The year has been a mixed one with good progress and many successes on the water despite several events being cancelled or curtailed because of adverse weather and conditions, while the state of our rivers has given rise to some concern.
2023 started brightly with 12 entries for Tyne United New Years Head in January producing wins for Luke Davison, Sam Terry, Finley Scott and James Bruce in J18 events, the Masters B Women’s quad and Michael Terry in a Hexham/Durham Masters E composite coxless four.
The removal of debris from Elvet Bridge enabled Durham Small Boats Head to go ahead and brought victories in 18 events to add to the 6 from Tyne United New Years Head and 2 at Tyne Head later in February.
In March the inaugural Derwentwater Head went ahead in calm conditions with 13 entries from Durham ARC, bringing victories for Gabrielle Maxfield, Lilly Muskett, Ellie Cushen and Anna Golightly in the Women’s 4x-, and for the Masters F 8+ and a Durham/Cambois Masters F 4x- composite.
The Senior Men were able to enter two eights in the Head of the River Race for the first time in around 25 years, the A crew placing 150th overall and 9th of the medium sized club entries, and the B crew 205th overall and 18th medium sized club.
In the other Tideway heads DARC had no entry in the Women’s Eights Head or the Schools Head, but Michael Terry represented the club in a composite 8+ at the renamed Masters Head.
The Senior Women’s coxless quad followed up their success with wins at the Scottish Rowing Spring Regatta in April and at Hexham Regatta in June.
The togetherness between clubs in the region continues to be an asset and on the same April weekend as the Seniors were at Strathclyde Park the Northern Region was represented in 26 events at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, with Durham ARC being involved in six of them. Medal performances came from Jonny Cleugh who took silver in the J15 1x while the Durham ARC/Durham School J14 4x+ composite of Alex Lowes, Quinn Mosley, Alec Thompson, Jason Wrack and cox Georgia Curry won bronze.
Local regattas provided an opportunity for newer members to gain valuable experience. Durham hosted a City Coronation Regatta and Sprint to mark the Coronation of King Charles III in May. DARC registered 25 event wins at its home regatta and added further wins at Tees, Hexham and Talkin Tarn Regattas. However, Wansbeck Regatta attracted a disappointingly low entry and Tyne Regatta was cancelled, as was Chester-le-Street Regatta, but Lambton Rowing Club affiliated to British Rowing and Chester-le-Street ARC later reaffiliated.
Rule changes and revised scheduling adopted by the National Schools Regatta which took place at Dorney Lake in May meant no entries from DARC this year.
After initially proposing a single day of competition for the British Rowing Masters Championships at Nottingham in June organisers bowed to pressure and agreed to revert to the traditional 2-day format. A successful weekend produced one gold, two silver and one bronze medals. Andy Jaggard took gold in the Masters H 1x, and combined with Richard Court to take silver in the MasF 2x, Helen McMillan took silver in the Women’s Masters E 1x and Rachel Terry bronze in the WMasD 1x.
As well as winning gold at Nottingham Andy Jaggard went on to achieve victory in 7 events during the year in the Masters H single scull and formed a winning double combination with Richard Court, while Joyce Collett had 3 wins in the Women’s Masters H 1x. Gabrielle Moore achieved wins in the Women’s Masters F double, quad and eight, Helen McMillan in quad and eight, and Angela Lund and Rachel Terry enjoyed further successes.
The Women’s Masters B 4x, including Fe Ashton, Becky Chilcott, Debra Harland, Kate Sowden and Meghan McCarthy had a good year including successes on the local circuit as well as making their first appearance at the National Masters Championships, Henley Masters Regatta and Chester LDS.
Durham Regatta took place on the same weekend as the Masters Championships and brought a further 15 wins.
Following on from an appearance in the Metropolitan Regatta at Dorney Lake the Senior Women’s coxless four of Rachel Wilson, Shannon Grealis, Lucy Beresford and Emily Chaytor was one of 40 entries in the time trial for the Club Coxless Fours at Henley Women’s Regatta in June, only missing qualification for the knockout stage by 12 seconds, a great achievement for the crew who had only completed a Learn to Row course two years previously.
