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It has taken a while for regular success in ocean rowing to come Ireland’s way, but 2022 saw a massive leap forward with Galway Bay’s Karen Weekes and Damien Browne each completing the crossing, Karen east-west in April, and Damien west-east from New York to Galway in October.

However, 2023 was barely two weeks old when another remarkable achievement was added to the tally with Wicklow’s five-strong “Row Hard Or Go Home” team crossing the finish line in Antigua on January 14th, after setting an east-west record from the Canaries of 33 days 12 hours and 38 minutes.

Wicklow is already a noted port for coastal and cross-channel oarsmen, but now a new dimension has been convincingly added by the RHOGH crew of Tom Nolan, Shane Culleton , Derek McMullen, and brothers Diarmuid and Gearoid O Briain, whose success is raising funds for the RNLI and Laura Lynn Children’s Hospice. Buoyed by their achievement, they were well able to give a full-throated rendition of their voyage anthem “The Irish Rover” as they berthed in Nelson’s Dockyard.

Published in Sailor of the Month
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The University of Galway says it is inquiring into a recent incident on the river Corrib where up to ten people were rescued after their rowing craft were swept towards the salmon weir.

The university says no one was injured, but emergency service representatives in Galway have said the incident was potentially very serious as the sport of rowing is exempt from mandatory life jacket use.

A multi-agency group involving the Garda, the RNLI, Galway fire service and Civil Defence has called for a dedicated rescue craft to be stationed on the river upstream of the weir.

Three rowing boats- two with university students and one with secondary school students- were involved in two separate incidents last Saturday morning (Jan 14) on the river, which was in spate after recent heavy rain.

Both incidents occurred between 11 am and 12 noon, with the first being the capsize of an octuple or “eight” rowing craft with students from Coláiste Iognáid or “ Jez” secondary school.

The capsized octuple or “eight” rowing craft Photo: Niall McNelisThe capsized octuple or “eight” rowing craft Photo: Niall McNelis

The capsize occurred up river from the weir and across from their clubhouse. All students were rescued by their club safety launches within minutes and taken ashore.

A more serious incident occurred shortly after that when two rowing craft with University of Galway students were swept towards the salmon weir, where they were caught by pontoons and capsized due to the strength of the river flow.

Ten rowers - none of whom are obliged to wear lifejackets due to the sport’s exemption - had to be taken from the top of the weir by club safety launches in very challenging conditions.

The Irish Coast Guard confirmed that its Valentia Rescue Coordination Centre was alerted through the national 112/999 call answering service at 12:08hrs on January 14. It said it was reported that ten rowers were “possibly in difficulty at the weir”.

The Coastguard was informed that ten rowers were “possibly in difficulty at the weir” Photo: The Coastguard was informed that ten rowers were “possibly in difficulty at the weir” Photo:Niall McNelis

The Galway Fire Service, An Garda Siochana, Coast Guard Helicopter R118 from Sligo, Galway RNLIlLifeboat and Costelloe Bay Coast Guard unit were tasked, it said.

“During the 112/999 call the caller confirmed all boat occupants had been recovered to the club safety boats responding locally,”the Irish Coast Guard said, and rescue units were stood down.

The University of Galway said support boats were on the water at the time the two boats capsized and no-one was injured.

“ All rowers were brought safely from the water to the river bank within minutes,”a spokesman said.

“The university is deeply grateful to other rowing clubs for their support and prompt response. We are also thank the emergency services for their rapid response,”he said.

He confirmed the university is compiling an internal report, has engaged with Rowing Ireland, the national representative body, and is reviewing all safety measures and precautions which are in place for our rowing club and other river users”.

It said it would cooperate fully with any inquiry by the Marine Casualty Investigation Board (MCIB), and would support any initiatives to improve water safety and rescue services on the Corrib.

The MCIB said it was “aware” of the incident and had not yet decided if there would be an inquiry.

A spokesman for Coláiste Iognáid said that it was satisfied that all safety procedures were followed when its boat capsized, and said all students were fine and parents were informed.

Speaking on behalf of the Galway water users’ multi-agency group, RNLI Galway operations manager Mike Swan said that a dedicated rescue craft above the weir which was on call “24/7” was essential.

There has been no rowing on the Corrib this week, and clubs were meeting last night.

Corrib Rowing and Yachting Club said it supported calls for a dedicated rescue boat, as the nearest service up river is the Corrib-Mask Rescue Service in Lisloughrey, Co Mayo.

“We are calling on Galway city and county councils to act on our concerns immediately before there is a serious tragedy on our city’s waters,”the club said.

Published in Rowing
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Ocean rowing has come up before in our Sailor of the Month listings. But it’s an understandably rare feat, and noted former rugby player Damian Browne’s huge achievement of rowing from New York to Galway is put into deeper perspective by knowing that his shipmate at the start of the voyage had to be air-lifted off at an early stage owing to illness. Thus Damian made his way solo across a notably obtuse ocean in what was essentially a two-man boat, resulting in a time scale which is difficult to grasp.

He departed on June 14th and reached Ireland on October 4th, by which time the ocean swell and the Atlantic winds were already well into the beginnings of their winter routines.

 

Published in Sailor of the Month
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Extreme adventurer Damian Browne rowed into Galway Bay after his transatlantic crossing and is due into Galway docks from 10.30 am on Tuesday.

The former Connacht rugby player will have become one of a handful to have rowed both ways across the Atlantic when he berths after 112 days at sea.

Browne rowed east-west solo from San Sebastian to Antigua in 2018. This year’s west-east crossing was to have been completed with his close friend Fergus Farrell after the pair left New York in mid June for Galway.

