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The hard decision has been made to withdraw rower Sanita Puspure from the B Final of the Women’s Single, set to occur tomorrow due to her being unwell.

Speaking this evening, Puspure said: “Over the past few days, I have not been well, and I had to make the difficult decision to withdraw from the Olympic Regatta. This is really disappointing, as I had been going well over the past few months and had hoped to continue this good form. The Olympics is always a big goal, so it’s heartbreaking to have to pull out in this manner.”

As regular Afloat readers know, in the final race of the day for the rowers, there was disappointment for Puspure in the semi-finals of the Women’s Single, where she finished fifth in her race, with only the top three progressing to the A Final where the medals are contested.

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In her third Olympic Games, the current World Rowing Champion in the Women’s Singles Sanita Puspure won her quarter-final in impressive style in today’s race in Tokyo, and will now compete in the semi-final A/B next Tuesday.

The Women’s Pair of Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley and the Lightweight Women’s Double of Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey also progressed to the semi-finals from their repechages this morning.

There was disappointment for the Men’s Double of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne though, whose sixth-place finish in the semi-final in 6.49.06 was not enough to progress to the A Final.

Four Irish boats were racing on the third day of rowing at the Tokyo Olympics. Three Irish boats qualified for the A/B Semi-Finals and the Men’s Double will race in the B Final.

The Women’s Pair of Aileen Crowley & Monika Dukarska finished third in the Repechage this morning. Aileen and Monika competed against Megan Kalmoe & Tracey Eisser (USA), Kaifeng Huang & Jinchao Liu (China) and Maria Kyridou & Christina Ioanna Bourmpou (Greece). Aileen and Monika finished with a time of 07:31.99. Aileen and Monika will race in the A/B Semi-Final Tuesday morning

Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey finished third in the Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls Repechage. Margaret and Aoife competed against Valentina Cavallar & Louisa Altenhuber (Austria), Thi Thao Luong & Thi Hao Dinh (Vietnam), Patricia Merz & Frederique Rol (Switzerland), Yulisa Lopez & Jennieffer Zuinga (Guatemala) and Anatasia Lebedeva & Maria Botalova (Russian Olympic Committee). Margaret and Aoife finished with a time of 07:23.46. Margaret and Aoife will race in the A/B Semi-Final Tuesday morning.

Sanita Pušpure finished first in the Women’s Single Sculls Quarter-Final. Sanita faced competition from Wing Yan Winnie Hung (Hong Kong), Jovana Arsic (Serbia), Kara Kohler (USA), Yan Jiang (China) and Alejandra Alonso (Paraguay). Sanita won the Heat comfortably with a time of 07:58.30 finishing ahead of Kara Kohler (USA) and Yan Jiang (China). Sanita will now race in the A/B Semi-Final on Wednesday morning.

Ronan Byrne and Philip Doyle finished sixth in the Men’s Double Sculls A/B Semi-Final. Ronan and Phil competed against Miroslaw Zietarski & Mateusz Biskup (Poland), Jack Lopas & Christopher Harris (New Zealand), Graeme Thomas & John Collins (Great Britain), Hugo Boucheron & Matthew Androdias (France), and Stephan Krueger & Marc Weber (Germany). Ronan and Phil finished with a time of 06.49.06 and Ronan and Phil will now race in the B Final on Wednesday morning.

Day 3 Results

Repechage

Women’s Pair (W2-) Monika Dukarska & Aileen Crowley – 4th – 07:31.99

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Margaret Cremen & Aoife Casey – 3rd – 07:23.46

Quarter-Final

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Sanita Puspure – 1st – 07:58.30

A/B Semi-Final

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Ronan Byrne & Philip Doyle – 6th – 06.49.06

Next Irish Races (Confirmed)

Tuesday 27th Racing (IST)
A/B Semi-Final

Women’s Pair (W2-) Monika Dukarska & Aileen Crowley – 02:58/03:08 (TBC)

Lightweight Men;s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Fintan McCarthy & Paul O’Donovan – 03:18/03:28 (TBC)

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Margaret Cremen & Aoife Casey – 03:38/03:48 (TBC)

Wednesday 28th (IST)
B Final

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Ronan Byrne & Philip Doyle – 00:42

Women’s Four (W4-) – Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Emily Hegarty & Fiona Murtagh – 01:50

A/B Semi-Final

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Sanita Puspure – 02:58/03:08 (TBC)

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Double World and European rowing champion Sanita Pušpure has won the latest Cork Person of the Year award.

