Monthly Archives: July 2015

End to end cycle ride underway

Four members of Durham Amateur Rowing Club are undertaking a 1000 mile cycle ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats in memory of former Club member and coach Bill Grant who died in February 2015 as a result of a medical episode which led to him falling from his bicycle into the River Wear.

Elliot Kay, David Beeby, Thomas Jackson and Michael Hall set off from DARC on Monday July 20th on the train to Penzance  ready to start the ride from Land’s End the following day. They plan to complete it in 12 days, arriving at John O’Groats on August 1st. As a result of their effort they hope to raise funds for Durham ARC and the Great North Air Ambulance Service which came to Bill’s aid following his unfortunate accident.

Donations can be made using the sponsorship list on display in the clubhouse or online through

The team’s progress can be followed on their
Lands End to John O’Groats Cycle facebook page or blog at

Durham ARC Club EmblemGreat North Air Ambulance logo

Medals at British Junior Championships

Durham ARC achieved notable successes at the 2015 British Rowing National Junior Championships which took place on the 2km 6-lane course at Strathclyde Park over the weekend of July 18th/19th. The Championships are the climax to the season for under-18 rowers with successful competitors having to qualify through a time trial followed by semi-finals and finals.

Hope Cessford (pictured top) won a gold medal in the J16 girls single sculls with a time of 8.14.78 and there was a bronze medal for the J18 girls crew of Katie McDaid, Carina Sowerby, Lauren McMillan and Jess Harris, recording a time of 7.10.08 in the Junior Women’s coxless quad sculls.

Two other crews qualified for the final of their events and finished 5th, the Junior Women’s eight and the Junior Open pair. Much credit is due to the club’s volunteer coaches and supporters who work hard all year to make such results possible.

Results are available here.

Explorers visit to Yarm

On July 14th new ground was broken when, at the invitation of Tees Rowing Club, a group of 14 daytime and masters rowers from Durham ARC joined Tees RC to row the 18 mile round trip along the River Tees from Stockton to Yarm and back, a venture first proposed in 2011.

Along with other clubs Tees and Durham have forged a relationship as a result of signing up to British Rowing’s Explore Rowing movement in 2010. This introduced the notion of members of any affiliated club being able to visit other clubs, sharing equipment and facilities and exploring one another’s waterways. A further step forward saw the introduction of the Northern Sunday League in 2012 and, from October 2012, regular exchange visits started to take place between the two clubs. Earlier this year we also welcomed visitors from Nottingham and Hexham Rowing Clubs to Durham.

Thus far visits to Tees had only entailed rowing the shorter 5km course upstream so the longer trip of around 14km was the next obvious step. The intrepid explorers duly accepted the invitation to take up the challenge, arriving bright and early at the Tees Watersports Centre to be assigned to a mixture of eight, quad, double and singles.


Joyce Collett and Sonny Shepherd were first to set off in a double, followed closely by Dorothy Featherstone with a Tees quad, leaving the crew of the eight to get the Tees Transporter 8+ out on the water and await the last minute arrival of their coxes, Caroline Scholl and Clive Hole, who were going to cox one way each and scull the other way in Clive’s single. Fortunately coxes and boat arrived in time, accompanied by John Lyons who also brought along his single for the return trip.

In ideal conditions a lovely morning ensued as Kalpana Ganatra, Gene Dobson, Aisling Dutton, Linda Forwood, Sue Lyons, Ray Dominy, Debbie Jahangiry and Colin Lawson boldly ventured upstream of the Pipe Bridge in the eight with Caroline at the helm to explore the beautiful environs of Yarm for the first time, rowing through the arches of the road and rail bridges and back to land on the pontoon for a quick snack and visit to the splendid facilities of Yarm School.

With the double and quad having set off on the return journey to free up space on the pontoon Clive duly arrived in his single to be alerted by Debbie to the bleating of a distressed lamb that had strayed into the river on the opposite bank, so, after seeing off Caroline for the return journey in the single, Clive and John Lund set off heroically in a launch to effect a rescue before returning for Clive to take up the coxes seat in the 8+.

A limitation of the River Wear at Durham is the relatively short 2km course so the opportunity to complete a longer distance without turning round is most welcome. All had a great time and arrived safely back at Tees by lunchtime to enjoy the sumptuous BBQ and plentiful supply of cakes kindly provided for us, a fitting way to round off a memorable experience. As always thanks go to the members of Tees for organising the outing as well as providing safety backup, coaching advice and hospitality.

We look forward to more happy exploring!

