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Lakeland RC crews victorious at gruelling Rutherford Head

Lakeland RC’s winning men’s masters crew of David Thomas (bow steer), David Pratt, Graeme Mactavish and Stefan Escreet (stroke) at Rutherford. Picture: Al Johnston

Lakeland Rowing Club crews triumphed in two classes at Saturday’s Rutherford Head, one of the most testing and fiercely competitive events on the British rowing calendar.

Places on the gruelling 4.5km River Tyne time trial sold out in under 50 minutes, with more than 1500 rowers and coxes travelling from all over the UK to take part in eights, fours and sculling quads.

Lakeland put forward five quads in different age and experience categories at the chilly, rain-soaked race – and took two first places and three runners’ up spots.

David Thomas, from Keswick, bow steered his coxless crew of David Pratt, from Seathwaite, Graeme Mactavish, from Bolton Low Houses, and stroke Stefan Escreet, from Bassenthwaite, to victory in the men’s masters E/F category in an age-adjusted time of 18 minutes and 6 seconds.

Graeme, who learned to row with Lakeland last year, was competing in his first ever race. He said: “I really enjoyed the day’s racing and to get the win just put the cherry on the top!”

Celia Malone, from Ennerdale Bridge, Alison Barr, from Aspatria, Lisa Waistell, from Newbiggin, and stroke Claire Brock, from Ellonby, steered by cox Kate Garratt, from Cockermouth, won the women’s masters B/E coxed category in an age-adjusted time of 23 minutes and 6 seconds.

It was also a first race for Celia, who completed a Lakeland learn-to-row course just six months ago.

She said: “The atmosphere was amazing. The Lakeland rowers all worked together as a team with the huge task of transporting boats and ensuring they were fully prepared and race ready. Everyone was supportive and encouraging, particularly towards the newest rowers, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Lakeland also came second in the B2 open coxless, men’s masters F coxed and women’s masters B/E coxed classes at the event organised by Tyne Amateur Rowing Club.

The B2 boat was bow steered by Sam Ayers, from Eaglesfield, who last month took a silver medal in the Welsh Indoor Rowing Championships in the women’s lightweight category.

The Derwentwater club marked its Rutherford success at its Keswick Isthmus base on Tuesday by launching a new double scull purchased with a grant from the United Utilities Legacy Fund, brokered by Cumbria Community Foundation.

As well as funding the boat, which has been christened DUUble Trouble in thanks to UU, the £10,000 grant enabled Lakeland to buy eight new oars and a single scull named in honour of its president and founding member, John Knox.

After the launch ceremony, junior members 14-year-old Holly Lock and 17-year-old Ben Hammond, both from Keswick School, took DUUble Trouble for an inaugural outing on the lake.

Last month, Lakeland added two further double sculls to its fleet with the aid of a generous gift from a club member’s father. The second-hand boats were refurbished with the help of a Rowing Foundation Grant applied for by junior members.

Beginners, or returning rowers, coxes or coaches, 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.

To hear Lakeland RC members chatting on BBC Radio Cumbria Sports Extra about U(U) boats and the importance of mince pies and waterproof socks, go to https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p06r0sh9

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