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Coaching Award for Gordon

Plaudits have been flowing in for Gordon Beattie after he was given the accolade of Coach of the Year for the Durham and Chester-le-Street area in the annual County Durham Sport Awards on October 27th.

Gordon has been coaching for over 40 years as well as carrying out many other duties around the Club on a voluntary basis, and had been looking forward to a well-deserved rest until being persuaded to cycle up and down the riverbanks of the Wear for one more year, helping Hope Cessford achieve her aim of selection for the GB Junior squad for the second successive year.

Hope was selected for the GB coxless four that won the B final at the World Junior Championships in Lithuania in August. She spoke of Gordon as the most influential person in her life. ‘He has taught me the meaning of hard work, dedication and what it takes to be a successful athlete whilst also being a shoulder to cry on’.

Award winners from each of the 4 geographical areas go forward to the County final at the Gala Theatre on January 26th 2018.

York Summer Regatta 2017

The Juniors went to York on Sunday June 18th for York Summer Regatta, along with a crew from the Senior Women and one from the Masters Men, returning with wins in 6 events. Forty-seven events were contested overall in 3 divisions over a 1000 metre course on the River Ouse.

Both the J14 boys double sculls crews reached the final with Matthew Harrison’s crew finishing a length ahead of Tom Brumwell’s.

The J15 girls quad (Honor Cessford, Jess Cooper, Catherine Musgrave, Gabby Suggett and cox Lily Sanderson) won the Women’s coxed quad, overcoming Guy Fawkes and York before the same crew claimed a second victory in the WJ15 4x+ against York.

The J13 girls, Ruby Coe and Niamh Lang, won the WJ13 double then combined with Alice Davies, Lydia Kind and cox Thomas Woods to win the WJ13 4x+, against opposition from Leeds and York.

Two Durham crews entered the J14 girls double, with Elicia Baldwin and Hope Simpson winning against Freya Court and Maddy Elmer in the semi-final before losing against York in the final.

The Senior Women – Beth Holmes, Alison Danforth, Taya Parker and Liz Law (above) – won the coxless quad defeating York crews in both semi-final and final.

In the Masters D double Martyn Calkin and Rob Coe overcame York in the semi-final before losing out to Lancaster John O‘Gaunt in the final.

Full results here.

Intermediate Sculling Programme (Women’s and Men’s Masters)


To develop skills in fine single sculls aimed at:-

  • crew scullers who want to develop single sculling skills/enhance their ‘boat-moving’ ability
  • those who aspire to race in a single scull in the future

Minimum requirements:

  • to have sat in a fine single scull
  • you will need access to a single scull (some of the club’s fine sculls will be available)


10 x 3 hour sessions in 2 blocks with practice time in between

Dates: Block 1: 3 introductory sessions 27th June, 30th June and 4th July – PRACTICE BREAK –  Block 2: 7 sessions August  1st 4th 8th 11th 15th 18th 22nd including at least 1 full day session

6 to maximum of 8 places available; Priority for those who can commit to all or most sessions. There will be a small per session charge which will be used for future single sculling resources.

The programme will be run by Andy Jaggard, together with one or two other experienced single scullers.

To express your interest, and for more detailed information on the content of the programme and the approach please talk to me, or email:

Clean sweep at Tees Explore Series

Round 4 of the Northern Explore Series took place at Tees Rowing club on June 4th. This was the annual sculling skills round, where competitors race against the clock on a circular course over 1km between the Princess of Wales Bridge and the Infinity Bridge, carrying out a series of tests along the way, including square blade rowing, cornering, spinning on the spot through 360 degrees, backing on to a buoy, swapping blades between bow and stroke, emergency stop and blade slaps. Thirteen teams took part, each having two attempts at the course, the combined time deciding the outcome.

Blustery conditions made the first round a learning exercise as crews and coxes attempted to master the conditions with varying degrees of success, some becoming more acquainted with the riverbank than strictly necessary! DARC’s 3 entries had mixed fortunes in the first round, occupying 3rd spot in the open placings and 2nd and 5th in the women’s, leaving room for improvement in the second round.

Not to be outdone by the opposition from Hexham, Tyne and Berwick Steve Auster, coxing both Wear Well Away (above) and A Shot in the Darc (below), devised a plan to use the conditions to best advantage, putting it into effect to devastating effect with Wear Well Away (Chris Merchant, Vaughan Gordon, Colin Lawson and Dave Green) posting a time of 6m 34s in the second round, 45 seconds ahead of the field to take the lead in the open competition. Next came A Shot in the Darc (Kalpana Ganatra, Sue Lyons, Jane Auster and Margaret Richardson) whose time of 6m 52s moved them into the lead in the women’s league on combined times, their time almost a minute ahead of the opposition, both times marking the first occasion either team had broken 7 minutes for the course.

