Category Archives: Club News

Club News and Announcements

Junior Formal Dinner

The third annual formal dinner for the Junior squad and coaches took place on January 4th 2020. Organised by the Junior Captains Adam Morris, Ella Sampson, Matthew Harrison and Ella Metcalfe the 3 course meal celebrated the successes of 2019 and got the new year off to a flying start, with awards presented by the captains to selected athletes and coaches.

Thanks to the kitchen volunteers for their hard work. We look forward to another successful year in 2020.


A successful year over, many yet to come

The passing of another year, and depending on your point of view, another decade, allows for some reflection on what has passed and what is yet to come.

Although successful 2019 has been a mixed year, with only 2 out of 6 competitive events scheduled on the River Wear actually taking place, Durham Regatta, Durham Long Distance Sculls and Autumn Small Boats Head being cancelled because of elevated river levels and Durham Autumn Sprint Regatta being unviable due to a shortage of suitable entries.

In fact 2019 has been a difficult year all round for cancellations, notably the South Yorkshire Head, Ponteland Junior Head, Women’s Eights Head, the Junior Inter Regional Regatta and York Autumn Sculls and SBH all hit by bad weather, while Tyne Regatta and the Head of the Don failed to take place due to receiving insufficient entries. In February Durham SBH went ahead, but only after surviving a weather scare which led to many entries being scratched. The Schools’ Head and Fullers Fours Head on the Thames went ahead with reduced numbers after entries were culled by the organisers in response to forecast difficult conditions.

Oversubscription of competitions was another recurring theme, with many potential competitors thwarted after being too slow off the mark when submitting their entries, Durham LDS and Rutherford Head being among those affected.   

Despite the difficulties DARC achieved greater success in competitive events during 2019 than in the previous year, with 126 wins in 28 competitions out of around 40 entered,  distributed between the Junior, Senior and Masters squads. Masters fared best with 63 wins, Juniors winning 45.

The club has had a strong tradition of performance in Masters competition over the past decade and beyond, illustrated by the most successful competitors this year once again coming from Masters – Gill Prescott gaining 11 victories including several in regional and national competitions, Paul Rutter winning 12 events and John Appleby 13 including 3 at the World Rowing Masters Regatta in Hungary and 2 at the British Rowing Masters Championships at Strathclyde Park. Several victories went to John Appleby and Micky Stevens in the MasG 2x and to Paul Rutter and David Heppell in the MasE 2x.  DARC also claimed the Masters Victor Ludorum Award at the Long Distance Sculling Series, and there were 9 wins including doubles, quads and eights and a Championship bronze medal for Gabrielle Moore.

The Junior squad enjoyed a successful Easter training camp in Banyoles in Spain which was followed by some good performances over the regatta season, four entries at the National Schools’ Regatta, and the highlight being the J14 girls winning two bronze medals at the British Rowing Junior Championships at Nottingham in July. The J16 girls and boys quads also had a good season and successes for the J15 girls eight included the Head of the Trent at Nottingham, plus some outstanding performances against senior opposition. The J13 squad shows good promise for the future, winning at Durham, Hexham and Talkin Tarn.

The seniors entered a double at Henley Women’s Regatta in June, then won the Open eight, quad and pair, and the women’s four, at Talkin Tarn, as well as open and women’s singles. The senior men won the Open 8+ at the Boston Marathon with the second fastest time overall and senior men’s and women’s crews entered the Fullers Head of the River Fours in London in November.

Hope Cessford was selected for the Great Britain under-23 squad, winning a gold medal with the Women’s coxless four at the World Championships in Florida in July. Another DARC junior alumnus James Snowball won a bronze medal with the GB men’s eight at the European under-23 Championships in Greece in September.

The Sunday League was less well supported than in previous years but a highlight of the series was the return of competitive rowing to Ebchester in August for the first time since 1973. DARC also provided 2 crews for the Great Tyne Row. The recreational rowers celebrated the festive season with a Santa Row on December 22nd. Anyone is welcome to go along to the recreational sessions each week on Monday and Thursday mornings.

Social events have been well received by the public, notably the classic car rally and fireworks party, while quiz nights have gone down well with members. The proposed gin & rum party was a victim of the Durham Regatta cancellation.

With an already packed schedule enthusiasm for more competitive events continues. Following a successful trial the inaugural Derwentwater Head is an addition to the Northern calendar on March 7th 2020. The Club’s first competition of the New Year is Durham Small Boats Head on February 1st.

