Monthly Archives: May 2016

Celebrating 50 years of The Grand

As well as England’s notable World Cup success 1966 marked the first of three victories for John Appleby, then a schoolboy at Durham School, in the coveted Grand Challenge Cup at Durham Regatta. Fifty years on John is still competing for Durham ARC, recently winning the masters single sculls at Durham City Regatta, defeating Andy Jaggard (cox of John’s third Grand winning crew of 1971) in the process.

Read Andy Jaggard’s fascinating account of the 1966 Grand-winning four (John Appleby, Gareth Powley, George Nicholson, Geoff Potts and cox Tony Bailes), who will be reunited after 50 years on June 11th, on the Durham Regatta website

Durham Regatta takes place on June 11th and 12th 2016.

Durham Regatta Video Competition

Durham Regatta takes place over the weekend of June 11th and 12th and this year the organisers are offering two prizes of £100 in vouchers for the best entries in a video competition.

The objective is to provide video content for inclusion on the Durham Regatta website which is to be relaunched following this year’s event. Videos of between 60 and 90 seconds duration will be accepted in either of 2 categories –

  1. Durham Regatta – ‘A Great Day Out’
  2. Durham Regatta 2016 – ‘Racing Action’

Entries should be uploaded to by June 30th.

See flyer for further details.

Durham Regatta was founded in 1834 with Founders including the University of Durham, Durham School and the Durham Boat Club (now known as Durham Amateur Rowing Club). Since 2011 the Regatta has been a Limited Company (Durham Regatta Company) overseen by an Executive Committee drawn from its 100+ members. This committee is overseen by a Board of 9 Directors whose membership comprises one member from each of the Founder organisations: Durham Amateur Rowing Club, Durham University and Durham School, plus 4 members of the Executive Committee, and one Councillor and one Officer from Durham County Council. The Chairman of the Board of Directors is Dr Nigel van Zwanenberg.

Entries to the Regatta itself need to be in by June 2nd. See for the list of races offered.



Juniors shine at Durham City Regatta

After the disapointment of a cancelled Chester-le-Street Regatta three weeks earlier the rain stayed away allowing both days of Durham City Regatta to go ahead as planned. A large entry combined with an army of volunteers contributed to one of DARC’s most profitable and successful regattas to date, warm sunshine attracting a healthy crowd of onlookers to the riverbanks on Sunday, with the added bonus of the newly extended landing stage available for the first time to speed up boating.

Durham ARC’s Juniors had a successful weekend. The J18 boys, rowing their novice eight of Josh Stephenson, Matthew Skinner, Peter Dowsett, Calum Silvester, Alex Priestley-Leach, Aidan Crilley, Matthew Edge, Harry Coe and cox Rebecca Jackson, won the event after three closely fought races, then half the crew rowed Elite quads and the other half (Crilley, Dowsett, Priestley-Leach, Silvester and cox Rebecca Jackson) competed in the Novice Coxed quads and won that one too.

Aidan Rushforth won the Elite single sculls after a nail-biting race in which he hit a buoy half way down the course and came to a halt losing a blade. He recovered his blade and set off after his opponent and managed to catch and remarkably pass him to win!.

On Saturday the J14 girls crew of Kate Henderson, Millie McIntyre, Gabby Suggett, Jess Cooper and cox Catherine Musgrave won the Women’s J14 coxed quad sculls, while on Sunday there was success for Alannah Baldwin, Bethan Hall, Elise Goddard, Katie Strangward and cox Mollie Coe in the Women’s J15 coxed four, and for Thomas Taylor and Ben Brown in the J13 boys double sculls. The J14 girls quad won again on Sunday, this time with a crew of Catherine Musgrave, Natasha Wearmouth, Gabby Suggett, Jess Cooper and cox Millie McIntyre.

More photos from Saturday and Sunday


J16 boys at JIRR

Durham ARC’s Junior boys represented the Northern Region in the J16 coxless quad sculls in the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta (JIRR) at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham on April 23rd.

The Regatta is for ages up to J16 and is contested over a 1500m course between crews from each of the 12 British Rowing regions who undergo selection trials prior to the championships. The crews for the Northern Region were selected following trials at Cambois RC on February 27th.