Sadly this year’s new women’s team Green Shoots (Paddy Deans, Linda James, Zuzanna Swirad, Maureen Millar and Kate Wicks, coxed by Dave Green and Kate Wicks was unable to capitalise and slipped into 6th place. 

Excellent performances and the first time in six years that DARC has had the top open and women’s team in the same round, two course records giving added cause for celebration.

Tynemouth Rowing Club kindly provided 2 stable boats for the event and Tees Rowing Club as usual provided excellent organisation and hospitality.

The result sees Wear Well Away take up 2nd place and A Shot in the Darc overall joint top in their respective league tables, with the next round a sweep-oar one at Tyne ARC on July 2nd.

Allcomers Regatta entries now open

If you’ve never rowed before but want to have a go then Durham ARC’s annual Allcomers Regatta is the ideal opportunity. This year’s Allcomers is on Sunday July 9th. All you need is a team of 4 people. Full details and entry forms can be found on the Allcomers Regatta page.

Boats are provided by the club, along with a cox and coach who will give you guidance and get you ready for the regatta where you will race against other ‘allcomers’ in a friendly competition over a 300 metre course.

Downloadable leaflet.

Entries need to be in by Wednesday June 28th.

All well on the northern regatta front

As we reach the midway point of the northern regatta season with Wansbeck Regatta this weekend it’s worth reflecting on the state of play of British Rowing’s revised Competition Framework.

There has been a 50/50 split between those regattas adopting the old system and new system, including some in the fortunate position to be able to host a day of each. Chester-le-Street and Durham City (Sunday) were bold and embraced the new ranking index system, Wansbeck and Talkin Tarn have declared their hand and will follow suit. Tees and Durham City (Saturday) chose the cautious approach, adopting the old points system. Hexham will do likewise on June 3rd.

Tyne Regatta also decided to play safe by sticking with the old BROE system, only to find entries in short supply and cancellation unavoidable. The reasons are unclear – many events with few entries in each was a determining factor.

Durham Regatta is also hedging its bets by adopting the old system on June 10th and the new one on June 11th.

Feedback suggests that in the regattas so far staged there has been a full entry and a successful outcome. Indeed Chester-le-Street enjoyed one of its best turnouts ever. One of the aims of the Ranking Index approach is to ensure closer racing for all competitors. Scrutiny of winning margins from published results may offer some insight. As an example, 102 out of 262 i.e. 39% of races on the Saturday of Durham City Regatta (old system) returned a winning margin of ‘easily’ whereas on the Sunday (new system) there were 18 ‘easily’ verdicts from 84 races (21%). Closer inspection of a larger sample of data may be necessary to ascertain the extent to which the objective has been achieved.

Come April 2018 every event will run under the new competition framework. We await developments with interest.

One section of DARC enjoying a revival of fortunes is the Senior squad, with the men’s and women’s squads recently combining under the guidance of Phill Tully, the women’s elite coxless quad (Liz Law, Taya Parker, Alison Danforth and Beth Holmes) gaining two victories at Durham City and notably the women’s IM3 coxed quad (Emma Lyons, Ruth Hodges, Emily Hanscam/Taya Parker, Michelle Joubert and cox Christie Lau) winning at both Durham City and Tees Regattas, the same crew devastated after the incident on March 14th when a block of concrete was dropped on their boat, Peter Burdess, as it passed under Baths Bridge, attracting considerable media interest, and causing what was thought at the time to be irreparable damage. Thankfully this was not the case, the crew remained unscathed, and crew and boat were reunited with more positive impact at the two events.

The men’s IM3 coxed quad (Tom Maddick, Joe Owen, Nick Baird, Reece Stockport and cox Becky Jackson) also tasted victory at Durham City Regatta  and there was a further win for Ruth Hodges and Emily Hanscam in a double scull at Chester-le-Street.

Successful weekend at Durham City Regatta

Durham City Regatta took place over the weekend of May 12th and 13th with 11 hours of racing over the 700-metre course on Saturday to accommodate a full entry of 300 crews representing schools, colleges and clubs from across the north of England, followed by a more relaxed day on Sunday with 120 crews competing for 6 hours over 500 metres, entries from doubles and singles being particularly popular this year.

With British Rowing’s new Competition Framework being phased in it was decided to adopt the old rules for Saturday racing and to use Sunday to trial the new Ranking Index system of scoring.

The success of the day was down to the volunteers who turned out in force to support the event and Club Captain Paul Rutter was quick to praise them for their efforts.