As always events rely heavily on volunteers who at times can be hard to come by. Is there a need for a rethink as to the nature and number of events? Perhaps this is something that can be discussed at the Northern Regional Conference at DARC on Sunday January 26th. There continues to be a great need for volunteers and we are most grateful to the staff and volunteers who enable the club to function.

As a new year approaches the ongoing sedimentation of the river is a concern that needs to be addressed if competitive rowing is to continue on the River Wear in Durham. For several years the directors and committee of Durham Regatta have been dutiful in their efforts to bring about a sustainable solution to manage the situation and it is hoped that there will soon be meaningful progress.

Best wishes for a successful 2020.

Junior Championship medals presented

Two months after the British Rowing Junior Championships the J14 girls have at last received the medals they won for the double sculls omnium.

The Chairman of the BR Junior Championships, Chris Callow, travelled up to Durham from Bedford last week to present Libby Morris and Tilly Stoddart with the bronze medals they won at Nottingham in July, one of two won by the squad coached by Cathy Rooney – a remarkable achievement for the J14s in winning 2 of the Northern region’s 5 medals at the Championships.

The competition took place on Friday July 19th when the J14 girls entered in two coxed quads, one a composite with Chester-le-Street ARC, consisting of Libby Morris, Jennifer Napora, Amy Snook (CLS), Orlagh Windle and cox Francesca Suggett, and the other a Tyne ARC/Durham composite including Tilly Stoddart.

The rules of the competition require competitors in the 4x+ to also enter for an omnium in either single or double sculls. A busy day therefore started with a time trial for the quads to determine who qualified for the finals, scheduled to take place after the omnium. The DARC/CLS quad was 4th fastest in the time trial and qualified for the A final, while the Tyne/DARC crew went into the B final.

After the time trial came skills tests, including hands off at the catch, standing 360 degree turn in a boat, standing rigger dips, back down stop and 360 degree boat spinning, followed by a 500m sprint, slalom and emergency stop to finish off the omnium. Libby and Tilly completed the omnium in a 2x while the other girls did it in singles.

The day rounded off with the finals of the coxed quads, in which the first of the bronze medals went to the DARC/CLS combination who took third place in the A final, while the Tyne/DARC composite finished 6th in the B final. Medals were presented to crews on the Friday night.

Medals were also at stake in the omnium where the Durham girls did tremendously well to finish 3rd out of 67 competitors from all over the country, scoring 940.2 out of a possible 1000 points. Because of the complexity of the scoring system the results weren’t available until the following day so competitors who had gone home were left waiting for their medals.

Omnium skills have been a feature of the Championship for J14s for the past 4 years. Presenting the medals to Libby and Tilly, Chris observed that “it’s important to master the skills first”. Although coach Cathy was unable to be there Elliot Kay was pleased to accept a medal on her behalf.

Former DARC Secretary Bill McInnes 1930 – 2019

Bill McInnes had done a little rowing at Bede College in the late 1940s but did not join the Club until the mid 1980s when he joined the veterans’ group led by Peter Burdess.

Bill was Club secretary from 1987 to 1991.

Bill died on Sunday 29 September aged 89. His funeral is at the Wear Valley Crematorium on Tuesday 8th of October at 1.30pm.

For further information please contact Bill’s son, Duncan at

James Snowball medals with GB Eight

Former Durham ARC Junior James Snowball was selected to represent Great Britain in the Men’s Eight for the European Under 23 Championships at Ioannina, Greece on September 7th and 8th.

James (front, front second right) now competes for Oxford Brookes University, with whom he won in the eight in the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in July.

The GB eight, coached by Ben Murphy, was formed from the High Performance Programme clubs of Newcastle University and Oxford Brookes University and included Dylan Mitchell, Dan Graham, David Willcox, Freddie Strawson, James Snowball, Freddie Allinson, Alfie Heath and Cameron Spurling, along with cox Ben Rich from University of London BC.

After winning their heat on Saturday they went into Sunday’s final where they took the bronze medal behind Romania and the Ukraine, one of the two medal successes for GB at the Championships.

In July James was selected for the GB pair at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships, finishing 6th in the A final.

Former DARC Chairman Allan Pratt (1925-2019)

The family of Allan Pratt 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 Price and Graham Price, and 5 grandchildren. Son 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.”

Nigel has also been a member of Hollingworth Lake Rowing Club for over 30 years and in recent years one of his roles has been to organise club volunteers. Nigel and Graham are active Masters, competing as a double and pair.

A funeral service was 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.

Allan’s widow Rosemary and sons Nigel and Graham came to DARC on Sunday 13th October (the morning after the Club Dinner) at 11 am to scatter his ashes in the River Wear.

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!”