More than 150 years after Derwentwater’s last major rowing event, oarsmen and women from across the North of England will converge on the lake next month to make history.
The first full-scale Derwentwater Head race of the modern era takes place on Saturday 4 March and will involve up to 300 competitors, many of whom will spend the weekend in Keswick, enjoying all the town has to offer.
The event hosted by Keswick-based Lakeland Rowing Club, and backed by British Rowing, will be contested by crews of four and eight, aged from 14 to 70-plus, racing over a 3km course.
Lakeland RC chair Julia McCumiskey said: “We’ve wanted to run our own event for a long time. Our beautiful lake is unlike any other location on the British Rowing calendar, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm from the rowing community to come and race on it.
“We’re a small club with very limited facilities of our own, so it’s taken a lot of time and commitment from members and their families, and support from local organisations, such as the National Trust and Keswick Lions, and from umpires at other clubs to put this together.
“We’re also indebted to our event sponsors, Inovica, Cumberland Building Society, Honister Slate Mine, Sam Ayers of Bodyfit Cumbria, the Speddings of Mire House, Cumbria Parking Services, Elite Rowing and George Fisher for their generous help.”
The last competition of its kind on the lake took place in 1870, when crews travelled from London by train and carried their boats through Keswick to the shore.
Julia went on: “The club held a successful trial event in November 2019 with a small number of competitors but had to cancel the inaugural full-scale event in March2020. We’re very pleased to finally be hosting this event in 2023.
“Spectators should definitely come along. Watching the crews unload their 18-metre boats in Lake Road Car Park and carrying them to the water is a sight to behold. The boats will then head to the start at the southern end of the lake before racing back towards the town.”
Launching for the two divisions, which start at 9.45am and 12.45pm, will be from the foreshore by Crow Park.
The course will depend on wind direction on the day. If it’s easterly, the race will start at Kettlewell and follow that shore line. If it’s from the west, crews will start at High Brandlehow, crossing the lake from Lingholm towards the Isthmus. For both courses, the boats will be easily viewed from all along the lake.
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.