Monthly Archives: June 2019

Farewell to Keith Yates

Today we said farewell to one of the club’s most successful competitors of the 1950s and 1960s at a small ceremony when the ashes of Keith Yates were scattered in the River Wear by his widow Anne.

Keith was the cox of DARC’s first four between 1958 to 1962 during the period when they achieved a remarkable five consecutive victories in the Grand Challenge Cup at Durham Regatta as well as winning  numerous other events throughout the north of England.

A gathering in the clubhouse after the ceremony was attended by friends including Bill Parker and Ian Shepherd, crewmates from the winning four. As DARC President Ian Shepherd explained “The ashes were spread at the Regatta start where the ashes of his great friend Michael Wardman were spread”.

Fellow cox Michael Wardman is remembered through the Wardman Yates Challenge Cup one of Durham Regatta’s collection of historic trophies, donated by Keith following Michael’s death.

In more recent times Keith is best remembered as Durham Regatta’s long serving senior commentator, a voice very familiar to many who have attended the Regatta over the years. After his successful coxing career Keith moved away from the area in 1962 to set up a business in Nottingham but continued his association with his beloved Durham Regatta, returning each year and commentating at the event from 1976 for over 40 years, his final commentary being in 2018.

He died at his home in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire aged 79 on January 1st 2019. Anne Yates said after his death “Keith’s beloved Durham Regatta will continue, but without his lovely voice and the information that he so loved to share with members of the public.”

Photo by The Northern Echo shows Keith celebrating his 60th year at Durham Regatta in 2013.

Henley Women’s Regatta 2019

DARC’s senior squad was represented at Henley Women’s Regatta by Grace Stewart-Piercy and Gabrielle Maxfield in the Aspirational double sculls. The pair took part in the time trial over 1500 metres of the famous Henley reach on Friday June 21st. With only 16 to qualify for the knock-out phase of the competition they were unlucky to be placed 22nd, missing out qualification by only 5 seconds.

Results of the time trials can be found here.

There is video footage of the time trials on YouTube with the DARC crew appearing just under 3 hours in.

The three day event is the most important rowing competition for women in the UK and each year attracts competitors from around the world.

The squad also had some success at York Summer Regatta on Sunday June 23rd, including a win in the Women’s double sculls, with the men’s coxless quad reaching the final of the Open 4x- and the Open coxed four reaching the semi-final in the band 1 event.

Photo by Margie Stewart-Piercy.

Rowers tour Lithuania

Rowers from across the UK enjoyed a 3-day tour  on the rivers and lakes of Lithuania on the 3rd British Rowing European Tour between June 7th to 9th.

Paddy Deans from Durham ARC joined the party of 60, including a group of four from Hexham RC, who rowed 50km along the Neris River from the beautiful Lithuanian capital of Vilnius and round the lakes of Trakai, with temperatures soaring to over 30 degrees.

The European tour takes place every 2 years and is organised by a group of recreational rowers from Nottingham Rowing Club headed by Richard Pickup. Also among the tourers were John and Caroline Turnbull of BR’s Recreational Rowing Committee who visited DARC last October.

“All very enjoyable and a great experience!” enthused Paddy on her return.


Medals at British Rowing Masters

Durham ARC had 22 crews among the 444 from 81 clubs across the UK entered for the British Rowing Masters Championships on June 15th and 16th. The venue at Strathclyde Park was a departure from the usual Nottingham and although conditions were variable the Scottish welcome certainly met with the approval of competitors who attended, though numbers were down on recent years, perhaps because of some being deterred by the long journey north and favouring other competitions further south.

DARC returned with 2 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze medal over the two days, most success coming on Saturday in the championship sculling events.

The first gold on Saturday came in the Women’s Masters F 2x for Gill Prescott and Eva Rankin (of Loch Lomond RC) who repeated their success at the same event last year. The pair were then joined by DARC’s Helen McMillan and an X-Press composite to take a silver medal in the Women’s MasD/E 4x-. Two other DARC crews were in the same final, the WMasD 4x- of Susan Jackson, Aisling Dutton, Gabrielle Moore and Clare Woodward (below) taking 3rd place and a bronze medal, while the WMasE quad of Nicola Field, June Davison, Vickie Jackson and Julie Kitson finished 7th.

Another silver medal went to Sam English, John Lyons, Christine Heppell and Richard Court (pictured top) in the Mixed Masters D/F 4x-.

The most exciting race of the day came in the Masters G/H handicap coxless quad which produced a dead heat between the DARC MasG crew of David Walker, Paul Rutter, John Appleby and John Watkinson who overhauled the handicap to dead heat for second place against their old adversaries (Tony Stocking, Ralph Pickles, Bob Bainbridge and Chris Kenyon) in the Tees RC MasH quad, both finishing 4 seconds adrift of a Dart Totnes, Exeter and Upper Thames composite. The DARC and Tees crews were both awarded silver medals.

For the purposes of the Victor Ludorum trophy gold medals are awarded in championship events with at least 2 entries, silver in events with 4 or more and bronze medals are awarded where 6 or more compete. In non-championship races only the winners receive medals.

Sunday is predominantly the day when non-championship events are scheduled. Only individuals who have not previously won a gold medal in the same discipline at Championship level are eligible to enter non-championship events.

