Talkin Tarn on the Tyne and the Wear

With the summer holidays (and summer weather!) now a distant memory, rowers from Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club have been back out competing again. Whilst the “Regatta Season” in the Spring focuses on sprint races over shorter distances around 1000m, events in the Winter are generally over longer distances, usually around 5000m. But in the period in between Summer & Winter, there are some “in between” races…

Saturday 1st September saw rowers from Talkin Tarn compete in the second running of the Newcastle University Boat Club “Tyne Scullers Head”. This is a race only for single scullers, held over nice conditions over a 3000m course from Blaydon upstream to Newburn. The course starts with a couple of long sweeping bends with mudbanks to look out for, then the last half of the race is a straight – that must feel a lonely and long way for any rower in a boat on their own.

Tarn’s Ben Norman started things off well for the Club, by not only winning the J17 age category, but winning the whole 1st Division, leading the way home ahead of 33 other competitors. Jo Lewis completed the medals by winning her Masters C/D age category and being the fastest woman in the 2nd Division.

Last weekend rowers again left Talkin Tarn and headed over to the North East for the Chester le Street Autumn Regatta. This event replaced their original Regatta planned for April, but postponed due to flood conditions on the River Wear – a problem we don’t have on the Tarn! This was a relatively short sprint course of just under 500m, but with a few deceptive bends and trees spreading out into the river to catch the unwary.

Ben Norman was again in his J16 single scull, strongly won his quarter and semi finals but lost out in the final to a home-club rower by just 2 feet.

The Masters quadruple sculls crew of Dudley Smith, Julius Deane, Matt Grainger and Alan Cook had their first win together against our neighbouring club, Nithsdale from Dumfries. Alan Cook and Julius Deane then came up against Dudley Smith with coach Jon Britton in the finals of the Masters double sculls, and after a close race won by 3 lengths.

A few weeks break from competition now, before the winter season starts in earnest, with virtually weekly races up until mid-December.

Talkin Tarn Regatta – phew, what a scorcher…

For Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club, last Saturday was the biggest day of the year, when it holds the annual Regatta. The Club hold records of a Regatta at the Tarn in 1849, and this pre-dates the formation of the Club ten years later.

For 2018, the weather was exceptionally kind, with just a breath of crosswind in the afternoon, but gloriously dry and sunny conditions through the whole event. Many visiting crews thought that we always had this sort of weather in Cumbria!

It was a large and well attended event, with 378 crews from 26 different rowing clubs from all over the UK competing in 83 different categories, requiring 215 different races. For this substantial number of competitors, the event needs a huge number of local volunteers, and so all members, friends and family were pressed in to help staff everything from car parking through race control to commentary.

The dry weather over the last several weeks meant that the water level of the Tarn was down about 8-10” below normal, which expose sand, gravel and rocks around the edges. This meant great care was needed on the landing stages, but also at the finish. One massive battle between three eights from Tyne and Durham clubs led to a storming finish, with all three running aground a few seconds after the horn was blown – luckily in soft sand!

The race course is three un-buoyed lanes with a standing start from “stake boats” – where the stern is held by a helper until the Umpire shouts “go”. The crews then get the boats moving with a squeezing “draw” stroke or two, then some very short and fast strokes to accelerate, before calming down a little and settling in to a nice strong race pace diagonally across the Tarn to the finish 750m later along from the Café.

Despite the frenetic nature of running an event of this scale, it all ran pretty smoothly and almost to time, which was a credit to the organisers and volunteers. Because all Talkin Tarn crews were needed for so many prolonged staffing duties, calm pre-race preparation was probably less than ideal; so home wins were maybe fewer than hoped for. That being said, many had good races and we had plenty of Silvers!

For the Tarn juniors, Ben Norman was successful through his semi-finals to win the final of the J15 single scull race – nice to get a home win after several successes in this category during the season. He then teamed up with Jack Pattison (following the blades of his Grandad John who also rows at the Tarn) who together had a fine win against stiff competition in the J16 double sculls. They were overjoyed to win engraved half-pint pots, but sadly will have to wait a couple of years to drink from them!

For the adults, Jo Lewis was against some very strong ladies from Lancaster and Loch Lomond, but with plenty of grit and determination won the Women’s Masters single sculls race.


Sincere thanks go to all the visiting umpires, volunteers and helpers that made the Talkin Tarn Regatta 2018 such a success.

