 coxed 4. The Masters squad had wins with Gill Prescott and a Berwick RC composite in the Women’s Masters C coxless quad, and a Masters E crew including John and Angela Lund won the Mixed Masters eight.

Full results are here.

Photos from Northern Rowing

Entries open for Allcomers Regatta 2015

If you’ve never rowed before but want to give it a try then Durham ARC’s annual Allcomers Regatta is the ideal opportunity. This year’s Allcomers, sponsored by Workwear Express, is on Sunday July 12th so you have about 2 months to prepare. All you need is a team of 4 people. Full details and entry form can be found on the Allcomers Regatta page.

Boats will be provided by the club, along with a cox and coach who will give you guidance and get you ready for the regatta where you will race against other ‘allcomers’ in a friendly competition.

It’s great fun so don’t delay.


Remembering Bill at Durham City Regatta

With 350 entries and 272 races scheduled over 11 hours for the Saturday of this year’s Durham City Regatta there was huge disappointment when the weather once again chose to be unkind and heavy rainfall the previous day led to the cancellation of the entire first day’s programme on safety grounds. The yo-yo nature of the river level remains a constant frustration for DARC, causing regular event cancellations.

Fortunately the level had fallen sufficiently by Sunday to allow the second of the 2 scheduled days to go ahead on May 10th. This was to be a more informal day’s racing in memory of Bill Grant who died whilst coaching a crew from the riverbank in February, all proceeds going to the Great North Air Ambulance. Seventy nine competitors duly signed up to take part in scratch Eights and Quads races with crews drawn at random – quads for the under-16 juniors and eights for those aged 16 and over.

Races took the form of a round-robin competition with 6 eights and 5 coxed quads on the water at the same time, with each crew getting 5 or 6 races over a 300 metre course. Some remarkably close contests ensued and nobody was over-concerned about the result – more important was having a good time and raising a total of £460 for the Great North Air Ambulance.

Trophies were presented to the winning crews in both competitions.

It was pleasing to see representatives from all parts of the club as well as others from around the region coming together to support the cause, an opportunity for mixed ability, experience and background to get to know one another and enjoy the day – and consume the plentiful supply of bacon sandwiches, chilli and cakes left over from Saturday.

More photos here.

Durham City Regatta Sunday

Durham City Regatta Sunday Update

The scratch regatta will go ahead this morning.

The river is still above normal level so wellies will be needed (although there are plenty here).

Anyone wishing to take part needs to register in the marquee behind the boathouse between 9am and 9.30am, we will then draw the crews at random. Racing is scheduled to take place from 10am.

Adults and Juniors J16+ need to specify their preference for Bowside, Strokside or cox at the time or registering.

Juniors J15 and below will be in coxed quads so specify sculling or coxing.

Cancelled – Durham City Regatta

We have unfortunately made the very difficult decision to cancel Durham City Regatta today. This is probably the closest call we have ever had to make and had the rainfall last night been 12 hours earlier or 12 hours later we would most likely have been OK, it just appears to be very bad luck.

The water has peaked upstream but has risen over half a metre in the last hour as we have stood and watched it.

As a race committee our primary aims are to provide fair and above all safe competition but with the height and flow of the water combined with small debris we are unable to convince ourselves that this can be achieved.

Janousek & Stampfli are in Durham to provide their race day service and will be here regardless of the event being cancelled. If you have one of your boats which needs a minor repair or spare parts, or indeed just looking over then please do come and make use of this service.

At this moment we expect Sundays scratch regatta to go ahead and will provide more information on this later in the morning.

Once again apologies for not being able to control the weather in Durham!

Launch of Harry Clasper

On May 4th, Bank Holiday Monday, DARC entertained British Rowing Chairman Annamarie Phelps as part of her tour of rowing clubs in the Northern Region prior to attending the launch at Derwenthaugh Marina of the St Ayles skiff ‘Harry Clasper’, built over the winter by members of the newly formed Gateshead Community Rowing Club. The visit was brief but she was impressed with what she saw of the river and facilities.

Gateshead Community Rowing Club was formed by DARC members Mick and Carol Downworth who learnt to row at DARC in 2012. In 2013 Carol attended the British Rowing Para-Rowing Camp and became the first to represent DARC in competition as a para athlete, being classified as LTA – visually impaired. Gateshead was affiliated to British Rowing in November 2014.

Mick is an outreach worker with Gateshead Veterans Hub and works with Help4Heroes and Row2Recovery, supporting military adaptive rowing. Row2Recovery has been chosen as Durham Regatta’s charity partner for this year’s event.

After the official launch by the Mayor of Gateshead Mick and fellow DARC member Mark Colman crewed Harry Clasper on her maiden voyage, where she was joined on the water by visiting skiffs from 6 other clubs who took part in a fun race under Scotswood Bridge and back. A quads race over the same course was followed by a ‘have a go’ session and presentation of medals to the winning crews by Annamarie Phelps.

Harry Clasper (1812-1870) was a sporting icon on Tyneside long before football became the focus of attention, when sculling races on the Tyne for prize money attracted huge crowds, a legendary sculler and innovative boat builder. Born in Dunston he lived and worked for most of his life at Derwenthaugh and achieved notable success at Durham Regatta in its early years, with wins in 1841 and 1842. His life is remembered in a new play ‘Hadaway Harry‘ written by Ed Waugh.

Northern Rowing’s photos from the launch are available here