However , Farrell had to be evacuated at sea after 13 days, when his oxygen levels dropped to 86 per cent and he was at risk of blood clots.

Transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne passing a crowded Inis Meain pier last evening. Liam O'Brien of the Co Clare Doolin ferry company provided an escort for Browne in his RIB Photo: Paddy CroweTransatlantic oarsman Damian Browne passing a crowded Inis Meain pier last evening. Liam O'Brien of the Co Clare Doolin ferry company provided an escort for Browne in his RIB Photo: Paddy Crowe

Farrell, who survived a traumatic spinal injury in 2018 and  learned to walk again, said his online medical support took just 30 seconds to inform him his row was “finished”.

Video by Michael Gill

The pair were attempting to set a new Guinness world record in their purpose-built Seasabre 6.2m craft.

Entitled Project Empower, the row continued by Browne is raising funds for  four charities: National Rehabilitation Hospital Foundation, Ability West, Madra and Galway Simon Community.

Browne survived a number of capsizes and has been living on cold food after losing vital equipment in storms.

He  could have  made his landfall in Kerry, as his first sight of Ireland was of the Irish south-west coast  last Thursday.

Instead, he  has been transiting north along the Irish Atlantic seaboard to ensure his first landfall is in his native city.

Challenging conditions forced him to deploy his para-anchor, with south-westerly winds sweeping him up to Foul Sound between the Aran islands of  Inis Meáín and Inis Oírr  last  evening (mon) where a crowd of islanders greeted him from shore and a large bonfire was lit on Inis Oírr.

Weather permitting, a flotilla of vessels will accompany him in on his last leg into Galway docks early this morning.

“"When I started out on this project some three-and-a-half years ago, the final destination was clear from the start; Galway. Home,”Browne said in a statement from his boat, Cushlamachree, yesterday.

A welcoming bonfire for transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne lit on Monday evening on Inis Oírr Photo: Paddy CroweA welcoming bonfire for transatlantic oarsman Damian Browne lit on Monday evening on Inis Oírr Photo: Paddy Crowe

“The great hope with this was to give the next generation of kids in the west and throughout the country a real image, and touchable action to emulate, and hopefully inspire them to dream big and work hard in whatever avenue of life they decide to explore,” he said.

 “After 112 days of stresses, strains and doubts only an endeavour like attempting to row 3000 miles across the unforgiving North Atlantic can elicit, I’m incredibly excited to close out this beautiful project in my hometown, surrounded by my family, friends and supporters; making my dream a reality,”he said.

It is anticipated that he will be greeted in Galway docks by his partner Rozelle, baby daughter Elodie, parents Mary and Joe Browne and siblings Andrew and Gillian and their families, along with Port of Galway harbourmaster Capt Brian Sheridan and supporters including Fergus Farrell and MacDara Hosty.

A golf buggy has been provided to drive him around the docks to meet wellwishers, before he is taken to the Harbour Hotel for a private reception.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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English firefighter Paul Hopkins (55) had recovered from a brain haemorrhage and entrepreneur Phil Pugh (65) was renowned for undertaking extreme physical challenges in honour of his son when they rowed into Antigua in a fourth-hand wooden rowing boat in February 2020.

The pair, who undertook the transatlantic challenge on a tight budget, had no family there to greet them after 70 days at sea.

Phil Pugh and Paul Hopkins before (above) and after their voyage Photos: Atlantic CampaignsPhil Pugh (below) and Paul Hopkins (above) before and after their voyage Photos: Atlantic Campaigns

Phil Pugh and Paul Hopkins before (above) and after their voyage Photos: Atlantic Campaigns

However, Irish-born author and former television director Niamh McAnally and her husband Gary Krieger were there on their yacht, Freed Spirit, and the result is a compelling book which records how two “disparate alpha males” learned to work together by focussing on solutions rather than problems during a life-changing high-seas voyage.

Paul and Phil arriving in Antigua. Photo by Niamh McAnallyPaul and Phil arriving in Antigua. Photo by Niamh McAnally

McAnally and Krieger spoke to Wavelengths about how the book came about. You can listen to the podcast here and details of the book are below.

Nelson's Dockyard, Antigua. L to R Gary Krieger (author's husband) Phil Pugh, Niamh McAnally (author) Paul Hopkins taken before dinner onboard Gary and Niamh's sailboat home, Freed Spirit. Three hours later the idea for this book was bornNelson's Dockyard, Antigua. L to R Gary Krieger (author's husband) Phil Pugh, Niamh McAnally (author) Paul Hopkins taken before dinner onboard Gary and Niamh's sailboat home, Freed Spirit. Three hours later the idea for this book was born

Flares Up: A Storm Bigger than the Atlantic by Niamh McAnallyFlares Up: A Storm Bigger than the Atlantic by Niamh McAnally

Flares Up: A Story Bigger than the Atlantic by Niamh McAnally with a foreword by Jeremy Irons ( Pitch Publishing £14.99) is available in print and on audiobook form, and more details are on McAnally’s website 

A video of Jeremy Irons speaking at the Dublin launch of Niamh McAnally's book FLARES UP is below.

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Two more medals are coming home to Ireland from the Rowing World Championship in the Czech Republic, with a Gold for the Lightweight Men's double and a Bronze for the Lightweight Women's Double.

Tight racing had two crews racing in the B Finals today finish in second position, narrowly missing out on the win as they both finished less than a second behind the winning crews.

Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy retain world title

Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy have done it again, winning gold and retaining their World Championship title. Ireland were the slowest boat off the start, crossing the first 500m in last position. All six boats were within just a second of each other, so nothing separated them. The crew from Ireland were not in this position long, as the other crews began to settle into the race, Paul and Fintan held their speed, coming through all of the boats and crossing the halfway point in first position. Once they got ahead they were gone, continuing to move further away from the rest of the field. The Italian double put up a strong fight but would have to settle for the silver medals because it was Ireland taking home the gold.

Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy (left) at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech RepublicPaul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy (left) at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic

Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey take bronze 

Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey celebrate bronze medals at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey celebrate bronze medals at the 2022 World Rowing Championships in Racice, Czech Republic

Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey had an incredible race and crossed the finish line in third position to take the bronze medals. The UCCRC rowers went off the start at rate 56, quickly settling into third position. Throughout the race, Ireland went toe to toe with the French double, who won silver at the Tokyo Olympics. Coming to the last 500m, Ireland was in fourth position, just .17 of a second behind France. Winding up the rate into the 40s for the last quarter, Margaret and Aoife had done enough to secure the bronze medal.

The Women's Four of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh finished sixth in the A Final. Not getting off to the best of starts, Ireland had to push it on that bit harder to make their way through the crews ahead. This became more difficult as the race went on as the crews ahead continued to push on. For now, Ireland are ranked sixth in the world, with much more to come.

The Women's Pair of Tara Hanlon (UCCRC) and Natalie Long (Lee Valley RC) finished in second position behind the Czech crew in their B Fina this morning. Finishing the first quarter of the race in fourth position, Ireland continued to build throughout the race, passing the pairs from Spain and Australia. In an impressive sprint, Ireland were able to gain over two second on the leading crew, reducing the gap to just .55 of a second.

John Kearney, Ross Corrigan, Nathan Timoney and Jack Dorney were painfully close to first place in the Men's Four B Final. Like the Women's Pair, an incredible finish from the crew from Ireland allowed them to gain two and a half seconds on Germany, the leading crew. Finishing just 0.08 of a second behind them, Ireland will have to take eight in the world.

The Para Mixed Double of Steven McGowen and Katie O'Brien finished fifth in their A Final. Next year when looking ahead to Paralympic qualifications, they will need to make it into the top eight crews to get a ticket to Paris in 2024. Coming fifth in the world for a reasonably fresh crew, is most definitely a step in the right direction.

Ireland Results

LM2x A Final - Gold
LW2x A Final - Bronze
PR2 Mix2x A Final - 5th
W4- A Final - 6th
M4- B Final - 2nd
W2- B Final - 2nd

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Katie O'Brien is the 2022 PR2 W1x World Rowing Champion! The first day of the finals in the Czech Republic has got off to a good start, with a gold medal in Ireland's pocket already.

O'Brien showed fierce strength from her very first stroke, nudging her bow ahead of the other scullers. She was the fastest moving boat throughout the race, increasing her lead with each quarter. Up against the previous World Champion, Katherine Ross from Australia, Katie knew that it would be no easy feat. Katie finished in a time of 9:25.23, ten seconds ahead of Australia in second place.

Katie O'Brien (centre) wears the gold medal after and defeating PR2 W1x defending champion Katherine Ross from AustraliaKatie O'Brien (centre) wears the gold medal after and defeating PR2 W1x defending champion Katherine Ross from Australia

This is the first time that Katie has beaten Ross.

It's straight back into focus now for Katie as she heads into the PR2 Mixed Double A Final tomorrow afternoon with Steven McGowan.

Zoe Hyde (Killorglin RC) and Sanita Puspure (Old Collegians) returned to the water today for the A/B Semi of the Women's Double. After a quick start, the double form Ireland were the first to reach the 500m mark, staying bow ball to bow ball with Laila Youssifou and Roos de Jong of the Netherlands, right up to the halfway point. The Dutch crew began to pull away creating a length's lead on Ireland, but Zoe and Sanita stepped it up another gear in the final quarter of the race, to finish less than a second and a half behind them. They race again this Sunday in their A Final.

Lydia Heaphy (Skibbereen RC) finished in third place in the Lightweight Women's Scull B Final, ranking her ninth in the world. Crossing the first marker in fifth place, Lydia pushed on through the race finding speed and moving through the rowers from Spain and the USA to take that third position.

Hugh Moore finished up his World Championships with a third place in the D Final of the Lightweight Men's Scull. Similar to Lydia's race, Hugh started behind and gradually came through his competitors, to take third position. Off the start, the Finnish and Tunisian scullers were ahead but by the 1500m mark, Moore had moved ahead. He finished behind Lukasz Sawicki from Poland and Oscar Peterson from Denmark.

Ireland Results
PR2 W1x A Final - Gold
W2x A/B Semi 2nd -> A Final
LW1x B Final - 3rd
LM1x D Final - 3rd

Saturday Schedule (IST)

10:48am - W2- B Final
11:28am - M4- B Final
12:05pm - PR2 Mix2x A Final
1:07pm - LW2x A Final
1:23pm - LM2x A Final
1:39pm - W4- A Final

Published in Rowing
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Today has been the busiest day yet for Ireland, with 11 crews racing at the World Rowing Championships in the Czech Republic.

There are now five crews into the A Finals, where they will race for the medals over the next few days. In addition, there are three crews headed to the B Finals, three crews to the C Finals and one in the D Final. Sanita and Zoe hit the water tomorrow for the A/B Semi of the Women's Double, so hopefully, Ireland will have another crew in the mix for the medals after that.

