2019 Season Summary

Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club have brought the curtain down on yet another successful season which saw the rowing club compete at regattas and long distance head races, not just in the usual North East of England rowing region, but as far afield as Strathclyde Park (Glasgow), Nottingham, York, Lancaster, Derwentwater and Henley on Thames.

The travelling paid off as the Club racked up 68 wins at events throughout the year, improving on the results of 2017 and 2018, making the miles both on the road and the water well worth the effort.

Most of the success was achieved by the Club’s Masters rowers (aged 27 and above) but the Junior members were not to be out done, and chipped in with 19 wins. The most notable achievements belonged to ex-Nelson Thomlinson schoolboy Ben Norman who amassed several successes over the year and topped it off with a Silver medal in the Junior Under-16 single sculls event at the British Junior Rowing Championships held at the National Water Sports Centre in Nottingham. Ben has now moved on to study and row at Durham School.

The Club’s thriving Masters squad has been growing and improving in recent years. At the end of last year, the Club was awarded the Senior Victor Ludorum at the North of England sculling series and this success continued into 2019. Several Masters members tasted victory for the first time this season, some having only started the sport in the last 12 months. Four women who train and compete in a Masters quad sculling crew had an exceptional season winning nineteen events including a win at the first ever head race held on Derwentwater hosted by the newly formed Lakeland Rowing Club.

The crew, consisting of Gill Houston, Katie Robinson, Linda Watson and Hannah Rigby have been competing together for three seasons now, and showed what they are capable of when they competed at the British Masters Championships held at Strathclyde Park, racing against some of the best Master rowers in the British Isles. They were entered in four events over the two-day regatta and came home with a remarkable haul of three Gold medals and a Bronze medal in the Women’s Masters `C` category quad sculls, coxed fours and double sculls. TTARC Lead Coach, Graeme Mark said, “this was a fantastic achievement; to win one gold against the best in the country takes a great effort but to win three and a bronze is unheard of”.

The Club hold several in-house sculling events in the Autumn and the winners, alongside other members were presented with their trophies at the Club’s annual Presentation and Dinner, this year held last weekend at the Auctioneer in Carlisle.

Club Captain, Linda Watson said, “small clubs like ours have peaks and troughs regarding membership numbers and competition results over the years but this year has proven that the Club is moving in the right direction. We’ve had several ‘new to the sport’ members both Junior and Senior competing and winning this season which is fantastic. The results have improved again this year which I put down to the efforts and dedication of Club members and our dedicated volunteer coaching team”.      

Club Trophy Winners:

Championship of the Tarn: Dave Harte

Women`s Championship: Georgina Rowntree  

Boys Championship: Dylan Rees

Girls Championship: Alice Surtees

Junior Handicap: Dylan Rees

Masters Handicap: Dave Harte

Vice Presidents Handicap: Katie Robinson  

Most improved male: Dylan Rees and Sam Britton

Most improved female: Alice Surtees

Club Performance Bowl: Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson & Gill Houston

Captain`s Commendation: Peter Thompson and Kevin Dixon

Talkin Tarn Rowers shine on the Tyne

Competitive rowing in our region takes a bit of a needed break in August and September, but rowers at Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club can’t take it easy on the beach for too long, as racing then comes back with a vengeance!

The Long-Distance Sculling series consists of six events held at various Clubs in the North East over consecutive weekends. These are now all “Head” races, where crews row upriver to the start, wait for all the competitors to arrive, then race down in quick succession against the clock. There are different challenges to the normal “Regatta” races in the spring & summer; in navigating and trying to overtake slower crews over sometimes narrow and tortuous bends, the endurance required for keeping up full pressure for 5000m, and also getting cold and wet for up to an hour waiting at the start!

The first event of the series was held on the River Wear at South Hylton. This is a fairly curvy 4750m course, that has a reputation for being challenging due to large amounts of flotsam to avoid, saving damage to the delicate steering of a fine racing boat; but this year the river was pretty clear. Sam Britton and Dylan Rees were very pleased with their win in the category of J16 double sculls, and the Women’s Masters coxless quad cup was won by the Tarn ladies crew of Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson and Gill Houston.

