Author Archives: Colin Lawson

Durham Small Boats Head 2019

Snow and freezing conditions greeted rowers from around the northern region who converged on the River Wear for Durham Small Boats Head on Saturday February 2nd. They were joined by competitors from Bradford, Lancaster and George Watson’s College in Edinburgh who had also made the journey.

The time trial over 1800 metres, passing through the arches of Elvet Bridge, is a highlight of the winter racing season in Durham, and provides an excellent opportunity for crews to compete in smaller boats as they build up their training in preparation for racing on the River Tyne, in Yorkshire and on the Tideway in London in March.

The head always attracts a good spread of competitors of all ages from local clubs, schools, colleges and Universities who come together to gauge their performance and to enjoy the sport they love, and this year was no exception, with capacity reached in record time once entries opened in January.

The temperature rose and spirits lifted as the four divisions progressed, while river conditions remained good throughout, allowing excellent racing despite some of the original 400 entrants opting to stay away because of the wintry conditions.

The overall winner was the Open Senior coxless quad from Durham School who completed the course in a time of 6 mins 16.4 secs. The fastest women’s crew was Talkin Tarn’s coxless quad in 7.14.4.

The host club was the most successful with victories in 16 categories, followed by George Watson’s College with 10 and Durham School and Talkin Tarn ARC with 6 each.

George Watson’s College had the fastest open single sculler and their J16 open and women’s double scullers were also faster than senior opposition, while Talkin Tarn’s J18 single sculler was the fastest of the women’s singles.

As usual there was keen competition between the Durham University colleges in the coxed fours. St Aidan’s College won the open four in 6.23.8 and Collingwood College won the Women’s coxed four in 7.24.5. Events with larger numbers of entries were divided into bands as permitted by the British Rowing rules of racing. Durham ARC won band 2 of the Open fours while Butler College took band 3. In the Women’s coxed fours Durham School won band 2 and St Leonard’s School band 3. There was also a junior women’s J18 coxless fours race won by St Leonard’s School in 7.30.2.

Durham ARC achieved victories over an age range from J13 juniors to Masters G (65-69), including both open and women’s senior crews. The J13 quad finished in 8.04.7 for their first racing success, David Dowsett and Mark Humphries won the J18 double in 7.10.2, while, with no Masters opposition, Gill Prescott and Eva Rankin from Loch Lomond RC combined to win the senior Women’s double sculls in 7.49.9. DARC’s boys and girls J16 coxless quads also both recorded wins.

There was a double success for DARC’s David Rutter and Nicholas Baird, winning the Open double sculls in 7.04.4, then combining with Will Hamlyn, Brad Knights and cox Millie McIntyre to win band 2 of the Open coxed four in 6.50.6. John Watkinson, John Appleby, Paul Rutter and Micky Stevens won the Masters G coxless quad in 6.42.2 before John Appleby and Micky Stevens combined again to win the Masters G double sculls in 7.12.5, and Andy Jaggard won both the Masters F and Masters G single sculls, achieving the better time of 7.58.4 in division 1.

St Leonard’s School won 3 events as did Tyne ARC, while Tyne United won one. Smaller clubs had some success. Sunderland City won 3 events and Cambois and Hexham won one each. Berwick ARC achieved a 100% success rate from their only entry, Andrew Cairns and Chris Eke winning the Open pair in 7.11.6.

Fifty four categories were contested, with trophies awarded to winners of those with sufficient opposition. Winners are listed below in order of their finishing time.

