Head of the Dart

It has been confirmed that this year's 15000 metres (9.5 mile) Head of the Dart race will be held over two days on the weekend of Saturday and Sunday 14th and 15th April - to allow the organisers to cater for the growing interest in the race from both rowers and paddle boarders who relish the chance to compete of such a long distance event.
The event is organised jointly by the Dart Totnes and Dartmouth Rowing Clubs and is rowed in the opposite direction each year - with this year's race starting in Dartmouth and finishing up river in Totnes.
The event is highly popular with both local and visiting rowing clubs and entries for the Saturday will be accepted from Senior and Master's crews for men, women and mixed crews. Entries, as in previous years, are being invited in fine boat, touring, coastal, fixed seat, canoe and kayak types of racing boat. Due to the length of the course entries from junior crews will not be accepted.
The race for stand up paddle boarders will be on the Sunday and further details of the event can be obtained from Kath Tooley on email: DTARCevents@gmail.com or via the on line link at https://headofthedart.wordpress.com

Exmouth RC. 2018

Exmouth Rowing Club are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year and to mark the milestone the club are planning a number of celebratory events. Former Club Chairman Graham Hurley recalls that "the club was launched from the town’s Beach Hotel in November 1993. The mission? To work up a thirst in congenial company on Sunday mornings before the bar opened. A handful of rowers took to the water in the club’s only boat, a robust coxed four with sliding seats, and did their best to avoid the offshore tangle of moored vessels."
Membership began to flourish under the helm of the founding committee of Steve Charles-Davis (now sadly deceased), Andy Herbert, Bob Board and Brian O’Dea and who were ably supported by a nucleus of stalwart members.
After constant battles for grant support, Exmouth RC later moved its treasured Portacabin clubhouse to a site behind the old lifeboat station on the seafront. Two decades of competition in local, national and international regattas gave it a core of experienced coaches, a collection of battle honours - including 9th in the World Offshore rankings - and a fleet of lovingly maintained boats.
Hurley added "more recently the club kissed goodbye to the Portacabin and thanks to a 28 year lease from East Devon District Council moved into the old Lifeboat Station (now known as “the boathouse”). A £50,000 grant from Sport England paid for the bare bones of a major refurb, and two years’ hard labour by club volunteers did the rest. Thanks to another major grant, the club was able to buy a state-of-the-art Rescue Boat which also serves as a training platform."
There is much to celebrate and in the shape of the club’s anniversary and this year offers the perfect opportunity.
Exmouth's current Captain is Morag Van-Niekirk. Her stewardship of the club has coincided with the formation of the South-West Coastal League, a coming together of coastal rowing clubs who compete in similar boats in a series of regattas over the long summer season. A trial run kicked off in 2015and was followed by proper competitions in 2016 and 2017 - all of which were won by the East Devon club.
“I’m guessing we must be doing something right”, says Morag. “I know the spirit in the club has always been fantastic both on and off the water but now feels really special. And so we owe it to ourselves – all of us – to celebrate the last twenty five years.”
Morag has gone to great lengths to explore the history of the club and to carefully theme the year to come. In this, she’s won the enthusiastic support of Andy Herbert, one of the club’s founder members. Says Andy, “generations of local rowers have put their hearts and souls into the Exmouth club and its great to have the opportunity to look back and remember what it took to get this far.”
Saturday 10th February featured the first of the anniversary events, where unfortunately club officials were scuppered by the weather for sea racing so they did an indoor ergo team relay challenge instead. There was an average of 15 rowers per team, and for a period of an hour they each rowed 500 meters. There was fantastic team spirit and a super time was had by all.
One of the club's boldest initiatives back in the early days was the Fulfords’ Exmouth Townsmen Challenge. Crews from across the south-west mustered at Topsham in four-man quads, double sculls and single sculls, and raced the length of the river to the finishing line off Exmouth. The event caught the imagination of the entire town and on the 24th March, this year, the club will pay tribute by staging the race again.
The Exmouth Club President Ray Mallett has perfect recall of those giddy days. “The Townsmens’’ Challenge was a real milestone for the club. It was something we’ve never tackled before. What a privilege to be able to do it all again.”
