Monthly Archives: May 2017

European Tour visits Hamburg

The 2nd British Rowing European Tour took place between May 11th and 13th 2017 in Hamburg, Germany, following last year’s inaugural tour to Amsterdam. Both the European tours so far have been organised superbly by Richard Pickup of the Nottingham Explorers group of recreational rowers, affiliated to Nottingham Rowing Club, in conjunction with representatives of host clubs from the areas visited.

This year the British tour group consisted of 42 rowers and 2 non-rowing partners drawn from 13 different clubs and included Colin Lawson from Durham ARC. Three Hamburg clubs were involved in the arrangements to entertain the British tourers, Ruder-Gesellschaft Hansa, Hamburger Ruderinnen Club and the Wassersportabteilung SV Polizei, with Hans-Heinrich Busse of RG Hansa the co-ordinator in chief.

Set on two lakes formed by the damming of the Alster River in the 13th century, the Free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg is an ideal location for touring, with around 20 rowing clubs in and around the city, its network of canals being crossed by some 2500 bridges, more than Amsterdam and Venice combined!

Boating took place from 3 clubs with the group sub-divided to enable a manageable number of crews to gather at each location, with crews allocated in advance to quads coxed by members of the host clubs and ‘doppelsechers’ (accommodating a crew of 6).

Crews embarked from RG Hansa at the northern end of the Aussenalster lake and from the two clubs situated on the Isebekkanal for 2 days, exploring around 25km each day along Hamburg’s scenic waterways. A damp start on day one was followed by gloriously calm conditions until day two was curtailed by a thunderstorm. The tour included lunch stops at Wassersportabteilung SV Polizei on Friday and at RG Hansa on Saturday, the party returning on Friday evening to be entertained to a sumptuous dinner as guests at the RG Hansa clubhouse.

Touring is a form of recreational rowing more prevalent in continental Europe where there is an 80/20 ratio of recreational to competitive rowing, ensuring availability of good quality touring boats at many clubs. British Rowing’s Recreational Rowing Committee, chaired by John Turnbull of Weyfarers Rowing Club, has organised a UK Tour visiting different waterways within the United Kingdom each year since 1994, with plans for the silver anniversary tour on the Thames in 2018 well advanced.  

Touring has been promoted increasingly in the UK since the launch of BR’s Explore Rowing programme by Sir Steve Redgrave in 2010.

The 2017 UK Tour is scheduled for August 24th to 27th on the Lancaster Canal with around 80 tourers expected to take part. Further details about this and other tours and touring can be found on the Recreational Rowing website.

All well on the northern regatta front

As we reach the midway point of the northern regatta season with Wansbeck Regatta this weekend it’s worth reflecting on the state of play of British Rowing’s revised Competition Framework.

There has been a 50/50 split between those regattas adopting the old system and new system, including some in the fortunate position to be able to host a day of each. Chester-le-Street and Durham City (Sunday) were bold and embraced the new ranking index system, Wansbeck and Talkin Tarn have declared their hand and will follow suit. Tees and Durham City (Saturday) chose the cautious approach, adopting the old points system. Hexham will do likewise on June 3rd.

Tyne Regatta also decided to play safe by sticking with the old BROE system, only to find entries in short supply and cancellation unavoidable. The reasons are unclear – many events with few entries in each was a determining factor.

Durham Regatta is also hedging its bets by adopting the old system on June 10th and the new one on June 11th.

Feedback suggests that in the regattas so far staged there has been a full entry and a successful outcome. Indeed Chester-le-Street enjoyed one of its best turnouts ever. One of the aims of the Ranking Index approach is to ensure closer racing for all competitors. Scrutiny of winning margins from published results may offer some insight. As an example, 102 out of 262 i.e. 39% of races on the Saturday of Durham City Regatta (old system) returned a winning margin of ‘easily’ whereas on the Sunday (new system) there were 18 ‘easily’ verdicts from 84 races (21%). Closer inspection of a larger sample of data may be necessary to ascertain the extent to which the objective has been achieved.

Come April 2018 every event will run under the new competition framework. We await developments with interest.

