Portmagee rowing club El Nino hosted the National Coastal Rowing Championships last Saturday and Sunday. Coastal Rowing is the fastest growing sport in the world at present and Ireland is one of the countries at the forefront of these developments. This exciting sport combines boat speed, navigation, fitness, technical ability and also the courage required to row through high waves, currents and wind.
The sport is administered by Rowing Ireland who is the governing body for all types of rowing in Ireland. FISA, the world governing body for rowing, will meet in congress on the 16th of October to decide on the admission of Coastal Rowing to the Olympic programme. It will be the final link in the chain that will enable an athlete to begin rowing in their local club and with the required talent and lots of hard work, reach all the ways into an Olympic final.
The growth in this sport really showed this weekend with heats needed in most events. Usually, this is a one-day event with seven categories at senior A grade, mens and womens quads, doubles and singles and then the mixed double. The highlight of Saturday had to be the women’s quad final with a packed field of 12 boats on the start line. Reigning champions Killorglin made it three in a row in this event and then two of the crew went on to win the double event. The mixed double also was an intense battle with a novel pairing of Kealan Mannix and his sister Alyssa taking the gold for Rosscarbery. On Sunday, the standout performances came from the Myross/Castletownshend composite in the quad. Stung by last year’s defeat due to a poor start, the Cork crew spent 12 months waiting to avenge their loss. They exploded off the startline and established an early lead which they held all the ways around the course.
The men’s single featured an intense battle between John Harrington from the Galley Flash club and Kealan Mannix of Rosscarbery. Kealan did just enough in the last part of the race to forge ahead and claim a second gold. Monika Dukarska dominated the single with an explosive start and Donegal Bay came from behind to record a famous victory in the men’s double.
Running any sports event in these times can be very challenging as due to the government’s guidelines, the athletes have to compete in an isolated environment to keep them safe and while 100 spectators are allowed at this present time, the club felt it best to ask that no patrons attend this event.
Portmagee Rowing Club El Nino wish to thank all the voluntary help that they received from the community in Portmagee, the fishermen who allowed us to move their boats and fishing gear so we had the full use of the slip all weekend, the safety boat crews and boats, the help and support from other traditional rowing clubs in South Kerry and also all stewards and helpers who freely gave their time. We would like to thank the members of An Garda Siochana for all their help up to and during the weekend, Kerry County Council for cleaning down the slip and all the local businesses who supported this regatta. It is onwards and upwards for our sport and we know that like all sports, we will have to continue to restrict our numbers of competitors and spectators at our events until this pandemic has passed. To all our fellow clubs, thank you for attending and making this a superb weekend and we look forward already to 2021 and competing in the Irish Offshore Rowing Championships in Bantry, Co Cork.