Sanita, 39, who was born in Latvia but now lives in Ballincollig, is considered a favourite to take a gold medal in this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

She is also a past winner of the Irish Times/Sport Ireland’s Sportswoman of the Year award. 

Sanita came to Ireland from Latvia in 2006 and became an Irish citizen in 2011.

She has been a member of Irish rowing teams for many years and trains at the National Rowing Centre at Farran Woods in Cork.

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Rower Sanita Puspure was honoured at The Irish Times / Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year Awards after she successfully defended her European title in Poznan, Poland.

Despite having her training regime seriously disrupted and the European Championships being her first competitive event of the year, Puspure was in total control of the single sculls by the halfway stage and cruised to a comfortable victory of over Austrian Magdalena Lobnig and Anneta Kyridou of Greece.

The victory was all the more impressive given last year’s Sportswoman of the Year told RTE she had found training alone a real challenge. “As an athlete it was very hard because we're so used to that competitive environment in training - that's what keeps us going and pushes us every day. The intention to train well was there but I don't think I did because subconsciously there was no motivation to push myself to the very limit of what I could have done.”

Despite those lockdown struggles, the Ballincollig based rower, who is 39, produced the goods yet again to claim her sixth major international medal.

This is the 17th year of the awards and Puspure, who won the overall award last year, was among 11 other monthly award winners nominated for the 2020 title including runner Ciara Mageean, golfer Stephanie Meadow and soccer player Diane Caldwell.

However the overall award this year went to the August winner, Katie Taylor, the undisputed world lightweight champion who was crowned The Irish Times / Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year for 2020. It’s the Bray boxer’s fifth time to win the award and comes after she enjoyed a highly successful 2020, defending her titles against Belgian rival Delfine Persoon and Miriam Gutierrez from Spain.

Accepting the award from her US base in Connecticut, she said it was a privilege and a great honour to be recognised in this way. She said that turning professional had been beyond her wildest dreams. “These have definitely been the most enjoyable few years of my whole career and this is coming after my lowest point as well, the Rio Olympics, so it really has been an amazing few year.”

Former soccer international star Olivia O’Toole, the most capped Irish women’s international soccer player of all time, was presented with the Outstanding Contribution to Sport Award 2020. O’Toole, who represented her country 130 times in a career which stretched from 1991 to 2009, is also Ireland’s record goal scorer at women’s international level with 54 goals.

Katie Taylor played with O’Toole for Ireland and during her interview with RTE’s Des Cahill she described her as the best player she ever played with and the best player we are ever going to see.

Tributes

Paying tribute to the 2020 winners, Sports Editor of The Irish Times Malachy Logan said it had to be acknowledged that they overcame a unique set of challenges this year. “They all had to cope with constraints on training, the use of facilities and limits on travel. Nevertheless, they showed the dedication and resilience that marks them out as outstanding competitors and brilliant role models for the tens of thousands of girls who would like to follow in their footsteps.”

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said: “2020 may not have been the sporting year that we anticipated, but we have been very fortunate to witness many memorable achievements from our top sportswomen over the course of the last twelve months. Not only have impressive performances and achievements on the pitch been recognised, but it is important and fitting that a number of contributions off the field of play have also been rewarded.

“Each and every award recipient is an excellent ambassador for their sport and their country and I thank them for their commitment. I would like to acknowledge Sport Ireland and the Irish Times for continuing to recognise the incredible contribution of Irish women in sport. I would like to congratulate all of the monthly winners and also pay tribute to their families and all of the coaches and support teams who have helped them to reach the highest levels of sport.”

The Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Sport, Jack Chambers TD said: “It’s important that our young and aspiring athletes have role models to look up to and today we are honouring twelve such role models who have all excelled in their chosen code. While our top athletes have been keeping us all entertained during these difficult months, there have been great strides made in the number of women and girls participating in sport and physical activity.

“We have seen the gender gap in sports participation narrow to the lowest it has ever been, while the National Governing Bodies of Sport and the Local Sports Partnerships, with the support of Sport Ireland, have been doing fantastic work on the ground to increase and sustain participation at all levels. I congratulate all of today’s winners and look forward to what will hopefully be another excellent year for Irish athletes in 2021.”

Sport Ireland Chairman Kieran Mulvey described the day as one of the best in the Irish sporting calendar. “Today we celebrate all that is positive about sport both on and off the playing field as we honour Ireland’s top sporting talent. While many of our sporting arenas have unfortunately remained idle for much of the year, we have been lucky that our top athletes have been able to continue their training and competition.”

“Through their performances and contributions, this group of individuals has given the nation a real lift in the uncertain year that was 2020 and for that we thank them dearly. I congratulate each of the monthly award winners on their achievements and wish them well for what will hopefully be a year filled with sporting action in 2021.”

Monthly winners

  • December 2019 winner Fionnuala McCormack (Athletics)
  • January winners Katie-George Dunlevy and Eve McCrystal (Cycling)
  • February winner Rachael Blackmore (Horse racing)
  • March winner Diane Caldwell (Soccer)
  • April winner Kellie Harrington (Boxing)
  • May winner Orlagh Farmer (Gaelic Football)
  • June winner Gina Akpe-Moses (Athletics)
  • July winner Ciara Mageean (Athletics)
  • August winner Katie Taylor (Boxing)
  • September winner Martina McMahon (Handball)
  • October winner Sanita Puspure (Rowing)
  • November winner Stephanie Meadow (Golf)
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Seven Irish crews were competing today at the 2020 European Rowing Championships. Four crews progressed to the A/B Semi-Final races on Saturday morning and three crews will race in the Repechage.

The W2-crew of Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty kicked off the Irish team’s racing this morning. The Irish pair were competing with crews from Russia, Italy, Greece and the Netherlands. The crew finished third with a time of 07:16.590. Tara and Emily will race in the Repechage.

Ronan Byrne and Daire Lynch competed in the Men’s double scull heat. The Irish crew competed against crews from Lithuania, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Finland and Serbia. Daire and Ronan finished second with a time of 06:22.020. Daire and Ronan have now progressed to the A/B Semi-Final on Saturday morning.

Lydia Heaphy raced in the Lightweight Women’s Single facing crews from Norway, Poland, Germany, Russia and Switzerland. Lydia finished sixth in her heat with a time of 08:01.550 and will race in the Repechage on Saturday morning.

Fintan McCarthy competed in the Lightweight Men’s Single, Fintan was competing with crews from Spain, Greece, Italy and Germany. Fintan finished third with a time of 07:05.980. Fintan moved into the Repechage later on Friday afternoon.

Fintan finished 1st in the Lightweight Men’s Repechage with a time of 07:07.35, Fintan will now compete in the A/B Semi-Final on Saturday.

The Women’s Four of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Aileen Crowley and Fiona Murtagh competed in their heat alongside boats from Spain, France, Romania, Germany and Netherlands. The Irish Women’s Four finished second just behind the Netherlands crew with a time of 06:26.990. They will now race in the Repechage on Saturday morning.

Sanita Puspure raced in the Women’s Single Scull in Heat two. Sanita was competing against crews from the Netherlands, France, Serbia and Germany. Sanita finished second with a time of 07:35.510 and advanced to the A/B Semi-Finals on Saturday morning.

The Lightweight Women’s Double of Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey finished 4th in their heat. They competed against crews from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece and Latvia and moved into the Repechage later on Friday afternoon.

