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Four new rowing boats have been named in tribute to alumni and current student athletes at NUI Galway.

Chris O’Dea and the late Dr Donagh O’Donoghue, both of whom are former rowers with Coláiste Iognáid and NUI Galway Boat Club, have had new boats named after them.

World-class medal-winning athletes Cliodhna Nolan, who won gold at the 2020 European Championships, and Fiona Murtagh, who won bronze at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, have also been honoured with their names on new craft.

“We are delighted to be able to recognise and honour the commitment and dedication of Donagh, Chris, Fiona and Cliodhna to our rowing and sporting successes in such a unique and appropriate way," NUI Galway (NUIG) president Prof Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh said.

Cliodhna Nolan, 2020 Gold European Championship and Fiona Murtagh, 2021 Olympic Bronze Medal Tokyo.Cliodhna Nolan, 2020 Gold European Championship and Fiona Murtagh, 2021 Olympic Bronze Medal Tokyo. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

“They are all first-class ambassadors for our university and our values, not least excellence," he said.

" In many ways, NUI Galway’s success and achievements are made possible thanks to the support, encouragement and endeavours of our students and our alumni," he said.

Ciro Prisco, head coach of NUI Galway Rowing, said that a boat naming ceremony is a "fitting opportunity to acknowledge our alumni and athletes who played vital parts in making the NUI Galway Boat Club a success".

“The commitment, support and ambition of Chris O’Dea and Dr O’Donoghue played an important role in establishing a high-performance rowing coach position at the university," Prisco said.

"Their foresight has allowed for the development of a pathway for student athletes to achieve their dreams and compete at the highest levels."

Ciro Prisco, NUI Galway Rowing Coach, Fiona Murtagh, 2021 Olympic Bronze Medal Tokyo, Cliodhna Nolan, 2020 Gold European Championship, and President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaighPictured at NUI Galway Boat Christening Ceremony were (l-r) Ciro Prisco, NUI Galway Rowing Coach, Fiona Murtagh, 2021 Olympic Bronze Medal Tokyo, Cliodhna Nolan, 2020 Gold European Championship, and President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh. Photo: Mike Shaughnessy

“On top of that, our student athletes bring international successes while they fully embody the values or our club and stand as role models for other students and athletes," he said.

The boats have been manufactured by Filippi, and two of them can be converted into a pair and double. The third boat is a coxless four and the fourth is a sweep eight.

They will be used by the NUIG rowing club high performance team to compete in national trails and also for club racing, include in domestically and internationally at the IARU National Championships, Varsity and Henley Royal Regatta.

Published in Rowing
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Afloat was quick to point out to An Post there were some notable absences from last month's tribute to Irish female sporting heroes in its set of six National Stamps (Irish Women in Sport).

The Irish Post Office paid tribute to achievements in athletics, boxing, horse racing, swimming and hockey in its March issue.

But there was no place for sailing's 2016 Olympic silver medalist Annalise Murphy or rowing's quartet of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty who produced a stirring finish to take the bronze medal in the women's four final at Tokyo.

The stamps acknowledge Irish sportswomen’s great achievements at home and on the international stage but an An Post spokesperson acknowledged the omission and told Afloat "We had a finite number of stamps so not all our wonderful athletes could feature – this time". 

The spokesperson added, "We have had similar enquiries about top Irish athletes in a number of other sports". 

The booklet features Irish female sporting icons Sonia O’Sullivan, Katie Taylor, Kellie Harrington, Rachael Blackmore, Ellen Keane and the Irish Women’s hockey team.

Happily, Irish Women in Sport is a topic that An Post will be returning to again in a future programme so, it appears, we may yet see some achievements afloat and get a stamp of approval?

Published in Women in Sailing
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Rowing Ireland’s first outing since the Olympic Games and World Championships last year took place this weekend.

The event is held at the Italian national Centre in Piediluco The memorial Paolo d’Aloja International Regatta was established to honour the memory of Paolo d’Aloja, President of the Italian Rowing Federation in the 70s and ’80s.

The regatta is always a good pulse check to launch the regatta season, and a large cohort of entries was from Italy, Greece and South Africa. With crews travelling from Serbia and Romania.

The three days event saw good first results for the Rowing Ireland crews Saturday’s results started with a silver medal for Gary O’Donovan in the Men’s lightweight single and a silver medal for U19 Holy Davis.

With Olympic Bronze medalist Fiona Murtagh paired, Tokyo experienced reserve Tara Hanlon taking a silver medal in the Women’s pair, followed by the pair of Natalie Long and Zoe Hyde in the Bronze medal position.

