The first ever rowing team from Keswick School are preparing for their first ever race. They will make their debut at King Pocky’s Derwentwater Regatta on Saturday 11th July.
The 10 teenagers have learned to row in just six weeks, thanks to coaching provided by the Lakeland Rowing Club from their base at Derwent Water Marina. The eight boys and two girls are Year 10 students who spent two hours training on Derwentwater every Thursday with expert coaches. They will race against other beginner crews at the Derwentwater Regatta in front of crowds of people as part of the celebration of the lake’s history and heritage.
Ian Turnbull, Sports Co-ordinator for Keswick School said: “None of them have rowed before, when you see the progress they’ve made, it’s amazing.”
David Thomas, a coach from Lakeland Rowing Club said: “The great thing about this group is that they learn so fast. The rowing standard they’d already achieved after only 2 sessions – it was really impressive.”
Jessie Binns, visitor experience officer for the National Trust in the North Lakes said “I was blown away by the talent of these young people. I was in the boat with the coach, and when they were all rowing at top speed our motor boat could hardly keep up with them – I think it will make for a very exciting race to watch”.
Asked how he enjoyed rowing at flat-out pace, Robert Spedding, a student at Keswick School, said “It’s great. You can’t tell how fast you’re going until you look at the shore, then you really feel the speed.”
The Regatta aims to recreate the spirit of the original 1780s regattas held on Derwentwater. Instigated by Joseph ‘King Pocky’ Pocklington, the inhabitant of Derwent Island, and ‘Admiral’ Peter Crosthwaite who started the first museum in Keswick’s market square, they included rowing races, but also embellished the traditional regatta concept considerably. They held dog and horse-swimming races, mock frigate battles and invasions of the island involving so much cannon fire The Cumberland Pacquet reported that the echoes were heard as far away as Appleby.
Since 2013, The National Trust has been working with local outdoor businesses to recreate a light-hearted take on the Regatta – providing taster sessions for complete beginners in canoeing, kayaking, sailing dinghies, Viking longboats and catamarans, and even floating bathtubs and stand up paddleboards, with great success – over 8,000 people have attended the event over the two years.
Lakeland Rowing Club proposed a series of 500m sprint races for the 2015 Regatta as a way of introducing more people to the sport. They approached Keswick School to see if students were interested and the ten youngsters stepped forward.
The 500m sprint course will start beside Friar’s Crag, and will run towards Keswick – giving spectators on the Derwentwater Foreshore and Crow Park a really close-up view of the action. The ten teenagers will be rowing as two crews of five – four rowers and one cox. Anyone wanting to cheer them on should come to Derwentwater Regatta on Crow Park in Keswick on Saturday 11 July, races are scheduled between 10am-4pm. On Sunday 12 July, Lakeland Rowing Club is offering rowing taster sessions as part of the Regatta for anyone who’s been inspired and would like to try rowing on Derwentwater, the ‘Queen of the Lakes,’ for themselves.
The six week training programme was funded by Active Cumbria, who are also supporting Derwentwater Regatta as part of their Community Games programme.
More details www.nationaltrust.org.uk/derwentregatta