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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.


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)

Touring rowers visit

On Monday, October 29th we welcomed John and Caroline Turnbull from Weyfarers Rowing Club and British Rowing’s Recreational Rowing Committee, who joined the daytime rowers for a paddle before retiring to the clubhouse for soup and bacon sandwiches prepared by Gene and helpers, where they addressed members about the virtues of rowing tours.

John and Caroline gave a report on this year’s touring activities including the 25th anniversary British Rowing UK Tour which took place on the River Thames in August and September. The 2019 UK tour will be to the Lake District, while the bi-annual European tour will be to Lithuania. Details will be available soon.

It has been an exciting year for recreational rowing, with British Rowing securing a sponsorship deal with Charles Stanley Wealth Management in March for the provision of a package of stable touring boats, trailers and equipment, which are being made available for events around the country. Durham ARC members have also taken part in tours to the Norfolk Broads and on the Canal du Midi in France.

The visit provided an opportunity for John to indulge in some reminiscing with Charly Curtis. The two were crewmates in 1967.

Pictured (top) are Charly Curtis, Caroline Scholl, John Turnbull, Caroline Turnbull and Colin Percy (Northern Rowing Council).

Additions to the fleet named

Around 120 members of the Junior, Senior and Masters squads gathered on Sunday September 16th for the naming of the club’s three new boats, a Stampfli quad ‘Darc Side of the Moon’ and double ‘Darc Legacy’, and a Janousek quad ‘Great White Darc’, whose purchase has been funded in part from the bequest of former long-standing member and Club Captain Kim Metcalfe who died in 2013.

Kim rowed for the club during the 1960s and 70s, and formed a successful partnership with John Appleby in the pair, before going on to success in veteran and masters competition, winning at the World Masters Championships at Strathclyde Park in 1988 and again in 2005, and winning several national masters titles in the pair, four and eight. He was also an outstanding ambassador for the club as a coach and was an advocate of the Explore Rowing movement introduced by British Rowing in 2010 to integrate new recruits into the sport.

Kim’s son Alex and brother Phil Metcalfe had the honour of naming Darc Legacy, while Great White Darc was named by last year’s Junior Captain Harry Coe, and Darc Side of the Moon by Women’s Vice-Captain Alison Danforth, watched by a delighted Captain George Adair, who explained ‘Kim Metcalfe had a massive influence on the membership. He was an excellent oarsman but also a great coach and one who could offer advice and guidance in an approachable way. He would work with every section of the club so the legacy was partly monetary but mainly his effect in general around the club and the legacy he left behind in memories and advice’.

A row past by the three boats followed, with crews selected to represent the diversity of the membership. Recent graduates from the club’s Learn to Row courses as well as more experienced members will benefit from the new boats.

DARC Legacy was crewed by John Appleby and Hazel Stainforth, members of the masters squad which competes nationally and internationally. Both are long-standing members of the club and great representatives of the DARC spirit. John has competed for DARC for over 50 years, achieving one of his 3 Grand Challenge Cup successes at Durham Regatta in 1969 whilst a member of the club, and as well as much success rowing in crews with Kim at national and international levels has partnered Hazel in a mixed double at World Masters Championships, winning at Strathclyde Park in 2005. Hazel took up rowing later in life after following her daughter Rebekah into the sport, winning the first of several national veterans titles in 2001, and after earning victories in a single scull at World Masters Championships went on to partner Rebekah to World Masters success in the Women’s Masters C double sculls at Zagreb, Croatia in 2007, becoming the first mother and daughter combination to win gold medals at that level.

Members of the club’s successful Juniors squad made up the crew for ‘Great White DARC’, Ella Sampson, Adam Morris, Katie Strangward and Sam Taylor representing the J15, J16, J17 and J18 year groups who have had a successful year including competing at national Junior Championships and winning at Durham Regatta, while ‘DARC Side of the Moon’ was crewed by Gabrielle Maxfield, Alison Danforth, Vickie Sincock and Beth Holmes, a crew representing the Women’s squad, including those who joined from Learn to Row courses, from Durham University colleges, and from school/junior rowing to become performance rowers.  ‘Beth and Alison have been with the squad for many years while Gabrielle and Vickie are new to the squad and have great races ahead of them’ said Alison.