Many of the lightweight crews showed strong form in open weight events. Conditions were challenging on Saturday, and racing began on Sunday with more results for all crews.

A top podium finish for Fiona Murtagh and Tara Hanlon, winning the Women’s pair and a Bronze medal for Natalie Long and Zoe Hyde in the same event.

It was fitting to see Diana Dymchenko from Ukraine compete at the event and stand tall on the podium, with Rowing Ireland’s Emily Hegarty taking the bronze medal in the same. Lydia Heaphy took a silver medal in the Women’s Lightweight single.

Holly Davis finished the regatta well with a bronze medal in the U19 single.

The team will now spend the next number of weeks at a training camp in the North of Italy to prepare for the season ahead.

Final results

LM1x Gary O’Donovan Silver medal

WU19 Holly Davis Silver medal

W2x Lydia Heaphy and Margaret Cremen 4th Place
M2x Fintan McCarthy and Jake McCarthy 7th Place
W2- Tara Hanlon and Fiona Murtagh Silver medal
W2- Zoe Hyde and Natalie Long Bronze medal
W1x Aoife Casey 4th Place
W1x Emily Hegarty 5th place
W1x Alison Bergin 6th place

Sunday results

W2- Tara Hanlon and Fiona Murtagh Gold medal
W2- Natalie Long and Zoe Hyde Bronze medal
W1x Emily Hegarty Bronze medal
W1x Alison Bergin 8th place
WL1X Lydia Heaphy Silver medal

WU19 Holly Davis Bronze medal
W2x Aoife Casey and Margaret Cremen 4th Place
M2x Fintan McCarthy and Gary O’Donovan 4th place

The team consisted of the following crews

Open weight Women team
Tara Hanlon (UCC) and Fiona Murtagh (NUIG) in the Women’s pair
Natalie Long (Killorglin RC) and Zoe Hyde (Killorglin RC) in the Women’s pair
Alison Bergin (Fermoy RC)
U19 Holly Davis (LVRC)

The lightweight group
Margaret Cremen (UCCRC), Lydia Heaphy (Skibbereen RC), Aoife Casey
(Skibbereen RC),
Gary O’Donovan (Skibbereen RC), Fintan McCarthy (Skibbereen RC), Jake
McCarthy (Skibbereen RC)

The HP coaching team
HPD: Antonio Maurogiovanni
Coaches: Dominic Casey, Giuseppe de Vita, Fran Keane, Nicolo Maurogiovanni and Leah O’Regan

Operations officer: Michael O’Rourke

Published in Rowing
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The 72nd Colours Boat Rowing Race between Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin will take place on Friday, 18th March for the first time in three years.

The colours boat race sees Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin go head-to-head again on the Liffey, racing from O’ Connell Bridge to St. James’ Gate. Watch the high tempo start at O’ Connell Bridge, the mid-course battle at Four Courts or the sprint for the line at the dedicated viewing area at St. James’ Gate on Victoria Quay with live commentary.

Tom Stevens, Dublin University Boat Club (DUBC), captain commented, "It is fantastic to be back racing for Gannon Cup and the Dan Quinn shield, particularly after such a long gap since the last time this event has been run. The colours race is such a unique event. Racing through the city is incredibly exciting and a huge privilege. It feels like sitting in a fish bowl on the start line with all of the faces looking down at you off of O'Connell Bridge. We are very excited to get out there and race on the 18th March."

Alicia O' Neill, Dublin University Ladies Boat Club (DULBC) captain commented, "Colours is certainly one of the highlights of our rowing season. It’s the only race where we can row down the Liffey through the heart of Dublin City Centre and where spectators can watch the race from start to finish. We have been waiting since 2019 to race so the excitement is like no other. Both our senior and novice squads are more than ready to race and we are looking forward to the 18th to showcase the very best of DULBC. UCD are one of our biggest rivals and we are eager to go out and challenge them and hopefully claim the bragging rights for the year."

Colours Boat Race Schedule, Friday 18th March:

  • 10:00am – Sally Moorhead Trophy
  • 10:30am – Dan Quinn Shield
  • 11:00am – Corcoran Cup
  • 11:30am – Gannon Cup

The coin toss for the 2022 Colours Boat Races took place on the Sunday, 27th February at the dining hall of Trinity College Dublin, overseen by Trinity Alumni and motivational speaker Mark Pollock. Dublin University Boat Club lost the toss and will take the south station for the Gannon Cup and the Dan Quinn shield. Dublin University Ladies Boat Club won their coin toss and chose to race on the south station for the Corcoran Cup and the Sally Moorhead Trophy.