The Senior Men’s squad continued to produce strong performances throughout the regatta season. Wins for the Open 8+ at Durham Coronation Regatta and for the Open Championship coxless four at Durham Regatta were followed by an appearance at Marlow Regatta. The culmination of the season saw the coxless four of Oliver Negus, Will Sepanski, Josiah George and John Roxborough qualifying through the time trial for a last-32 spot at Henley Royal Regatta, the first DARC crew to qualify for 10 years, before going out in a thrilling Tuesday race against Star Club in the Wyfold Challenge Cup.
The British Rowing Junior Championships endured difficult conditions at Strathclyde Park in July with DARC’s 20 Juniors winning a silver and two bronze medals, all in single sculling – Jonny Cleugh winning silver in the J15 1x, Quinn Mosley bronze in the J14 1x and Sam Terry bronze in the J18 1x.
Sam Terry had a successful season progressing through the GB Junior under-19 Selection Trials in November 2022 and February 2023 to become the only Northern representative at the final trials in July in which he finished 18th.
Quinn Mosley achieved victory in 12 events over the year in single, double and quad, and Jonny Cleugh in 9 single sculling events at heads and regattas. There were successes across the board throughout the year for Junior boys and girls in all age groups.
Nick Baird represented DARC in the Open single sculling events at numerous heads and regattas, winning at Durham Coronation Regatta and Tees and Durham LDS/SBH competitions.
Dan Lockey joined the GB Equipment team for the 2023 World Rowing Championships, towing a trailer to Belgrade and back in September.
Crews from the Improver squad took part in two rounds of the 2023 Sunday League at Talkin Tarn in September and Hexham in October.
The Fours Head and Veteran Fours Head were scheduled for the same November weekend as Durham Autumn Small Boats Head but neither survived the storms that battered the UK. Half of the Long Distance Sculling Series and Small Boats Heads also succumbed to bad weather, with Durham’s round then being postponed because of high water and debris before going ahead a week later than scheduled with reduced entry numbers.
Long Distance Sculling rounds at Tyne, Wansbeck and Berwick were cancelled but DARC achieved 29 event wins at the 3 rounds that did take place at Tees, South Hylton and Durham.
The year finished as it had started, on the Tyne, this time with Rutherford Head, contested over a shortened course in freezing December conditions, bringing wins for DARC in J16 4x band 2, WJ18 4x band 2, WMasC 4x, WMasF 4x and WMasF 8+.
Roger Stainforth again represented DARC as a virtual competitor at the World Rowing Indoor Championships in February, placing 7th in the 70+ 2k. However, indoor competition domestically has continued to suffer since the pandemic with both the English and Scottish Indoor Rowing Championships being cancelled again this year. After its 2022 cancellation the British Rowing Indoor Championships went ahead in December as part of FitFest 2023 at a new venue at Birmingham National Exhibition Centre, but without an entry from DARC, although Roger plans to be back for 2024 when he moves up an age category.
Approval of revised Club Rules and bye-laws at a Special General Meeting in July paved the way for the club’s new governance structure to be adopted following its registration as a Charity and last year’s purchase of Browns Coalyard.
The Clive Hole Boathouse was officially named at a ceremony in September 2023 after members enjoyed a scratch eights and quads regatta and BBQ.
Members can anticipate a new strategy for the club, while plans for the river continue to move forward through Durham Regatta and the Environment Agency.
Next year looks set to be a busy one for competitors and competition organisers, with the competition calendar back in full swing regionally and nationally, hopefully with fewer cancellations. The advent of coastal rowing has added spice to the mix following its acceptance as a sport at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics along with ‘classic rowing’.
As well as being an Olympic year 2024 sees the return of a national Senior competition for the first time in many years, combining with the customary National Junior competition to create the first British Rowing Junior and Senior Club Championships, to be staged at Nottingham between July 19th and 22nd, hot on the heels of Henley Royal Regatta (July 2nd to 7th). The Olympic rowing events take place in Paris between July 27th and August 3rd.
Henley Women’s Regatta (June 21st to 23rd) and Henley Masters Regatta (July 12th and 13th) will also be in the sights for some, and the World Masters Regatta returns to Europe with Germany as host between September 11th and 15th 2024.
We look forward to an exciting year ahead.