A GROUP of hardy Hexham rowers appeared at the first competitive regatta of the 2019 season at Strathclyde Park in Glasgow.

Appearing at the course which hosted the 2018 European Rowing Championships and the British Masters Regatta later this year, Hexham Rowing Club were in with a strong chance of posting strong performances.

Eight lane racing was the order of the day, with a select group of Hexham members making the trip north of the border and taking on the best Scottish crews.

First up on Saturday were Kevin Oates and Graeme Wilson, rowing in a composite masters’ eight with Tyne Rowing Club. With Kevin in the stroke seat setting the pace, and Graeme in the bow seat, both ends of the boat belonged to Hexham.

Aberdeen were the quickest crew off the start and established a lead of about three-quarters of a length in the early stages. However, the English crew held their nerve and slowly wound in the Scots to storm past them in the last 300 metres before winning by a clear length at the finish line.

On Sunday, Hexham rowers Elizabeth Waterman and Catherine Bowman competed in a composite masters’ eight, this time with ladies from Cambois RC and Berwick RC.

Despite having to give most of the older crews in the field a head start, the ladies from Northumberland were off chasing and by halfway had overtaken everybody to cruise home in a fine display of sweep rowing, despite the crew having had only a handful of training outings.

These two victories in sweep oared boats, where each rower has just one oar, are unusual for Hexham Rowing Club, who spend most of their time sculling, where each athlete has two oars.

The remainder of Hexham’s crews were all sculling affairs. Catherine Bowman teamed up with Hilary Cairns from Berwick and were a close second to a Strathclyde Park ladies double who had also pipped them for last year’s national title.

In the Masters’ Quads, Rob Patterson, Bruce Howorth, John Young, and Rob Aubrook, appeared in a hotly contested race over 1,000 metres. Despite a good paddle, the crew had to settle for fifth place.

Hexham senior men, comprising of Sam Earnshaw, Chris Burn, Stuart Heslop, Andrew Bainbridge, showed their mettle over the gruelling 2,00 metre distance to finish third and beat some revered crews in Durham University, Tyne Rowing Club and Stirling.

Hexham Rowing Club’s Graham Marples, said: “It was a good day for Hexham rowers who showed they can win in sweep oared boats as well as sculling disciplines.”