Published in Rowing
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“So your boat goes up the size of the wave, and then it goes down a bit and sometimes you might surf it or whatever but yeah, they were very very big..”.

I’m useless at measuring things, I don’t know what height.... but they weren’t aggressive to me, which was nice. ..”

The words of Dr Karen Weekes the morning after her triumphant arrival into Barbados to become the first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

The first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic nears the finish in Barbados Photo: Mick MurphyThe first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic nears the finish in Barbados Photo: Mick Murphy

About 30 of her team, close friends and family flew to Barbados to greet her, and there was a large crowd in Tully’s Bar in Kinvara to watch her welcome on social media.

“Even this morning my body is aching, and it hasn’t been for 81 days,” she said, expressing relief at a break from the intensity of it.

“You just can’t turn off at all...”

Weekes, who has been congratulated by President Michael D Higgins and is Afloat’s Sailor of the Month, says she plans to “plant spuds” back home in Kinvara, Co Galway.

However, she also plans to keep her Shecando campaign going to encourage young women into adventure sports and to highlight UN sustainability goals and ocean conservation.

She spoke to Wavelengths (below) from Bridgetown in Barbados.

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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One of the most entertaining events of the constrained pre-Christmas season was the All In A Row charity event for all-comers - provided they were oar-driven – in Dublin’s River Liffey on Saturday, December 11th 2021. It mustered an exceptionally varied fleet including everything from classic authentic currachs to hefty big traditional coastal rowing skiffs. The widely-different craft in between including the legendary Lorelei, built by the great George Bushe of Crosshaven in 1954 using then-revolutionary construction methods to produce a very fast shell for the Cork Rowing Club.

Lorelei had become something of a sleeping beauty, as she was slumbering for many years dust-covered in a hidden corner of one of the sheds at Crosshaven Boatyard, when classic boat enthusiast Darryl Hughes – who winters his Tyrrell-of-Arklow-built 43ft ketch Maybird in Crosser where he now lives – immediately spotted that this was something very special indeed.

The classic coastal rowing skiffs – some of them as long as 32ft - can be quite a challengeThe classic coastal rowing skiffs – some of them as long as 32ft - can be quite a challenge

As the local rowing clubs already have their hands full with some of the latest craft, he contacted the Stella Maris Rowing Club with its many members in Ringsend in Dublin, and they agreed to take on the custodianship of Lorelei – she’s supposedly so called because the top movie of 1954 was Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in which superstar Marilyn Monroe was the glamorous showgirl Lorelei.

Worth her weight in gold….the 1954 George Bushe-built Lorelei makes knots past the Central BankWorth her weight in gold….the 1954 George Bushe-built Lorelei makes knots past the Central Bank

Be that as it may, Lorelei the swift rowing skiff is a star in her own right, and she cut a speedy dash up the Liffey on December 11th when she and her fleetmates were brilliantly successful – they gave everyone a great time, they successfully demonstrated the wide range of rowing craft in Ireland, and they raised a total of €18,000 to be shared between the Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search & Recovery Unit. The presentation of the cheques will take place this Friday (December 4th) at 8.0pm in the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club.

Crew of all ages contributed mightily to the fund-raising effort on December 11th.Crew of all ages contributed mightily to the fund-raising effort on December 11th.

Published in Coastal Rowing
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Going virtual for the second year, the 2022 World Rowing Indoor Championships saw nearly 800 athletes from 66 countries competing. They qualified from around the globe through either one of 19 sanctioned events or individual qualification.

When the pandemic forced the 2022 World Rowing Indoor Championships, originally scheduled to take place in Hamburg, Germany, to go virtual again, it meant finalists would have to race live from their bedrooms, balconies, bathrooms, kitchens and gyms on Concept2 indoor rowing machines. The two days of racing saw world records falling across a variety of distances and age groups as well as para-rowing and team events.

 2022 World Rowing Indoor Championships

The open men’s 2000m was one of the highlight events and the race saw last year’s indoor champion Ward Lemmelijn of Belgium come out on top again. Lemmelijn trailed Russia’s Alexander Vyazovkin for the majority of the race, and in an epic sprint to the line overtook him just before the finish, to the delight of his supporters in Belgium. He fell just short of the magic sub 5:40 mark when he finished in a time of 5:41.7, ahead of Vyazovkin with Joel Naukkarinen of Finland in third.

