Rowing: Tough conditions expected for big weekend highlights

Organisers of Erne Head of the River and Cork Head adopt different approaches

 

Two big events, two different approaches.

The Erne Head of the River in Enniskillen and the Cork Head will both go ahead this weekend, but the organisers have adopted different approaches on how to deal with the forecast of strong winds on Saturday.

Cork will swap from Saturday to Sunday, keeping the same times. The weather forecasters predict winds will be much less powerful on Sunday. The multiple heads run from morning into the afternoon and will cover the four kilometres from Horgan’s Quay to Blackrock Castle.

The Erne Head is a more traditional single head (start time 2 o’clock) over the long, six-kilometre course. It is a tough challenge and honorary secretary Derek Holland pulls no punches.

“There will be winds of 20 miles per hour, and some gusts. It will be a tailwind.”

Holland says clubs should advise all competitors to wear warm clothing. The water level has been low and the organisers are confident that crews will be able to negotiate the course. There are no small boats at this head.

The quality of the rowing at last weekend’s Ireland trial, at junior level and above, was remarkably good – both in choppy conditions in the morning and calmer ones in the afternoon.

World champions Sanita Puspure and Paul O’Donovan duly topped the rankings and Aifric Keogh and Monika Dukarska also ticked the box as the best women’s pair. Aileen Crowley was a loss here. Molly Curry produced an outstanding performance in the women’s junior single.

The men’s sweep side is fascinating. Fionnán Crowley and Patrick Boomer gave a very good account of themselves as a pair. Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan were faster in the time trial, but in the multilane racing the two big men took the honours – just. Winning the next trial, at the end of this month, is one of the way stations set down by Ireland high performance director Antonio Maurogiovanni. There are interesting times ahead.

Parachute payment

The dilemma that O’Driscoll and O’Donovan highlighted – athletes with their eyes on Olympic qualification may be left without any funding – is not solely limited to them. Rowers – Crowley and Boomer are good examples – often make huge sacrifices. However, maybe Sport Ireland might look at a modest parachute payment if full-time carded athletes falter but remain committed to a programme.

Out of adversity goodness sometimes emerges. People from as far away as New Zealand and the United States have been contributing to the gofundme drive (support for junior rower Amy Mulcahy) to give help to the family of the 12-year-old Athlunkard girl injured in the capsize in Limerick on Saturday and now in hospital in Dublin. British Rowing have also been in touch.

The Irish Championship Regatta this year (July 12th to 14th) will not feature the men’s senior pair or double. The low participation in the last two years triggered the sundown rule and the events lapse. The regatta has become so big – even run over three days – that there have been limits put on some events. A junior 15 octuple has been added.

One colour obliterated the others at the Colours races last year: white. Heavy snow made for a memorable occasion, though nobody plans to hold the races above the weir at Islandbridge ever again.

UCD and Trinity will stage their annual clash on the Liffey in central Dublin next Saturday, February 9th- it has been brought forward from the St Patrick’s weekend.

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