Category Archives: Event News

Club Regatta and Head Race Announcements

Juniors qualify at JIRR trials

Eleven Junior crews from Durham ARC were among around 100 entered for the Junior Inter-Regional Trials at Cambois Rowing Club on Saturday, February 8th.

The outcome of the time trial raced in 2 divisions over a 1000 metre course on the River Wansbeck serves to determine the selection of the Northern squad sent to the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta (JIRR) on April 25th when teams from each of the 12 British Rowing regions will compete over 1000 metres on the 4-lane course at Peterborough.

For the first time the trials was registered as a British Rowing competition with entries being administered using the BROE system.

Successes for DARC went to the J16 boys 4x-, J15 girls 4x+ and J14 boys 4x+, each of whom were fastest in their event and will qualify for the team. Further wins went to  the J16 girls 2x and J15 girls 2x but as the rules of the competition stipulate that members can only represent the region in one crew places in these two events will be filled by the crew placed second at the trials.  

The J16 girls 8+ were unopposed finishing in 4.02.5 but their selection may yet depend on whether they are challenged at Ponteland Junior Head which takes place on the Tyne on March 21st.

After the cancellation of last year’s JIRR Peterborough will be a new venue for the event which has normally been contested over 1500 metres on the 6-lane course at Nottingham, the shorter distance being necessary because of the reduction in the number of racing lanes.

Good fortune and sterling efforts by the host club enabled the event to finish just in time before the arrival of Storm Ciara. It proved to be a very successful day for the club with potentially 23 places out of a possible 73 seats secured in the team to represent the Northern Region. 

Thanks to Adam Lambert for providing photos and to all at Cambois for putting on another successful event.

Durham LDS and Autumn SBH cancelled

After reviewing river conditions on Friday morning it has been decided to cancel tomorrow’s Durham Long Distance Sculling Series and Autumn Small Boats Head competitions due to elevated river levels.

The organising committees have issued the following joint statement.

“Having reviewed the river levels this morning we have taken the decision
to cancel the Durham LDS & SBH races. Whilst the rises in river levels
have been minimal the predicted fall is not sufficient to give us a
realistic chance of being able to run safe and fair racing on Saturday.

In line with our cancellation policies we will refund a portion of entry
fees. Our terms and conditions of entry states that we will refund 50%
of entry fees. However in this instance with a cancellation before race
day we have been able to reduce unavoidable costs. Thus we intend to
make a 90% refund of entry fees for both LDS and SBH races.

We had hoped to be able to run a full series this year but sadly that is
not to be the case. We look forward to welcoming you again in 2020.

Finally we send our thoughts to our friends in the Yorkshire region. The
weather around Sheffield and Doncaster has been atrocious over the past
24 hours. We hope that everyone is safe and well there.

Best Regards

Richard and Mark on behalf of the LDS & SBH teams.”

River level graph and data from the past week are shown in this chart.

Durham was to have been the last of the 6 rounds of the 2019 LDS Series, the other 5 all taking place. Updates about the Series are posted at

Great Tyne Row 2019

Competing for attention with an England rugby international and the Great North Run meant that this year’s Great Tyne Row could have easily been overlooked in the Tyneside sporting calendar. Thankfully it survived a late weather scare to go ahead on Saturday September 7th after a 2 year absence.

Eighteen crews entered, 17 stable coxed quads and a fixed-seat coastal skiff from Eastern Amateur Rowing Club in Portobello, Edinburgh, well down on the 34 for the 2017 event. Other entries from outside the northern region included Runcorn, Devil’s Elbow and Weyfarers.

Durham ARC was represented by two coxed quads – ‘Tyne, Gentlemen Please’ (above), a composite including John Lyons and Julian Ringer from DARC, record breaking transatlantic oarsman Phil Kite of Tyne ARC and Peter Damer of Broxbourne RC, coxed by Caroline Scholl of DARC – and ‘Darcness Monsters’ (below), a mixed crew consisting of Dave Green, Colin Lawson, Helen Adair, Paddy Deans and Kalpana Ganatra, the latter two sharing the coxing.

All was calm as the flotilla departed from Tyne ARC’s clubhouse at Newburn just after noon on the high tide, but this was soon to change. Forty minutes or so later crews arrived to the spectacle of a large crowd assembled at the Quayside bridges, unfortunately gathered to watch the Mini Great North Run rather than the rowing! Phil has provided some video footage.