For the open women’s 2000m Kirsten Kline of the United States had a blistering start over Zhang Peixin of China. Then Peixin, the 2019 World Rowing Junior Champion in the Women’s Eight, took the lead and never looked back. She was racing alongside Chinese rowing teammates Lv Yang and Xu Xingye, and in front of the trio managed to secure a 1-2- 3 for China. Kline, the reigning world champion who was injured a couple of weeks before the WRICH, had to settle for fourth place.

Friday, the open men’s 500 m category saw current world record holder Phil Clapp of Great Britain securing a third consecutive gold medal in this event. Clapp scored a time of 1:11.6 and held off a late surge from Cameron Wharram from Canada. Anton Grassl from Slovakia finished third – and managed to get a gold medal half an hour later in the Masters 40-49 Category. Grassl repeated his performance Saturday when he secured another gold medal in the same age group, over 2000m this time.

indoor rowing

The best performer of the Championships was undeniably Spain’s Javier Reja Munoz. Reja Munoz competed in canoe at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games and finished a close fourth at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. He broke a first world record Friday in the PR1 Men 2000m in a time of 7:23.2, and repeated his performance Saturday with another world record in the 500m – with another supersonic time of 1:38.4. In the same race yesterday, Milan Lackovic of Slovakia and Matthew Houser of the USA also broke world records in the Men’s PR3 and Men’s PR3-II 500m.

Alida Kingswood won the hearts of the global audience when she set a new world record in the masters women’s 90-94-year-old 2000 metre category. Canada’s Kingswood broke the record by finishing in a time of 10:29.3 – smashing the previous world record by more than two minutes.

The live racing meant that the rowers had to fit in with a variety of time zones. Racing started Friday at 12 noon CET (which was midnight in New Zealand and 3 am in California) and Saturday at 11 AM CET, and was streamed live on www.worldrowing.com. Each rower was videoed racing from wherever they were in the world. These individual races were then linked through a virtual studio with commentators calling the races: from Camilla Hadland and Martin Cross in Great Britain, to Shane Farmer and Aquil Abdullah in California.

Each athlete was connected to a screen where they could see how they were doing against their competitors. This timing and results software was produced and operated by race
management company Time Team of the Netherlands. World Rowing Productions of Munich, Germany brought all of the elements together to create the live stream broadcast.

Rewatch the racing here. Complete results here.

Published in Rowing
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World Rowing announced that the World men's crew of the year is Ireland's own lightweight double scull of Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy. In a virtual event that celebrated the finest rowers and coaches around the World, the nominations featured three other World Rowing's premium crews from France, Holland and the Kiwi Olympic eight.

World Rowing commended the Rowing Ireland programme led by HP Director Antonio Maurogiovanni on their surge in rowing over the last number of years. Rowing Ireland's Fintan McCarthy met online during the World Rowing Awards, having just finished training at the home of Irish Rowing in the Kinetica National Rowing Centre, just outside Cork City. McCarthy reflected on the growing system of High-Performance rowing in place at present with a vital pathway and he reflected on the group of athletes all training together at the Kinetica NRC in order "to make the boat go faster". The other half of the Olympic duo, Paul O'Donovan couldn't make the awards due to his commitments at UCC, where he is studying medicine.

World men's crew of the year - Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthyWorld men's crew of the year - Paul O'Donovan and Fintan McCarthy

Rowing Ireland CEO Michelle Carpenter said, "It is an absolute honour that World Rowing has awarded our men's lightweight double this prestigious award. I would like to congratulate Paul and Fintan and the whole HP team on this formidable award. As we were sitting at a Rowing Ireland Board meeting this morning the awards were announced. It was such positive news to reflect on where we have come from and where we are going as we head into the Paris cycle. It was also poignant on a day where sport seems to be opening, as one of our seasons' first events was underway on the Marina in Cork. This award and our continued Rowing Ireland strategy gives us great hope for the future in all our programme’s. Without the support of Sport Ireland, Sport NI and the OFI, together with our committed sponsors, everyone has contributed hugely to the growth and success of Irish Rowing over the last number of years. It takes a village to raise a child, and now we have such incredible role models that everyone involved in our sport can look up to and know they can achieve the same through hard work and perseverance.

Published in Rowing
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Sports psychologist Dr Karen Weekes is due to set off from the Canaries to the Caribbean today in her bid to become the first Irish woman to row solo across the Atlantic.

Weekes will undertake the 4,800 km (3,000 miles) row in her vessel, Millie, named after her mother.

Her #SheCanDo2021 campaign aims to encourage more women and girls into endurance sport.

Weekes anticipates it will take about 70 days to row from Gran Canaria to Barbados, without any support vessel.

Weekes, who lives in Kinvara, Co Galway, says she will be rowing about 16 hours a day.

