Category Archives: Club News

Club News and Announcements

Former DARC Chairman Allan Pratt (1925-2019)

The family of Allan Pratt have reported his death in Nottinghamshire at the age of 94 on August 15th 2019.

Allan was a civil engineer by profession and served as Chairman of Durham ARC between 1965 and 1971, during which time he was one of the driving forces behind the relocation of the Club’s facilities from what is now St Leonard’s boathouse to the current premises.

Although a decision had been made by the Club in 1960 to relocate the premises, planning approval was not granted until 1966, after which Allan devised and costed a plan for the project to construct the new boatstore and landing stage with much of the labour being carried out voluntarily by Club members.

Allan moved away to London in 1970 and then to Newark to continue his career, becoming a Director of Hoveringham Gravel and also becoming a long-serving member of Newark Rowing Club.

Duncan Lomas and John Burns continued to progress work on the new premises, and after a final push the building project was effectively completed and the bar officially opened for business on Wednesday December 22nd 1971.

Allan leaves a widow Rosemary, sons Nigel and Graham, and 5 grandchildren. Nigel, a member of Newark Rowing Club, said of his father’s time at Durham, “Although his days at Durham represented a small part of his life in terms of years, they remained large in terms of their influence on him and he often reminisced about his weekends digging trenches, mixing concrete and having a beer in the Dun Cow. He was always proud of his silver salver with “Chairman and Boathouse Builder Extraordinary” engraved upon it.”

A funeral service will be held at Sherwood Forest Crematorium, Ollerton on Tuesday 27th August at 1.30pm followed by a celebration of Allan’s life at Newark Rowing Club from 3.00 pm. Family flowers only please. If desired donations in memory of Allan for The Gurkha Welfare Trust may be sent to E Gill & Sons Ltd or made online at

Trip up the Tees 2019

On August 6th Tees Rowing Club played host to 14 members from Durham ARC who joined them for the annual 25km social row up the Tees to Yarm and back followed by a sumptuous BBQ back at the River Tees Watersports Centre.

Tees were joined by Ally Barr from Lakeland and three quads and a single made the trip from DARC, including Margaret Richardson, Sue Lyons, Sonny Shepherd, Caroline Scholl, Colin Lawson, Shirley Robinson, Dave Green, Steve Auster, Nigel van Zwanenberg, Joyce Collett, Helen Adair, Heather Hirst, Sarah Rutter and Paul Rutter.

The event was arranged by Len Small of the Tees ‘Wrecks’ and DARC crews were co-ordinated by Caroline Scholl.

Many thanks to all at Tees RC for the usual splendid hospitality and to Paul for towing the trailer.

International selection for alumni

Two former Durham ARC Juniors are included in the 50-strong Under-23 squad selected by British Rowing to represent Great Britain at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships at Sarasota Bradenton, Florida on July 24th to 28th. James Snowball will row in the men’s pair and Hope Cessford in the women’s coxless four.

James Snowball is selected for the men’s pair along with Rufus Biggs of Molesey Boat Club. James is currently studying at Oxford Brookes University and has been competing in the Oxford Brookes eight for the past 3 years. He was a member of the Oxford Brookes 8+ (above) that won the Temple Challenge Cup for University eights at Henley Royal Regatta, defeating Northeastern University from the USA in the final on July 7th. James rowed as a Junior at Durham ARC and in 2014 was a member of the  J18 eight that was victorious at the National Junior Championships at Nottingham, the first occasion the club had won an eights event at the Championships. The crew was coached by Alan Granlund and Bill Parker.

Hope Cessford is selected for the women’s coxless four where she will again partner Lauren Irwin of Durham University and formerly of Chester-le-Street ARC, with whom she also rowed for GB at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Rotterdam. The two are joined in the U23 crew by Lydia Currie and Alex Rankin, both of Edinburgh University.

For the past 2 years Hope has been studying at Harvard University in the USA, where she competes in the Radcliffe Heavyweight eight. Whilst a Junior at Durham ARC Hope was coached by Gordon Beattie and won a gold medal in the single sculls event at J16 level at the National Junior Championships at Strathclyde Park in 2015.