Wins at Henley Masters Regatta 2015

There was a win at Henley Masters Regatta on July 11th for Durham ARC scullers Helen McMillan and Gill Prescott in the Women’s Masters D 4x- in a composite crew with Eva Rankin of Loch Lomond and Joy Skipper of Upper Thames. Gill also had success in the Women’s Masters E 4x- with Eva, Ailie Ord and Liz Davidson of Strathclyde Park.

Other results can be found here.

Allcomers Regatta hailed a great success

This year’s Allcomers Regatta, an event for those with no previous rowing experience, was hailed as one of the best for many years, with hundreds of spectators turning out to enjoy the sunshine and refreshments, and watch some close racing between the 14 teams entered, raising around £3000 for club funds. Sponsors Workwear Express entered 2 teams, with teams getting 3 or 4 races each.

Ladies who Launch won the women’s competition with Crossfit Dhm finishing as runners up after victory in an exciting 3-way tie-breaker involving a Le Mans start before boats had to carry out a 180 degree turn followed by a sprint and another turn around a buoy. Honours in the open races went to Four Geeks in a Boat and Low Burnhall Buccaneers.

The ergo competition also proved popular with over 50 entries and some excellent performances in the 1 minute test from members and non-members alike. There was a close contest in the open section with Nick Pearce claiming victory with 348 metres over Richard Matthewson on 347m. Victory in the women’s section went to Joyce Ranson with 318m.

After the auction and presentations an equally close finish resulted in a challenge over the obstacle course between representatives of the DARC juniors and masters squads.

It was an excellent day for the club, with congratulations due to Rebecca French and Vanessa Kelly, in their first season of organising the event, for making it such a success.

More photos from the day can be found here.

New umpires appointed

The Northern Rowing Council recently put out an appeal for more umpires, with Durham Regatta offering added incentives. Three members took up the challenge and passed their final exams in June to become qualified umpires.

The new recruits, Peter Stavers, Brenda Middlemiss (soon to become Mrs Stavers) and Steve Farrow officiated for the first time as fully fledged umpires at Talkin Tarn Regatta.

Umpiring is a vital role as without umpires there would be no events. If you would like to become qualified in order to offer your services as an umpire see for details.

Senior Women recruitment

DARC’s Senior Women’s Squad is seeking new members. It’s Summer and Debbie has just sent out her e-mail giving exit routes from Learn to Row courses, others are moving into the region from elsewhere and some who are eligible may be considering moving squads. Please don’t delay if thinking of joining us, we use the summer break to integrate new members and develop our technique so the sooner you join in the better it is for all!

If joining from Learn to Row please don’t feel intimidated, we are prepared for you and are extremely patient and welcoming. This is a great squad to be part of and this is borne out by the two testimonials below, the first from Lucy who joined from Learn to Row in Sept last year and the second from Josien a highly experienced Dutch rower who sadly moved back to Holland last year.

Come meet us and join in and we promise you’ll enjoy it!

Lucy’s testimonial…

In June 2014 I decided that I was looking for a new challenge. I’ve always loved being involved in sport but after starting a new job in Durham last year and curiously thinking, after seeing boats paddling easily up and down the river, ‘rowing… hard can that be?’ (I now laugh at my naivety!!) I enthusiastically signed up to the Learn to Row course I found on DARC’s website.

The Learn to Row course was great. Ran over ten weeks by the ever patient Debbie and a team of volunteers it gave me a great start in the basics of rowing, and certainly set me on the right track to get the most out of the sport I could. The club had recently had a ‘re-jig’ of squads after I had completed the course which meant that I could go straight into the women’s senior team ran by Phill and Chris Tully. I can honestly say since joining the squad in September I have never enjoyed sport more. I’ve felt frustrated, tired, angry, exhausted and colder than I thought I could ever be! But I LOVE rowing. It is my new addiction and supported by amazing coaches (who have been more patient and encouraging than any coach I have ever had the privilege to work with) and a fantastic squad it meant that after six months I got to race at WEHoRR. I can’t put into words the high of racing at such an event; apparently I couldn’t on the day either as I just simply burst into tears after the race was finished!