One section of DARC enjoying a revival of fortunes is the Senior squad, with the men’s and women’s squads recently combining under the guidance of Phill Tully, the women’s elite coxless quad (Liz Law, Taya Parker, Alison Danforth and Beth Holmes) gaining two victories at Durham City and notably the women’s IM3 coxed quad (Emma Lyons, Ruth Hodges, Emily Hanscam/Taya Parker, Michelle Joubert and cox Christie Lau) winning at both Durham City and Tees Regattas, the same crew devastated after the incident on March 14th when a block of concrete was dropped on their boat, Peter Burdess, as it passed under Baths Bridge, attracting considerable media interest, and causing what was thought at the time to be irreparable damage. Thankfully this was not the case, the crew remained unscathed, and crew and boat were reunited with more positive impact at the two events.

The men’s IM3 coxed quad (Tom Maddick, Joe Owen, Nick Baird, Reece Stockport and cox Becky Jackson) also tasted victory at Durham City Regatta  and there was a further win for Ruth Hodges and Emily Hanscam in a double scull at Chester-le-Street.

European Junior Championships

After 2 years of intensive training with the Great Britain Junior Squad Hope Cessford is making excellent progress, taking part recently in the European Junior Championships in Germany. This follows a successful 2016 during which Hope represented Durham ARC in the Women’s Eights Head of the River Race and at Henley Women’s Regatta, before Hope and Lauren Irwin (Chester-le-Street ARC) won at the Metropolitan Regatta at Eton Dorney and in the Elite Women’s Pair at Durham Regatta (above). The pair then went on to represent Great Britain for the first time at the World Junior Championships in Rotterdam last August.

Hope is the Northern Region’s only representative in a 32-strong GB Juniors squad announced recently. When not with the GB squad she is coached in Durham by Gordon Beattie.

On Saturday May 6th the GB Women’s coxless 4 of Ella Morgan (Henley RC), Mary Wright (Henley RC), Hope Cessford (Durham ARC) and Flo Donald (Lea RC) finished 2nd in heat 2 at the Munich DRV Junior International Regatta, 2 seconds behind winners Germany in 7.30.64, qualifying for the A final on Sunday May 7th where they finished 5th in 7.30.52 behind four German crews. Also on Sunday Hope and Flo were 2nd in 7.48.18 in the heat of the Women’s Pair, two seconds behind the other GB pair of Ella Morgan and Mary Wright from Henley before conditions led to curtailment of racing.

Great Britain then sent a small squad to the European Rowing Junior Championships in Krefeld, Germany on May 20th and 21st, including Hope and Flo Donald of Lea RC, who qualified in 2nd place in heat 2 of the Women’s Pair behind eventual champions Romania in a time of 8.00.25. In the second semi-final the GB pair finished 2nd to Germany in 7.47.57, a result that put them into the A final on Sunday where they finished 5th in 7.56.32. Full results can be found here.

Krefeld is a new venue for international regattas and the European Junior Championships is a relatively new event introduced in 2011 but entries continue to grow, with this year’s regatta attracting 532 athletes from 33 nations. 

The World Rowing Junior Championships take place this year at Trakai, Lithuania on August 2nd to 6th.

Successful weekend at Durham City Regatta

Durham City Regatta took place over the weekend of May 12th and 13th with 11 hours of racing over the 700-metre course on Saturday to accommodate a full entry of 300 crews representing schools, colleges and clubs from across the north of England, followed by a more relaxed day on Sunday with 120 crews competing for 6 hours over 500 metres, entries from doubles and singles being particularly popular this year.

With British Rowing’s new Competition Framework being phased in it was decided to adopt the old rules for Saturday racing and to use Sunday to trial the new Ranking Index system of scoring.

The success of the day was down to the volunteers who turned out in force to support the event and Club Captain Paul Rutter was quick to praise them for their efforts.

On the water it was a successful day for DARC’s Senior Men’s and Women’s squads with wins on Saturday for the Women’s Elite coxless quad of Liz Law, Taya Parker, Alison Danforth and Beth Holmes, and for the Women’s IM3 coxed quad of Emma Lyons, Ruth Hodges, Taya Parker, Michelle Joubert and cox Christie Lau. The elite crew won again on Sunday, this time in the Women’s coxless quad, and there was a first win for the Men’s coxed quad (above) of Tom Maddick, Joe Owen, Nick Baird, Reece Stockport and cox Becky Jackson.

Further wins came for Gill Prescott and Helen McMillan on Saturday in the Women’s IM2 double sculls and on Sunday in the Women’s 2x. The Masters D 2x also won on Saturday and Joyce Collett won the Women’s Masters F single scull on Sunday.