More than half of the athletes selected represent clubs supported by British Rowing in the High Performance Programme in Clubs initiative, which covers the universities of Edinburgh, Durham, Newcastle, Oxford Brookes and London, as well as Leander Club and Molesey BC.

The Championships has attracted nearly 700 rowers from 53 nations, Great Britain accounting for the third greatest number of entries after the USA and Germany.

Also announced this week is the squad of 72 to represent England at the Home International Regatta at Strathclyde Park on July 27th, and included in the Lightweight 2x is another former DARC Junior Richard Mathewson who now represents Agecroft RC. Richard was a member of the Championship winning DARC J18 eight in 2014.

Congratulations from everyone at DARC.

DARC is sending a contingent of 22 to the British Rowing Junior Championships at Nottingham over the weekend of July 19th to 21st.


Durham ARC wins again

A long serving Club boat has been brought out of semi-retirement to enjoy renewed success. In March 1983 a new carbon fibre coxed four named “Durham ARC” was bought by the club from Janousek Racing Boats. This was at a time when most racing boats were wooden in construction, with many of those used in Durham being built to order by Erik Whiteley at Browns Boathouse.

Janousek Racing Boats is a British-based manufacturer established in 1981 by Bob Janousek who competed in rowing events for Czechoslovakia at the 1960 and 1964 Olympics before moving to the UK as a coach and later boat-builder. Janousek boats are constructed of glass fibre with a honeycomb core which creates a balanced blend of stiffness, weight, durability and cost. The company was one of the first to offer boats of this construction for sale in 1982 and continues to be noted for the longevity of their boats.

The newly acquired boat was quickly put into service, being used by the Durham ARC senior women’s crew of Angela Lund, A.Page, C.Fraser and A.Dawson, coxed by Tommy Maddison and coached by Geoff Graham, to win a silver medal at the National Championships in 1983.

It was to enjoy much good service over the years, but as a succession of new racing boats were purchased the status of “Durham ARC” became that of a general purpose workhorse and its use for racing declined.

However after undergoing refurbishment around five years ago the boat was subsequently adopted by the growing band of daytime masters who had joined the club from Learn to Row courses, and started to enter regattas for the first time, with the MasF/G squad this year racing it as a coxed quad at Tees and Hexham Regattas.

Their first success came at Talkin Tarn Regatta in July, a win being achieved in the MasF 4x+ against Windermere and St Andrew by a crew averaging 67 years of age racing in a 36 year-old boat, the crew comprising Dave Green, Steve Auster, Vaughan Gordon and Colin Lawson, coxed by Helen Adair (who had also won her first race as a novice in the same boat some 8 years previously).

“Durham ARC” is reportedly the oldest Janousek boat still in use.

As the old adage goes, “There’s many a good tune played on an old fiddle!”

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.

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

Junior training camp to Banyoles 2019

In April this year 17 rowers and 4 coaches flew to Catalonia for a week of hardcore training and a lot of fun. There was plenty of work but lots of fun too and just enough drama to keep everyone on their toes.

Each day we had access to 2 coxless quads, a brand-new coxless 4 and 3 doubles (RIP Anna’s Leg!). We also had access to a coaches launch AKA the banter boat! Seeing as it was the first try at foot steering for nearly everyone there were some interesting lines but by the end we all got the hang of it – nearly. Except in the four where even David struggled to keep a straight course.

The lake was beautiful with a 6 lane, 2-kilometer course surrounded by tall mountains.  With an average of 4 trips per session and 2 sessions a day a large distance was covered which lead to many sore muscles and even more blisters (thank you coaches for all the plasters and tape that we used!) but nevertheless we took all our comments with us and I think everyone massively improved on technique and overall strength.

