Talkin Tarn masters Henley

Whilst Henley Royal Regatta is the premier rowing event and best known in the UK calendar, the famous stretch of the River Thames is re-used the following weekend for the Henley Masters Regatta. This gives a wonderful opportunity for rowers aged over 27 to compete against the finest from the UK and abroad over a 1000m straight course up Henley Reach from the iconic Temple Island to the hosting Upper Thames Rowing Club. This is a “bucket list” event for many rowers globally, with many crews from Europe, USA, and even Australia and Argentina. Presumably you can’t get an Eight on as hand baggage!

Apart from the atmosphere (and the weather that was somewhat more summery than Talkin Tarn...) the distinctive course is characterised by being bounded by very solid piles connected with heavy wooden booms. These are totally immoveable and can really catch out crews more used to open spaces.

Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club had the largest number of entries in memory this year. The first race of the whole 2-day event was for the Talkin Tarn coxless quad of Dave Harte, Jon Britton, John Pearson and Kevin Oates from Hexham Rowing Club, who had to substitute for Tim Morris who was unable to compete due to a date clash. They were up against a Bewl Bridge/Wallingford composite, who had much more experience of the River Thames, and despite a very close race, the opposition won by just a length and a third.

Later on that day, Dave Harte and Kevin Oates took part in the quarter finals of the Masters C pairs (one blade each) against a Munich composite crew, who with some German precision, sadly came home two and a half lengths ahead.

The newest of the Tarn crews was made up of four rowers who all met on Learn to Row courses in the last five years. The Masters E coxed quad comprised Ian Machin, Denis Burke, Alan Cook & John Lewis, and they were coxed by Rachel Lewis who having learnt to row at the Tarn, now rows for Emmanuel College Cambridge. Their first race was against the winners of the category last year, Greenbank Falmouth Rowing Club. The Tarn gents fought hard all the way upstream, and their cox kept them away from the booms, but the greater experience came through in the end, and Falmouth took the win by a length and a half. They then went on to lose in the final against York Rowing Club, who thanked Tarn for tiring out their opposition in the semi-final!

Tarn’s Jo Lewis, who has had a fantastic season so far, winning the National Masters last month in her Women’s Masters D single sculls, was determined to give it all at her first Henley. Her first race was against C Jones from Twickenham RC, and Jo pulled strongly and won by a length and three-quarters. Jo then had a night to recover, before the final the next afternoon. This was against B. Snaith from Lea Rowing Club (near the 2012 Olympic site. Jo had a slightly slower start to her race, but caught up and overtook when her opposition clattered her blade against the dreaded booms. Both boats were then caught in some wash from a passing river cruiser, but the lady from Lea found some hidden strength and in the last 100m came back and beat an exhausted Jo by just half a length. This was a first for Talkin Tarn Club, with a women’s crew not having entered in the single sculls before, and then getting to the final.

The crews from the Tarn were all so pleased to have culminated months of training at such a prestigious event, and put on a good show for a small rural club against some of the best international crews. We’ll be back next year!

Talkin Tarn hosts at home.

Whilst Henley Royal Regatta was taking place a bit to the South, all the discerning crews of the North and Scotland came last Saturday to take part in the Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club Regatta. Who wants overpriced Pimms and expensive tasteless strawberries, when you can bathe in the best Cumbrian “liquid sunshine”?

Normally the race course is a 750m straight from the Tarn End Hotel diagonally North-East, but some weed problems at the southern end of the tarn meant that a shorter 620m course had to be hastily prepared. Not many competitors complained, especially your correspondent! The weather, after a very wet mid-week, was kind to competitors and spectators alike, with only a few rain showers and breezes in the afternoon to make conditions slightly choppy.

The first Regatta on Talkin Tarn was in 1849, and has always been well attended. This year was no exception, with crews from Edinburgh to Chester making around 300 races and well over 1000 competitors. Racing started just after 0800 and ran seamlessly through to the “Club Eights” race some ten hours later.

Entries from Club members were limited, as all were needed for volunteering tasks on the bank to run the event, but we still had some notable wins. Sam Britton and Dylan Rees teamed up with a couple of lads from Chester-le-Street rowing club, with Tarn’s Tom Lewis coxing them, and they came over the line first in the J13 coxed quad. Ben Norman had a convincing win in the  J14 singles sculls. Harriet Graham entered both her “junior” Womens J18 single sculls race and then the “adult” Womens (Band 2) single sculls – and promptly won both titles.

Georgina Rowntree teamed up with Emily Batchelor, fresh back for the summer from her first year rowing (and studying!) at Exeter University, and this new partnership won the Womens double sculls, beating some very experienced crews.

For the more senior crews, Club Captain Jon Britton joined a “composite” eight made up of rowers from different clubs, and they won the Open Eights races, then Vice Captain Jo Lewis won the Womens Masters (D) single sculls – both of them in preparation for entries to Henley Masters next weekend.

Linda Watson and Gill Houston had a fine win in in the Womens Masters E double sculls (see below), then teamed up with Katie Robinson and Hannah Rigby and had their first win together in the Womens coxless quad race.