The Para Mixed Double of Katie O'Brien and Steven McGowen were first up to qualify for their A Final this morning. The Uzbekistan Double of Feruza Buriboeva and Otabek Kuchkorov completed the first 500m at lightning pace, with a split of 2:01.79. As they broke away from the crews, it was Katie and Steven who reeled them in through the 1000m mark and left the remaining crews behind. The Galway duo secured their place in the A Final finishing just 4 seconds behind Uzbekistan.

Lydia Heaphy in the Lightweight Women's Scull, and the Women's Pair of Tara Hanlon and Natalie Long progressed into the B Finals of their respective events. Lydia finished sixth in her Semi, a result that does not fully capture the talent that this Skibbereen sculler has. Tara and Natalie, who were part of the Women's Fours that won Bronze at World Cup II and Silver at Europeans, placed fifth in their Semi putting them through to the B Final on Saturday. The top three crews, Romania, the Netherlands and Croatia progressed to the A Final.

Women's Pair of Tara Hanlon and Natalie LongWomen's Pair of Tara Hanlon and Natalie Long

Both the Men's and Women's Lightweight Doubles are into the A Finals on Saturday, after impressive performances in their Semis. Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey sat in third place behind Great Britain and Greece through the halfway point, but it was during the third quarter of the race that their strength really stood to them, as the Greek double began to fade away and they continued to gain speed. In the end they finished just 3.48 seconds behind Imogen Grant and Emily Craig of GB.

The Swiss Lightweight Men's Double put up a fight against Paul and Fintan, leading the crew from Ireland to the 1000m and then putting in a big push through the second half of the race, but there was no stopping the boys from West Cork. Continuing to pull away from the Swiss, Ireland finished in first place in a time of 6:24.41. With another win under their belt, they head into the A Final on Saturday afternoon.

The Women's Four of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh did not disappoint. The crew from Ireland finished second in their Semi putting them through to the A Final, and are the second fastest boat going into it. They held second place from start to finish, holding off the Chinese crew who put down a strong start, and gained a second on the GB crew in the final 500m.

The Women's Four of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric KeoghThe Women's Four of Emily Hegarty, Fiona Murtagh, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh

John Kearney, Ross Corrigan, Nathan Timoney and Jack Dorney missed out on the Men's Four A Final by half a length. In a gutsy race, the crew from Ireland went out hard, not allowing the leading crews to move further than their bow. Holding third position through the majority of the race, it was the Swiss Four's last push in the final 500m that just bumped them out of the qualifying position.

Later in the afternoon, four crews from Ireland raced the C/D Semi Finals. Both Alison Bergin in the Women's Scull, and Phil Doyle and Konan Pazzaia in the Men's Double won their Semi's and go into the C Finals on Sunday. In the Men's Scull, Brian Colsh came second by a bow ball to the Chinese sculler who had an incredible final 500m sprint, bringing him from sixth to first. Brian goes into the C Final with the third fastest time.

Hugh Moore was unfortunate in his C/D Semi finishing in fourth position just 0.24 of a second behind third place. Hugh's time of 7:26.52 was the fourth fastest from the C/D Semis, but his fourth place finish means he will have to race the D Final tomorrow morning.

The first day of finals starts tomorrow and all races will be live streamed on the World Rowing Website HERE

Ireland Results
PR2 Mix2x Repechage 2nd -> A Final
LW1x A/B Semi 6th -> B Final
W2- A/B Semi 5th -> B Final
LW2x A/B Semi 2nd -> A Final
LM2x A/B Semi 1st -> A Final
W4- A/B Semi 2nd -> A Final
M4- A/B Semi 4th -> B Final
LM1x C/D Semi 4th -> D Final
M1x C/D Semi 2nd -> C Final
W1x C/D Semi 1st -> C Final
M2x C/D Semi 1st -> C Final

Friday Schedule (IST)
9:15am - LM1x D Final
9:41am - LW1x B Final
11:16am - W2x A/B Semi
12:18am - PR2 W1x A Final

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Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy, the Gold medallists at the European Championships 2022, lead thirteen crews who will race for Ireland in the Senior World Rowing Championships held in Racice, Czech Republic this month.

Racing will begin on Sunday 18th September and finish on Sunday 25th September.

The Ireland Rowing Team, as announced by Rowing Ireland, under High Performance Director Antonio Maurogiovanni is below. 

While provisional entries were entered last week, crew selection is still ongoing and entries below may have slight changes prior to racing.

Ireland Rowing Team for World Championships in Racice, Czech Republic

Para Mixed Double - Stephen McGowen and Katie O'BrienPara Mixed Double - Stephen McGowen and Katie O'Brien

Para Team
Conor Moloney - Para National Coach

PR2 W1x
Katie O'Brien (Galway RC)
PR2 Mix2x
Katie O’Brien (Galway RC)
Steven McGowen (Galway RC)

Lightweight Men's Double - Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'DonovanLightweight Men's Double - Fintan McCarthy and Paul O'Donovan

Lightweight Team
Dominic Casey - Head Coach

LM1x
Hugh Moore (QUBBC)
LM2x
Paul O’Donovan (UCC RC)
Fintan McCarthy (Skibbereen RC)
LW1x
Lydia Heaphy (Skibbereen RC)
LW2x
Margaret Cremen (UCC RC)
Aoife Casey (UCC RC)

Women's Double - Sanita Puspure and Zoe HydeWomen's Double - Sanita Puspure and Zoe Hyde