But rowing wasn’t the only thing that we got up to, there were countless games of rounders featuring: Ruby’s deadly bat-throwing; deafening screams of LEFTY and BIG HITTER and not to forget rapid Ray’s full rounder!  Thank you to Beth for attempting to keep the peace – who knew rowers were so competitive at rounders?  During our breaks we went lake swimming twice – pulling David in off the kayak the first time and jumping in off a huge diving board on the second although that wasn’t needed to throw Elliot in the lake!

The evenings were spent at our favorite Spanish supermarket or the table tennis area with some Spanish rollerblading girls. Well-done Jude for getting those girls to talk to us! One night featured a rowing related quiz where the competition was obliterated by the coaches. And who could forget the discovery of sunny D and Lewis’ incident with the fish…

The wonderful hostel workers kept us fed up with two plates of food at every meal time – some of it was rather ‘interesting’ and occasionally we didn’t know what we were eating but the jelly tasted wonderful! We can never forget the hundreds of biscuits that were consumed from the shop – I don’t think anyone would have survived without them.

On the final day we spent the morning working in the gym and perfecting our technique with the weights before a long evening session on the water with all the coaches having a go in the boats. This session also featured the famous Scottish four where 4 J15 girls spent the entire session talking down the radios in a Scottish accent. The coaches couldn’t reply because they were laughing so much!

After a fantastic week it was time to go home and with one final game of rounders and a last walk around the lake for photos we headed to the airport, picked up our new unicorn friends Gary and Larry and arrived home safely (Including Niamh thanks to David searching through the bin for her boarding pass after she left it in the Burger King!)

Overall everyone returned more tanned more tired but a much better rower than when we left so I think the club’s first junior training camp to Lake Banyoles was a great success.

Thanks to Miriam Stewart for the article.

Boat Race weekend

Boat Race Day generally marks the end of the winter head racing season and the start of the summer sprint regatta season. This year’s races took place on Sunday April 7th, and while most media attention was focused on James Cracknell becoming the oldest competitor in the Boat Race’s 165 year history, Cambridge took the honours in both men’s and women’s races.

In recent years the event has also provided the club with an opportunity for celebration by staging a Boat Race Ball, and judging from comments passed by those who attended, this year’s Ball on the evening of Saturday April 6th was the usual enjoyable occasion.

Because of the late Easter and the need to find a scarce empty slot in the already packed racing calendar the regatta season got off to a flying start with the first of the Northern regattas brought forward to take place at Chester-le-Street the day before the Boat Race. Durham ARC’s Juniors and Masters were in action and came away with victories in four events, the J13 4x+, WJ15 4x+, WJ14 4x+ and WMas E 2x. Full results are here.

The trend for the Boat Race to occur on Sunday rather than Saturday presents a modicum of organisational difficulty in that the club celebration now takes place prior to the event itself, but this at least offers partygoers an excuse for extra recovery time.

There was added interest on Boat Race Day with the arrival of the Cricket World Cup trophy in Durham for its 3-day tour of the region prior to stumps being pitched in May, and after a brief stop at the Durham ARC landing stage it was rowed along the River Wear, pausing at the Riverwalk Centre and Market Place before going on display for the remainder of the day at Durham Cathedral.     

Next on the agenda was the second round of the Sunday League, Durham’s turn to host the sprint competition over a 300 metre course for novice and recreational rowers from clubs around the Northern region, who have been joined this year by a crew from Sheffield representing the Yorkshire region. Fourteen teams entered and some close and exciting racing ensued. Winners on the day were It’s Chico Tyne in the open league and Tynequila in the women’s league. Both now lead in their respective leagues, with Close Encounters from Durham ARC winning 3 of their 4 races to hold on to joint second place in the open league along with Tynemouth Buoys, despite having an average age of 70.

An early start and some efficient organization by the team of volunteers enabled racing to wind up in time for a curry lunch before members and visitors settled down in the bar to watch the Boat Race drama unfold on TV, a successful and very enjoyable day with around £450 raised for club funds through the Boat Race sweepstake, share of Sunday League entry fees and catering proceeds.

Round 3 of the Sunday League takes place at Berwick on May 5th.

