A BARNSTORMING performance from the J18 coxless quad from Queen Elizabeth High School Rowing Club saw them record the fastest time at last weekend’s Durham Small Boats Head.

The quad of Dan Jones, Tom Mawson, Ben Wilkinson and Ben Smith excelled in the senior event, posting the best time across all senior and junior categories.

With more than 350 crews racing, including university students and rowing schools including Yarm, and Edinburgh’s George Herriot, this was quite an achievement.

It was the second time the crew had achieved this accolade, having rowed their way to the fastest time at the Wansbeck Head in October.

It was a notable success for Dan Jones, too, as he built on a victory he earned the previous week when he paired with his GB double scull training partner Alex Levi, from George Watson’s, in Edinburgh, at Tyne United Head to win the J18 double in a time only bettered by the university eights.

After the previous two events at Durham had been cancelled due to the current turbulent British weather, the small boats event was in doubt too due to the strong winds of Saturday morning.

However, racing was given the go ahead and Queen Elizabeth was well represented throughout the categories.

The club’s membership has thrived with the intake of Year 9 members, with more than 55 newcomers taking the club’s overall membership to around 120.

The Durham event is the first taste of action for these new rowers and, while there was no overall triumph, there was plenty of internal competition between the evenly-matched crews.

In the third time trial, there was just six seconds separating the three J14 Queen Elizabeth girls’ crews, with top honours going to Ava Struthers, Charlotte Goodson, Ruby Clark, Lara Johnston and their cox Zara Holtham on this occasion.

In the fourth time trial, just seven seconds was the difference between the three QE girls’ crews this time.

Grace Robson, Ruby Robson, Christina Turnbull, Daisy McClintock and their cox Ben Ryrie enjoyed bragging rights first time out.

The J14 boys’ crews raced in different time trials so their times cannot be compared, however there was just 15 seconds between them with the best time recorded by Lewis Davison, Peter Cowley, Russell Wilson, Thomas Astbury and cox Ciaran Ball.

As it was such a big day for the Year 9 rowers, coach Geoff Higgins walked the entire group down the whole course so they could watch the start procedure and then observe crews negotiating the narrow arches of Elvet Bridge, reported to be the narrowest navigable arches in Europe.

The walk was scheduled to ensure the crews were well prepared for their races, but also to try to protect his precious boats as slight steering errors at Elvet can often result in major damage to boats.

Higgins said: “During the day, this very large group of new rowers received several compliments from GB staff present and even organisers on their rowing competence, their immaculate adherence to matching kit and, perhaps more importantly, the way they conducted themselves and the enjoyment that was evident as they became part of the huge Queen Elizabeth High School rowing family.”

The next event for QE rowers is the Junior Regional Trials on Saturday.

QEHS will be taking 23 crews, and coach Pauline Higgins, who is the Northern Team manager and selector, is confident that, whatever the outcome on selection, those representing the school will do their best and support each other during the stresses of selection races.