Erne Head of the River will tomorrow become the first domestic event of the year to beat the weather. The organisers have had to come up with a new course, as the flow upstream of Portora Boat Club has been dangerously fast.
The head will now be solely for eights and will run on the wider, slower, part of the lake for about five kilometres against the flow to the boat club. The start will be across from the famous Lough Erne Resort (site of the G8 summit) and the boats will race alongside the historic Devenish Island.
In 2013, this head was one of the events talked about through the year, and the entry this time out is again impressive, headed up by senior eights from Gráinne Mhaol/NUIG, UCD, Trinity, NUIG and Belfast Rowing Club.
However, the Fermoy Head of the River, scheduled for next weekend, has been cancelled. The river has had very high water levels and divers discovered new obstacles which the organisers feel could not be dealt with in time to hold the event safely.
The more welcoming climate of Australia has been the backdrop for good performances for Claire Lambe, who will be Ireland's sole competitor at the opening World Cup in Sydney in four weeks' time – but one of her compatriots is set to compete for the home team.
Richard Coakley has been chosen to represent Australia in the lightweight single sculls. The 30-year-old Skibbereen man moved to Australia in 2010 having won a World Cup medal for Ireland in the lightweight eight in 2005. He rowed for Ireland at the Olympic Games in 2012, coming in as a reserve for Gearóid Towey in the B final. In a neat twist, Towey is now coaching him in Australia.
Coakley’s elder brother Eugene (34), who was an Ireland Olympian in 2004 and a World Championship medallist in 2005 and 2006, could yet face his sibling in international competition.
Eugene entered last weekend’s Ireland trial, but pulled out due to the arrival of his first child, Jackson. He is based in London and said yesterday that he was unlikely to re-enter the system this year but may do so next season.
The trial in Newry showed that Ireland’s top level has “more depth”, as performance director, Morten Espersen asserted. Lightweight men and open and lightweight women (where Catríona Jennings is rising fast) all look to be bubbling up well.
Heavyweight men is a problem area, but even here, John Keohane did well in the single scull, hitting 85.09 per cent of projected world gold medal time on the Sunday.
Rowing Ireland has chosen Michelle Carpenter (neé McElligott) to be the new women's development officer for Leinster. She rowed with Shannon Rowing Club and with Commercial in Dublin.