The next weekend crews trailered down to Stockton on Tees for very well attended races in nice clear and sunny conditions. Over 200 crews competed in the morning and 175 in the afternoon. It was nice to see young rowers who had learnt their craft at Talkin Tarn now progressing their rowing careers elsewhere: Ben Norman with Durham Schools, and James Smith with Durham University. The course is a full 5000m, with several quite tight bends and one hairpin corner, as an ex-rally driver your correspondent would naturally reach for the handbrake, but this doesn’t work with a 30’ long racing boat! The open Masters coxless quad category gave a win for the Tarn crew of Alan Cook, Dudley Smith, Julius Deane and Jon Britton, and then Sam Britton and Dylan Rees again won in their J16 double.

In the afternoon race, Alan Cook, Dudley Smith and Jon Britton took in new rower Rick Walker, and gave him his first ever win in the Masters coxless quad. Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson and Gill Houston then added to their collection of logo’d glassware with another fine win.

Last weekend the cavalcade moved to the Tyne for 4500m races upstream from a start near the A1 bridge back to Newburn. Entries were capped at 140 crews, the weather started cold and clear then became very wet for the afternoon race. The “Tarn Ladies” crew of Rigby/Watson/Robinson/Houston again had a clear victory in the Women’s Masters coxless quad; and Jo Lewis was fastest in the Women’s Masters (D) single scull.

Talkin Tarn Rower medals at Nationals

Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club has some rising stars in the Junior ranks as well as the successful adults. The biggest competition in the year for Junior rowers is the British Rowing Junior Championships held over three days at the National Watersports Centre near Nottingham. This huge event had the biggest ever entry this year, with 1,671 rowers from 131 different clubs competing.

Talkin Tarn’s Ben Norman has had a lot of success over this season in his single scull competing in the J16 age category, and so has trained hard on the water and in the gym to race at the highest level. The rowers all have to compete in Time Trials over the 2000m course on one day, to see which get through to the Semi-Finals and then Finals the day after.

The National Watersports Centre is a purpose built rowing lake next to the River Trent, and has a reputation for fearsome cross winds; unfortunately these where very apparent during the Saturday time trials, with large waves building up at the downwind latter half of the course and several single sculls filling with water and having to be rescued. Although the distance is nearly three times the length of the Tarn, Ben has built up experience of wind & waves at home, so coped better than many “softies” from sheltered rivers in the South!

Ben did well in the conditions, and came home 4th fastest in the Time Trial, therefore guaranteeing himself a place in a Semi-Final the next day. Luckily, competitors awoke to a much calmer Sunday morning, so were more able to show their best. His Semi-Final was a six-boat race, with familiar local competitors from Chester le Street and Queen Elizabeth High School, Hexham amongst others. Ben lead throughout the race, but Roman Bowery from Chester le Street pulled close at the end, finishing just under a second behind.

The final was a 5-boat race, again over 2000m. After 500m, Ben was in 3rd position, just 2 seconds behind the leader, but he overtook a rower from Christchurch RC by half way, and kept up the pace to come in second place by just over half a boat length to a massive chap from Gloucester Hartpury College - thus coming home with an impressive Silver Medal.

Talkin Tarn Rowers – success at home event

For the last few months, Talkin Tarn rowers have spent nearly every weekend de-rigging and rigging their racing boats and loading and unloading trailers as they travel to compete at Regattas all over the region. But last Saturday was “payback time” as all the other clubs had to travel to take part in the Talkin Tarn Regatta.

This is a very popular event, with 19 rowing clubs sending 330 rowers to participate in 180 races over a 700m 3-lane course diagonally across the Tarn. The weather on Saturday was for once fantastic – with sunshine and little wind giving very calm conditions. These, along with the new buoys placed to mark the lanes, made for some very clean and competitive racing, and took away any “home advantage”!

This event does take a lot of organising, and credit goes to all the Club members who gave up all their spare time over the last few months in all the preparation needed to make this such a success. Trying to juggle the time taken to help operate the regatta and also compete was hard, but several Talkin Tarn rowers won medals at home, which is always an extra pleasure.

For the Juniors, Ben Norman had a fine win in his J16 single races. Also, in the single scull boat was Jo Lewis, who won her Women’s Masters C/D/E singles category. She then teamed up with some ladies from Loch Lomond, Nithsdale and Castle Semple rowing clubs, to go on and win the Women’s Masters E/F coxless quad competition.

Fresh from winning Gold in the category at the National competition in June, the Women’s Masters C/D coxless quad crew of Hannah Rigby, Katie Robinson, Linda Watson and Gill Houston repeated their success to add a new medal from Talkin Tarn.