Sweep-oar events also got underway on Sunday with a 4th place finish for the DARC/Blue Star MasG 4+ and a 5th for the MasF 4+.

Two DARC Masters E doubles qualified for the final of the MasD/F non-championship Intermediate 2x. Paul Rutter and David Heppell finished 2nd, and Rob Coe and Martyn Calkin 6th.

The Women’s Masters E 8+ finished 4th in the final of the WMasE/F 8+ handicap.

The only medal success on Sunday was a gold for the Mixed Masters F 8+ (Clare Woodward, Gabrielle Moore, Sarah Rutter, Angela Lund, John Watkinson, Paul Rutter, David Heppell and John Appleby, coxed by Nigel van Zwanenberg) who won the final of the MxdMasD/F 8+ handicap against London Otters.

There were other good performances in non-championship races but without further medal success.

Full results for both days can be found on the Rowresuts website.

The top 3 places in the overall Victor Ludorum went to –

1 Star Club
2 St Andrew
3 Stirling and York


Durham Regatta 2019 cancelled

41 crews from Durham ARC had prepared to take part in Durham Regatta on June 8th and 9th but organisers of the 186th edition of the prestigious event were forced to cancel it because of unsafe conditions after heavy overnight rain caused the river level to rise alarmingly.

On Saturday morning the Regatta’s Race & Technical Committee decided that Saturday events could not go ahead, and after continuing to monitor river conditions a statement was issued at lunchtime on Saturday stating that there was no option other than to also cancel Sunday racing.

This was only the second occasion on which both days of Durham Regatta have been cancelled, the previous time being in 2012, a huge disappointment for all involved with the regatta which is an important fixture in Durham’s civic tradition as well as in the rowing calendar. The loss of income will have serious implications for the finances of traders as well as for the Club and the Regatta. 

After such a successful regatta last year there were plans for further innovations but unfortunately these could not be put into effect.

Thanks go to the many volunteers and supporters for their efforts in preparing for the event. We look forward to more suitable conditions in 2020.

Senior Men’s squad looking to expand

The DARC Senior Men’s Squad is looking to expand after a successful racing season, and we are happy to accept novice and experienced rowers – get in touch via email if you are interested in joining us for the 2019/20 season.

We accept rowers throughout the year, and people new to the sport (those who completed a Learn to Row Course) in July through to September and a high percentage of our current squad have joined through this route.

We ask all rowers to commit to four training sessions a week, which may increase during regatta season depending on ambition. DARC is lucky to train all year on the River Wear, with additional strength and conditioning sessions in our indoor gym; a typical week’s training consists of four coached water sessions and two additional gym sessions. Occasionally we take our boats to the River Tyne where we have a bigger stretch of water to put some hard training to get ready for the long Head races.

For the 2019/20 season we are training for the local Autumn LDS (Long Distance Sculling) Series, Autumn Small Boats Heads and Fours Head of the River in London finishing 2019 with Rutherford Head on the Tyne. 2020 will start with Durham Small Boats Head followed by Tyne Head, York Head and Head of River Race in London.

The 2020 regatta season commences in March with York Spring Regatta through to Durham Regatta in June. We are also aiming towards sending crews to southern events like Metropolitan Regatta and Henley Royal Regatta.

The squad is coached, and the training schedule is designed to enable the squad to compete at the highest levels possible whilst maintaining a balance of work, education and family commitments. Our Training program has 4 ‘core’ training sessions (Tuesday evening, Thursday evening and Saturday and Sunday mornings), with optional double sessions on offer at weekends, all of which have a strong waterborne bias.

The squad is for rowers and scullers of all abilities who want to train and race competitively at both local and national events.

Enquiries to Men’s Vice-Captain Stephen Kay at

Club Captain

Victor Ludorum at Hexham

Traditionally held the weekend before Durham Regatta, Hexham Regatta proved very successful for DARC, returning with two Victor Ludorum awards for the best overall results and the best results in Masters races. George Watson’s College took the Victor Ludorum for Juniors.

Ten hours of racing over three divisions on the River Tyne produced wins in 10 events and plenty of good performances from the 35 crews and scullers entered by the club.

Winners were

J13 4x+ – Lucas Walker, Tom Pfetscher, James Bruce, Eshaan Singh and cox Oliver Davison

J16 4x- – Thomas Taylor, Dominic Crilley, Tom Brumwell and Oliver Beattie

WJ16 4x- – Ella Sampson, Ella Metcalfe, Nathalie Einbeck and Madalyn Elmer

J17 1x – Adam Morris

WJ17 1x – Honor Cessford

Open 2- band 2 – Dan Pearson and John Roxborough

Women’s 4+ band 1 – Becky Chilcott, Kate Sowden, Heather Tosley, Sarah Buist and cox Diana Stserbakova

MasE 2x – Paul Rutter and David Heppell

WMasE 4x- – Julie Kitson, Carole McCarthy, Linda Forwood and Nicola Field

MasH 4x- – John Appleby, Philip Stephenson, Derek Gordon and Barry Hudson

We look forward to continued success over the coming weeks. After Durham Regatta on June 8th and 9th will be