No messing about on River Don as 192 teams row for medal chance

South Yorkshire Head of the River races. Competitors in theSouth Yorkshire Head of the River races hosted by the Doncaster and  Sheffield Rowing clubs  on the river Don at Hexthorpe.
South Yorkshire Head of the River races. Competitors in theSouth Yorkshire Head of the River races hosted by the Doncaster and Sheffield Rowing clubs on the river Don at Hexthorpe.
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The usually tranquil River Don came alive with the splash of hundreds of oars for the biggest rowing competition in South Yorkshire.

A record entry for the South Yorkshire Head of the River races brought 192 teams of oarsmen and women to Doncaster and the river was closed to other craft for the day.

The event was hosted jointly by Doncaster and Sheffield City Rowing Clubs and races were held over a course of three kilometres between Marshgate and Hexthorpe Flatts.

Teams from 22 rowing clubs across the north of England entered the races, with crews of varying numbers aged from 13 to veterans in their 70s.

Race secretary Nick Walton said the Head of the River races were held in winter over longer courses than summer regattas to test rowers’ endurance and lung capacity.

“The conditions were absolutely perfect, with only a slight headwind and no rain or snow.

“It was a beautiful winter’s afternoon and everyone was cheering the crews on. We also had quite a few spectators this year because of the nicer weather and the Doncaster club won quite a few medals.”

Mr Walton said British Waterways had been very helpful in closing that stretch of the Don to ensure there were no problems with other craft getting in the way of the boats.

“It was an absolutely fabulous day and many of the clubs complimented Doncaster and Sheffield City for a very well run head race. Everything went to schedule and there were no mishaps.

“This year we had to close the entries early because we were over-subscribed, which indicates how popular this competition is.”

One of the highlights for the Doncaster club was the selection of its under-16s eight, coached by Lisa Wilkin, to represent South Yorkshire at the national junior championships at Holme Pierrepoint, near Nottingham, in May.