Lakeland Rowing Club triumphs at national contest

Members of Lakeland Rowing Club won eight medals at the annual British Rowing Masters’ Championships held at the weekend at the National Water Sports Center in Nottingham.

The haul of one gold, five silvers and two bronzes is, according to club chair Julia McCumiskey, a ‘remarkable result’ for the tiny Keswick-based club, which sent just half-a-dozen rowers to the prestigious event for competitors aged 27 and over.

MEDALS: Nick Cowan (left), Sam Ayers, Julia McCumiskey and Graeme Mactavish Photos Geoff Ayers

Lakeland is now hoping news of its success will attract sponsors to support its 2023 Derwentwater Head Race, the first full event of its kind to take place on the lake for over 150 years.

Despite windy conditions, all six rowers came home with at least one medal, making Lakeland the second most successful club of the 104 taking part in Saturday’s races.

Across the whole weekend, Lakeland, which was founded just 15 years ago, has only around 100 members and no permanent clubhouse, was fifteenth, ahead of many far older, larger and wealthier competitors.

Sam Ayers and Nick Cowan, from Eaglesfield, won gold in the mixed double sculls E category (average age 55-59) for the second year running on the six-lane, 1,000-metre course – last year they were the club’s only medallists.

Sam, who owns exercise company BodyFit Cumbria, also took silver in the women’s C category (average age 43-49) in a coxless quad, rowing with three members of Talkin Tarn Amateur Rowing Club, based near Carlisle.

Retired GP Nick teamed up with Keith Lawton, from Hollingworth Lake RC, to win silver in the open F (age 60-64) double sculls, while Sam achieved a second silver with Julia in the women’s D (age 50-54) double sculls .

Times and Star: SMILES: Gordon and Celia on the waterSMILES: Gordon and Celia on the water

Julia, who owns a B&B in Keswick, also won silver with Graeme Mactavish, a forestry and environmental consultant from Bolton Low Houses, in both the mixed C double sculls and the mixed D class.

Celia Whittam was the club’s only medallist in a single scull, taking bronze in women’s F/G (age 60-69). Gardener Celia, of Troutbeck, won a second bronze with Gordon Jack, an IT specialist from Greysouthen, in the mixed G (age 65-69) doubles.

Julia said: “It was a remarkable series of results for such a small, young club. Personally, having just completed our first full year of competition as a mixed doubles partnership, Graeme and I are thrilled to come away with two silvers at national level.

“It was a great day and lovely to see lots of familiar faces we’ve met throughout the season, as well as some new crews to race against. Everyone is so friendly and the events are always a lot of fun at the same time as being quite competitive.”

Sam added: “When the opportunity came up to sub into Talkin Tarn’s women’s quad, I jumped at it. It was very rough water and I was in the bow seat and responsible for steering. We zig-zagged our way up the course but qualified for the final. In that race, we managed a much better line and raced better to gain a silver medal – a great surprise.”

She went on: “My race with Nick was the one we’ve been training for all year. Again, conditions were rough and it was a tough field, including some boats with ex-internationals, but our months of training in rough water, indoor rowing sessions, weights work, strength and conditioning all paid off.” The club is now busy planning to run the long-awaited British Rowing accredited Derwentwater Head race in March 2023, based on Keswick’s Crow Park. This follows a successful small-scale invitation event in November 2019.

Julia explained: “The first full Derwentwater Head was planned for March 2020 but sadly had to be cancelled. We’re very excited that we’ve been able to reschedule. The club’s resources are limited but we are now looking for sponsors to support what will be a unique event in a stunning location.”

Anyone interested in becoming a Derwentwater Head sponsor can contact the club by email at

Beginners or returning rowers who would like to know more about opportunities at Lakeland RC can visit or find the club on Facebook.

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