She will be only the 20th woman to row any ocean on the globe solo on completing the transit.

Weekes holds a doctorate in sports psychology, and lectures at Munster Technological University.

She has sailed the Atlantic twice, circumnavigated both Ireland and the Lofoten Islands off Norway in a kayak, and has cycled solo and unsupported 4,000 miles across Canada, through Alaska and the Yukon.

She has also solo cycled from Nordkapp in northern Norway to Helsinki in Finland.

Along with Orla Knight, a physical education teacher at Castletroy College in Co Limerick, she cycled across North America from San Francisco to Washington DC.

Weekes has trekked in Nepal and Pakistan and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya.

She says the campaign is “dually focused”, in following her preparation for, and experience during the voyage, and “providing a platform for encouraging women, and girls, to believe in their abilities to succeed”.

She also aims to illuminate two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically ‘gender equality’ and ‘life below water’, which focuses on the conservation of oceans and marine life.

Her progress can be followed on her tracker on this link here and listen to Weekes in conversation with Afloat's Lorna Siggins about the row on her Wavelength's podcast here

Published in Coastal Rowing
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‘All In A Row 2021’ is coming back to the capital’s River Liffey on Saturday 11th December with a rowing challenge for the teams to smash a 1,000km target in eight hours. Forty skiffs, kayaks, canoes and currachs will all be on the water to raise funds for RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

The organisers are hoping to exceed last year’s target of rowing 1,000km during the event on the river, which will start from St. Patrick’s Rowing Club at the Tom Clarke Bridge (formerly the East Link Bridge) and go up to the Ha’penny Bridge. The challenge is being undertaken with the aim of showcasing the River Liffey as one of Dublin’s best amenities while raising funds for the water-related charities, RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit. The event raised €15,000 in 2019.

The event will start at 9 am on Saturday 11th December and at 1 pm all boats will gather on the Liffey at the Sean O’Casey footbridge. A wreath-laying ceremony, attended by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, will take place to commemorate all those who have lost their lives through drowning.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Alison Gilliland, who will be attending the event, said “The River Liffey is such an important part of the city of Dublin and it is wonderful to see so many people using and enjoying the river in a range of skiffs, kayaks, canoes and currachs. Best of luck to all those taking part and well done for rising to the challenge of rowing 1,000 km, showcasing our beautiful river and raising money for two great water-related charities, RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.”

Many Dublin rowing clubs have their home on the River Liffey and are a regular sight on the water. At the port end of the river is St. Patrick’s Rowing Club, Stella Maris Rowing Club, East Wall Water Sports Group and Poolbeg Yacht and Boat club. Ringsend Basin is home to the Plurabelle Paddlers (dragon boats) and the Dublin Viking Dragon boats.

At the other end of the city beyond Heuston Station, there are many river rowing clubs and kayaking clubs, including Phoenix Rowing Club. Rowing clubs from other parts of Ireland will join in this challenge to raise funds for RNLI Lifeboats and the Irish Underwater Search and Recovery Unit.

Published in Dublin Bay
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Coastal Notes Coastal Notes covers a broad spectrum of stories, events and developments in which some can be quirky and local in nature, while other stories are of national importance and are on-going, but whatever they are about, they need to be told.

Stories can be diverse and they can be influential, albeit some are more subtle than others in nature, while other events can be immediately felt. No more so felt, is firstly to those living along the coastal rim and rural isolated communities. Here the impact poses is increased to those directly linked with the sea, where daily lives are made from earning an income ashore and within coastal waters.

The topics in Coastal Notes can also be about the rare finding of sea-life creatures, a historic shipwreck lost to the passage of time and which has yet many a secret to tell. A trawler's net caught hauling more than fish but cannon balls dating to the Napoleonic era.

Also focusing the attention of Coastal Notes, are the maritime museums which are of national importance to maintaining access and knowledge of historical exhibits for future generations.

Equally to keep an eye on the present day, with activities of existing and planned projects in the pipeline from the wind and wave renewables sector and those of the energy exploration industry.

In addition Coastal Notes has many more angles to cover, be it the weekend boat leisure user taking a sedate cruise off a long straight beach on the coast beach and making a friend with a feathered companion along the way.

In complete contrast is to those who harvest the sea, using small boats based in harbours where infrastructure and safety poses an issue, before they set off to ply their trade at the foot of our highest sea cliffs along the rugged wild western seaboard.

It's all there, as Coastal Notes tells the stories that are arguably as varied to the environment from which they came from and indeed which shape people's interaction with the surrounding environment that is the natural world and our relationship with the sea.

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