Margaret and Aoife finished second in their Repechage with a time of 07:03.990. They will now compete in the A/B Semi-Final on Saturday.

Saturday European Rowing Races (IST) Irish interest

Women’s Pair (W2-) Tara Hanlon & Emily Hegarty – Repechage – 08:53

Men’s Double Scull (M2x) – Ronan Byrne & Daire Lynch – A/B Semi-Final – 09:13/09:18

Lightweight Women’s Single Scull (LW1x) – Lydia Heaphy – Repechage – 09:23

Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Fintan McCarthy – A/B Semi-Final – 09:33/09:38

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) Margaret Cremen & Aoife Casey – A/B Semi-Final – 10:00/10:05

Women’s Four (W4-) Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Aileen Crowley and Fiona Murtagh – Repechage – 10:20

Women’s Single Scull (W1x) – Sanita Puspure – A/B Semi-Final – 10:45

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This weekend senior Irish crews will be looking to continue the successes of the U23 and Junior crews who brought home six medals from their European Championships in September. Ireland will have seven crews competing at the European Rowing Championships in Poznan from the 9th -11th October.

Sanita Puspure will be defending her Championship after winning Gold at last year’s European Rowing Championships in Lucerne. In 2019, Sanita also won her second consecutive World Championship and qualified the Women’s Single Scull for the Olympics at the 2019 World Rowing Championships in Austria. After Sanita’s World and European Championships in 2019, she was named as the Irish Times/Sport Ireland Sportswoman of the Year.

Women’s Four

The crew of Fiona Murtagh, Aileen Crowley, Eimear Lambe and Aifric Keogh will be competing in the Women’s Four. Fiona has won the Head of Charles two years in a row and won at the Irish Rowing Championships. Aileen, alongside Monika Dukarska, qualified the Women’s Pair for the Olympics at the 2019 World Rowing Championships. Eimear has been competing internationally since 2015 and won Silver at the 2019 U23 World Rowing Championships. Aifric has been a member of the high-performance team for several years has won at the Irish Championships and set new World Records on the erg this year.

Fintan McCarthy will be competing in the Lightweight Men’s Single after a successful 2019. Fintan competed at the 2019 European Championships in Lucerne alongside his brother, Jake, in the Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls. Fintan then competed alongside Paul O’Donovan, winning Silver at the World Cup III in Rotterdam. Fintan and Paul went on to win Gold at the 2019 World Rowing Championship and qualify the Lightweight Men’s Double boat for the Olympics.

After a successful U23 European Championships, a number of our medal winners will be competing this weekend. Ronan Byrne and Daire Lynch look to continue their success after winning Gold in the Men’s Double at the U23 European Championships in September. In 2019, Ronan won Silver alongside Phil Doyle at the World Rowing Championships and the World Cup III; Ronan also won Gold in the Men’s Single at the 2019 U23 European Championships.

Margaret Cremen and Aoife Casey will be racing in the Lightweight Women’s Double in Poznan after winning the Silver Medal in the same category in Germany last month. Margaret and Aoife have competed together for several years and won Silver in this event at the Junior European Championships in 2017.

Lydia Heaphy will be competing in the Lightweight Women’s Scull, after winning Gold alongside Cliodhna Nolan in the Women’s Lightweight Pair last month. Lydia has experience competing in the Lightweight Single Scull having raced in the boat at the 2019 World Rowing Championships.

Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty won Bronze at last month’s U23 event, competing together in the Women’s Pair. Tara and Emily won Silver in the Women’s Four alongside Eimear Lambe and Claire Feerick at the 2019 U23 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota.