Heavyweight Women's Team
Giuseppe De Vita - Head Coach

Leah O'Regan - National Coach

W1x
Alison Bergin (Fermoy RC)
W2x
Zoe Hyde (Killorglin RC)
Sanita Puspure (Old Collegians)
W2-
Natalie Long (Lee Valley RC)
Tara Hanlon (UCC RC)
W4-
Emily Hegarty (UCC RC)
Fiona Murtagh (NUIG BC)
Eimear Lambe (Old Collegians)
Aifric Keogh (DULBC)

Heavyweight Men's Team
Fran Keane - Head Coach

Nicolo Maurogiovanni - National Coach

M1x
Brian Colsh (NUIG BC)
M2x
Phil Doyle (Belfast BC)
Konan Pazzaia (QUBBC)
M4-
John Kearney (UCC RC)
Ross Corrigan (QUBBC)
Nathan Timoney (QUBBC)
Jack Dorney (Shandon BC)

Team Manager
Michael O'Rourke

Team Physiotherapist
Heather O'Brien

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On Sunday 14th August, Inver Colpa Rowing Club hosted their first ever HER Outdoors event in conjunction with the Louth Local Sports Partnership.

Co-ordinated by Sport Ireland, HER Outdoors Week took place from 8th-14th August 2022 and aimed to celebrate and encourage more females to get out and enjoy the benefits of being in the outdoors while bringing visibility to the opportunities for females to get involved in outdoor physical activity.

The first ever HER Outdoors Week was held in August 2021 and it was a huge success. With over 250 events taking place nationwide and nearly 5,000 females active across 7 days, Sport Ireland wanted to build on this for the 2022 campaign.

The week was be an opportunity for all females to escape to the outdoors and try something new. Along with other events in Louth such as hiking, paddleboarding, kayaking and outdoor yoga, 8 women signed up to test out their rowing skills on the River Boyne with Inver Colpa Rowing Club on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning.

Club PRO Sarah McCann noted about the event; “Those who took part had a great morning and given the technical nature of rowing, did really well! There’s so much to think about with timing, rhythm and technique, so a huge well done to all!”.

Helping out on the day as coxes were Glenda Carter and Martin Murphy, while Shirley Byrne, Fiona Kelly, Hannah Woods and Sarah McCann were the club’s female rowers who accompanied the HER Outdoors participants. Thanks also to Tom Scanlon, the club’s Health & Safety Office for taking care of everyone on the day and to the Boyne Fisherman’s River Rescue for giving the participants a tour of their facilities.

The club are currently in training for two upcoming races – Row the Rock in Skerries and the Islandmagee Challenge in Antrim - along with looking forward to the future when it hopes to welcome in new members and continue to grow.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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General Information on using Waterways Ireland inland navigations

Safety on the Water

All users of the navigations are strongly recommended to make themselves aware of safety on the water for whatever activity they are involved in and to read the advice offered by the various governing bodies and by:

The Dept. of Transport, Ireland: www.gov.ie/transport and The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, UK, The RNLI – Water Safety Ireland for information in terms of drowning prevention and water safety.

Registration of Vessels

All vessels using the Shannon Navigation, which includes the Shannon-Erne Waterways and the Erne System must be registered with Waterways Ireland. Only open undecked boats with an engine of 15 horsepower or less on the Shannon Navigation, and vessels of 10 horsepower or less on the Erne System, are exempt. Registration is free of charge.

Craft registration should be completed online at: https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/craft-registration

Permits for use of the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation

All vessels using the Grand and Royal Canals and the Barrow Navigation must display appropriate valid Permit(s) i.e A Combined Mooring and Passage Permit (€126) and if not intending to move every five days, an Extended Mooring Permit (€152).

Permit applications should be completed online at: https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/canal-permits

Passage on the Royal and Grand Canals – Dublin Area

For boat passage through the locks east of Lock 12 into / out of Dublin on either the Royal or Grand Canals, Masters are requested to contact the Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (M-F 9.30am-4.30pm) on tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or email [email protected] prior to making passage in order to plan the necessary lock-keeping assistance arrangements.

On the Grand Canal a minimum of two days notice prior to the planned passage should be given, masters should note that with the exception of pre-arranged events, a maximum of 2 boats per day will be taken through the locks, travelling either east or west.

Movements in or out of the city will be organised by prior arrangement to take place as a single movement in one day. Boaters will be facilitated to travel the system if their passage is considered to be safe by Waterways Ireland and they have the valid permit(s) for mooring and passage.

Newcomen Lifting Bridge

On the Royal Canal two weeks’ notice of bridge passage (Newcomen Lifting Bridge) is required for the pre-set lift date, and lock assistance will then also be arranged. A minimum of 2 boats is required for a bridge lift to go ahead.

Waterways Ireland Eastern Regional Office (Tel: +353(0)1 868 0148 or [email protected] ) is the point of contact for the bridge lift.

A maximum number of boats passing will be implemented to keep to the times given above for the planned lifts (16 for the Sat / Sun lifts & 8 for the weekday lifts). Priority will be given on a first come first served basis.

On day of lift, boaters and passengers must follow guidance from Waterways Ireland staff about sequence of passage under bridge & through Lock 1, and must remain within signed and designated areas.

Events Held on the Waterways

All organised events taking place on the waterways must have the prior approval of Waterways Ireland. This is a twelve week process and application forms must be accompanied with the appropriate insurance, signed indemnity and risk assessment. The application should be completed on the Waterways Ireland events page at :

https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/event-approval

Time Limits on Mooring in Public Harbours

On the Shannon Navigation and the Shannon-Erne Waterway craft may berth in public harbours for five consecutive days or a total of seven days in any one month.