At the Nottingham JIRR two heats are held for each event to accommodate the 12 regional teams on the 6-lane course and the heats are timed with the fastest 6 crews going into an A final while the remaining 6 contest the B final. Points are awarded to each region according to its finishing position in the final.

The J16 4x- of Harry Coe, Josh Stephenson, Matthew Skinner and Matthew Edge (pictured) were edged out of the A Final finishing a very close 3rd in their semi-final with the first three crews overlapping. They missed the A Final by under 2 seconds coming 7th overall. With a much improved first 500m in the final they led from the start and finished an easy winner in 5m 10.2s. Their main consolation is that based on their final time they would have been 4th overall.

Jess Eddie in GB eight for Europeans

Durham rower Jess Eddie wants the new-look GB Rowing Team women’s eight to show they remain Europe’s leading contenders for an Olympic medal when the 2016 racing season begins this weekend.

GB were the top European crew at last year’s World Championships as they finished just outside the medals behind the United States, New Zealand and Canada.

Five of that crew, including Eddie, remain in the boat for the Rio 2016 Olympic-season opener – the European Championships in Brandenburg, Germany from May 6-8.

And the double Olympian is looking to lay down a marker at the start of a season she hopes will end with a first-ever GB women’s eight Olympic medal.

“The Europeans will be a big test,” said Eddie, who helped the eight to fifth place at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

“There are some crews there who haven’t qualified for Rio yet so they will be preparing for the qualification regatta and will be on tip-top form.

“But by the time we got to the World Championships last year we were the fastest European crew so we have to put ourselves out there to win this race.

“It will be hard because some of the crews will be the fastest they’ll be all season but I think we have the quality and skill to do that.”

Competition for places in the eight has been fierce this winter, which Eddie thinks can only benefit the crew going forward.

Coming into the boat are the fit-again Polly Swann and relative newcomer Karen Bennett along with two members of last season’s quadruple scull, Melanie Wilson and Frances Houghton.

The latter – a silver-medallist at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 – is on course to compete at her fifth Olympic Games in Rio.

“Fran is one of the most experienced members of our team and has a massive engine on her,” said Eddie, who learnt to row at Durham ARC.

“She’s excited to come back into a big crew boat. She’s spoken to me about it before and I told her the eight would welcome her with open arms, she’s definitely going to be a key member of our crew.

“We’ve changed four of the crew, which is quite a big shake-up, but it’s exciting as there have been some real step-ons from people in the team to ensure they got into the boat.

“It has definitely been an outstanding performance by Karen Bennett to put her hand up and show our selectors how good and fast she is. She’s really come on leaps and bounds to earn her seat and I’m really pleased for her and the rest of the girls.”

The full team selection for the European Championships can be found at

The GB Rowing Team is supported by the Lottery through UK Sport and has Science in Sport as a supplier.  SAS Analytics is the Official Analytics Partner of British Rowing and the GB Rowing Team. Follow Britain’s rowers on the Road to Rio via Twitter – @GBRowingTeam – and at

Captains Scratch Regatta 2016

Following the success of similar events last year it was decided to stage a scratch regatta where all DARC members were invited to sign up for a place in either an eight (for seniors) or a quad (for juniors) for a series of friendly races. May Day Bank Holiday was chosen as the date and 44 members from all sections of the club came forward. Arrangements were left in the capable hands of Sue Lyons and crews were drawn to ensure a fair mix of ability levels in each.

Four eights and 2 quads were put on the water and crews got into huddles to discuss tactics. Marshals were despatched to the start at Baths Bridge and the finish 500 metres upstream. Best of 3 races decided the outcome of the quads while competitors in the eights changed boats after each race to give everyone a turn in different types of boat, coxes remaining with their boat throughout, and each crew raced in turn against one of the other three.

After returning boats to the boathouse members retired to the bar where a BBQ was provided, weather conditions dictating that it should take place indoors. With captain Paul Rutter being a member of the victorious crew it fell to Richard Castling to present medals to the winners..

The winning eight (plus substitute), who won all 3 of their races, consisted of Richard Court, Elliot Kay, Paul Rutter, Stephen Auster, Vaughan Gordon, Shirley Robinson, Caroline Scholl, Claire Adams and Margaret Richardson.



Thanks are owed to the volunteers who provided coxing and marshalling, without whom the event could not take place, and to the kitchen volunteers and staff for providing the BBQ.