After the Millennium Bridge was when the fun started as crews rounded the bend at Bill Quay into a northerly headwind and the start of a battle against choppy water which was to continue for the remainder of the 25 kilometres finishing at the North Shields Fish Quay.

Conditions were declared unsuitable for the customary crossing of Tynemouth harbour so, instead of landing at the usual site in the Haven at Tynemouth Rowing Club for the anticipated post-event BBQ, boats were hauled on to the beach next to the Old Low Light Heritage Centre, to where trailers then had to find their way to collect them, before wet and weary rowers and coxes were able to make their way by land to Tynemouth RC ready for the presentations.

A character building experience without doubt – “a big sense of achievement and a privilege to be part of a great crew,” declared Paddy of Darcness Monsters, while for John in Tyne, Gentlemen Please it was “certainly a different experience in the last 7k when the big waves came in.”

For none was the achievement greater than the four graduates of the Durham University community Learn to Row scheme who all have visual impairments. Coxed by Mark French their efforts were recognized by the organising committee in presenting the crew with the Harry Clasper Award.

Thanks go to everyone involved in organising the event with its many logistical complexities, and special thanks to Mark French for towing the Durham boats to Tynemouth and back.

Other awards went to the overall fastest crew “It’s Chico Tyne” from Tyne ARC who completed the course in 1hr 52mins. The fastest mixed crew prize went to Wandering Weyfarers from Weyfarers RC in 1hr 57mins, and the fastest women’s crew was won by Weaver Divas from Runcorn RC in 2hr 2mins.

Tyne, Gentlemen Please finished 3rd overall in 1hr 59mins and Darcness Monsters were 10th in 2hr 11mins. Tynemouth RC won the best dressed crew award for their cowgirls outfits.

Results, times and awards are here.

Rowing returns to Ebchester after 46 years

Competitive rowing returned to the River Derwent at Ebchester in County Durham on August 4th after an absence of 46 years when the sixth round of the Sunday League was hosted by the recently re-formed Ebchester Boat Club.

Set in idyllic surroundings the River Derwent has been used for rowing since at least 1872 and after the construction of its first boathouse in 1878 Ebchester Amateur Rowing Club became an important part of village social life for both young and old, and regattas were well attended, particularly in the years immediately following World War II. Sadly a decline in the popularity of rowing in the 1960s and 70s led to the club being dissolved in 1974, after which time the boathouse fell into a state of dereliction.  

Ebchester is situated on the site of the Roman fort of Vindomora, which guarded Dere Street where it crossed the River Derwent, Dere Street being the main route for bringing supplies from York and the south to the forts on Hadrian’s Wall.

The Ebchester Village Trust was formed in 1976 with the objective of improving the Ebchester environment. Thankfully the boathouse was saved from demolition, and in 1981 was brought back into use by the 5th Tyne Sea Scouts who used the river for canoeing and kayaking.

The Ebchester Boathouse Development Partnership was formed in 2011 and on completion of repairs to the storm-damaged weir set about securing the future use of the boathouse. The boathouse and the river environment are recognised as a great asset to the village and one of the aims of the Partnership is to revive the boathouse as a focal point for community activity.

After much endeavour involving numerous agencies including Durham County Council and the Environment Agency, recovery from flood damage and the repair of a culvert on the Ebchester Burn, planning consent to rebuild the boathouse was granted in 2018 and it is hoped that work can commence once sufficient funds are available.

A sculling group was created to which members of neighbouring rowing clubs were invited as a means of generating interest in the use of facilities ideally suited to social and recreational rowing as well as for developing skills, and as a means of attracting investment.

In 2019 Ebchester Boat Club was reconstituted and affiliated to British Rowing. A number of boats were donated to the club, including 2 coxed doubles from Bradford ARC and a single scull from Berwick ARC, allowing rowing to return to the River Derwent. Links have also been established with the nearby Derwent Reservoir Sailing Club. Membership of the club is as yet very limited but it is anticipated that numbers will grow following a series of learn to row courses being staged this summer.

The development project is being co-ordinated by Mick Downworth who also rows with the Masters squad at Durham Amateur Rowing Club, with help from the Ebchester members and community, and aided by members of other clubs from the northern region and beyond.