On the water it was a successful day for DARC’s Senior Men’s and Women’s squads with wins on Saturday for the Women’s Elite coxless quad of Liz Law, Taya Parker, Alison Danforth and Beth Holmes, and for the Women’s IM3 coxed quad of Emma Lyons, Ruth Hodges, Taya Parker, Michelle Joubert and cox Christie Lau. The elite crew won again on Sunday, this time in the Women’s coxless quad, and there was a first win for the Men’s coxed quad (above) of Tom Maddick, Joe Owen, Nick Baird, Reece Stockport and cox Becky Jackson.

Further wins came for Gill Prescott and Helen McMillan on Saturday in the Women’s IM2 double sculls and on Sunday in the Women’s 2x. The Masters D 2x also won on Saturday and Joyce Collett won the Women’s Masters F single scull on Sunday.

There were 6 wins for the Juniors on Sunday. Mollie Coe, Catherine Musgrave, Jess Cooper, Honor Cessford and cox Lily Sanderson won the J15 girls coxed quad, Freya Court, Madalyn Elmer, Elicia Baldwin and Hope Simpson won the J14 girls coxed quad, and Niamh Lang, Ellie Goad, Alice Davies, Ruby Coe and cox Thomas Woods won the J13 girls coxed quad. In the J14 girls double sculls there was a win for Hope Simpson and Elicia Baldwin, while Adam Morris and Mark Humphries won in the J15 boys 2x. In the Women’s 4+ Mllie McIntyre, Catherine Henderson, Natalya Priestly Leach, Gabriella Suggett and cox Katie Warburton also won.

Full results:

Lunchtime pilates sessions

Pilates teacher Jane Rae is offering twice weekly lunchtime pilates sessions to members on Mondays and Thursdays between 12 noon and 1pm at a cost of £3 per session.

Brilliant for improving core strength, posture and the all important ‘reach’ required for rowing. Any member is welcome to join in. When the weather is fine classes are held outside but they are normally held in the Club hall next to the bar.

Enquiries to Paddy Deans at

Juniors at Chester-le-Street

Chester-le-Street presents a great first regatta for our junior crews, especially the younger juniors, who were out in force. A total of 12 junior crews were entered, so for the sake of brevity and interest they’ve been reported on by age group rather than specific crew.

The J13 Girls entered two quads and a double, managing to make it to the final in both events, with some impressive racing by all. In their first races of the season, they were able to hold their own against other local crews, setting a good precedent for upcoming regattas.

The J14s raced in a girls double, a boys quad and three boys singles. Despite it being the girls’ first race in a double and the boys’ first event in singles, they were all able to perform well, with the boys quad making it to their final.

Lastly, the J15s entered a mixed quad, a girls four, and boys and girls double. The girls four raced in a senior event, and the boys double, consisting of Adam Morris and Mark Humphries was able to take home a win for the club in an impressive final.

These results show the adaptability of our junior squad, and if these performances are anything to go by, they should do very well this regatta season.

Written by Harry Coe

Photos courtesy of Rob Coe and Al Johnston

Three Eights to Veterans’ Head

Durham ARC had 3 entries in the Vesta Veterans’ Head of the River Race on the Thames on Sunday March 26th, the annual Eights race for Masters which traditionally falls the day after the Head of the River Race (HoRR). The lack of DARC entries in either the Women’s Head or the HoRR and late cancellation of the HoRR this year because of windy conditions provided extra incentive. The DARC entries included a Masters F composite with Upper Thames, a Women’s Masters E 8+ and a Women’s Masters Novice E 8+.

Raced over the Championship course from Putney to Mortlake the Veterans’ Head was first staged in 1983 when the main Head of the River Race became too popular to accommodate both senior and veteran rowers. This year’s event attracted 235 entries including 32 from overseas. The three DARC Eights boated from Cygnet RC near Barnes Bridge ready for the 11am start.

For the more experienced crews it was familiar territory but for the novices it was their first outing on the Tideway. In good conditions the Masters F Eight posted a time of 14.33.9 (adjusted to 13.12.9), finishing 44th overall and 3rd in their age category. The Women’s Masters E Eight (pictured below) finished 190th overall and 6th in their category in 16.08.33 (adjusted to 15.05.33).

The Novice crew (above) comprising Aisling Dutton, Nicola Field, Julie Kitson, Clare Staines, Ray Dominy, Steph Snowball, Vickie Jackson and Linda Forwood, and coxed by Caroline Scholl, was last to start as number 234 and improved their position to finish 227th in 17.12.74. Julie decided to use the occasion to raise money for the Myotubular Trust charity that her employer is supporting this year.  Funds raised have risen to over £1,000.

See Vesta website for full results.