Such events provide an excellent opportunity for the club’s diverse membership to mingle and learn from one another’s experience. We hope to schedule similar occasions into the calendar in future.

DARC lead in Explore Series

Round 3 of the 2016 Explore Series (the competition aimed at the novice and ‘recreational’ end of the spectrum and until last year known as the Sunday League) took place at Tees Rowing Club on May 1st. This was the dreaded but highly anticipated annual test of sculling skills which had seen the 3 Durham ARC crews practising intensely throughout April. Each competing crew is allowed to nominate up to 6 members over the course of the season to allow for unavailability over the 8 monthly rounds.

Tees RC President Kate O’Sullivan welcomed contestants representing 8 different clubs from across the north of England, ranging geographically from Berwick to Windermere, and emphasised the success of the Explore Series, now in its fifth year and acclaimed nationwide, having been pioneered by British Rowing and the Northern Rowing Council in 2012.

Skills included cornering, spinning, square blade sculling, backing on to a buoy, emergency stop, oar swapping and blade slapping, carried out against the clock in stable quads over a 1km circuit with coxing ability also being put to the test in the blustery conditions. After bumper entries in the two previous rounds, side by side racing at Tyne United in March and Hexham in April, entries on the Bank Holiday weekend were down to 7 Open and 7 Women’s.

Efforts were richly rewarded with Darc Green (pictured top) securing first place and 4 points in the Women’s league closely followed by Wear Here in second place. In the Open competition Wear Past It demonstrated that they aren’t by taking second place only 17 seconds behind the Tees men’s crew who continue to be invincible at the skills course on their home water. The day proved to be the best return of points per entry for DARC in any single round since the competition was introduced.

Competition was fierce with Wear Here only holding off Hexham to retain second place by one second after incurring a time penalty in the second of their two attempts at the course, combined times deciding the outcome. Times and placings for the day are here.

Coxing of Darc Green (Linda Forwood, Jan Halford, Kate Wicks and Paddy Deans) was provided by Caroline Scholl, and John Lyons coxed Wear Here (Leigh Bowron, Jane Auster, Lesley Wilkinson and Sue Lyons), while Steve Auster took time out from rowing in the crew himself to cox Wear Past It (Colin Lawson, Vaughan Gordon, Chris Merchant and Dave Green).

This leaves the two DARC Women’s crews in joint first place in the overall league table on 9 points, while Wear Past It rise to 3rd with 5 points in the Open table. The two other Darc entries in the Series, Darc Demons and Darc Jags were unavailable for the Tees round.

More photos here.

Crews can now look forward to a first visit to Berwick for round 4 on June 5th.

War of the Roses 2016

Twelve Off-peak and Masters members from Durham ARC attended this year’s War of the Roses scratch regatta at Bradford ARC. Coinciding with St. George’s Day and the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death it was a suitably momentous occasion, particularly for DARC’s Vaughan Gordon who emerged with 2 medals after his two crews emerged undefeated after 9 races, claiming victory in both the sweep-oar and sculling competitions.

An opportunity to network with friends from around the north of England the event is a firm favourite, on this occasion involving 38 crews of mixed ability Masters drawn from 10 clubs based on either side of the Pennines, crews being allocated at random to race in coxed fours and quads on a knock-out basis. Bradford provide boats and coxes so trailers are unnecessary.

The climax of the day was the challenge race between eights representing the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York that gives the event its name. Colin Lawson from DARC was drawn to race in the Red Rose crew which lost by a canvas to the Yorkshire crew who retain bragging rights for a second year.

After a long day of friendly and highly enjoyable racing crews from the record entry convened in the clubhouse to enjoy curry supplied by Iqbal Catering accompanied by ales specially brewed locally in Keighley by Timothy Taylor.

The visit also provided an opportunity to catch up with progress on the repair of Hirst Weir following the damage caused by winter flooding in the Aire valley. Durham ARC and Durham Regatta made a combined donation of £2665 to the restoration appeal in February. The river is now rowable once more, though the weir has lost some of its former glory. A second phase of restoration is underway which will see a fish pass installed to satisfy Environment Agency requirements. There was a glowing commendation from Bradford President Celia Hickson for the help offered by Durham in Bradford’s time of need.