In a bid to bring about a return to competitive rowing Mick proposed Ebchester as a location for one of the rounds of the Northern Rowing Council’s Sunday League competition and was allocated the vacant slot for round 6 in August. The Sunday League is a fun competition aimed at novice and recreational rowers, and consists of 8 monthly rounds at different venues, normally contested by crews using coxed quads and fours, but due to the limited space available at Ebchester it was decided that a timed relay race in coxed and coxless doubles would be more suitable.

Now in its eighth season the Sunday League is organised on behalf of the Northern Rowing Council by Colin Lawson of Durham ARC and Colin Percy of Tyne ARC, who carried out trials in July to establish a format that would work on the course at Ebchester.

It was also determined that as well as the Sunday League element the competition would be styled Ebchester Regatta to evoke memories of the regattas of yesteryear, and that it would include timed sprint races open for anyone to enter, over the 200 metre course.

Entries were submitted from ten teams of 4 (plus a cox) for the Sunday League relays. Additional entries from single and double scullers for the sprints, both in advance and on the day, and including many of the Sunday League competitors, amounted to a further 26.

The site was prepared, the Victorian terraces were cleared and refreshments provided for the anticipated spectators, while Tyne ARC kindly loaned their two stable doubles for the day which were delivered by Colin Percy. A fabulous four hours of convivial and friendly competition ensued to the delight of the assembled onlookers.  

“One of the best days this year,” remarked Kerry Jordan of Tynemouth RC.

Among the spectators was 88 year-old Alan Beveridge who has enjoyed much success on the northern racing circuit over the years and now sculls with the Talkin Tarn recreational rowing group. Alan very kindly brought along the magnificent trophy presented to the former Ebchester Amateur Rowing Club in memory of his father James Beveridge. Alan won the trophy with Ebchester in 1949 and 1959. The Beveridge Cup was duly donated to Ebchester Boat Club to be presented to the fastest sculler of the day.

“Lovely to see the old trophy back where it rightly belongs! Alan and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit on Sunday and it brought back happy memories. Good luck Ebchester ARC – may you go from strength to strength.” said Alan’s wife Enid.

The Sunday League relays involved a coxed double scull making a return trip over the course before a coxless double repeated the process for the second leg, to complete 800 metres in total. For fair competition racing was divided into under-50 and 50+ age groups, and total times recorded. Tynequila of Tyne ARC held off Ebchester by 2 seconds to win the open under-50 race in 5 minutes 42 seconds, Wrecked Again (Tees RC and Durham ARC composite) won the open 50+ event in 6.00, Tynemouth Gulls won the women’s under-50 in 7.16 and ‘Ebby, Steady, Go!’, consisting of Margaret Richardson, Maureen Miller, Gene Dobson, Shirley Robinson and cox Caroline Scholl (in photo above with Mick) of Durham ARC won the women’s 50+ race in 6 minutes 35 seconds.

Spectators were then treated to some top class sculling in the sprint competition with Jamie McCarron of Cambois and Chris Eke of Berwick winning the open double sculls in 42.15 seconds, before both contested the open single, each completing the 200 metres in under 40 seconds, and Jamie claiming victory in 39.19. Lee Fenton of Berwick won the women’s single in 47.80 and she and Susan Rutherford the women’s double sculls in 54.66 seconds.

Colin Percy of Tyne ARC won the open age 50+ single sculls in 56.04, Paul McCalvey and Rae McKeever of Tynemouth won the open 50+ double in 1m 16.60, and Debbie Jahangiry and Shirley Robinson of Durham ARC won the women’s 50+ double sculls in 1m 2.09.

Among the competitors was 78 year-old Clive Hole of Durham ARC who also took part in the last Ebchester Regatta held in 1973.

Medals were presented to winners in each category, the Ebchester Cup went to Lee Fenton for the women’s single sculls and the Beveridge Cup was awarded to Jamie McCarron for the open single sculls.

Mick Downworth thanked the organisers on behalf of the club and the community, “Huge thanks for helping make the regatta at Ebchester happen, the feedback we have had is fantastic and the locals are thrilled to bits to have the event back for the village and the Derwent Valley.”

Noel Adamson has compiled video highlights of the day – part 1 and part 2.

Visitors are invited to come and use the club’s boats and have a BBQ in exchange for a donation of £3 per person for upkeep. The club has already hosted groups from rowing clubs including Hexham, Gateshead, Tynemouth, Durham and Tyne.

