Rowing: Pressure growing to lengthen competitive season
Rowing Ireland to host workshop on current calendar in Dublin on Sunday
Paul and Gary O’Donovan celebrate winning the gold medal in the Lightweight Men’s double sculls at the World Rowing Championships at Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Photograph: Detlev Seyb/Inpho
The shape of the Irish rowing season is in the spotlight this weekend.
The Skibbereen Head of the River gives rowers, mostly in the south of the country, a big day out at the Marina in Cork on Saturday, with young competitors and masters rowers (who make up a tenth of the crews) well represented.
The Dublin Head of the River, also set for tomorrow, has been called off as the organisers were worried that the recent heavy rain and tides could raise safety concerns.
Cancellations due to weather – endemic in recent seasons – will be on the minds of club members who head for the workshop which Rowing Ireland has organised in Dublin on Sunday.
The packed regatta season – 22 events in 100 days in the season ahead – leaves no room for rescheduling of the four grand league events which are the pillars of the structure.
The way forward (and for practical reasons this is set to be for 2021 and beyond) is surely to lengthen the season, which at present ends in mid-July with the huge Irish Championships. However, the organisers of the workshop say it is not a discussion about this date moving.
The Championships Regatta has boomed to an unwieldy size – if there had been any serious weather problems on the three days this year there was no spare capacity.
About half the events are not for Irish Championships per se – they are for competitors at junior 16 or below. The numbers are huge, and events have been cut.
One clever suggestion is that there be qualifiers for a full set of non-championship events through the season: this would trim the numbers at the championships and give an extra edge to the qualifying regattas, presumably the Grand League events.
But, again, the Grand League regattas thus must go ahead, whether on the original days or on new ones.
The elite Irish rowers, who have been at camps in Italy and Spain, compete at trials next weekend at the National Rowing Centre, while Friday’s World Rowing Awards might bring some Irish joy. The provinces indoor rowing competition draws rowers and an increasing number of non-rowers to the University of Limerick on Saturday.
Limerick man Shane Ryan, who represented Ireland at the Paralympics in 2012, is gearing up to row across the Atlantic. The start of the row, from Portugal to French Guyana, has been brought forward to March. Ryan is recovering from a hairline fracture in his right foot. He hopes to be back in full training in the next week or so.