The acquisition of the new boats marks a major addition to the fleet prior to the commencement of a project to refurbish the boathouse, and comes in time for use during the autumn heads season which gets underway on October 6th with the Tyne ARC round of the Long Distance Sculling Series and Tyne United Small Boats Head.

Rowing the Canal du Midi

Rowers from Durham ARC took part in the 37th Rallye du Canal du Midi in August, an annual rowing tour taking in 200km of the Canal du Midi in Southern France. Now a World Heritage Site the Canal is a marvel of 17th century engineering, the work of engineer Pierre-Paul Riquet, connecting the Bay of Biscay to the Mediterranean Sea.

Following on from their exploits at the Vogalonga in Venice in 2017 Gill Prescott, Helen McMillan and Caroline Scholl set off from Toulouse in a stable coxed quad on August 13th joining around 200 rowers from around the world on the 5-day journey to Beziers.

Participants arrived from as far afield as South Africa, North America, Brazil and New Zealand as well as from France, Germany, the UK and elsewhere in Europe for what is a unique experience organized by the Association Toulouse Pierre-Paul Riquet. Other British representatives came from Weyfarers Rowing Club, the UK leaders in touring and recreational rowing.

Their accommodation for the week was arranged in the fortified medieval city of Carcassonne, situated at the midway point of the route, with transport provided to and from the tour each day. Around 5 locks were negotiated daily by means of crews trolleying their boats round the lock to relaunch at the other side. Meal breaks were arranged alongside the canal and nothing was left to chance with a medical team on hand at the end of each day’s rowing to tend to blisters and minor ailments.

As if that wasn’t enough crews rounded off the tour with some short sprint races against one another on the River Orb in Beziers on the final day before a reception at the town hall and departure for the journey home.

BR Tour on the Upper Thames

The annual British Rowing Tour took place over the weekend of August 31st to September 2nd 2018. Being the 25th tour gave added cause for celebration for all those taking part, none more so than John and Caroline Turnbull from Weyfarers RC, chair and secretary of BR’s Recreational Rowing Committee, who first took on responsibility for organizing the tour in 1994. As in 1994 the 2018 tour took place on the scenic reaches of the River Thames, this time between Bablock Hythe and Mapledurham, passing through Clifton Hampden (above) and Oxford along the way, and visiting the boathouses of Oxford University. A list of previous routes can be found here.

Touring takes place in stable recreational boats and is safe and straightforward but involves learning some specialist techniques, such as those for passing through locks. Weyfarers have produced some useful guidance.

Among the hundred or so taking part in 20 coxed quads were Linda Forwood and Julie Kitson from DARC who joined rowers from Tyne United and Leeds RC, covering around 25km per day for the three day paddle, with 13 locks to negotiate. Other participating clubs included Nottingham, Broxbourne and Maidstone Invicta.

Funding for eight of the boats used was provided by Charles Stanley Wealth Management with whom British Rowing secured a 3-year sponsorship deal for Recreational Rowing in March.

Julie was also fundraising for The Seashell Trust, a national charity supporting children and young adults with complex learning disabilities.

Tourers were accommodated at a hotel in Oxford and enjoyed a gala dinner at St. John’s College on Saturday night.

Touring can easily become addictive. Linda is already planning to visit Lithuania for next year’s BR European Tour. To find out more about the work of the Recreational Rowing Committee including details of forthcoming tours and events in the UK and overseas see the Recreational Rowing website.


Adult Sunday Sessions

Durham ARC offers Sunday community rowing sessions for adults who have taken part in Learn to Row courses or the Allcomers Regatta. The aim of the sessions is to impove on the skills you have learnt and to develop them with the end goal of progressing to join squads within the club.

Sessions take place each Sunday between 2pm and 3.30pm.  Attendance is available to club members within their subscription and is also available on a per sesson basis to non-members  upon payment of £5 per session.

If you would like to join the sessions or require further information please email Beth Holmes at