Covid woes continue as England Expects

St George’s Cross flies over the clubhouse as July heralds fresh hope of an upturn in fortunes, not only those of the England football team but also renewed optimism about an end to Coronavirus restrictions. However, although the move to Step 4 of the roadmap for the release from lockdown measures has been confirmed for July 19th we have been reminded that the pandemic is still very much present. The first weekend of July saw junior members advised to self-isolate to prevent the possible spread of Covid.

Some events have taken place recently…

York Summer Regatta

York Summer Regatta, rescheduled from June 20th to July 4th to avoid restrictions, still suffered a significant number of scratchings as a result of competitors isolating. The weather also did its best to cause further disruption and thunderstorms later in the day led to the abandonment of the remainder of the regatta midway through the third division because of lightning. The three DARC scullers who were able to take part did well – Nicholas Baird winning the Open single sculls and Michael Terry the Masters D single. Isabelle Maxwell won through to the final of the Women’s single sculls only for it to be cancelled because of the conditions.

Results are here.

Henley Women’s Regatta

Henley Women’s Regatta went ahead on July 2nd to 4th, also two weeks later than the date originally planned, but subject to reduced numbers and some inevitable late withdrawals so as to avoid possible contact with competitors and officials testing positive for Covid. No crews from DARC attended, but former DARC Junior Elise Sanderson did well coxing the Oxford Brookes University Eight that reached the final of the Aspirational Academic Eights only to lose out to the University of London. Elise has been coxing at Brookes after enjoying much success at DARC, including coxing the J18 boys Eight to victory in the National Junior Championships in 2014, and then coxing the DARC Masters 8+ to gold at the World Masters Regatta in Denmark in 2016.

Elise coxing Oxford Brookes at HWR 2021 (photo by Oxford Brookes BC)

The list of Results from Henley Women’s Regatta is available here.

Henley Masters Regatta

Close on its heels came Henley Masters Regatta on Friday July 9th and Saturday July 10th, another competition to suffer reduced numbers in comparison with previous years. The main source of the reduction was the shortage of overseas entries, although there were actually more entries than usual from the UK. DARC was represented in 3 events. In the Masters E double sculls Paul Rutter and David Heppell were knocked out in the quarter final by Lymington, and Kim Forster lost in her semi-final to Stourport in the Women’s Masters D single. David Muse won his quarter final of the Masters B single against Upper Thames but went out in the semi-final against Commercial from Ireland.

Results are here.

Future prospects

Concerns about the rapid spread of the more virulent Delta variant of the virus continue to curtail the enjoyment of those wishing to participate in the sport, as cancellations mount up and surviving competitions are scaled down so that only the most committed are able to take part.

Junior Championships

Junior rowers have been significantly affected, particularly the younger age groups, after the exclusion of events for J14 rowers from the National Schools Regatta in May and from the British Rowing Junior Championships later in July. An additional event was proposed for younger Juniors in September but it now looks unlikely that this will take place. Neither has there been any further news regarding the possible rearrangement of the cancelled Junior Inter-Regional Regatta, which last took place in 2018.

DARC’s J14 girls won 2 bronze medals in the Omnium at the Junior Championships in 2019.

Bronze medal for J14 girls at the 2019 Junior Chmpionships

Age groups will be segregated at the National Junior Championships, to be held between July 16th and 18th, with J15 events held on Friday, J16 on Saturday and J18 on Sunday. DARC will send a J18 boys coxless quad and a J18 girls eight. The J16 girls have had a successful season already competing at the National Schools Regatta at Dorney Lake but the ban on spectators and the logistics of multiple age groups travelling to Nottingham make attendance unfeasible.

Explaining the decision British Rowing stated that it had been decided that a J14 Omnium was not practical at the Championships given the number of volunteers and the close proximity of competitors in some areas. It was also noted that additional time would be needed for older age groups in order to be able to offer racing in a format that minimises overnight stays.

Under 23 Championships

After winning a gold medal at the 2019 World Rowing Under-23 Championships there was disappointment for Hope Cessford who was selected for the GB Under-23 squad to go to the 2021 World U23 Championships, held in Racice in the Czech Republic this week, only for British Rowing to withdraw much of the squad for isolation reasons to avoid the spread of the virus. Hope recently represented the GB Senior squad for the first time at World Cup III in Sabaudia, Italy.

Gold for GB Women’s four at the 2019 World Under-23 Championships

British Rowing has also taken the decision that the GB team will not compete at the 2021 World Rowing Championships in Shanghai in October, to help maximise the preparation of those who aspire to perform at the Olympics in Paris in 2024 and on the world stage in the preceding years of 2022 and 2023.

There has been no news of the reintroduction of the British Rowing Senior Championships, last held in 2018. The British Rowing Virtual Championships which was very successful last year will return on September 11th 2021. Entries are now open.

World Masters Regatta

Although there has been recent news of the easing of restrictions for visitors to Austria the organising committee of the World Rowing Masters Regatta has decided to cancel the 2021 Regatta scheduled for September 1st to 5th at Linz-Ottensheim due to the low attendance anticipated as a result of continuing difficulties with intercontinental and cross-border travel. This will be another cause of disappointment as the World Masters has been a source of much success for DARC members over the past decade.

Tyne 200 poster

Recreational events

Provision for those of a less competitive nature is limited. The Northern Rowing Council has released details of a special event, Tyne 200, on August 1st to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the first rowing race on the River Tyne. The day of celebration will include some fun races and a return row from Newburn to the Quayside bridges. This will also stand in place of the Great Tyne Row which will not take place this year.

The annual British Rowing Tour returns to the River Thames on September 4th and 5th this year, but has been greatly reduced in terms of distance covered and the number of participants. No accommodation will be included and the usual social functions will be absent. The event is restricted to 12 boats and has now sold out. The Explore the Broads tour of Norfolk in June went ahead with entries limited to 6 boats.

We look forward to better times ahead.