It the “foundation” category competition (those new-ish to competitive rowing) the Tarn crew of Ann Kendrick, Alison Clarricoats, Lindsay Carigiet-Bell and Rachel Dodsworth were coxed to a Women’s Masters C/D/E quad win by Sam Britton.

Lastly, the men’s Masters D/E coxless quad crew of Dave Harte, Alan Cook, Dudley Smith and Jon Britton prepared well for their outing to Henley Masters next week, and gained some very nice shiny medals at the Tarn.

In a relatively new development, many rowers from afar then packed up their boats, stayed for a lovely evening barbeque and relaxed with people who’d been bitter rivals just a few hours before!

Talkin Tarn Rowers – success in the Scottish Sunshine

Now the “regatta season” is coming to a close, Talkin Tarn rowers took the opportunity last weekend to drive to the nearest regatta (and only event to the West), Nithsdale Regatta held in Dumfries. This is a smaller but friendly event, with crews attending from all over Scotland but only a few making it over the Border. Held over 750m downstream on the River Nith, the course is rather narrow and quite tricky to steer with deceptive bends from start to finish.

Conditions were excellent, with warm sunshine and light winds, there was little excuse not to have some good competition. In a different race to those normally offered, father & son Jon and Sam Britton took part in the “Generation Doubles” event, with resounding wins against a Castle Semple in the quarter-final, a different Castle Semple crew in the semi-final, and… a close but successful race for Tarn to win against another unlucky Castle Semple crew in the final!

Ben Norman took part in the correct age category of J16 in his single scull, and beat a rower from St Andrew boat club in Edinburgh by a clear margin. He then drew breath, turned around and headed back upstream to win the final also. To test his skills, he was also entered the J18 singles races (against rowers up to 2 years older), achieving a clear win against a Strathclyde Park rower in the heat and then going on to gain another medal in the final against a Clydesdale rower.

Talkin Tarn’s novice women’s coxed quad crew of Ann Kendrick, Rachel Dodsworth, Lyndsay Carigiet-Bell and Alison Clarricoats, coxed by Sam Britton, were overjoyed to win their semi-final against home club Nithsdale, but narrowly lost out in the final.

Jo Lewis competed in the women’s singles category, and rounded the day off nicely with a win against a rower from home club Nithsdale in a straight final.

The men’s Veterans doubles was a hard-fought competition, with two Tarn crews Jon Britton and Dudley Smith, and Alan Cook and Julius Deane coming cleanly through their respective heats against Glasgow and Castle Semple crews, and thus making an all-Tarn final. As these gentlemen normally row together in one “quad” boat, it was interesting to split up and compete against each other! Both crews were within feet of each other all the way down the river, until a steering infringement and clash of blades meant one crew was disqualified, and Jon Britton & Dudley Smith went on to pick up the medals after one of their closest ever races.

The women’s quad crew of Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson and Gill Houston, fresh from their three Gold medals at the Nationals the week before, got back into the boat and won against a Nithsdale / Stirling composite crew.

Saturday 6th July sees Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club host their own annual regatta. This is an all-day event with races from 9am through often to 6pm, so all are welcome to come along and enjoy the spectacle. 

Gold, Gold, Gold for Talkin Tarn Rowers


The rowers of Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing club are right in the peak of the “Regatta Season” at this time of year, with events every weekend, and some major ones at that.

Hexham Regatta was held on 1st June, at Tyne Green, just above the bridge into the town. This is two lane racing on a relatively narrow part of the River Tyne, with the finish pretty close to a weir underneath the bridge to catch out the unwary… After the rains of the last few weeks, the river had quite a lively flow, but luckily the racing was downstream. The current both aided and hindered, as in places the flow can take boats off course into the trees, as some of us found out!

Talkin Tarn entered several crews in all categories with some fierce battles through quarter and semi-finals.  Masters coxless quad crew of Jon Britton, Alan Cook, Dudley Smith and Dave Harte won the semi-final against home crew Hexham, then went on to beat Lakeland Rowing Club in the final by an easy 3 lengths. Then the women’s Masters coxless quad of Hannah Rigby, Katie Robinson, Linda Watson and Gill Houston won their semi-final against Lakeland, and then charged on to beat a Tyne United crew in the final.