Open 4x- band 1 Durham School 6.16.4

J18 4x- George Watson’s College 6.17.4

Open 4+ band 1 St Aidan’s College 6.23.8

Open 4x- band 2 Tyne ARC 6.32.9

J16 4x- Durham ARC 6.35.8

Masters G 4x- Durham ARC 6.42.2

Open 4+ band 2 Durham ARC 6.50.6

J16 4+ Durham School/Takin Tarn ARC composite 6.51.4

Open 4x+ Durham School 6.51.7

J16 2x George Watson’s College 6.53.4

J15 4x+ Hexham RC 6.54.9

J15 2x George Watson’s College 6.56.3

Open 2x Durham ARC 7.04.4

Open 1x band 2 George Watson’s College 7.08.9

J18 2x Durham ARC 7.10.2

Open 2- Berwick ARC 7.11.6

Masters G 2x Durham ARC 7.12.5

Women’s 4x- band 1 Talkin Tarn ARC 7.14.4

J18 1x George Watson’s College 7.14.9

Women’s J18 4x- Cambois RC 7.15.6

WJ16 4x- Durham ARC 7.23.0

Open 1x band 1 George Watson’s College 7.23.6

Women’s 4+ band 1 Collingwood College 7.24.5

Masters C 2x Talkin Tarn 7.26.3

Open 4+ band 3 Butler College 7.27.4

WJ18 4- St Leonard’s School 7.30.2

J16 1x Talkin Tarn 7.32.2

WJ15 4x+ Durham ARC 7.41.2

WJ16 2x George Watson’s College 7.41.3

WJ18 2x George Watson’s College 7.43.1

Women’s 4x- band 2 Sunderland City RC 7.45.2

WMas E 4x- Durham ARC 7.45.3

WJ14 4x+ Durham ARC 7.49.5

Women’s 2x band 1 Durham ARC/Loch Lomond RC composite 7.49.9

J15 1x George Watson’s College 7.55.4

Masters G 1x Durham ARC 7.58.4

Masters F 4x+ Durham ARC 7.58.6

Women’s 4+ band 2 Durham School 7.59.9

WJ15 2x St Leonard’s School 8.04.1

J14 4x+ Sunderland City RC 8.04.2

J13 4x+ Durham ARC 8.04.7

WJ16/18 4+ Durham School 8.06.3

Women’s 4x+ Durham School 8.09.9

Masters F 1x Durham ARC 8.11.8

J14 2x Sunderland City RC 8.13.9

WJ18 2- Durham School 8.17.9

Women’s 2x band 2 Tyne United RC 8.24.1

WJ18 1x Talkin Tarn ARC 8.24.5

WMas C 4x+ Talkin Tarn 8.26.2

WJ14 2x Tyne ARC 8.30.5

Women’s 4+ band 3 St Leonard’s School 8.30.8

WJ16 1x George Watson’s College 8.31.5

WJ15 1x Tyne ARC 8.35.5

WMas C 1x Durham ARC 8.43.1

The complete list of results combined over the 4 divisions can be found here and there is a list sorted by gender and boat class.

Winning DARC crews are on the results page.

SI Event Photography has provided a set of images of crews.

Keith Yates

Durham Regatta has lost one of its most loyal servants following the death of long time commentator Keith Yates at the age of 79.

Many will remember Keith as the voice of the Regatta for over 40 years.

Although originally from Langley Moor he spent much of his life in the Midlands, returning to Durham each year in his role as the Regatta’s chief commentator.  His links with the Regatta and with rowing in Durham go back a long way.

Keith was educated at Durham’s Johnston Grammar School where he became involved with rowing as a cox in 1951. Later he coxed for Durham Constabulary and the Durham County Eight. He joined Durham Amateur Rowing Club in 1956 and first competed for the club at Durham Regatta in the Mayors Plate in 1957, before going on to become the first crew cox.

Durham ARC Chairman Barry Hudson explained “Older members remember Keith as the cox of the all-conquering Durham ARC senior coxed four of the late 1950s and early 1960s which regularly won the Grand Challenge Cup and other senior trophies. The crew included Bill Parker and Ian Shepherd, still active members at Durham ARC.”

With a regular line-up of F.Weatherley, W.T.Parker, I.C.Shepherd, H.Smith, and  cox K.J.Yates, the senior four won the Grand Challenge Cup 5 times in succession between 1958 and 1962, also winning the Wharton Challenge Cup 4 times during the same period, and attended GB Trials at Henley in 1959.

