Planning for the 2021 Regatta

Colin LawsonNews

Current planning for Durham Regatta 2021

The committee has maintained its schedule of regular monthly meetings and is committed to holding Durham Regatta in June 2021 if at all possible. The main factor affecting planning is the uncertainty over the nature of restrictions that may be in place in the period covering the preparation for and delivery of the regatta. We are also very mindful of the financial position of the Regatta, not least after previous cancellations due to Covid and the weather. In addition, the lack of opportunities for people to row or to train will impact on their readiness to compete.

We judge that the best case is that we may be able to run a solely water-based regatta with fewer races and lower entry numbers, probably a third to a half fewer, than in recent years to allow us to manage social distancing, especially off the water. With this and the lack of preparation in mind, we also have tentative plans to hold a series of skills based events on the Friday of the regatta, aimed particularly at university students and juniors.

We intend to reduce prior expenditure to a minimum, and where possible to zero. Essentially we will continue to plan and liaise with partners, such as Durham County Council and its Safety Advisory Group, Durham University and Durham Amateur Rowing Club in the hope that we can put on a competition of sufficient quality to justify calling it Durham Regatta. We will hold options open until as late as possible. If we are able to run the regatta we will definitely need the input of a significant number of volunteers, and we will need the efforts of Regatta members and others to recruit them.


Durham Regatta has been acting as the liaison organisation for the main users of the River Wear in Durham in the relationship with the Environment Agency over the sustainable management of the river and in particular the movement of gravel and ‘dredging’. After an extensive survey, consultants report and virtual meetings, the EA granted a permit in December 2020 that, subject to their agreement to the specific working methods of the contractors, allows for a ‘capital’ dredge and removal of material from the river on the stretch from the DARC boathouse to the early part of the regatta course. The work has to be completed within one year of the granting of the permit. The Regatta is very grateful to Durham County Council, Durham University, Durham Amateur Rowing Club and the members of Durham Regatta for their contributions to the costs of the survey, consultancy and permit so far.

We are in initial discussions with a number of contractors to scope out the project to dredge the river, and to obtain ballpark estimates for the work. Once we have a better idea of the likely costs, availability of contractors and a clearer picture of what the prospects are for rowing and regattas for this year, we will move the decision forward. We will certainly consider a variety of sources of finance, e.g. grants, contributions in kind, fundraising, in addition to the previous contributors, and again any assistance of members in that area would be very helpful.