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Afloat's rowing coverage encompasses the widest range of activities undertaken on Irish lakes, rivers and coastal waters. We aim to bring jargon free reports separated in to popular categories to promote the sport in Ireland.

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Rowing is one of the oldest of all sports, and FISA (Federation des Societes d'Aviron) the governing body of the sport, which was founded in 1892, is the oldest international sports federation in the Olympic movement. FISA has 128 member federations worldwide, organises World and Olympic Championships and World Cups and promotes all forms of rowing – including the non-Olympic event of Coastal Rowing.

The Irish Amateur Rowing Union, a federation of rowing clubs, has a history almost as long as the international body: it was founded in Dublin in 1899. Now reconstituted as Rowing Ireland, in 2010 the union had 69 affiliated clubs spread throughout the island of Ireland and 2,500 registered athletes. The National Rowing Centre is based at Farran Wood on Inniscarra Lake in County Cork. The domestic season traditionally culminates in the National Championships in mid-July.

Rowing is divided into sweep rowing and sculling. Sweep rowing involves the participant using both hands on one oar; in sculling the participant holds one oar in each hand. Boats may include a cox (coxwain), who generally steers the boat by means of wires, and guides and rallies the crew. In the shorthand of the sport, coxless crews are denominated by a minus (e.g. a men's coxless four is M4-). Senior sculling crews generally do not include a cox. The set distance for competition in regattas is 2,000 metres. Six-lane racing is standard.

The Olympic Games are the highest level at which rowers compete: there are 14 Olympic rowing classes, eight for men and six for women. Only three of these are in the lightweight classification, the most successful one for Irish rowers: men's fours (LM4-) and double sculls (LM2x) and women's double sculls (LW2x).

Individual oarsmen in lightweight crews cannot exceed 72.5 kilograms, and the average weight of a lightweight crew, excluding the cox, cannot be over 70 kgs. A single sculler cannot be above 72.5 kgs. The equivalent for women are 59 kgs (highest weight) and 57 kgs (average for oarswomen in a crew).

Ireland's best results at the Olympic Games came in 1996 and 1976. At Lake Lanier in the 1996 Games the men's lightweight coxless four crew of Tony O'Connor, Neville Maxwell, Sam Lynch and Derek Holland were beaten by less than a second for the bronze medal. In 1976 in Montreal Sean Drea finished fourth in the men's single sculls. In 2004 the Ireland lightweight four finished sixth in Athens.

The annual World Rowing Championships feature the 14 Olympic events and eight others for able-bodied athletes along with four adaptive events. The Championships have been a much happier hunting ground for the Irish, especially in the non-Olympic events. Niall O'Toole won gold in the lightweight single scull in 1991 and in 2001 Ireland won three World Championship golds: Sam Lynch (lightweight single scull); Sinead Jennings (women's lightweight single) and Tony O'Connor and Gearoid Towey (lightweight pair). Lynch sucessfully defended his title in 2002.

After the Olympics and the World Championships, the third big rowing competition is the World Cup series, usually three regattas in Europe. The World Under-23 Championships, the World Junior Championships, and, for countries in these islands, the Home Internationals, are also big international events. The European Championships were revived in 2006 after a three-decade break and Ireland took part in 2010.

Henley Royal Regatta, with the finals in July each year in the English town, has a special place in the calendar due to its history and its social aspect.

Our coverage though is not restricted to the Republic of Ireland but encompass Northern Ireland Scotland, Wales and the Irish Sea area too.

We're always aiming to build on our rowing content. We're keen to build on areas such as online guides on rowing. If you have ideas for our pages we'd love to hear from you. Please email us at [email protected]

Published in Landing Pages

There was big news yesterday from the ISAF events committee meeting in Athens. The conference blog reports A 'packed session' heard the Events Committee's recommendation on the provisional Olympic events and equipment for 2016. 

The Events Committee recommends:

- Board or kite-board for men and women - equipment evaluation
- One person dinghy men - Laser Standard
- One person dinghy women - Laser Radial
- Two person dinghy (skiff) men - 49er
- Two person dinghy (skiff) women - equipment evaluation
- Second one person dinghy men - Finn
- Two person mixed multihull - equipment evaluation
- Two person mixed dinghy with spinnaker - 470
- Women's keelboat - Elliott 6m

In so doing the committee's voting recommends taking out the men's keelboat. The second one person dinghy for women was the other option not to be selected.

The Committee's recommendations are of course just that. They will go to the ISAF Council for consideration this weekend. After Council vote they are then subject to confirmation at the ISAF Mid-Year meeting in May 2011.

Published in World Sailing

After the Finn class released its video 'Sailing at its best' on YouTube last week, the response has been nothing short of phenomenal say the class officials. The video is part of a campaign to ISAF to keep the class an Olympic dinghy and the chips are down. To date more than 17,500 views have been recorded from more than 110 countries.