My first regatta season is now underway and I’m enjoying the new challenge. I would definitely recommend the club as a great way to get into exciting new sport and meet some great new people.

x Lucy

Josien’s Testimonial…

I’ve rowed for quite some time and in different places but my time in Durham was definitely my favourite! The scenery is picturesque, the club has a great atmosphere with lots going on and there are lots of regattas you can participate at all different levels. But the main reason that I liked it was the women’s squad!
I met some really nice girls by joining the squad who made my time in Durham as good as it was. And next to it I really enjoyed the rowing that is of a pretty high standard (not Olympic level but still good) because everybody is committed and motivated and people stick to the schedule. But it is okay if you miss a training once in a while. (For me that is the perfect combination after years of rowing at a high level and some years with total incapable rowers…) There was only one thing that did bother me and that was when girls joined the squad (for a while) and treating it as some kind of consumption good (like a gym) and not realising what an amazing thing it is that Phill (and Alison btw) does. Having a coach on the bank every outing and land training is not an ordinary thing.
Not that I ever felt bad for him cause I believe if you’re just giving it your best and keep improving, bring some medals home and enjoy yourself everybody is happy. So go DARC!


For more information about the Senior Women’s squad email Phill Tully at

Record entry for Hexham Sunday League

The third round of the Northern Rowing Sunday League attracted a record entry of 20 teams to Hexham at the weekend, including 5 from Lakeland RC, their first venture into the competition.

Aided by some expert coxing from John Lyons the DARC crews came away with 7 wins between them, 3 for DARC Demons (Margaret Richardson, Gene Dobson, Debbie Jahangiry, Shirley Robinson and Maureen Miller), 2 for DARC Dippers (Emma Baird, Sue Lyons, Leigh Bowron and Jane Auster) and 2 for DARC Desperados (Colin Lawson, Vaughan Gordon, Gerry King and Steve Auster), to leave the Demons lying 2nd overall in the Women’s competition with the Desperados 3rd in the Open.

We look forward to 2 rounds of the competition in August, sculling skills at Tees on the 2nd and sweeping races at DARC on the 30th.

Northern Rowing’s photos from Hexham can be found here.

Talkin Tarn Regatta

The final regatta of the Northern season took place on Saturday at Talkin Tarn.

The club juniors continued their winning form with a number of new combinations. Hope Cessford won WJ16 singles, and women’s novice doubles went to Laura Phillips and Georgia McMillan. Mixed Elite 4x- went to Jessica Harris, Katy McDaid Richard Matthewson and Cameron Cutts. Hope Cessford and Olivia Brown also won WJ16 2x. Harry Coe and Harry Ward won Men’s IM3 doubles and the girls WJ13 quad won their event.

In the masters events Carole McCarthy, Clare Woodward, June Davison and Susan Jackson secured wins in the Women’s Masters D 4x- and also the Women’s IM3 4x- against strong opposition. Nick Pearce, John Lyons, Paul Sowerby and John Watkinson won Masters D 4x- and Nick Pearce, John Lyons, Gabrielle Moore and Hazel Stainforth held off strong opposition from Hexham to win Mixed Masters D 4x-. There were further wins in Mixed Masters 8+, Masters F 4+ and Andy Jaggard in the Masters F 1x.

In the final event of the day, Debbie Connolly, Helen McMillan, Jessica Harris, Lauren McMillan, David Beeby, Thomas Jackson, Elliot Kay, Cameron Cutts and cox Elise Sanderson retained the Club eights event.

Full results are available here.

Unbeaten year for Masters (s)quad

Members of DARC’s Men’s Masters quad recently passed the milestone of going over 12 months unbeaten, having won at Durham Regatta in both 2014 and 2015 and at all the events they have entered in between!

The squad is: John Watkinson, John Lyons, Julian Ringer, Paul Sowerby, Paul Rutter, Richard Court … plus Tim Morris at Durham Regatta last year.

Summary of results:

  • Durham Regatta 2014 – Masters E 4x – Ringer, Watkinson, Lyons, Morris (pictured above)
  • Durham Long Distance Sculls 2014 – Masters E 4x – Ringer, Watkinson, Rutter, Lyons
  • York Small Boats Head 2014 – Masters E 4x – Ringer, Watkinson, Sowerby, Lyons
  • Rutherford Head 2014 – Masters E 4x – Ringer, Watkinson, Rutter, Lyons
  • Tyne United New Years Head 2015 – Masters D 4x – Ringer, Rutter, Sowerby, Lyons
  • Durham Small Boats Head 2015 – Masters E 4x – Ringer, Watkinson, Rutter, Lyons
  • Durham Small Boats Head 2015 – Masters C 4x – Ringer, Court, Sowerby, Lyons
  • Tyne Head 2015 – Masters E 4x – Ringer, Watkinson, Sowerby, Lyons
  • Wansbeck Regatta 2015 – Masters D 4x – Ringer, Rutter, Sowerby, Lyons
  • Hexham Regatta 2015 – Masters E 4x – Ringer, Watkinson, Sowerby, Lyons
  • Durham Regatta 2015 – Masters D 4x – Ringer, Court, Sowerby, Lyons (pictured below)