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Durham Regatta Race Report

Another weekend, another race! This weekend the Club headed off to Durham Regatta, which is known as the ‘Henley of the North’. A fun, or sad, fact for you about Durham Regatta is that it is the second oldest regatta in the country starting in 1834. This has led to claims by some at the event that Henley Royal Regatta is in fact the ‘Durham of the South’.

Anyway, on to the actual rowing! The Club had 20 crews racing over an action packed weekend. Saturday Division 1 saw the Club get through to its first final of the weekend thanks to the Women’s Senior Performance double. This strong effort was followed up by the Senior Performance men’s coxed four. However, unfortunately both crews came up against tough opposition in their finals which meant that the Club’s wait for a pot continued. This was quite a surprise considering the quality of an Inters quad entered featuring Connor Bull, Fraser Hicks (who was doing his first race), Andy Fursey (who was far more experienced than Fraser, doing his second race) and myself. This hugely dedicated quad, that had a maximum rate of 28, was a length down after the first two strokes and then continued to the finish despite the brutal words of the commentary team. On a serious note though, there were two Inters boats entered in Div 1, the other being a Women’s coxed four, and 4 in total racing over the weekend and it was great that the squad managed to come out in force this weekend. Hopefully they will be at more races next year! Both days of the regatta were live streamed on Youtube if you want to watch the racing, simply search PalTV.

After a long wait Division 2 eventually kicked off. The Women’s Beginner eight did very well in making it through to the final, where the Club faced another agonizing loss. Shortly after the Club also learnt the lesson of why there are comparisons between Durham and Henley. Whilst Durham does not have the infamous booms it is still an incredibly tight course, which is only worsened when it is windy. A clash of blades off the start for the other Women’s Beginner eight cut their race short. However, on this note huge credit has to go to all coxes this weekend for braving a difficult course, and for others such as Jamie (Patrick) Wastling for volunteering and ensuring the Club got crews out to race. The highlight event of Div 2 had to be Bobi Steel storming Beginner, yes Beginner, singles. Bobi put in a valiant effort, however, fell just short in his semi final.

Day 2 got off to a flier with the Beginner Women’s eight making it through to their final. Although, painfully again for the Club, they fell just short in the final. One of the highlights of racing at Durham though was still to come. Durham has both a long and short course. The long course goes through one of the arched bridges, just after a tight bend. This means that the probability of crashing is, well, fairly high. Around half of the Club present at the race that day headed up to the bridge in anticipation for our Women’s coxed four to come flying through the arches on their way to the finish. All I will say is that the bridge did not disappoint!

The highlight event for the Club all weekend was in Div 2 as there was a Leeds vs Leeds race. An Inters quad versus a mix of a Senior Performance and Beginner Performance quad. They were ready on the startline, the majority of the Club standing there in anticipation waiting for a huge race. The only race all weekend we felt confident a Leeds boat would definitely win and then… the Performance quad goes straight off into the Inters quad. The umpire's bell is ringing and the Performance quad is disqualified. In the end it was not a tight race, but an incredibly short one. However, at least they crashed there rather than getting disqualified much further down the course! The Inters quad then rowed an incredible final, however, were just pipped at the finish. The Women’s Beginner coxed four also struggled with steering issues which led to them losing their race. However, they were in a very strong position before that so they should keep their heads up! Now the Senior Performance boats. There were many Newcastle boats entered as the High Performance Programme club rocked up to try and take home all the glory. However, our crews were unfazed by the Blue Stars. The men went first against Newcastle and put in an incredibly admirable effort sticking with them down the course. Next up was the Women’s eight. A strong start saw them get ahead as they came past the Leeds crowd. As we looked into the distance it still looked as if the Women were ahead. Then the commentators announced it was a ½ length win for Leeds! After a quick break they were straight back onto the water for a final against York Uni, who they had not beaten since Whiterose Head, over 6 months ago! However, the Women pulled through yet again against recent season trends to bring home some glory for the Club at Durham and their first pots of the regatta season! This was an incredible end to the weekend where the Club had come close many times to glory but just fallen short.

Durham is the last of the main Club wide regattas for a while. The Senior Performance Women are off to Henley Women’s Regatta this weekend with the Club sending an eight and coxed four. Meanwhile, the Senior Performance Men will be at Marlow Regatta. The very best of luck to all of these crews!

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