On the Erne System, revised Bye Laws state that: No master or owner shall permit a vessel, boat or any floating or sunken object to remain moored at or in the vicinity of any public mooring, including mooring at any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location, for more than 3 consecutive days and shall not moor at that same mooring or any other public mooring within 3 kilometres of that location within the following 3 consecutive days without prior permission by an authorised official.

Winter Mooring on the Shannon Navigation and Shannon Erne Waterway

Winter mooring may be availed of by owners during the period 1 Nov to 31 Mar by prior arrangement and payment of a charge of €63.50 per craft. Craft not availing of Winter Mooring must continue to comply with the “5 Day Rule”. Winter Mooring applications should be completed online at : https://www.waterwaysireland.org/online-services/winter-moorings-booking

Owners should be aware that electricity supply and water supply to public moorings is disconnected for the winter months. This is to protect against frost damage, to reduce running costs and to minimise maintenance requirements during the winter months.

Vessel owners are advised that advance purchasing of electricity on the power bollards leading up to the disconnection date should be minimal. Electricity credit existing on the bollards will not be recoverable after the winter decommissioning date. Both services will be reinstated prior to the commencement of the next boating season.

Smart Cards

Waterways Ireland smart cards are used to operate locks on the Shannon Erne Waterway, to access the service blocks, to use the pump-outs along the navigations, to avail of electrical power at Waterways Ireland jetties.

Berthing in Public Harbours

Masters are reminded of the following:

  • Equip their vessel with mooring lines of appropriate length and strength and only secure their craft to mooring bollards and cleats provided for this purpose.
  • Ensure the available berth is suitable to the length of your vessel, do not overhang the mooring especially on finger moorings on floating pontoon moorings.
  • Ensure mooring lines, electric cables and fresh water hoses do not create a trip hazard on public jetties for others users.
  • Carry sufficient fenders to prevent damage to your own vessel, other vessels and WI property.
  • Allow sufficient space between your vessel and the vessel ahead /astern (c.1m) for fire safety purposes and /or to recover somebody from the water.
  • Do not berth more than two vessels side by side and ensure there is safe access/egress at all times between vessels and onto the harbour itself.
  • Do not berth in such a way to prevent use of harbour safety ladders, slipways or pump-outs.
  • Do not allow the bow of your vessel to overhang the walkway of a floating mooring thus creating a hazard for others with an overhanging anchor or bow fendering.
  • Animals are not allowed to be loose or stray at any time.
  • Harbour and jetty infrastructure such as railings, power pedestals, fresh water taps, electric light poles, safety bollards, ladders etc are not designed for the purpose of mooring craft , they will not bear the strain of a vessel and will be damaged.
  • At Carrybridge on the Erne System, Masters of vessels are not permitted to use stern on mooring. Masters of vessels must use the mooring fingers for mooring of vessels and for embarkation / disembarkation from vessels.

Passenger Vessel Berths

Masters of vessels should not berth on passenger vessel berths where it is indicated that an arrival is imminent. Passenger vessels plying the navigations generally only occupy the berths to embark and disembark passengers and rarely remain on the berths for extended periods or overnight.

Lock Lead-in Jetties

Lead-in jetties adjacent to the upstream and downstream gates at lock chambers are solely for the purpose of craft waiting to use the lock and should not be used for long term berthing.

Vessel Wake

Vessel wake, that is, the wave generated by the passage of the boat through the water, can sometimes be large, powerful and destructive depending on the hull shape and engine power of the vessel. This wake can be detrimental to other users of the navigation when it strikes their craft or inundates the shoreline or riverbank. Masters are requested to frequently look behind and check the effect of their wake / wash particularly when passing moored vessels, on entering harbours and approaching jetties and to be aware of people pursuing other activities such as fishing on the riverbank.

Speed Restriction

A vessel or boat shall not be navigated on the Shannon Navigation at a speed in excess of 5 kph when within 200 metres of a bridge, quay, jetty or wharf, when in a harbour or canal or when passing within 100 metres of a moored vessel or boat.

Vessels navigating the Shannon-Erne Waterway should observe the general 5 kph speed limit which applies along the waterway. This is necessary in order to prevent damage to the banks caused by excessive wash from vessels.

Vessels navigating the Erne System should observe the statutory 5kt / 6mph / 10kph speed limit areas.

A craft on the Royal and Grand canals shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 6km per hour.

A craft on the Barrow Navigation shall not be navigated at a speed in excess of 11km per hour except as necessary for safe navigation in conditions of fast flow.

Bank Erosion

Narrow sections of all the navigations are particularly prone to bank erosion due to the large wash generated by some craft. Masters are requested to be vigilant and to slow down to a speed sufficient to maintain steerage when they observe the wash of their craft inundating the river banks.

Unusual Waterborne Activity

Unusual waterborne vessels may be encountered from time to time, such as, hovercraft or amphibious aircraft / seaplanes. Masters of such craft are reminded to apply the normal “Rule of the Road” when they meet conventional craft on the water and to allow extra room to manoeuvre in the interest of safety.

Sailing Activity

Mariners will encounter large numbers of sailing dinghies from late June to August in the vicinity of Lough Derg, Lough Ree and Lower Lough Erne. Sailing courses are marked by yellow buoys to suit weather conditions on the day. Vessels should proceed at slow speed and with due caution and observe the rules of navigation when passing these fleets, as many of the participants are junior sailors under training.

