Rowing competition started again last Saturday with Wansbeck Regatta, almost two years since the last competitive regatta in the North.

Due to Covid restrictions the usual side by side racing was changed to a time trial, but over a longer 1500 metre course.

Hexham Rowing Club were well represented, despite very limited training time and outings over the past year, due to the pandemic.

Crews were just happy to be out on the water and racing again after such a long break.

In the first division all boats were single sculls, with Hexham RC boating 7 single scullers. Stuart Heslop, Catherine Bowman and Elizabeth Waterman were racing in senior sculls, whilst Anna Nichol, Katie Littler, Elethea Stoker and Archie Stewart were racing in junior events. Although no prizes were won by the Hexham contingent, racing was very exciting with a stiff tail wind, some wavy sections and a couple of competitors, (Not Hexham), capsizing during the race, which lead to some interesting steering to avoid boats floating upside down on the course.

In the second division Catherine Bowman and Kevin Oates raced in the mixed double sculls, whilst Henry Welch and Sam Cardnell, Eliza Nicholson and Lizzy McGrane, Harry Westgarth and Ronan McGowan, Rose Nicholson and Hestor Lockey, all raced in junior double sculls events.

Henry and Sam had the best result finishing second in their J15 double category and the boys have only been rowing since September.

In the third and final division for quad sculls and fours, Hexham again fielded a strong number of crews.

The Masters quad of Kevin Oates, Barney Hawkins, Graeme Wilson and Stuart Heslop were first off, in better conditions than the previous two divisions, as the wind died down and the river Wansbeck became a little calmer than it had been for the singles and doubles.

The Hexham crew managed to beat their opponents, despite conceding a large time handicap to win their event.

The J18 quad of Archie Stewart, James Turnbull, Aidan Wright and Bobby Murray were hampered at the start with a first aid incident, but still managed to race. However, from a new start position, they were unable to match the time of the winning Tees crew.

The women’s J15 quad of Anna Nichol, Lilly Warr, Tilly Welch, Amelia Jewitt, coxed by Lizzy McGrane raced next, closely followed by the women’s J14 quad of Rose Nicholson, Katie Raine, Daisy Denbury, Lily Teague, coxed by Elethea Stoker who were pipped into third place.

Many of the Hexham junior rowers only learnt to row last year and hampered by the various lockdowns and restrictions, have had really limited time on the water. So it was great to see so many crews competing and keeping the Hexham flag flying on the local regatta circuit.

Hopefully, as restrictions ease, Hexham rowing club will continue their winning ways through this years truncated regatta season.