Irish Crews Competing

W1x

Sanita Puspure (OC)

M2x

Ronan Byrne (UCC)
Daire Lynch (Clonmel)
John Kearney (UCC)- Reserve

W4-

Fiona Murtagh (NUIG)
Aileen Crowley (OC)
Eimear Lambe (OC)
Aifric Keogh (UCC)

W2-

Tara Hanlon (UCC)
Emily Hegarty (UCC)

LM1x

Fintan McCarthy (Skibbereen)

LW2x

Margaret Cremen (UCC)
Aoife Casey (UCC)

LW1x

Lydia Heaphy (UCC)

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Ireland’s two world champion crews of 2019 are the Afloat Rowers of the Year. Sanita Puspure defended her title in the women’s single sculls, while Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy proved themselves the best lightweight double in the world.

 Paul O’Donovan’s fortitude, ambition, self-belief and professionalism make him the best male rower to come out of Ireland and one of the greatest sportsmen. Teamed up with his brother, Gary O’Donovan, he led the country to its first Olympic rowing medal in 2016, and the two went on to win World Championship gold in the lightweight double in 2018.

 The year 2019 was different. Gary broke a bone in his wrist early in the year and took months to recover. The competition for the doubles spot with Paul O’Donovan was hot: the picture above shows the winning triallists, Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan just after they crossed the line and secured the coveted gig. They competed in the final World Cup in Rotterdam: in an amazing race with Germany they were beaten for the gold by three hundredths of a second despite having stopped while Paul flipped Fintan’s errant stroke coach back into the boat.

 The World Championship final was – astoundingly – even more dramatic. Paul O’Donovan scoffs at those who say his crews start slowly. The statistics generally back him up. But in Linz-Ottensheim, Paul and Fintan were two and a half seconds down on the field (just over a length) at 500 metres. Italy and Germany looked strong and in command ahead of them. Could the men in green come back and still be there at the end? Even knowing the outcome, the video is a thriller. Through the second quarter, the Ireland unit outpaces every other crew; by 1300 metres they have shot into the lead; they build on that advantage to win by the margin by which they were behind 1500 metres before. As Paul and Fintan chatted to media after the race, Italy’s Pietro Ruta – he of the flowing beard – lay sprawled and virtually motionless in the media area. Silver was his, but his crew had yielded to the all-conquering Irish.

 The World Championships saw the Ireland women’s pair of Monika Dukarska and Aileen Crowley qualify the boat for the Olympics, the men’s double of Phil Doyle and Ronan Byrne sweep to silver, while Katie O’Brien took the bronze medal in the PR2 pararowing final.

Sanita and Sarah Jane McDonnellSanita (left) with Sarah Jane McDonnell

 Sanita Puspure topped it all. A year in which her competition was curtailed as she spent time with her dying sister Inese became a year in which she showed what a wonderful, inspiring, athlete she can be. The women’s single sculls at the World Championships might well have been all about the comeback story of New Zealand’s Emma Twigg. Self-exiled in order to study, she had paid the price of falling away from competition. Fourth at the Olympic Games in 2016, she roared back in 2019 to win the World Cup regattas in Poznan, Poland and Rotterdam. In the World Championships semi-final, Twigg hung on to Puspure and took second; in the final she blasted out into the lead and held it till the final quarter, only to see Puspure flash past to win well. For Puspure it had been four races, four wins, four demonstrations of her command.

 Sanita Puspure, Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are the Afloat Rowers of the Year 2019.  

Rower of the Year awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times and David O'Brien, Editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year 2020 will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our champions list grow.

Published in Rower of the Year

#Rowing: Ireland figure strongly in the finalists for the World Rowing Awards 2019. World champions Sanita Puspure, in the single sculls, and the lightweight double of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy are finalists for women’s and men’s crews of the year. Ronan Byrne (21) is one of four finalists for the Filippi Spirit Award for outstanding university rower. Byrne won gold in the single sculls at the European Under-23 Championships just a week after partnering Philip Doyle to silver in the double sculls at the senior World Championships.

 The award ceremony is on November 22nd in London.

Finalists for the 2019 World Rowing Awards

Thomas Keller Medal – for a rower who has had a long and successful rowing career and who has made an outstanding contribution to rowing as a competitor and as a sports personality.