Gill Houston and Linda Watson at the start of the double sculls against Tyne United and Tyne Rowing Club.


Thanks from the Club to all who helped the Regatta go so well despite many challenges!

Talkin Tarn wins over the Border

After the previous weekend’s busy schedule, with Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing club members competing in both Durham and Nottingham, last weekend was just a nice trip over the Border to our nearest Scottish club for the Nithsdale Regatta held on the River Nith through Dumfries.

There have been Regattas organised on the River since the 1790’s, originally between crews from sailing ships moored downriver, and Nithsdale Amateur Rowing Club has been organising competitions since 1890.

The conditions on Saturday however were ideal, with bright sunshine and benign wind, although the river did have some flow to catch out the unwary on the bends. The race course is over 750m, with an angled start under a rope stretched tight across the river. There are some buoys in the middle to keep the two racing crews apart, but non-competing crews rowing up to the start can provide an additional challenge!

Talkin Tarn only put up a relatively small number for this competition, Jo Lewis who won in the Women’s Masters single sculls at the National championships the previous week had to withdraw due to injury, and due to exams (and celebrations of finishing exams!) only 5 Junior rowers attended, but on this occasion, didn’t come away with any medals.

They offered a new category of race called “Generation Doubles”, where the two rowers should be separated in age by at least 25 years – so Club Captain Jon Britton teamed up with rising star Ben Norman for the first time in a boat together, and won the race!

The other success came from the newly formed partnership of Julius Deane and Alan Cook, both who met on a “Learn to Row” course at the Tarn a few years ago and after competing in all various categories, have joined together in a double (2 blades each) to compete this season. Despite pruning a few riverbank trees during a tricky semi-final against a younger Chester-le-Street crew; they came out over a length ahead, and so were into the final, up against a very experienced crew, again from Chester-le-Street. This was a very close race, but helped by shouts of encouragement from the bank, they pushed ahead in the last quarter and surprised themselves with a healthy win, and a first medal for this crew.

There is now a break in competition for a weekend, then Talkin Tarn’s own Regatta on Saturday 1 st July to which all are welcome to spectate.

Talkin Tarn goes National

A big weekend for rowers, members of Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club competed both at Durham and Nottingham…or would have done if it wasn’t for the weather….

Durham Regatta is one of the largest rowing events in the North, having started in 1834, it is the second oldest Regatta in the country, and pre-dates Henley Regatta by 5 years. It attracts nearly 2,000 competitors and 10,000 spectators over the two days, many of whom camp overnight to try and compete with cold and aching limbs the next day! The weather this year was a mixture of sunshine & showers, but luckily not too much rain to cause dangerous river levels, which have often cancelled racing in previous years.

This year, not many crews from Talkin Tarn were available to compete at Durham, as several of the adults were also competing in Nottingham, or trying to do both! There were some hard-fought races against the cream of the University student crews, but the main success for Tarn came from Brampton’s James Smith, who had a hard row to beat a rival from St Leonards School to win the Open Lightweight single sculls by just ¾ length. For this success, James received the Newcastle Breweries Challenge Cup; whether he was given a bottle of “Brown” to tip in it wasn’t seen!

The British Rowing Masters National Championships are the main UK event for adult rowers who become “masters” at the age of 27. They are held at the National Watersports Centre at Holme Pierrepoint near Nottingham. This is a flooded gravel pit next to the River Trent, which has a straight course divided by buoys into 6 adjacent racing lanes. This can be 2000m for College and Olympic crews, but thankfully 1000m for us ageing masters! The course has a reputation for being windy on a calm day, but the “Atlantic weather systems” that battered the country for the last few days took their toll, and many of the races on Sunday were cancelled.

The Masters Coxed Quad (4 rowers, 2 blades each) crew of Ian Machin, Denis Burke, Keven Wilson and John Lewis, coxed by Tom Lewis were seeded in the “A” group of 3 6 boat races. They battered through the waves and came 3rd in their race with a time that put them 3rd out of the 18 boats. They were pleased with their performance, seeing that the winners actually set the course record.

The younger “C” category coxless quad of Tim Morris, John Pearson, Jon Britton and Dave Harte were drawn in a very competitive group with lots of Thames rowers, and didn’t quite qualify for the final. Then Dave popped into a pair (1 oar each) with a very sick Kevin Oates from Hexham Rowing Club to defend their title, but despite fighting the germs, they came 3rd.

Jon Britton and Tim Morris did take part in the “white horses” on Sunday in the double sculls, the conditions were described as “obscene”, but they managed to get home 3rd in their group.

But the best success for Tarn was with Newbiggin’s Jo Lewis, who was competing in the Women’s Masters D single scull in very windy conditions against women from Chester-le-Street, York, Cambridge & London clubs. Jo was behind at 500m, but found the energy to put on a great spurt for the second half of the race, and finish head of the pack just 0.9 seconds ahead of her rival from York, and coming away with a fine Gold Medal:

Talkin Tarn – Hexham Regatta

A minibus full of Talkin Tarn rowers made the short trip across to Hexham last weekend, this is our nearest Regatta, so for once didn’t mean an 0500 start! This is a very well attended event with over 300 races, as it is the last one for many of the final year students rowing at Universities in the North East before they go off for summer. The River Tyne here is pretty straight, and trees along the bank do help cut down any cross-winds. Rowers must be careful at the end of the race though, as soon after the finish line is a weir under the bridge to catch out those celebrating (or collapsing!) after a hard race!