The weekend after was supposed to be the prestigious Durham Regatta; this event is known as the “Henley of the North” and is a last hurrah for many college crews before they go down for the summer. Unfortunately, the rain on the Pennines in the days before flowed down, and the River Wear rose dramatically making it unsafe to row on both Saturday and Sunday, so the whole event reluctantly had to be cancelled.

Last weekend however was one of the pinnacles that we all train for – the British Rowing Masters Championships. This is usually held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham, but occasionally moves around the country, so this year was held at the Scottish equivalent, Strathclyde Park just south of Glasgow. Relatively convenient for Talkin Tarn, but impressive to see so many crews travelling from distances such as London, Devon & Cornwall. In all 444 crews from 81 rowing clubs took part.

Strathclyde Park is a purpose-built facility, which held the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The course has 8 straight buoyed lanes over 2000m, but luckily for the Masters (rowers over the age of 27) there is an intermediate start at 1000m. The venue does have a reputation for weather, and this weekend was no exception, with tricky cross winds on the Saturday, and heavy rain and even a short thunderstorm on the Sunday.

Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club entered 11 crews in women’s single scull, women’s & men’s double scull, women’s quad scull and four and men’s quad scull and four, so were competing throughout both days. All crews put up a good fight against some serious competition in sometimes challenging conditions, but one group of ladies came out on top.

The women’s quadruple sculls crew of Hannah Rigby, Katie Robinson, Linda Watson & Gill Houston have trained together 4-5 times a week over the winter, and this really paid off with the stamina to complete these hard races. In the women’s quad event on Saturday, they were in a 4-boat final with a very close finish – gaining their first ever Gold at Masters by squeezing a second ahead of Eton Excelsior, with Tees just a second behind them. On the Sunday, they were able to enter the same type of boat in a “non-championship” race, this was close competition all the way with Cambois and Warrington crews, but Tarn powering on in the last 250m to take a second Gold by 4 seconds.

Experienced Coach, Graeme Mark has been working with these ladies for a few years and decided to try swapping disciplines and enter them in a Coxed Four category. So they requisitioned the services of Sam Britton to cox them entered this event also. This was quite a clear-cut race, showing the benefits of the winter training on stamina, and they held off London Otters, Belfast and Aberdeen crews to win another gold by a creditable seven seconds.

All at the Club now recovering and looking forward to next week’s Nithsdale regatta at Dumfries and of course Talkin Tarn Regatta on 6th July – all spectators welcome!

Three weekends of winning for Talkin Tarn Rowers

The last three weekends have been busy ones for members of Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing club, attending Regattas on the River Wear at Durham, the River Tees at Stockton, the River Lune at Lancaster and last weekend, the River Wansbeck at Ashington.

Durham City Regatta is held over two days, with 250 races held over a 700m course on the Saturday, and a calmer 180 races held over a 500m course on the Sunday. This was the first race for ever for a young member Alice Surtees, who entered the Women’s J15 single scull competition, but didn’t come home with a trophy – better luck next time! However, new to rowing adults Rachel Lombard, Alison Clarricoats, Lindsay Carigiet & Ann Kendrick, coxed by Jack Pattison had their first win in the Women’s coxed quad. Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson & Gill Houston also had another win in the Women’s master’s coxless quad.

Tees Rowing Club held their regatta the following weekend; this is a very different affair, held over 850m with a 4-lane buoyed course. Junior members Sam Britton and Dylan Rees were overjoyed that after all the winter training, they came home with a pair of pewter tankards for winning their J15 double sculls race.

Also, the master’s E quad crew of Jon Britton, Alan Cook, Dudley Smith and Dave Harte were very pleased to have their first win as a crew this season. Linda Watson and Gill Houston are regular winners in their women’s Masters double scull, and kept this up on the Tees this outing also.

But one Tarn rower had wins at both Durham and Tees, so will need a new shelf for all the trophies! Ben Norman is a rising star in his J16 single scull, and won this category both weekends. He then joined a Durham Schools composite J16 double, and won again at Durham.

And finally, the quintuple – Jo Lewis, a dedicated rower in her women’s Masters single scull, not only won the category on both days at Durham City, she then won at Tees on the next Saturday, then crossed the country to Lancaster on the Sunday to win there as well. Never one to take it easy, she was competing at Cambois Rowing Club’s Wansbeck regatta last Saturday, where in a straight final on the twisty 800m course against Tyne United she achieved another win.