According to YouTube Insight statistics it is the second most viewed sailing video over the past month.

If you haven't seen it yet then check it out on the Afloat home page, scroll down to the bottom of this post or click HERE

The video is just a small part of the classes enhanced media plan. Class President Balazs Hajdu wrote earlier this year, "Today the sailing community realises that media appeal is not only about what you broadcast but also about how you broadcast. By making footage and coverage on Finn races so comprehensive, continuous, available and ground breaking, the International Finn Association brings a message that the Finn is not only a great Olympic class showing close, tactical and fair competition for fit, healthy and heavier elite sportsmen at the top of their game but also that the sport of sailing is able to deliver the media requirements of the IOC and the broadcasters."

Comments posted online about the 2 minute and 40 second video have backed this up

- Outstanding video. This is the pinnacle of dinghy sailing captured on video.

- Fantastic sailing video. This is really promoting Olympic Sailing
- Without a doubt one of the best sailing videos EVER.
- This is simply awesome! Never thought Olympic and small boats sailing is so cool. GREAT GREAT GREAT GREAT
- This is just fantastic! This is actually what we want to see from Olympic Sailing.
- The more I watch it the more I love it.

Die hard Finn fans will also be pleased to know that a longer version is in production and will be released later this month.

Published in World Sailing

Ireland is guaranteed a medal today at the British Skandia Sail for Gold regatta in the Star class but Peter O'Leary's clean run in the keelboat this week was not without drama yesterday when his crew Fritjof Kleen slipped overboard 300 metres from the finish line.

The slip has cost them the lead at the top of the 36-boat fleet. Instead of having a six point cushion they have instead a 3 point deficit going into today's final that counts for double point scores.  A medal is guaranteed and it may yet be gold.
Annalise Murphy in the single handed Laser Radial dinghy can also rise as high as fifth in today's medal race that starts at 11am. 
Overall the result for both boats is being hailed by team management as a major step forward in Ireland's build up to the London Olympics in two years time.
Unfortunately for organisers who are aiming to put on a big show for sailing at the medal race finale, weather this morning in Weymouth is miserable.
Listen now to the podcast below with Ireland's team manager James O'Callaghan as Ireland goes afloat for a medal.

SFG10md_M7190

Peter O'Leary and Frithjof Kleen (IRL) against Fredrik Loof and Johan Tillannder (SWE) in the Star class on day 5 of the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta. Photo: onEdition

Published in Olympics 2012

Royal Cork's Peter O'Leary and his stand in German crew Frithjof Kleen are 13th overall after two races in the Skandia Sail for Gold regatta at Weymouth. O'Leary's rival for the Irish Star nomination at the Olympic regatta in two years time fared less well in the opening breezy rounds; Max Treacy and Anthony Shanks lie 33rd in the 36-boat fleet. There is a three way battle for Irish honours in the 91-boat Women's Laser Radial. In the qualifying rounds Annalise Murphy is racing in the blue fleet. Tiffany Brien and Saskia Tidey are both in the yellow flight. Northern Irleland's James Espey and Chris Penney are coming to terms with a full on Olympic Laser fleet of 180 boats. Full results HERE. Video at the end of this post.

It cannot have been an easy decision for the triple Olympic gold medalist, Ben Ainslie, to return to the Finn class at Skandia Sail for Gold 2010. Ainslie completely dominated the Finn, unbeaten between 2004 and 2008, winning gold medals at both the bookending Olympic regattas. Ainslie was the man who put the bite into Dennis Connor's book title, 'No Excuse to Lose'.

But right now, Ainslie has every excuse to lose; preoccupied with Team Origin campaigns in the TP52, the Louis Vuitton Trophy and the World Match Racing Tour, not to mention the little matter of being eight kilograms under his fighting weight. But an ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta at home, at the venue of the 2012 Games? How could he not compete? How could he not win? But how could he win, after so long out of the boat? Dilemma...

But Ainslie was taking it all in his stride this afternoon, "It's funny because this morning I was talking to my coach about my goals for the week, and we laughed because normally we wouldn't worry, I just want to be at the top! It is a very different week for me, because it's not about where I place, it's about rejoining the Finn fleet, seeing how it has progressed and learning about the conditions in Weymouth." And perhaps unsurprisingly, after a shaky first race, Ainslie was right back in the hunt for the second, and finished fourth for the day. Watch this space.

Things went less smoothly for his barely-less-gilded tactician at Team Origin, the double Olympic gold medalist, Iain Percy, and his crew, Andrew Simpson. They were also returning to the boat after a lay-off due to duties with Team Origin – although not such a long one, they are the reigning Star World Champions. But they broke a forestay before the first race, and had to come ashore to fix it, returning to the line two minutes after everyone else had started the second race - eventually finishing 21st. Simpson said afterwards, "Realistically you can't predict a forestay break like we had today, there is just an element of bad luck involved in these things but it's part of the game. But we went out there afterwards, we fought back and managed to take back 17 places."

