Oars At The Ready For Second Full-Scale Derwentwater Head Race

Crews head to Keswick on 9 March for Lakeland competition
Mag North
February 29, 2024

More than 400 oarsmen and women from across the North of England and Ireland will converge on Derwentwater next week for the biggest rowing event ever held on the lake.

On Saturday 9 March, Lakeland Rowing Club will host the second full-scale Derwentwater Head of the modern era. Around 100 crews of four or eight rowers, aged from fifteen to seventy-five, will race the length of the lake in the time-trial-style competition.

The 2023 head was the first major race of its kind on Derwentwater since the Victorian era, when crews travelled from as far away as London by train and carried their boats through the town to the shore.

This year, the British Rowing backed spectacle will begin at 8:30am, when clubs start walking their boats from Lakeside car park to the water between the Keswick Launch Company jetties.

One Of The Windermere Rowing Club Crews on Derwentwater in the Lake District
One Of The Windermere Rowing Club Crews

Lakeland RC chair Julia McCumiskey said: “We’re hoping lots of people will come to watch. The crews unloading their 18-metre boats and carrying them to the water is an extraordinary sight in itself. They will then head to the start at the southern end of the lake before racing back towards the town.”

The event will take place across three divisions, with the first crews setting off at 9:15am and the last at around 2.45pm. The exact course will be decided according to wind conditions on the day, but the boats will be easily viewed from all along the lake.

If the east course is chosen, crews will start near Kettlewell and finish by Friars Crag. If racing is on the west side, the start will be at Low Brandlehow, with the finish between Isthmus Cottage and Derwent Island.

Julia added: “Our beautiful lake is unlike any other location on the British Rowing racing calendar, and there’s a lot of excitement among the rowing community about competing on it. Many of the competitors plan to spend the weekend in Keswick, enjoying all the town has to offer."

Lakeland RC held a small-scale trial event in 2019 before hosting the inaugural full-scale event last March.

Julia: “This year, we have even more entries and we’re looking forward to finding out if anyone can beat the course record set in 2023 by an eight from Durham University’s Josephine Butler College, which completed the 3km course in just 11 minutes 36.4 seconds.

Durham's Josephine Butler College 8 - Last Years's Fastest Crew
Durham's Josephine Butler College 8 - Last Years's Fastest Crew

“We’re a small club with limited facilities and staging the race takes a lot of time and commitment from members and their families, as well as from local organisations and umpires at other clubs. We’re also indebted to our generous event sponsors, Derwent Water Marina, Mike Fell Building Contractors, Lloyds BMW and Inovica.”

Beginners, or returning rowers, coxes, coaches or prospective sponsors who would like to know more about opportunities at Lakeland RC can visit www.lakelandrowingclub.com or find it on Facebook – just search for Lakeland Rowing Club.

Header Image: Talkin Tarn ARC Rowing Squad at the 2023 Derwentwater Head Race