Rowing

Mariners should expect to meet canoes and vessels under oars on any part of the navigations, but more so in the vicinity of Athlone, Carrick-on-Shannon, Coleraine, Enniskillen and Limerick. Masters are reminded to proceed at slow speed and especially to reduce their wash to a minimum when passing these craft as they can be easily upset and swamped due to their very low freeboard and always be prepared to give way in any given traffic situation.

Canoeing

Canoeing is an adventure sport and participants are strongly recommended to seek the advice of the sport’s governing bodies i.e Canoeing Ireland and the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland, before venturing onto the navigations.

Persons in charge of canoes are reminded of the inherent danger to these craft associated with operating close to weirs, sluice gates, locks and other infrastructure particularly when rivers are in flood and large volumes of water are moving through the navigations due to general flood conditions or very heavy localised precipitation e.g. turbulent and broken water, stopper waves. Shooting weirs is prohibited without prior permission of Waterways Ireland.

Canoeists should check with lockkeepers prior entering a lock to ensure passage is done in a safe manner. Portage is required at all unmanned locks.

Canoe Trail Network – "Blueways"

Masters of powered craft are reminded that a canoe trail network is being developed across all navigations and to expect more organised canoeing along these trails necessitating slow speed and minimum wash when encountering canoeists, rowing boats etc

Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals – Lough Key

It is expected that work on Rockingham and Drummans Island Canals on Lough Key will be completed in 2021. Access to these canals will be for non-powered craft only, eg canoes, kayaks, rowing boats.

Fast Powerboats and Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis)

Masters of Fast Powerboats (speed greater than 17kts) and Personal Watercraft (i.e.Jet Skis) are reminded of the inherent dangers associated with high speed on the water and especially in the confines of small bays and narrow sections of the navigations. Keeping a proper look-out, making early alterations to course and /or reducing speed will avoid conflict with slower vessels using the navigation. Personal Watercraft are not permitted to be used on the canals.

Towing Waterskiers, Wakeboarders, Doughnuts etc

Masters of vessels engaged in any of these activities are reminded of the manoeuvring constraints imposed upon their vessel by the tow and of the added responsibilities that they have to the person(s) being towed. These activities should be conducted in areas which are clear of conflicting traffic. It is highly recommended that a person additional to the master be carried to act as a “look-out” to keep the tow under observation at all times.

Prohibition on Swimming

Swimming in the navigable channel, particularly at bridges, is dangerous and is prohibited due to the risk of being run over by a vessel underway in the navigation.

Age Restrictions on operating of powered craft

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the minimum age for operating of powered craft. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a personal watercraft or a fast power craft shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years does not operate or control the craft

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft powered by an engine with a rating of more than 5 horse power or 3.7 kilowatts shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 12 years does not operate or control the craft.

Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs)

Lifejackets and PFD’s are the single most important items of personal protective equipment to be used on a vessel and should be worn especially when the vessel is being manoeuvred such as entering / departing a lock, anchoring, coming alongside or departing a jetty or quayside.

In the Republic of Ireland, Statutory Instrument 921 of 2005 provides the legal requirements regarding the wearing of Personal Flotation Devices. The Statutory Instrument contains the following requirements:

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall ensure, that there are, at all times on board the craft, sufficient suitable personal flotation devices for each person on board.

- A person on a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) of less than 7 metres length overall shall wear a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of decked craft, other than when the craft is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years complies with paragraph above.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft), shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person who has not attained the age of 16 years wears a suitable personal flotation device while on board an open craft or while on the deck of a decked craft other than when it is made fast to the shore or at anchor.

- The master or owner of a pleasure craft (other than a personal watercraft) shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person wears a suitable personal flotation device, at all times while – (a) being towed by the craft, (b) on board a vessel or object of any kind which is being towed by the craft.

Further information is available at: http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/2005/si/921/made/en/print

Firing Range Danger Area – Lough Ree

The attention of mariners is drawn to the Irish Defence Forces Firing Range situated in the vicinity of buoys No’s 2 and 3, on Lough Ree on the Shannon Navigation. This range is used regularly for live firing exercises, throughout the year, all boats and vessels should stay clear of the area marked with yellow buoys showing a yellow "X" topmark and displaying the word "Danger".

Shannon Navigation, Portumna Swing Bridge Tolls

No attempt should be made by Masters’ of vessels to pay the bridge toll while making way through the bridge opening. Payment will only be taken by the Collector from Masters when they are secured alongside the jetties north and south of the bridge.

Navigating from Killaloe to Limerick on the Shannon Navigation

The navigation from Killaloe to Limerick involves passage through Ardnacrusha locks, the associated headrace and tailrace and the Abbey River into Limerick City. Careful passage planning is required to undertake this voyage. Considerations include: lock passage at Ardnacrusha, water flow in the navigation, airdraft under bridges on Abbey River in Limerick, state of tide in Limerick

Users are advised to contact the ESB Ardnacrusha hydroelectric power station (00353 (0)87 9970131) 48 hours in advance of commencing their journey to book passage through the locks at Ardnacrusha. It is NOT advised to undertake a voyage if more than one turbine is operating (20MW), due to the increased velocity of flow in the navigation channel, which can be dangerous. To ascertain automatically in real time how many turbines are running, users can phone +353 (0)87 6477229.

For safety reasons the ESB has advised that only powered craft with a capacity in excess of 5 knots are allowed to enter Ardnacrusha Headrace and Tailrace Canals.

Passage through Sarsfield Lock should be booked on +353-87-7972998, on the day prior to travel and it should be noted also that transit is not possible two hours either side of low water.