The Star fleet was dominated by two more America's Cup sailors, Hamish Pepper and Craig Monk – the Kiwi duo won both races, an awesome performance in a fleet of this class. But elsewhere, things went better for Skandia Team GBR, with Nic Asher and Elliot Willis sharing the lead in the 470 Men with French duo Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos.

Other stand-out performances belong to Udo Hessels and Mischa Rossen in the Sonar class with two bullets. While in the 49er, Frenchmen Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis scored two seconds. Jonathan Lobert (FRA)  scored a first and a second in the Finn class, while both Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Veronika Fenclova (CZE) won their two races in their respective Laser Radial fleets to be joint top.

More from those Quotes

Ben Ainslie

"I really enjoyed it today, we had some great racing even though the conditions were pretty tough for me at my current weight. But I am pleased with how it went and pleased to be racing in the Finn again and to be back at Weymouth.

"It's funny because this morning I was talking to my coach about my goals for the week, and we laughed because normally we wouldn't worry, I just want to be at the top! It is a very different week for me, because it's not about where I place, it's about rejoining the Finn fleet, seeing how it has progressed and learning about the conditions in Weymouth.

"I don't feel any pressure this week. I haven't raced for two years. And I think that having been through so much at the Olympics it's a different feeling. Of course, you want to do well for everyone who supports you, but the biggest pressure always comes from your own desire to succeed.

"There is a lot of good talent in the UK, and it will be tough to qualify. But hopefully that will make us push each other that much harder, so that if I do qualify I am in a much stronger place."

Andrew Simpson

"Realistically you can't predict a forestay break like we had today, there is just an element of bad luck involved in these things but it's part of the game. But we went out there afterwards, we fought back and managed to take back 17 places overall".

"We haven't sailed together that much since Beijing, so we are holding back slightly at the moment. We have competed here before, and we are just enjoying the event, but we will have to ramp it up at the end of the week".

"I think because we have sailed together a lot before, the communication on the boat is good, sailing the boat again is like putting on an old pair of shoes, they still fit - we just have to readjust them a bit. It looks like for this event we will have to work on the breezier stuff".

"All of the foreign competitors here are trying to learn as much as they can about the venue before 2012, just as much as we are. Obviously we're based here, so we will spend the next 18 months working out the wind and getting the boat just right. A medal at 2012 is definitely possible for us, we wouldn't compete if it wasn't. But we will have to work hard and put in the hours on the water."

More from those QuotesBen Ainslie"I really enjoyed it today, we had some great racing even though the conditions were pretty tough for me at my current weight. But I am pleased with how it went and pleased to be racing in the Finn again and to be back at Weymouth.
"It's funny because this morning I was talking to my coach about my goals for the week, and we laughed because normally we wouldn't worry, I just want to be at the top! It is a very different week for me, because it's not about where I place, it's about rejoining the Finn fleet, seeing how it has progressed and learning about the conditions in Weymouth.
"I don't feel any pressure this week. I haven't raced for two years. And I think that having been through so much at the Olympics it's a different feeling. Of course, you want to do well for everyone who supports you, but the biggest pressure always comes from your own desire to succeed.
"There is a lot of good talent in the UK, and it will be tough to qualify. But hopefully that will make us push each other that much harder, so that if I do qualify I am in a much stronger place."
Andrew Simpson"Realistically you can't predict a forestay break like we had today, there is just an element of bad luck involved in these things but it's part of the game. But we went out there afterwards, we fought back and managed to take back 17 places overall".
"We haven't sailed together that much since Beijing, so we are holding back slightly at the moment. We have competed here before, and we are just enjoying the event, but we will have to ramp it up at the end of the week".
"I think because we have sailed together a lot before, the communication on the boat is good, sailing the boat again is like putting on an old pair of shoes, they still fit - we just have to readjust them a bit. It looks like for this event we will have to work on the breezier stuff".
"All of the foreign competitors here are trying to learn as much as they can about the venue before 2012, just as much as we are. Obviously we're based here, so we will spend the next 18 months working out the wind and getting the boat just right. A medal at 2012 is definitely possible for us, we wouldn't compete if it wasn't. But we will have to work hard and put in the hours on the water."