There were 6 wins for the Juniors on Sunday. Mollie Coe, Catherine Musgrave, Jess Cooper, Honor Cessford and cox Lily Sanderson won the J15 girls coxed quad, Freya Court, Madalyn Elmer, Elicia Baldwin and Hope Simpson won the J14 girls coxed quad, and Niamh Lang, Ellie Goad, Alice Davies, Ruby Coe and cox Thomas Woods won the J13 girls coxed quad. In the J14 girls double sculls there was a win for Hope Simpson and Elicia Baldwin, while Adam Morris and Mark Humphries won in the J15 boys 2x. In the Women’s 4+ Mllie McIntyre, Catherine Henderson, Natalya Priestly Leach, Gabriella Suggett and cox Katie Warburton also won.

Full results:

Berwick Explore Series

Round 3 of the Explore Series took place on May 7th at Berwick, one of the most scenic of the locations visited by the popular competition for novice, recreational and returning rowers. An excellent entry of 19 crews gathered at the Berwick clubhouse in the shadow of the Royal Border Bridge and competition got underway an hour earlier than usual at 11am to make inroads into the 38 scheduled races before the tide turned.

DARC entered 2 Open and 2 Women’s crews. Wear Well Away (Colin Lawson, Vaughan Gordon, Chris Merchant and Steve Auster) were the most successful on the day winning all 4 of their races, and there were 2 wins apiece for A Shot in the Darc (Sonny Shepherd, Kalpana Ganatra, Sue Lyons and Margaret Richardson) and Cuthbert’s Craft (Louise Forster, Matt Pallister, Geoff Raw and Stewart Allan), a mixed combination taking part in their first round of the series. Alison Hoare joined the Green Shoots team for the first time along with Paddy Deans, Maureen Miller and Linda James.

Two of the crews were coxed expertly by John Lyons, with Steve Auster, Louise Forster and Paddy Deans sharing coxing duties for the other two when not rowing themselves.

With 9 clubs from the northern region attending an enjoyable day was had by all. One of the benefits of the series is the social opportunities it provides. Excellent organisation and hospitality was provided by the volunteers from Berwick who took everything in their stride despite difficult boating conditions on the incoming tide.

In the overall league table for Open crews after 3 rounds Wear Well Away move up to 4th on 18 points behind leaders Hexcellent from Hexham (21). In the Women’s table Wine on the Tyne form Tyne ARC (21 points) leapfrog A Shot in the Darc (20) who are now in second place.

The annual sculling skills round at Tees Rowing Club is next on the agenda on June 4th.

Lunchtime pilates sessions

Pilates teacher Jane Rae is offering twice weekly lunchtime pilates sessions to members on Mondays and Thursdays between 12 noon and 1pm at a cost of £3 per session.

Brilliant for improving core strength, posture and the all important ‘reach’ required for rowing. Any member is welcome to join in. When the weather is fine classes are held outside but they are normally held in the Club hall next to the bar.

Enquiries to Paddy Deans at

Victory for alumnus at BUCS

Former Durham ARC and St Leonards member James Snowball celebrated victory in the Open Intermediate Eight representing Oxford Brookes University, winning a gold medal at the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) Regatta at Nottingham on April 29th.

The following week James returned with a  silver medal from the International Regatta in Ghent, Belgium again with the Oxford Brookes 8+, finishing ahead of Thames RC.

BUCS results

Juniors at Chester-le-Street

Chester-le-Street presents a great first regatta for our junior crews, especially the younger juniors, who were out in force. A total of 12 junior crews were entered, so for the sake of brevity and interest they’ve been reported on by age group rather than specific crew.

The J13 Girls entered two quads and a double, managing to make it to the final in both events, with some impressive racing by all. In their first races of the season, they were able to hold their own against other local crews, setting a good precedent for upcoming regattas.

The J14s raced in a girls double, a boys quad and three boys singles. Despite it being the girls’ first race in a double and the boys’ first event in singles, they were all able to perform well, with the boys quad making it to their final.

Lastly, the J15s entered a mixed quad, a girls four, and boys and girls double. The girls four raced in a senior event, and the boys double, consisting of Adam Morris and Mark Humphries was able to take home a win for the club in an impressive final.

These results show the adaptability of our junior squad, and if these performances are anything to go by, they should do very well this regatta season.

Written by Harry Coe

Photos courtesy of Rob Coe and Al Johnston