Andy Jaggard of Durham ARC is also offering a series of sculling programmes based at Ebchester, Durham and Derwent Reservoir, and there are plans for the River Derwent to be used as a location for junior members of clubs in the region to develop sculling skills in preparation for the exercises they are required to carry out at the British Rowing Junior Championships.

The Sunday League continues at Talkin Tarn on September 1st and Tyne United on October 6th.

For further details about how to join Ebchester Boat Club please email

Record entry for Allcomers

The 40th anniversary Allcomers Regatta on July 14th attracted the largest entry in recent years as interest in taking part in rowing in Durham continues. After four coached sessions crews from the local community who had never raced before lined up in stable coxed fours to race against each other in a series of round robin races over a 200 metre course, Twenty crews contested 40 races in the event sponsored by Workwear Express with medals being presented to winners and runners-up in men’s, women’s and mixed divisions. 

After 4 races per crew and 5 hours of exciting competition the men’s division finished with The Chicken Skins tied on 4 wins apiece with Row Hard or Row Home. A race-off between the two resulted in a win for The Chicken Skins.

Winners in the women’s division were Crazy Ladies, expertly coached by Clive Hole, with a maximum 4 wins. Team Ginspiration were runners-up with 3 wins.

In the mixed division Oarsome Coresome  won all their races to hold off Team Fausto.

As well as competitors a busy day was enjoyed by the healthy gathering of supporters, with the bar, BBQ and bankside activities doing a roaring trade.

“A brilliant day all round!” declared Sean Barry of IN-SINK.

Team scores were as follows

Women’s teams

  • Crazy Ladies 4
  • Team Ginspiration 3
  • Meddlesome Milly 2
  • Slummy Mummies 2
  • Teaky Blinders 2
  • Aboat Time 2
  • Striders and Gliders 0

Men’s teams

  • The Chicken Skins 5
  • Row Hard or Row Home 4
  • The Deciboat 3
  • The Oarsome Foursome 2
  • Guns and Rowses 2
  • Control Heads 2
  • Crossfit DHM Blue 1
  • Design Nerds 0

Mixed teams

  • Oarsome Coresome 4
  • Team Fausto 3
  • IN-SINK 2
  • The Waders 1
  • Private Pike’s Pirates 0

Many thanks to the coaches and coxes, staff and volunteers whose efforts were key to the success of the day.

More photos here.

The Allcomers Regatta developed from an informal regatta organised as a special event for Durham sports clubs in 1979 as part of the Durham City 800 celebrations. It has continued to take place annually since then.

Classic cars a big hit

On Monday July 1st DARC hosted the first Classics by the River, a classic car show for vehicles registered before 2000. Arranged in conjunction with Classic and Retro Events it proved a great success with the club car park taken over for the evening by 92 classic cars and motorcycles. With a bar and BBQ provided for visitors event organiser Elliot Kay was delighted with the outcome which raised around £700 for club funds and there are plans for it to become a regular occasion.

Rowers tour Lithuania

Rowers from across the UK enjoyed a 3-day tour  on the rivers and lakes of Lithuania on the 3rd British Rowing European Tour between June 7th to 9th.

Paddy Deans from Durham ARC joined the party of 60, including a group of four from Hexham RC, who rowed 50km along the Neris River from the beautiful Lithuanian capital of Vilnius and round the lakes of Trakai, with temperatures soaring to over 30 degrees.

The European tour takes place every 2 years and is organised by a group of recreational rowers from Nottingham Rowing Club headed by Richard Pickup. Also among the tourers were John and Caroline Turnbull of BR’s Recreational Rowing Committee who visited DARC last October.

“All very enjoyable and a great experience!” enthused Paddy on her return.


Durham Regatta 2019 cancelled

41 crews from Durham ARC had prepared to take part in Durham Regatta on June 8th and 9th but organisers of the 186th edition of the prestigious event were forced to cancel it because of unsafe conditions after heavy overnight rain caused the river level to rise alarmingly.

On Saturday morning the Regatta’s Race & Technical Committee decided that Saturday events could not go ahead, and after continuing to monitor river conditions a statement was issued at lunchtime on Saturday stating that there was no option other than to also cancel Sunday racing.