In 1962 Keith moved from Durham to Nottingham, and lived for many years in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.

He was an honorary Vice President of the Regatta, and participated in every Regatta since 1953, as a cox, volunteer marshal, and, since 1976, as a commentator. His final commentary was in 2018.

“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,” said his widow Anne.

Keith died suddenly in the early hours of January 1st. His funeral will take place at 11.30am on Wednesday 16th January at Sage Cross Church, Melton Mowbray.

(Photo by The Northern Echo)

Fifth title for Roger at BRIC

Durham ARC’s Roger Stainforth recorded a fifth consecutive victory in the Masters 70-74 category at the Mizuno British Rowing Indoor Championships (BRIC) held at the Lee Valley Velopark in London on December 8th 2018.

This year’s Championships was the biggest ever, attracting over 1800 competitors of all ages from across the UK and overseas, including many members of the GB Rowing Team, competing for honours in 82 races using 160 Concept2 machines.

Although DARC’s only entrant, Roger emerged as the clear winner from a field of six, which included veterans of the 1968 GB Olympic rowing squad,  completing the 2km in a season’s best of 7m 21.6s, over 30 seconds ahead of second placed Colin Slade of Fitness Matters Indoor Rowing Team.

The closest challenge to Roger’s time came from 83 year-old Michael Hurley of Willpower Fitness, who won the 80-84 age category in 7.38.2.

Roger holds the British record time for the 70-74 age range with the 7m 08.7s he set in winning the same Championships in February 2015. He will move up an age category before the 2019 Championships.

After a very successful season last year he is continuing in similar vein, and in November took first place in the Scottish Indoor Championships in Motherwell, with a time of 3m 29.7 for 1km (the standard race distance for masters in Scotland). He also still holds the 70-74 British record for the 1km distance with the 3.23.5 he set at the 2015 Scottish Championships.

Archived results from BRIC can be found here. British records for Concept2 are here.

Explanatory note – a rebranding and change of date and venue meant that the BR Indoor Championships took place in February 2015  and again in December 2015. Since then the date has become settled on December.

Five wins at Rutherford Head 2018

Arguably the biggest event in the British Rowing head racing calendar outside London Rutherford Head provided the last chance for the region’s rowers to race before the festive break. Traditionally associated with bad weather this year’s event on December 1st was no exception, with rain and low temperatures greeting the large turnout of nearly 260 crews racing in the larger boat classes over two divisions on the River Tyne. Competitors were drawn from all corners of the UK, and, with little wind and water conditions generally good, some excellent times were recorded for the 4.5 km course from Scotswood to Newburn. For others it was an opportunity to compete in the same race as some of the nation’s best rowers.

Great anticipation had preceded the event with entries opening at 6pm on November 1st only to be suspended little over an hour later as capacity was reached. As usual eights were the most popular boat type, accounting for nearly 90 of the entries, the senior Open and Women’s eights being sub-divided into 4 bands each. Strong competition saw Newcastle University claim overall victory in Open Division 1 in 14.08.3, closely followed by Edinburgh University and Tyne ARC, while in the senior Women’s eights London University held off the challenge of Edinburgh University and Thames RC to win band 1 in a time of 16.10.5.

Edinburgh University led the way in the quad sculling events, taking first and second places in the Open with a winning time of 14.38.3, and narrowly losing out to Newcastle University in the Women’s quad, the winning time being 17.20.8.

Outside the senior events Chester-le-Street ARC won the Junior J18 eights race in 16.24.3 and the Women’s J18 eight in 20.06.9, while the fastest Masters crew of the day was the Tyne ARC Masters E 8+ who finished on their home course in 16.41.9. The fastest Women’s Masters accolade went to the Durham ARC Women’s Masters E 8+, repeating the success of last year and winning their event in 19.50.2.

Durham ARC entered in 13 boat categories and achieved an excellent return of 5 victories, other wins going to the senior men’s squad, the fastest of six in band 4 of the Open 8+ in 16.42.3, the Women’s J18 4x-, fastest of five in band 2 in 19.54.9 and the Masters F 4x+ in 21.53.8.