Talkin Tarn Rowers shine up North

Last weekend was the first “big” Regatta in the region, the Scottish Rowing Spring Regatta held at Strathclyde Park Watersports Centre, just next to the M74 in Motherwell on the way to Glasgow.

Junior rowers from Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club were destined to take part at the same time in the national Junior Inter-Regional Regatta in Peterborough, but unfortunately that was cancelled at the last minute due to Storm Hannah, and it was too late to then get entries at Strathclyde.

This location was purpose built for Watersports, right next to the River Clyde. It has 8 straight, buoyed lanes running 2000m, with an intermediate start at 1000m; and is equipped with the most up to date starting lights & sirens, timing beams and photo finish housed in a 4-storey commentary box. The venue has a reputation as being choppy due to winds, it lived up to this on the Saturday with some white horses to battle through and the odd capsize, but was absolutely glorious on the Sunday.

It is a well-attended event, with Clubs and College crews from all over Scotland and the North, and even some coming across from Ireland.

Jo Lewis competed in a 6-boat race for the Women’s Masters C/D single scull, and battled her way up from 3rd at half way to 2nd, losing by just 0.88s at the finish against a friend from Lakeland Rowing Club on Derwentwater making a Cumbrian lockout of the top two positions!

Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson & Gill Houston had a good race in the Women’s Masters B/C Quadruple sculls, storming home to win the medals some 11.68s ahead of a Tyne United crew.

On the Sunday, Linda Watson and Gill Houston added to the medal haul, by entering the Women’s Masters D/F double sculls, and had a fast and controlled race, coming home first by over 5s from a crew form the local Castle Semple rowing club.

Also on Sunday, two Talkin Tarn men’s crews entered the Open Masters double sculls race, Dudley Smith and Jon Britton managed to keep going and get over the line in 2nd place just 1.08s ahead of another Tarn crew – proving the worth of the winter training in the gym!

No rest for Talkin Tarn Rowers

This maybe a slightly quieter time for rowing competitions, but there are still many opportunities for getting out on the water and training in the gym to get ready for the Regatta season which starts next month.

The North East Region held trials at Cambois Rowing Club on the River Wansbeck at Ashington last weekend. This is where the young rowers from across the region compete to see who is selected to represent the region (one of 12 in the UK) at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta, held in Peterborough at the end of April. The races were in the “Head” format, where rowers set off in succession with a rolling start against the clock rather than side by side. The course length was 1000m, the same as Peterborough, but somewhat more twisty than the purpose built, 4-lane lake they’ll be on next month.

Ben Norman won in his J16 single by 3 seconds, and therefore has been selected to represent the region at the National competition. He then teamed up with 3 other rowers from Durham Schools club and they cam second in a J16 Quad sculls race – which still has a chance of going forward. Esther Rowntree came second in the women’s J16 single; Dylan Rees and Sam Britton enjoyed their row and came 5th in the J15 double sculls.

On the same day, several crews from Talkin Tarn travelled over to York for the Yorkshire Head. This is a 5000m course downstream on the River Ouse, starting twisty then opening out with a last blast to finish just by Lendal Bridge; and is the last “head” race in the region before the shorter Regatta start. Ian Machin, Keven Wilson, Denis Burke and John Lewis were coxed by Tom Lewis and had a good race in their Four, but Jo Lewis won her women’s Masters D single scull by a clear margin. Jo then hopped in with other ladies from Hexham and Berwick Clubs in a composite crew, and they then won the women’s Masters quad race together in the afternoon.

Sunday was the first of the Northern Rowing “Sunday League” This series is aimed at recreational rowers, novices, recent graduates of learn to row courses and those returning to rowing after a break and is held over 8 rounds through to the Autumn. The first round was at Tyne Rowing Club, using stable coxed quad boats over a 300m course.

Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club put up two crews for this round, and all races managed to be run just before the arrival of Storm Freya! The crew named “Tarnished” comprised John Pattison, Simon Burd, Kevin Dixon, Malcolm Taylor, Susie Tyson, Neil Corrie – 4 rowing at any one time and coxed by the very experienced Peter Thompson. They normally enjoy the Tarn together on Thursday afternoons, and were pleased to have one win at Tyne out of 4 races. Also competing was “Fast Talkin” crew of Alison Clarricoats, Simon Smith, Louise Smith, Miriam Macfarland coxed by Gill Houston. They normally row together on a Sunday morning, but skipped training to compete and win a race and come home very close in another.