This was only the second occasion on which both days of Durham Regatta have been cancelled, the previous time being in 2012, a huge disappointment for all involved with the regatta which is an important fixture in Durham’s civic tradition as well as in the rowing calendar. The loss of income will have serious implications for the finances of traders as well as for the Club and the Regatta. 

After such a successful regatta last year there were plans for further innovations but unfortunately these could not be put into effect.

Thanks go to the many volunteers and supporters for their efforts in preparing for the event. We look forward to more suitable conditions in 2020.

Successful weekend at Sculling Festival

Durham ARC had three entries in the 2018 British Rowing Sculling Festival which took place in sometimes challenging conditions at Nottingham over the weekend of August 18th and 19th. The festival is a fun and competitive event that challenges a sculler’s technical skills, manoeuvrability and competency, and is run as an omnium with points from individual events contributing towards the overall rankings.

Hope Cessford was second fastest overall in the Women’s U23 category in the Long Distance time trial over 3.8km (2 x 1900m) in 17.58.105, Rachael O’Connor representing Durham University BC finished in 22.37.037 in the WU23, and Grace Stewart-Piercy 22.46.027 in the WJ18. In the 250m time trial Hope was the fastest woman overall in 1.00.000, Rachael  clocked 1.11.000 and Grace 1.17.000. Time trial results for all competitors are listed for 3.8km and 250m

Side by side races took place on Sunday, with scullers being placed in finals A to F according to their time trial performance. The schedule was revised and races shortened to 500 metres because of the conditions. Hope was the best placed from DARC, coming 4th in the A final in a time of 1.50.9, Rachael was 4th in the E final and Grace 4th in the F final. Race results are availabe here.

After the completion of 10 exercises over the 2 days the overall points placings were as follows –
Hope Cessford 2nd in Women’s U23
Rachael O’Connor 11th in Women’s U23
Grace Stewart-Piercy 9th in Women’s  J18

For full results listings in each category see U23 and J18.

Photo by Drew Smith Photography

Touring on the Tees

For the past 3 years Tees Rowing Club’s recreational rowers (or WRecks as they like to be called) have invited members of Durham ARC to join them for a row on the River Tees to Yarm and back, a fixture which is gaining in popularity each year. Given the fine condtions this summer it’s not difficult to see why touring is such an enjoyable experience.

Exchange visits between the recreational rowers from Tees and DARC started 6 years ago following the introduction by British Rowing of the Explore Rowing movement and then the Explore Series, and the relationship has since flourished to include the wider masters squad as well as  members of other clubs who row during the daytime.

Coordinated by Len Small from Tees the day is also a social occasion with rowers returning to a BBQ lunch prepared by the Tees members. This year in addition to the 74 taking part in the 25km return trip from the River Tees Watersports Centre to the railway viaduct at Yarm, numbers were swelled by launch drivers, volunteers and supporters, with over 100 attending the BBQ.

In previous years Tees have been able to offer their own boats for use by visitors, thus avoiding the need for trailering,  but with Increased interest from their own members this year visitors were recommended to bring their own boats, a move that has generated interest from those who like to use more familiar equipment. Seventeen rowers from DARC and four from Hexham therefore arrived at Stockton on Tuesday August 7th, with five boats from Durham and one from Hexham, ready to set off, and after a safety briefing the tour got underway at 9.30am.

The DARC contingent included George and Helen Adair, Heather Hirst and Nicola Field in a coxless quad, Kalpana Ganatra, Alison Shepherd, Gene Dobson, Paddy Deans and Caroline Scholl in a coxed quad, and Dave Green, Colin Lawson, Vaughan Gordon, Linda James and Elizabeth Bostock in a second coxed quad. Andrew and Christine Fisk followed in a double with Peter Fisk in a single scull.

All completed the tour safely after taking turns to land at the pontoon at Yarm School for a short break at the halfway point, arriving back at the River Tees Watersports Centre to enjoy the lunch and post event company.

We look forward to continuing to enhance the status of rowing tours and challenges in future, following the cancellation of this year’s Great Tyne Row and a fall in the number of entries for the River Wear Tour.

Tours are increasing in popularity in other regions with the first Explore the Broads tour, attended by Paddy,  taking place in Norfolk and Suffolk in June and the 25th anniversary British Rowing Tour on the Upper Thames due to set off at the end of August.