A Hydrographic survey in 2020 of the navigation channel revealed that the approach from Shannon Bridge to Sarsfield Lock and the Dock area has silted up. Masters of vessels and water users are advised to navigate to the Lock from Shannon bridge on a rising tide one or two hours before High Tide.

Lower Bann Navigation

The attention of all users is drawn to the “Users Code for the Lower Bann”, in particular to that section covering “Flow in the River” outlining the dangers for users both on the banks and in the navigation, associated with high flow rates when the river is in spate. Canoeists should consult and carry a copy of the “Lower Bann Canoe Trail” guide issued by the Canoe Association of Northern Ireland. Users should also contact the DfI Rivers Coleraine, who is responsible for regulating the flow rates on the river, for advisory information on the flow rates to be expected on any given day.

DfI Rivers Coleraine. Tel: 0044 28 7034 2357 Email: [email protected]

Lower Bann Navigation – Newferry – No wake zone

A No Wake Zone exists on the Lower Bann Navigation at Newferry. Masters of vessels are requested to proceed at a slow speed and create no wake while passing the jetties and slipways at Newferry.

Overhead Power Lines (OHPL) and Air draft

All Masters must be aware of the dangers associated with overhead power lines, in particular sailing vessels and workboats with cranes or large air drafts. Voyage planning is a necessity in order to identify the location of overhead lines crossing the navigation.

Overhead power line heights on the River Shannon are maintained at 12.6metres (40 feet) from Normal Summer level for that section of navigation, masters of vessels with a large air draft should proceed with caution and make additional allowances when water levels are high.

If a vessel or its equipment comes into contact with an OHPL the operator should NOT attempt to move the vessel or equipment. The conductor may still be alive or re-energise automatically. Maintain a safe distance and prevent third parties from approaching due to risk of arcing. Contact the emergency services for assistance.

Anglers are also reminded that a minimum ground distance of 30 metres should be maintained from overhead power lines when using a rod and line.

Submarine Cables and Pipes

Masters of vessels are reminded not to anchor their vessels in the vicinity of submarine cables or pipes in case they foul their anchor or damage the cables or pipes. Look to the river banks for signage indicating their presence.

Water Levels - Precautions

Low Water Levels:

When water levels fall below normal summer levels masters should be aware of:

Navigation

To reduce the risk of grounding masters should navigate on or near the centreline of the channel, avoid short cutting in dog-legged channels and navigating too close to navigation markers.

Proceeding at a slow speed will also reduce “squat” effect i.e. where the vessel tends to sit lower in the water as a consequence of higher speed.

Slipways

Reduced slipway length available under the water surface and the possibility of launching trailers dropping off the end of the concrete apron.

More slipway surface susceptible to weed growth requiring care while engaged in launching boats, from slipping and sliding on the slope. Note also that launching vehicles may not be able to get sufficient traction on the slipway once the craft is launched to get up the incline.

Bank Erosion

Very dry riverbanks are more susceptible to erosion from vessel wash.

Lock Share

Maximising on the number of vessels in a lock will ensure that the total volume of water moving downstream is decreased. Lock cycles should be used for vessels travelling each way.

High Water Levels:

When water levels rise above normal summer level masters should be aware of:

Navigation

Navigation marks will have reduced height above the water level or may disappear underwater altogether making the navigable channel difficult to discern.

In narrow sections of the navigations water levels will tend to rise more quickly than in main streams and air draft at bridges will likewise be reduced.

There will also be increased flow rates particularly in the vicinity of navigation infrastructure such as bridges, weirs, locks etc where extra care in manoeuvring vessels will be required.

Harbours and Jetties

Due care is required in harbours and at slipways when levels are at or near the same level as the harbour walkways' as the edge will be difficult to discern especially in reduced light conditions. It is advised that Personal Flotation Devices be worn if tending to craft in a harbour in these conditions.

Slipways

Slipways should only be used for the purpose of launching and recovering of water craft or other objects from the water. Before using a slipway it should be examined to ensure that the surface has sufficient traction/grip for the intended purpose such as launching a craft from a trailer using a vehicle, that there is sufficient depth of water on the slipway to float the craft off the trailer before the concrete apron ends and that the wheels of the trailer do not drop off the edge of the slipway. That life-saving appliances are available in the vicinity, that the vehicle is roadworthy and capable of coping with the weight of the trailer and boat on the incline. It is recommended that slipway operations are conducted by two persons.

Caution to be Used in Reliance upon Aids to Navigation

The aids to navigation depicted on the navigation guides comprise a system of fixed and floating aids to navigation. Prudent mariners will not rely solely on any single aid to navigation, particularly a floating aid to navigation. With respect to buoys, the buoy symbol is used to indicate the approximate position of the buoy body and the ground tackle which secures it to the lake or river bed. The approximate position is used because of the practical limitations in positioning and maintaining buoys in precise geographical locations. These limitations include, but are not limited to, prevailing atmospheric and lake/river conditions, the slope of and the material making up the lake/river bed, the fact that the buoys are moored to varying lengths of chain, and the fact that the buoy body and/or ground tackle positions are not under continuous surveillance. Due to the forces of nature, the position of the buoy body can be expected to shift inside and outside the charted symbol.

Buoys and perches are also moved out of position or pulled over by those mariners who use them to moor up to instead of anchoring. To this end, mariners should always monitor their passage by relating buoy/perch positions with the published navigation guide. Furthermore, a vessel attempting to pass close by always risks collision with a yawing buoy or with the obstruction that the buoy or beacon/perch marks.

Masters of Vessels are requested to use the most up to date Navigation guides when navigating on the Inland Waterways.

Information taken from Special Marine Notice No 1 of 2023