  • ·         Kim Brennan,Australia
  • ·         Ekaterina Karsten,Belarus
  • ·         James Cracknell,Great Britain
  • ·         Pete Reed,Great Britain
  • ·         Andrew Triggs Hodge,Great Britain

Filippi Spirit Award – for a university rower who has demonstrated the core values of rowing in his/her social, academic and sporting life and, through these values, also enabled or inspired exceptional success in other people's lives.

  • ·         Ria Thompson,Australia
  • ·         Jean Maillard,France
  • ·         Ronan Byrne,Ireland
  • ·         Nicholas Perovich,United States

World Rowing Sustainability Award – for an organisation that has implemented an innovative project or initiative delivering a clear and positive sustainability impact.

  • ·         Spring Creek Regeneration Project,Australia
  • ·         2018 World Rowing Coastal Championships,Canada
  • ·         Wintech: Clean air, water and solar power,China
  • ·         Rowers Against Rubbish,Great Britain
  • ·         Developing Environmental Ambassadors,Japan

World Rowing Para-rowing Crew of the Year

  • ·         Kathryn Ross,Australia,Para PR2 Women’s Single Sculls
  • ·         Ellen Buttrick, Giedre Rakauskaite, James Fox, Oliver Stanhope and Erin Wysocki-Jones (coxswain),Great Britain,Para PR3 Mixed Coxed Four  
  • ·         Lauren Rowles and Laurence Whiteley,Great Britain,Para PR2 Mixed Double Sculls  
  • ·         Birgit Skarstein,Norway,Para PR1 Women’s Single Sculls
  • ·         Roman Polianskyi,Ukraine,Para PR1 Men’s Single Sculls

World Rowing Men’s Crew of the Year

  • ·         Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang,China,Men’s Double Sculls
  • ·         Valent Sinkovic and Martin Sinkovic,Croatia,Men’s Pair
  • ·         Oliver Zeidler,Germany,Men’s Single Sculls
  • ·         Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy,Ireland,Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls 
  • ·         Dirk Uittenbogaard, Abe Wiersma, Tone Wieten and Koen Metsmakers,The Netherlands,Men’s Quadruple Sculls

World Rowing Women’s Crew of the Year

  • ·         Olympia Aldersey, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Lucy Stephan,Australia,Women’s Four
  • ·         Yunxia Chen, Ling Zhang, Yang Lyu, Xiaotong Cui,China,Women’s Quadruple Sculls
  • ·         Sanita Puspure,Ireland,Women’s Single Sculls
  • ·         Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle,New Zealand,Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls
  • ·         Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler,New Zealand,Women’s Pair

World Rowing Coach of the Year

  • ·         Bernd Nennhaus,Germany,junior rowing crews         
  • ·         Tom Dyson,Great Britain,Para-rowing coach    
  • ·         Eelco Meenhorst,Netherlands,men’s sculling head coach  
  • ·         Gary Hay,New Zealand,women’s head coach       
  • ·         Johan Flodin,Norway,head coach
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#Rowing: The two crews which won gold for Ireland at the World Championships, the lightweight men’s double of Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy and single sculler Sanita Puspure, are the Afloat Rowers of the Month for August.

 The month was quite extraordinary. The Ireland double of Philip Doyle and Ronan Byrne qualified their boat for Tokyo at the World Championships in Linz-Ottensheim and then went on to take silver with an assured, technically impressive, performance in a gripping final; the women’s pair of Aileen Crowley and Monika Dukarska secured qualification with second in their B Final, eighth overall, well within the 11 places allotted for Tokyo. Along with the two gold-medal boats, this brought the Ireland complement for the Olympic Games to four, a record in the era of boats having to qualify through set competition.

 The Championships had also been a joyful one for Katie O’Brien. She took Ireland’s first medal, a bronze, in the PR2 single sculls on her 23rd birthday.

 Ireland crews came up just short of podium finishes at the Coupe de la Jeunesse and the World Junior Championships. Back in Ireland, the two Coastal Rowing Championships generated fine entries and plenty of excitement.  