Talkin Tarn Rowing Club – that’s it for 2018!

Last weekend saw the last formal competition for rowers from Talkin Tarn, with an all too familiar cold, wet and windy trip up the River Tyne. The Rutherford Head is held upstream and against a falling tide on the River Tyne from just below the A1 bridge back up to Newburn. With an entry of 130 boats in each Division, many University crews having a last race before Christmas, it is a very busy event. The downside is that after warming up rowing down to the start, crews must wait around getting cold and wet for up to an hour whilst all the other crews get to the start – teeth could be heard chattering over the roar of trucks on the A1!

Talkin Tarn had several crews taking part, no outright wins this time, but some notable “podiums”. The Women’s coxless quad crew of Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Katie Robinson and Gill Houston had their last race as “Seniors” – as the crew becomes “Masters” from January, but they left the age category with a fine 3rd in the category, losing against the local Durham and Newcastle University crews. The Masters coxless quad crew of Dudley Smith, Dave Harte, Alan Cook and Jon Britton had a cracking race, and came second by just 2.5 seconds behind their Hexham rivals, which pleased them and worried Hexham… The Masters coxed four crew of Ian Machin, Peter Pearson, Denis Burke and John Lewis, coxed by Tom Lewis also had a second in their category losing to a crew who travelled over from Belfast during Storm Diana, to enjoy the very soggy conditions in Newcastle.

A couple of weeks before, there was a small entry from Talkin Tarn at the York Small Boats Head race, but the Club had a 100% success rate! This is one of the most scenic courses in the North, a wide but gently meandering route upstream along the River Ouse from Fulford, up past the Bishop’s Palace and right through the centre of York to the finish 3,000m later. The river can suffer from high flows and flooding, but on this occasion the weather was perfect and the river was benign for Tarn rowers Ben Norman and Jo Lewis.

Jo enjoyed the conditions back in the County of her birth, and was very pleased to be the fastest of 10 competitors, to win the Women’s Masters single sculls category. Ben Norman won the J16 single sculls (against 7 rivals), then hopped into a Durham Schools composite crew in the J16 coxless quad to win against their nearby rivals Yarm School and the local York City crew (and four others).

Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club has entered the Northern Rowing Council Long Distance Sculls series of races for many years. This is six races held on various rivers in the North East over consecutive weekends in October & November. To thank competitors for their considerable commitment (and facility to dry rowing kit between events…) the big prize is the Victor Ludorum Silver Plate, given to the Club with the most points accrued over the whole series. Talkin Tarn has found it hard to succeed in winning any of these in the past, as we are a small club in terms of numbers, and all the races are the other side of the country!  But in 2018, Tarn was overjoyed to win the Victor Ludorum plate for the Senior Category (the age group between Junior and Masters).

Talkin Tarn Rowing Club – head East for better weather!


The season of “Head” races is carrying on, and rowers from Talkin Tarn rowing club have been actively competing over in the North East for the last couple of weekends.

City of Sunderland Rowing Club hosted the South Hylton 4750m long distance sculling race on the lower reaches of the River Wear. This is an event notorious for challenging conditions, and last weekend was no exception! There was a brisk South West wind which made it hard work getting to the start, but quite quick racing on the way back down the river. However, part of the course was very rough where the wind was against tide, but only a small number people went for a swim, one only a metre off the steps (but he landed, changed, got back in and raced anyway!).

The Women’s coxless quad crew of Hannah Rigby, Linda Watson, Gill Houston & Katie Robinson (as in photo below), being experienced in windy conditions on the Tarn, had a cracking race and finished fastest Women’s crew overall, and 6th fastest boat of the whole event.

Last weekend a large number of Tarn rowers accompanied two full trailers of boats across to Durham, where three runs were possible on the 1800m course upstream on the higher reaches of the River Wear. This course is sheltered and relatively calm, but those steering boats are challenged by the narrow arches of the medieval Elvet Bridge that crosses the river at an awkward angle a third of the way down the course.