Geography and the wandering spirit took the Exmouth pioneers to France. The backbone of the club’s fleet are three Safran quads, bought from a constructor in Brittany, and that experience seeded a close kinship with Le Club Aviron Paludin at L’Aber Wrac’h. Twenty one years ago the French rowers devoured the 110 miles from their home coast to Plymouth in just a fraction over 22 hours, smashing the old record by seven hours, and this summer East Devon club will raise a collective glass by staging its own twelve hour endurance event.
Says Morag, “We’ll be racing in relays from Topsham to Budleigh and then Sidmouth before turning round and heading across to Torbay. From there, it’ll be back to Teignmouth…and then home. Hopefully, the French guys will be joining us….though they might take the ferry this time.”
Exmouth's first local regatta was held on VJ Day, 1995, and featured a Sprint Challenge around a circular course off Exmouth Seafront. And so this year, once again, ERC will be re-making history with an identical event run over exactly the same course. This first weekend in August will be limited to club rowers only and the summer party afterwards will offer club member’s young and old a private opportunity to toast twenty five remarkable years.
The year’s final competitive celebration event is reserved for 22nd September when invitations will be issued to clubs region-wide to contest another ERC favourite course, the 8.4 miles from Exmouth Pier to Budleigh and back. In 1997, conditions were calm and hot. “We sweated and sweated that day”, says President Ray Mallett, “but the idea was always to get people really interested in coastal rowing, and looking back I suspect that’s exactly what we did.”
Thanks to the pioneers of Exmouth Rowing Club, and to Morag’s current team, the town is blessed with a bunch of athletes determined to keep testing the limits. Anniversary celebrations aside, club rowers will be once again battling to retain their dominance in the new Coastal League. Specialist endurance crews will be flying the Exmouth flag in Cork’s Ocean-to-City race and in the 28K open-ocean France to Jersey epic, while the distant speck of the Ore Stone Rock at the mouth of Torbay will be the turn-point for the club’s own marathon row on 23rd June.
The weekend of the 18/19th August marks the second British Rowing Offshore Championships, to be held – once again – at Sandbanks Beach, in Dorset. Exmouth entered three crews for last year’s inaugural event and the women's’ quad of Morag Van-Niekirk, Anna Childs, Fiona Pink and Amy Tomlinson under cox Rob Parsons - won an emphatic silver.
The participation of Olympic rowers, past and present at the regatta, stiffened ERC’s resolve – as did the introduction of beach starts and finishes. Says stroke, Anna Childs “to be honest we had a terrible start but no way were we going to let the rest of the field disappear over the horizon. It was a cracking event and the race itself was brilliant. This year it would be nice to go one better and take the gold.”
2018 also happens to be Exmouth RC’s turn to take the Presidency of West of England Amateur Rowing Association. ERC’s current Chair, Phil Gray, assumed presidency at the WEARA annual general meeting on 17th February and will be followed by a celebratory meal and awards on November 3rd at Exmouth’s Ocean Centre, which just happens to be next door to the ERC Boathouse. Says Phil, “For us to be hosting WEARA in this of all years is the icing on our anniversary cake. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
ERC has come a very long way since the early days in the Beach Hotel but Morag suspects that the mission statement remains precisely the same. “The older guys were there to turn exercise and effort into trophies and laughter”, she says. “and twenty five years later, absolutely nothing has changed.”

WRRC Junior Team Manager

It has been confirmed that Yorkie Lomas from the Dartmouth club will take over from Paignton's Rob Harris as the Team Manager for the West Region Junior squad who will be looking to compete against 11 other regions at the Junior Inter Regional Regatta which is scheduled to be held at the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham on Saturday 21st April.

WEARA Championship & Offshore Regattas. 2018

April
7th. Parson & Clark Gallop. Teignmouth
21st. Breakwater Bash. Plymouth
May
5th. Langstone Challenge. Exmouth
12th. Thatcher Rock. Torbay
June
9th. Plymouth Regatta
16th. Wimbleball Regatta
23rd. Port of Bideford Regatta
July
14th. City of Exeter Regatta
21/22nd. Totnes & Bridgetown Royal Regatta. Two day event
28th. Greenbank Falmouth Regatta
August
5th. Appledore & Instow Regatta
11th. Paignton Regatta
25th. Torbay Royal Regatta
30th. Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta
September
1st. Muddy Rubble. Plymouth
15th. Lead Weigh8. Teignmouth
October
6th. Pier to Pier. Torbay
20th. Exe Raid. Exmouth
November
17th. Dart-Totnes Autumn Head Race.