Three Irish crews have difficult task to make main draw at Henley

Trinity and Lady Elizabeth only Irish crews straight through to main draws

Crews train ahead of racing on the first day of last year’s Henley Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames, England. Photograph: Getty Images.

Crews train ahead of racing on the first day of last year’s Henley Royal Regatta at Henley-on-Thames, England. Photograph: Getty Images.

 

Three Irish crews must fight to make it to the main draw at Henley Royal Regatta. The young coxed four from University College, Cork, compete in the qualifiers at 7pm.

Just the fastest 12 of 38 crews are set to go through. The eight from Portora Royal School will hope to make it through in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, where the fastest 11 crews of 25 qualify. Belfast Rowing Club will also hope to qualify for the Wyfold Cup, where 12 of 34 go through.

Two Irish-based crews go straight into the main draw of the regatta, which begins on Wednesday: Trinity in the Temple Cup for college eights and Lady Elizabeth in the Wyfold for club fours.

The UCC crew has three changes from the coxless four which put it up to Gráinne Mhaol/NUIG in a competitive final at Cork Regatta. Andy Harrington is unavailable and Stephen O’Connor has been chosen on the Ireland under-23 team. Alex O’Riordan and Tomás Power come in, and Becky O’Sullivan will cox.

The fours race was one of the best of a good regatta. The new automated timing system misfired on the Saturday. However, this was because an additional sorting system was tried, rather than a glitch, which would have been a major blow to the Grand League, which relies on timed heats to determine placings.

The international system is also striving to reach its potential – with funding difficulties a constant constraint.

The addition of top Italian coach Giuseppe de Capua should help the team, though it is hardly ideal that such a coach should come in so late, and with some funding coming from private sources.

Denise Walsh has now been selected in the lightweight single and Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll in the lightweight pair for the World Cup Regatta in Lucerne from July 10th to 12th.

Ireland performance director Morten Espersen is intent on broadening the base of the international system and addressed athletes and coaches at the regatta about his plans.

Rowing Ireland has received a donation of $20,000 (€17,850) for the men’s heavyweight programme. The American donor wishes to remain anonymous.

On the water this weekend, Castleconnell Sprint Regatta on Saturday is almost an entirely junior event. Fermoy Regatta on Sunday has some strong entries at club two and masters level. The junior 18 men’s and women’s sculls promise good competition. At Henley Women’s Regatta, UCD’s senior eight and Portora’s junior eight reached the semi-finals.

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