Results – Top Five


470 Woman Results
1st Lecointre and Geron FRA 8 points
2nd Kondo and Tabata JPN 11 points
3rd Rol and Defrance FRA 15 points
4th Westerhof and Berkhout NED 19 points
5th Maxwell and Kinsolving USA 23 points
470 Men Results
1st Leboucher and Garos FRA 4 points
2nd Asher and Willis GBR 4 points
3rd Patience and Bithell GBR 8 points
4th Kambouridis and Polychronidid GRE 9 points
5th Biehl and McNay USA 11 points

49er Results
1st Dyen and Christidis FRA 6 points
2nd Outteridge and Jenson AUS 10 points
3rd Draper and Greenhalgh GBR 10 points
4th Burling and Tuke NZL 10 points
5th Phillips and Phillips AUS 15 points

Finn Results
1st Lobert FRA 3 points
2nd Le Breton FRA 11 points
3rd Gaspic CRO 15 points
4th Ainslie GBR 17 points
5th Karpak EST 17 points

Laser Results
1st Murdoch NZL 3 points
2nd De Haas NED 6 points
3rd Goodison GBR 6 points
4th Van Vianen NED 12 points
5th Brunning AUS 12 points

Laser Radial Results
1st Bouwmeester NED 2 points
2nd Fenclova CZE 2 points
3rd De Truckheim FRA 5 points
4th Clapcich ITA 6 points
5th Steyaert FRA 8 points

RS:X Men Results
1st Rodrigues POR 5 points
2nd Bontemps FRA 6 points
3rd Dempsey GBR 6 points
4th Heidegger ITA 6 points
5th Santos BRA 6 points
RS:X Women Results
1st Manchon ESP 4 points
2nd Charline FRA 6 points
3rd Tartaglini ITA 7 points
4th Shaw GBR 10 points
5th Hamilton GBR 11 points

Star results
1st Pepper and Monk NZL 2 points
2nd Florent and Rambeau FRA 5 points
3rd Polgar and Koy GER 8 points
4th Mendelblatt and Von Schwarz USA 12 points
5th Grael and Ferreira BRA 16 points

Women's Match Racing – unbeaten to date
Macgregor, Lush and Macgregor GBR 3-0
Tunicliffe, Vandemer and Capozzi USA 3-0
Leroy, Riou and Bertrand FRA 4-0
Le Berre, Ponsor and Ponge FRA 3-0
Souter, Curtis and Price AUS 4-0
Kjellberg, Kallstrom and Harryson SWE 4-0
Lehtinen, Klemetz and Kanerva FIN 4-0
Spithill, Eastwell and Farrell AUS 4-0

Paralympic
2.4mR Results
1st Damien FRA 3 points
2nd Schmitter NED 3 points
3rd Kol NED 6 points
4th Bugg AUS 11 points
5th Tingley CAN 13 points
Skud-18 Results
1st Rickham and Birrell GBR 3 points
2nd Fitzgibbon and Cox AUS 3 points
3rd McRoberts and Hopkin CAN 6 points
4th Hovden and Millward GBR 8 points
5th Hall and Faulks GBR 10 points

Sonar Results
1st Hessels and Rossen NED 2 points
2nd Kroker and Prem GER 5 points
3rd Robertson and Stodel GBR 7 points
4th Wang-hansen and Kristiansen NOR 9 points
5th Cohen and Vexler ISR 10 points

Full results HERE

Published in Olympics 2012

Seven Irish crews are on the entry list for the Delta Lloyd regatta starting on May 26, with representatives in six Olympic classes. Sisters Annalise and Claudine Murphy will compete in the Laser Radial class, with Ross Hamilton in the Finn the only other single-hander on the list.

Thomas Chaix and Barry McCartin continue their nascent 470 campaign, and Ireland is represented twice in the 49er class, with Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern facing a better-trained Ger Owens & Ross Killian wo emerge from several weeks' training in Palma for this event (see yesterday's podcast for more).

However, the eye-catching pairing is Peter O'Leary and David Burrows, who finally join forces for a Star regatta. Burrows steps in to replace Ballyholme sailor Stephen Milne to face a small but competitive Star fleet ahead of the European Championships in early June.

Published in Olympics 2012

In this week's podcast we speak to Ross Killian about stepping back into an Olympic campaign and into a 49er for the first time. We profile a J105 that's ripe for short-handing in our boat of the week slot, and talk to Richard Glynn of Kilrush about the joys of boat sharing.

Published in Podcasts

ISAF has published its report into how best to promote sailing as an Olympic sport. The Olympic Commission draft report (here) identifies making sailing a better spectator sport as a major priority for Olympic events from now on. The section of the report that deals with the Olympic regatta starts: "Through good live presentation, high quality production for television and on-line distribution, assisted by the application of the latest tracking and other technology, and broad coverage in other media, Olympic sailing is an attractive, quality sports entertainment property to the benefit of all stakeholders."

The report suggests that more thought should go into the sailing venue selection to guarantee clean water and consistent wind, and asks for a major investment in electronic tracking for boats on the race course to bring the games alive for viewers online and on TV.

Published in Olympics 2012
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