Irish Clubs had a number of crews competing at the recent World Rowing Masters Championships in Hazewinkle in Belgium. Over the last 10 years there have been on average 3 wins every year at this event but this year there were 11 events won between crews and scullers.
There were notable first success stories for Paul Gallen from Athlone in the F2x and also Sean Heaney from Galway rowing club in the C1x events. However pride of place must go to the Irish Composite E8+ with an average age of 55.
There was a track record with this crew throughout the year particularly at London Masters HOR with an exceptional 2nd place. Going into this event the plan was to race the D8 the day before and the expectation was that this race would be a better chance of success as the mighty Dynamo Moscow would be competing in the E8 event.
However, as things turned out, Germany had a very strong composite with many ex-world champions and they relegated Ireland to second place of the 7 contenders.
The pressure was therefore on in the E8 final. With 7 contending countries Ireland decided on a strategy of fast break and this they did with a sudden and sustained attack after 40 seconds. Without dropping below 40 for any part of the race this had a devastating effect on all crews with ¾ of a length lead after 400m. However true to form the great Russians started to creep back and reel in Ireland with all other crews in their wake. By the final 200m Ireland were pegged back with the Russians leading by a couple of feet. But a huge call from Penky brought the Irish back on level terms and pushed ½ a canvas into the lead crossing the line.
A gallant Russian crew acknowledged the Irish achievement as where every country had failed over the last number of years the Irish had succeeded.
There were other great successes at this championships most notably Denis Crowley from commercial rowing club where he won the B (35), C (43) and D (50) single sculling events.
The full list of winning crews
E8+ John Hudson, Denis Crowley, Gerry (Spuddy) Murphy, Mike Heavey, Colin Dixon, Colin Hunter, Fran O’Toole, Donal McGuinness, Al Penkert (Cox) (IRL Composite)
E4+ John Hudson, Mike Heavey, Colin Dixon, Colin Hunter, Penky (Cox).(IRL Composite)
E2- Colin Dixon, Colin Hunter (Belfast)
D2- Fran O’Toole, Donal McGuinness (Commercial)
B1x Denis Crowley (Commercial)
C1x Denis Crowley (Commercial)
D1x Denis Crowley (Commercial)
C1x Sean Heaney (Galway)
F2x Paul Gallen, Seamus Keating (Composite)
F2- Milo Murray, Pat Murray (Cappoquinn)
WB1x Rebecca Quinn (Three Castles)