Sanita Good Water LG World champion Sanita Puspure in action Photo: Liam Gorman

 The pressure was on Sanita Puspure and the lightweight double in Austria. Puspure’s year was affected by family bereavement. She was defending a title in a keenly-contested category. Looking back, her achievement can seem pre-ordained – it was not. She won her early races by big margins, consigning former Olympic champion Mirka Topinkova Knapkova to a distant second in her quarter-final. And then came the semi-final. Emma Twigg of New Zealand had made no secret of her ambition of ousting her friend from her eminent position. Puspure never let her get the chance, outpacing her in each of the four quarters. The final, on September 1st, would see Twigg try to win from the front. It was desperate stuff, and Puspure, knowing she had the resources to do it, waited her out and rowed through her.

 Nominally, the Ireland lightweight double were defending their title. But this was a new combination, with Fintan McCarthy coming in to partner Paul O’Donovan. The finish of their semi-final was nail-biting, as three boats (Ireland, Germany, Norway) were covered by .69 of a second. In the final the feeling of jeopardy lasted the whole race. Ireland had a poor first quarter, which left them trailing the field, produced a ridiculously good middle thousand in which they passed Germany and Italy, and then gritted it out to take a clearwater win. The exhaustion – physical, mental – of the second-placed Italy crew of Pietro Ruta and Stefano Oppo after the race was affecting. They looked like they could not process what had happened to them.    

Rower of the Month awards: The judging panel is made up of Liam Gorman, rowing correspondent of The Irish Times and David O'Brien, Editor of Afloat magazine. Monthly awards for achievements during the year will appear on afloat.ie. Keep a monthly eye on progress and watch our 2019 champions list grow.

Published in Rower of Month

#Rowing: Sanita Puspure says it was harder to defend her World Rowing Championship title that it was to win it for the first time. "Mentally I think [it was harder]. Everyone is looking at you. You're the one to beat and you're like 'oh stop now' but that's what it was. You just try to ignore it as best you can.”

Puspure, an ambassdor for Indeed, the partner of Team Ireland, was speaking in Dublin after her win in the singles sculls at the World Rowing Championships in Austria. She also qualified the boat for the 2020 Olympic Games.  

The world champion spoke about the programme which has brought her along. “We have a really good nutritionist, Sharon Madigan, working with us, making sure we're fueling properly for the loads we're doing. That's made a massive difference. I used to get ill quite a lot while training whereas now I occasionally get a head cold. The training is way more consistent."

 Her competition schedule during the summer was hit by the illness and subsequent death of her sister Inese. Puspure competed at the European Championships (she won), but missed the final World Cup regatta in Rotterdam.

 “(Inese) was getting worse rapidly, so I went over for a few days and then I was home for a little bit. And then I was in Latvia for three weeks and she passed away the same week the World Cup was on.

 "It was scary because I had very mixed emotions. I thought I should be at home training but at the same time, I wanted to spend some quality time with my sister because I knew she was going to pass away soon.

 "It was really hard being so conflicted within myself and not knowing what to do. Because of that, the medal has very high value. And we just needed something nice to happen."

 She paid tribute to her sport pyschologist, Kate Kirby.

 "Even if it was just to seal the qualifying place, I should be happy with that. And there were times when I thought if I just qualify I'll be fine. But then a few hours I'll be 'no I won't be fine, I don't want to just qualify. I want to repeat what I did last year or even just get on a podium.' It was a difficult time but I'm really glad we got on the other side of it."

 The new programme in this Olympic cycle also capitalised on the strengths she had and built her self-belief, which had not always been strong.

 “Yeh, I think a bit of a lack of self belief, definitely.” She was lucky to have  “great physiology” but it may have been better technique and the “harsh training we started two years ago that really kind of gave the confidence”.

 She also paid tribute to her family and her supportive team-mates.

 Team Ireland has updates and behind the scenes action: @IndeedIreland #TalentUnleashed.

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Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.

 

The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

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