Trinity Regatta makes innovative changes to cope with biggest entry in decades

Busy weekend also features Rowing Ireland agm

Richard and Peter Chambers: will shoot it out in one of the most early-awaited duels at  British trials.

Richard and Peter Chambers: will shoot it out in one of the most early-awaited duels at British trials.


Rowing in Ireland has had its problems, but administrators have not been shy of making innovative changes. Trinity Regatta has been the most traditional of events, but faced with the biggest entry in decades – 420 crews from 25 clubs – the organisers told single scullers they will face a time trial tomorrow morning to qualify for semi-finals. In one hour 120-odd entrants will be winkled down to 32.

Racing at Islandbridge will start today, with over three hours of competition from 4.30pm for local crews. Tomorrow’s programme begins at 7.30am and is scheduled to finish with the men’s senior eights final between UCD and Trinity at 7.05pm. The women’s senior eights decider, which also features the same pairing, is set for 11.48am. Andrew Coleman of Trinity said the early timing is to facilitate student exams.

Coleman is also a big proponent of innovation for this weekend’s agm of Rowing Ireland at Garda Boat Club on Sunday. This post-Olympic forum has rule-change powers and it should formally elect a president (Con Cronin) and treasurer (Susan Dunlea) and plan the 2014 calendar. However, much of the interest will be on whether it will endorse a Rowing Ireland proposal which would allow single crews to be forged from different grades.

The proposed rule change would allow, say, an experienced senior rower to team up with a good novice or recent junior to form a crew where they might be the only adult athletes active in a club. The crew would be graded by weighting being given to each of the rowers.

The proposal is aimed at the real problem of retaining adult athletes in clubs – but perhaps the change does not go far enough. The nub of the problem is athletes who graduate from junior ranks often cannot see achievable targets. A major revamp of grades to correspond with international norms, so adult grades would consist of under-23 (and/or under-21) and senior would cut through this Gordian Knot.

Too many grades
At present, there are too many grades. A reasonably good athlete who puts in a couple of hard years of effort can be the champion of Ireland in one of the grades. By the end of that period they may quit with a sated ambition. If they had a smaller target to aim for that aim could only be achieved by longer effort, but the reward would be greater.

Junior rowing is competitive, however. One of Ireland’s top juniors in recent years, 18-year-old Joel Cassells, is at Oxford Brookes University and is one of the rising stars in British rowing. He will compete at British trials this weekend.

Cassells will compete in the lightweight single sculls, where fellow Coleraine men Peter and Richard Chambers, Olympic silver medallists in the lightweight four last year, will shoot it out in one of the most early-awaited duels. Donald Evans of Queen’s University is also set to compete in this class.

Alan Campbell hopes to make it a record ninth win in the open single sculls, where former Ireland triallist Colin Williamson will be a rival, while Enniskillen’s Leonora Kennedy competes in the women’s single sculls.