It is an ill wind that does not blow some good. Ireland internationals who might have been competing at the World Cup in Austria this weekend will instead be on show at the National Rowing Centre at Cork Regatta.
With an entry of over 850 crews, the two-day Grand League event may be the biggest single rowing regatta, outside the Irish Championships, held in Ireland. The quality of competition should be high, as many crews from eights through to single sculls fight it out for the first time in a wind-disrupted season. The regatta will also serve as a trial for Home Internationals, while recently-chosen Ireland under-23 crews will also compete.
It is the start of a hectic few weeks for Paul O’Donovan and Gary O’Donovan, who will compete here, then travel on to Henley Royal Regatta, which begins on July 4th, and then on to the final World Cup at Lucerne in mid-July. The team for Lucerne, which is also set to include Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll in the pair and perhaps another heavyweight men’s boat, will be named next week.
Henley Women’s Regatta starts on Friday and runs until Sunday. Commercial in the lightweight pair, Queen’s in the Aspirational Academic Four and NUIG in the Development coxed four may hold the strongest hopes of progressing. Cork have entered a Championship Double, while UCD go in the Academic Eights, but their crew is almost entirely a novice one which has travelled to gain experience.
NUIG entered an eight in the Aspirational Academic Eight and (as Tribesmen) in the Aspirational Club Eights. However, the stewards insisted that both crews should go in the time trials for the top-ranked Championship Eight. NUIG can progress to the main draw; Tribesmen cannot.
The Craigavon Lakes Regatta on Saturday is run by the Ulster Branch of Rowing Ireland. It features a mainly local entry. In the junior 16 single sculls, Louis Nixon of Enniskillen carries on a tradition set by his first cousin, Holly Nixon.
The World Cup Regatta in Linz-Ottensheim this weekend may not feature Ireland, for mainly budgetary reasons, but there will be big interest in the new lightweight double from France. The world and Olympic champions have lost Jeremie Azou to retirement: Thomas Baroukh will partner Pierre Houin. In the men's single, New Zealand have entered Robbie Manson, who holds the record for the world's best time, and the Olympic champion, Mahe Drysdale.
Irish rowers travelled in numbers to the British Masters regatta at Nottingham last weekend and there were multiple wins. Denis Crowley was the star of the show and won in a Commercial/Neptune four and in the single, where he was over four seconds clear.
Mary Moloney has stepped into the shoes of Michelle Carpenter in the Get Going Get Rowing programme. The Offaly woman, who is a former captain of the Ladies Boat Club at Trinity, becomes development and women in sport manager. Carpenter is now chief executive of Rowing Ireland.