After recent success on the Tideway in the Veteran Fours Head Gill Prescott again formed a composite quad with Barnes Bridge Ladies and Kingston RC, winning the Women’s Masters F 4x- in 19.50.9, two minutes ahead of the DARC Women’s Masters E 4x- who were  placed 2nd of the four entries in 21.50.1.

There were some fine performances from other crews. As junior events were only offered for J16 and J18 age levels the DARC J15 girls (thanks to Claire Airey for the above photo from Newburn Bridge) entered in band 4 of the senior Women’s 8+ and finished 3rd in 20.28.1, only 10 seconds behind the winners from Edinburgh University.

The J18 4x- came 3rd in 18.28.6, the Women’s 4x- band 2 finished in 21.41.2, and the J16 4+ recorded 22.42.7

The Masters F 4x- lost to Lakeland RC despite posting 19.57.8, while the Masters D 4x- lost to Hexham in 20.25.9.

Results from Division 1 and Division 2 are among other information to be found on the Tyne ARC website. Winning crew lists are on the Durham ARC Results page.

Al Johnston has provided photos on facebook from Division 1 and Division 2.

Much credit goes to the many volunteers involved in the organisation of such a successful event.

Next year’s race takes place on December 7th 2019.

Durham hosts LDS and Autumn SBH

Rowers from across the north of England converged on the River Wear last Saturday for the exciting double header of the final round of the Long Distance Sculling Series (LDS) and Durham Autumn Small Boats Head (SBH), both time trials hosted by Durham Amateur Rowing Club.

The Sculling Series, which is organized by the Northern Rowing Council, includes six rounds over six consecutive weeks, previous rounds having taken place on the Rivers Tyne at Newburn, Tweed at Berwick and Wear at South Hylton, with weather cancellations on the Tees and Wansbeck. Although offering the shortest course Durham is one of the most challenging, with competitors having to negotiate the narrow arches of Elvet Bridge at the halfway point of the 1800 metres.

The morning sculling event, open to single, double and quadruple sculls, was followed by two divisions of the SBH, also accommodating sweep-oared boats, the 3 divisions of racing over a 6 hour period providing ample opportunity for competitors and coaches to try out different crew combinations within the safety limit of 300 entries.

The fastest times were posted earlier in the day when conditions were more favourable, before overnight rainfall had time to take its effect on the flow of the river. The overall winner in the LDS division, with a time of 6min.08.3sec, was Durham Amateur Rowing Club’s senior coxless quad of David Rutter, Nicholas Baird, Tom Richardson and Will Hamlyn, fresh from racing at the Tideway Fours Head in London the previous week. 

With some of the region’s top competitors away at GB trials in Boston the same day success was distributed between 14 different clubs, DARC faring best by winning 13 categories (9 at the LDS and 4 at the SBH), followed by Tyne ARC with 7 and Durham School with 6 overall.

Yarm School, St Leonard’s and Queen Elizabeth High School also had some success in the junior races.

A strong contingent from Durham University Boat Club took the open (7.13.3) and women’s (8.19.0) pairs, Kasey Jobling (8.56.7) won band 1 and Gabrielle Keblyte (9.40.0) band 2 in the women’s single sculls at the SBH, while in the LDS sixteen year-old Adam Morris from Durham ARC held off five opponents from Durham University to take the title of fastest sculler of the day, completing the course in 7.12.5.

Durham ARC also did well in Junior events in the LDS, winning the J18 girls (7.10.2) and J16 boys (6.44.3) coxless quads, while at the other end of the age scale there were wins in the Masters events for John Appleby and Micky Stevens in the Masters G (65-69) double sculls, finishing in 7.12.2, David Muse in the Masters B single sculls (7.35.5), Andy Jaggard in the Masters G single (7.55.5), and Joyce Collett in the Women’s Masters G single (9.10.6).