Learn to Row in 2019

Dates of Learn to Row courses for Adults in 2019 have been published. Our first course starts on Sunday April 28th and will take place each Sunday thereafter for 8 weeks between 11.30am and 1.30pm. The course is for age 16+ beginners, and no experience of rowing is necessary. The cost is £95.

To apply please read the pre-course information and return the registration form together with the course fee of £95 payable to ‘Durham ARC’. Envelopes should be addressed to Learn to Row, Durham ARC, City Boathouse, Green Lane, Durham DH1 3JU.

There is also a course for Juniors (11 to 15) during the Easter holidays, taking place each day between  Monday April 8th and Friday April 12th from 9.30 to 11.30am. The cost is £65 and the registration form is here.

Please contact us by emailing for any further details about courses or to be added to the waiting list.

The Big Pink Ergo 100km challenge

There’s been no time for resting on his laurels for DARC’s Roger Stainforth since celebrating a fifth success at the British Rowing Indoor Championships in December. Never one to forego a challenge Roger’s latest endeavour stemmed from a chance conversation at the Burns Night supper which led to him gathering together a team for the Big Pink Ergo 100km Challenge.

Roger explains

“Here’s a question that might test even the teams in ‘Brain of Britain’. What connects Burns Night, 27 people aged 7 to 74, 100km on the ergo, breast cancer and Harry Potter?

The answer begins at Durham ARC’s Burns Night supper. A day or two earlier a notice appeared on the club’s notice board announcing that a Durham University student, Alexandra Nicholas, was organising a BIG PINK ERGO 100km challenge for teams to raise money for breast cancer charities on 24 February 2019. The event was to be held at DARC where we have a fleet of new ergos and the club is always happy to be involved in this admirable enterprise. It was very poignant for me because my wife, Hazel, had surgery and radiotherapy treatment from September to December 2018 for breast cancer.

After the haggis, neeps and tatties I started sounding out people about getting a DARC team together to enter and was pleasantly surprised by the positive responses.

As it turned out 24 February was not a good day for many DARC people, Alexandra was happy we wanted to join in so we fixed on Sunday 3 March. Having had experience of being a member of two 100km world record setting 70+ relay teams – small team 2016 and large team 2017 – I didn’t think the frenetic race format would work for a charity event, and in the end we decided on four squads of four ‘core’ rowers rowing 500m each in relays for two hours, and others joining in when convenient for them. It worked out really well, a total of 27 people participated; many stayed all day and did their bit in each of the four squads. Appropriately kitted out all in pink, Hazel set the event going at 0930 with the first 500m, did more 500m during the course of the day and took us through the final moments as the meter counted down to zero.

What about the statistics of the day? The 100km was achieved by 27 rowers in 7h 03m 6.6s at an average split of 2.06.9 and stroke rate of 26. I’d thought 7½-8 hours would be achievable but what happens when you have competitive people taking turns on ergos? They compete! We all enjoyed the assertive 500m pieces by former GB rower Tom Edwards powering to split times of which the rest of us can only dream. There were some notable 500m by the women and as the metres ticked down so did the projected time.

What about the final clue and Harry Potter? No, he wasn’t in the team but he was in the mind of our youngest and most determined rower, 7 years old Sophia, who asked me, the oldest in the team, ‘Do you know about Harry Potter?’ I had to confess that I didn’t know much. Thereafter, between my 500m pieces I was treated to picture cards and stories about Mr Potter. Perhaps British Rowing could introduce something similar at BRIC 2019!

So far the money raised for breast cancer charities is £770 and there’s more to come.

Thank you everyone for the wonderful effort, generosity and the cakes and flapjack that sustained us through the seven hours. Together we can beat the Big C and a little useful wave of the wand from Harry Potter wouldn’t go amiss as well.”

Roger’s first indoor rowing competition at the age of 60 was at the 2004 BIRC in Birmingham. When the event became BRIC in February 2015 and moved to the Lee Valley Velodrome he set the British record for 70+ Hwt of 7.08.7 and has won the gold medal in the four subsequent BRICs.