Conditions for once were sunny and dry, some of us managed to bale silage and race on the same day which must be a record…

Lucy Sissons & Esther Rowntree have trained over the winter, and raced together several times this season, but they were both overjoyed to have their first ever win, in the Women’s J14 double sculls races to come home with a lovely heavy pewter medal apiece. Keeping it in the family, Esther’s older sister Georgina then opted out of the “Junior” age bands and won her first race in the (adult) Women’s Novice single sculls to bring another medal home to the Rowntree household.

Harriet Graham won through several heats to win the J18 single sculls category, and then to face stiff competition of older University scullers to win the IM3 (intermediate) single was a real feat.

James Smith, to celebrate finishing his exams, teamed up with Arun Philipson from Tyne United Rowing Club to beat many older Students and win in their double sculls race.

For the adults from Tarn, this was the last local race before competing at the Masters Nationals in Nottingham next weekend. Jo Lewis had another successful outing in her single, winning the Women’s Masters race, then Linda Watson and Gill Houston set off against stiff opposition from Durham to win the Women’s IM2 double sculls by just a few feet. Finally, Club Captain Jon Britton with Dave Harte, John Pearson and Tim Morris had another close race to gain another win in the quad sculls. 

Talkin Tarn Rowing report Tees and Wansbeck Regattas

“Regatta season” is in full swing at rowing clubs all over the country, and Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club is no exception.

The last two weekends have seen events on the River Tees and Wansbeck, both over the other end of the A69.

Tees Rowing Club is the home club of 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist Kat Copeland, and is unique in the North East as having the width on the river in Stockton to allow racing for 850m in side by side buoyed lanes for up to four boats at the same time. Conditions were very windy, with the cross-wind affecting getting the boats lined up for the start.

But, we are used to windy conditions with rowing on the Tarn, and so had some good wins! Dylan Rees battled through the waves to win his J13 single scull race, then Ben Norman won the next age category up, the J14 single sculls. Ben also had been entered against boys a year older than him, and was pleased to also win the J15 single sculls.

For the adults, Jo Lewis won her Womens Masters single sculls race, then Gill Houston and Linda Watson came home first in the Womens Masters double sculls. Larger boats are more stable in the waves, but harder to turn and get lined up at the start; despite this, the Masters coxed four of Ian Machin, Keven Wilson, Denis Burke & John Lewis, coxed by Tom Lewis were overjoyed to come away with final winners’ pot for Tarn.

Last weekend saw more Tarn crews charging across the country again, this time to Cambois Rowing Club, at Ashington on the River Wansbeck. This event is always challenging for the steerer, as the course is very twisty, with the two boats having to race side by side through an angled bridge in the middle. Conditions started well in the morning, deteriorating into thundery rain in the afternoon.

Dylan Rees repeated his success in the J13 single sculls category, as did Ben Norman in the year-older J14 single sculls. Dylan then teamed up with his Tarn pal Sam Britton, and two lads and a cox from Chester le Street Rowing Club and won their first trophy together in the J13 quad sculls.

Jo Lewis continued her winning streak in the Womens Masters single sculls, and Dave Harte teamed up with Kevin Oates from Hexham Rowing Club to win their Masters Pair.

Talkin Tarn makes it Ten at Durham Regatta…

Last weekend saw 20 rowers from Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club taking part in a two-day Regatta on the River Wear in the Durham City Regatta. This is a well-attended event, with many local clubs mixing it up with all the College crews. The Saturday events were held over a 700m course, and Sunday’s more of a sprint over a 500m course. The river appears straight from the bank, but from the water has some very deceptive curves and bays to attract unsuspecting crews!

Conditions were generally pretty benign for a change, and there were some good success stories for Tarn rowers.

In singles, Harriet Graham won her Women’s J18 events both on Saturday and Sunday, and Ben Norman, despite gently bouncing off a wall, won the J14 single races both days also.

James Smith, only 18, entered the Elite category single competition on the Saturday, against some of the best college rowers with many years more experience. He was overjoyed to pull back in the last few yards of the final to win the race; but then had to settle back to his A/S Level Biology revision!

For the adults, Jo Lewis won her Women’s Senior single sprint race, and Dave Harte his Masters single sprint, both against very stiff competition.

In the crew boats, Tim Morris and Jon Britton won their Masters double sculls in style, especially pleasing for Tim who is a Past Chairman of the Durham rowing club and has now relocated to the “right” side of the Pennines to join Tarn, and coach many of the senior rowers.

Tim and Jon then teamed up with Dave Harte and John Pearson to win the Masters Quad scull event, and four of Tim’s “protegees” did their coach proud – Ian Machin, Denis Burke, Alan Cook and John Lewis, with Tom Lewis coxing, won their Senior Four sprint event to round off a successful weekend for Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club.