The traditional fierce rivalry between the colleges of Durham University was a feature of racing in the Small Boats Head, with eight colleges providing a total of 35 coxed fours over the two afternoon divisions. For most this was the first opportunity of the new academic year to compete. To ensure fair competition men’s and women’s crews were divided into 3 bands, Hatfield College Boat Club winning band 1 (6.26.6), Queen Elizabeth High School band 2 (7.12.7) and Grey College band 3 (6.58.9) in the men’s coxed fours, while Durham University BC won band 1 of the women’s coxed fours (7.30.1), with Collingwood College taking bands 2 (7.32.3) and 3 (8.35.3).  

In the double sculling events in the SBH Yarm School won at junior boys J18 (7.02.0), boys J15 (8.06.8), and girls J18 (8.04.5). A Durham School/Talkin Tarn RC composite crew won the boys J16 double (7.51.2), Cambois RC won the girls J16 (8.14.6), and Tyne United RC won the girls J15 (8.51.3). Tees RC won the Open 2x (7.28.7) and Durham School the Women’s 2x (7.51.9). Tees RC also won the Masters H (70+) double sculls (8.02.5).

In the SBH Durham ARC also won the senior Women’s coxless quad (7.05.5), Junior girls J15 (7.51.4) and girls J14 (8.37.1) coxed quads, and Grace Stewart-Piercy won the J18 girls single sculls (9.33.1).

For a full breakdown of times and results in pdf format follow the LDS and SBH links.

More photos can be found on facebook.

Points gained over the 6 weeks of the Long Distance Sculling Series contribute towards Victor Ludorum prizes for Juniors, Seniors and Masters rowers which will be presented to victorious clubs at the AGM of the Northern Rowing Council on November 26th.

The next Small Boats Head race on the River Wear is on February 2nd 2019.

Tideway Fours weekend

Following on from the Pairs Head in October the next weekend of major competition on the Tideway took place on November 3rd and 4th, the Fuller’s Head of the River Fours on the Saturday and the Veteran Fours Head on Sunday.

Both events are time trials for fours and quads and are raced over 6800 metres of the Championship course on the River Thames from Mortlake to Putney, although the course was shortened slightly this year due to tunnel works near Putney Pier.

The Head of the River Fours first took place in 1955, initially only for fours, and over a shorter distance, but, with various changes incorporated it has been raced each November since then. Sculls were introduced in 1973, women first competed in 1977, and Fuller Smith and Turner PLC began their sponsorship in 1979.

The Fuller’s Head is restricted to a maximum of 480 entries and offers Club, Academic, and School/Junior competition. Held since 2007 the Veterans’ event has a capacity of 260 crews and is for competitors over the age of 27 who are eligible for British Rowing Masters racing in age categories A to H. Unlike the Fuller’s Head it is also open to coxed quads, and in 2018, for the first time, double sculls were invited in an attempt to offer masters from smaller clubs the opportunity to race.

After DARC’s senior women’s squad sent two crews to the 2017 Fuller’s Head it was the turn of the men’s squad this year. The senior coxless quad of David Rutter, Nicholas Baird, Tom Richardson and Will Hamlyn raced in at times blustery conditions on Saturday in the Challenge division, finishing 14th out of 19 starters in their category in a time of 21.27.9s.

The overall winner was the Leander A Championship 4x- who completed the course in 18.26.3s.

Results by event and photos by Ben Rodford

As the club was preparing to celebrate Bonfire Night on Sunday Durham ARC was represented by Gill Prescott, racing for the second year in the Women’s Masters F composite coxless quad along with Eva Rankin of Loch Lomond, Jackie Darling of Barnes Bridge Ladies and Birgith Sims of Kingston RC. In calmer conditions the crew repeated their success of the previous year, completing the course in a time of 22.00.4s, defeating Tideway Scullers, Molesey and a Walbrook/Tideway Scullers composite to win their category, finishing 124th overall from a start position of 214.

Provisional Results and photos by Ben Rodford