Talkin Tarn pull in the medals at Dumfries

Last Saturday saw rowers from Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club nip across the Border to our nearest Scottish event – the Nithsdale Regatta held in Dumfries. This is a small but friendly event, held on a deceptively windy and narrow 750m long, two lane course downstream along the River Nith.

Talkin Tarn have always had a close relationship with Nithsdale Amateur Rowing Club due to the proximity, and it’s nice for some of us to be able to turn some hay in the morning, and race in the afternoon!

Ben Norman continued his recent winning streak, as his brother (also learnt at Tarn) was competing for Liverpool University at the prestigious Marlow Regatta, Ben kept up the family tradition by winning medals in his single scull races – in both the J15 category which suits his age, then again beating older rowers in the J16 category.

For the adult rowers, Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson and Gill Houston then took on younger crews and steered the longer boat well around the bends to win the “open age” Women’s coxless quad race against a local Nithsdale crew. Then Linda & Gill, fresh from winning a Bronze in the British Rowing Masters recently, went on to win the Women’s Masters double sculls to add to the medals hanging off the bedstead.

Jo Lewis, also having won a medal at the national Masters competition, then had a few tough races on the Nith, but pushed through to win the Women’s single scull competition.

Not to be outdone, Alan Cook and Julius Deane, defending their medal from the same event last year, beat their own Coach racing in the semi-finals, and then went on to win the final in the Masters double sculls. A successful weekend for Talkin Tarn!

Talkin Tarn – Rowing Report June 2018 – British Rowing Masters Championships.

Last weekend was one of the biggest competitions of the year for the more senior rowers from Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club – the British Rowing Masters Championships, held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham last weekend.

“Masters” are those rowers over the age of 27, and these are then divided into age categories, “A” being the younger ones and “H” being the over 80’s! The course at Holme Pierrepoint is across 6 lanes along a 1000m straight flooded gravel pit, and the conditions over the weekend were characteristically very blowy and choppy, making starts difficult and going very heavy into the headwind. But this is the same for all competitors, and Tarn rowers are used to challenging conditions!

Talkin Tarn rower Jo Lewis entered the Women’s Masters D single sculls category, this started with a heat of 5 boats, of which the first 3 would then get to the Final. Jo had a good start, but there was always a rower from York Rowing Club just ahead of her:

But Jo found some hidden strength in the last 100m and pulled ahead to win the heat by just under 2 seconds. She was given only a short time to recover, then into the 6-boat final. Conditions were a bit choppier now, although luckily the forecast thunderstorms kept away. Jo rowed strongly through the race, and was delighted to win a Bronze medal, only half a second off the Silver!

Later in the day, Jo teamed up with Hexham Rowing Club’s Kevin Oates. Despite having only been out in a boat together three times before, they had a strong race, winning Bronze medals by some 13 seconds ahead of the following boat.

Also rowing for Talkin Tarn, Linda Watson and Gill Houston took part in the Women’s E double sculls. This was a heavily entered category, with some 16 boats taking part in the three heats. Gill & Linda knew that they had to win their heat of 5 boats to get to the Final but were in second place up to the last 100m, but with plenty of motivation from supporters on the Bank, they put on a spurt and came home first, 3 seconds ahead of Eton Excelsior. A short recovery time was allowed, then into the Final, which they knew would be close.

Gusty conditions at the start didn’t help them get on their way, but digging into their reserves, they overhauled North Staffs, then Eton Excelsior (again), and then in the last stretch Kingston Rowing Club to gain well-earned Bronze medals by 3 seconds.

Other Junior rowers at Talkin Tarn have had some success over recent weeks also. The National Schools Regatta, a big National event for school age rowers, was held a few weeks earlier at the 2012 Olympic course at Eton Dorney.

Ben Norman from Talkin Tarn teamed up with other rowers from the North East to take part in the National Schools Regatta at the 2012 Olympic course at Eton Dorney. They came a creditable 6th in the J16 coxed quad sculls out of a field of 62!

Dylan Rees had a good race at Cambois on the River Wansbeck and won the J14 single sculls, and Georgina Rowntree won the Women’s J17 single sculls at Hexham Regatta in a complete downpour. Ben Norman and Jack Pattinson also had success at Hexham and won their J16 double sculls races.

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