In the morning event, the same Women’s coxless quad crew that showed such success the previous weekend had a clean race and again won their category, bringing home more engraved glassware. Just half a second ahead of them James Smith, who had learnt to row at Talkin Tarn and has recently joined Durham University Boat Club, drew on his excellent training to win the Open Single Scull category. Only 4 boats behind the ladies, Ben Norman won his J16 single scull event. The Masters coxless quad crew of Ian Machin, Keven Wilson, Dennis Burke and John Lewis were fastest boat in their category, but without the required 2 opposing boats, they still had to drink out of paper cups.

In the afternoon two Head races (whose results confusingly were combined into one event), Ben Norman won the J16 double sculls with a partner from Durham Schools Club, then in order to give his Mum more washing up, went in with three others from the same club to win the J18 coxless quad category with the overall fastest time of the whole afternoon.

Jo Lewis continued her winning streak, winning the Women’s Masters single scull pot. The Masters coxless quad crew of Dudley Smith, Alan Cook, Jon Britton and Dave Harte came a superb 6th fastest overall, but like their clubmates in the morning, came away “potless” due to lack of enough opposition.

On Sunday, members of Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club held their own 2 minutes silence at 11:00 in Remembrance, thinking especially of three young club members who we believe lost their lives. William Bell of Farlam Hall Cottage, Joseph Harding Jnr of Moat Street Brampton, and John Hogg of Forest Head, were all noted in the Club registers before the First World War, but sadly didn’t return from the trenches.

Talkin Tarn Rowing Club – no rest in the Winter

Now the nice short races of the “Regatta Season” in spring & summer are well and truly over, rowers from Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club have been competing almost every weekend.

The normal competing region means travel across the A69 to the North East, but a couple of rowers from Tarn branched out and competed in the Runcorn Rowing Club Small Boat Head race earlier in the month. This is held on a quiet stretch of 4,500m of calm water on the River Weaver Navigation near Frodsham, clearly visible from the M56 flyover if travelling to North Wales. Jo Lewis and Ben Norman made the trek, but it was worthwhile. Ben won the J16 single sculls category, and Jo won the women’s Masters single sculls.

The next Saturday saw several crews from Tarn competing in the Tyne United Rowing Club small boats Head race, a 4,500m race upstream from beyond the A1 flyover up to Newburn. The weather was kind for a change, as this stretch has a reputation for cold, wind and rain! Competitors who are keen, can compete the course twice in two separate races. The entry is huge, with over 130 boats competing in each race.

In the morning, 8 crews from Tarn were racing, and wins were achieved by Jo Lewis in the women’s Masters single sculls and Dylan Rees with Sam Britton in the J15 double sculls.   Later on, four Tarn crews were out on the water, with some strong performances but the only prize winner being Ben Norman, winning the J16 double sculls in a Durham Schools composite crew.

Berwick Amateur Rowing Club hosted the “furthest North Head race in England” last Saturday. This is described as a “long” 5000m course on the River Tweed, and it certainly felt all of that. Not an event regularly attended by crews from the Tarn, as it’s quite a long and twisty route to tow a trailer with 40’ boats on, but on this occasion the nice weather and conditions made it very worthwhile. Boats are launched in the middle of town, then crews row upstream under the East Coast Mainline railway bridge, and the A1 bridge into lovely rolling fields at East Ord, passing many old salmon netting stations, and having to wait for the tide to lift the boats high enough to get over an ancient ford. It’s the only time we’ve competed with seals popping heads out of the river to spectate!

It was a good event for Talkin Tarn, with 3 of the 4 fastest crews on the event. Dave Harte, partnered with Kevin Oates from Hexham, was the fastest overall, winning the Masters double sculls prize; then just 2.3 seconds behind them was the Masters quad crew of Alan Cook, Matt Grainger, Julius Deane and Jon Britton. Then 3.5 seconds after them, as fourth fastest on the day, was Tarn’s Ben Norman, this time competing in a J18 double sculls composite crew with a rower from Durham Schools. Tarn’s Jo Lewis then continued the success being the fastest Women’s Masters single sculler. Celebratory cakes were well deserved!

Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club also holds competitions for its own members at this time of year. One of these is the “Sue Lawson Trophy”. This is a race for 750m across the Tarn for scratch doubles crews, usually of differing ages and experience! The poor winners have had to win four consecutive races. The winners this year was the crew of Dave Harte and Emelia Sefton, pictured below receiving the trophy from race sponsor Chris Lawson.

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.