With 22km winds howling around Cork Harbour last Saturday morning, the Ocean to City team should have been in a frenzy reorganising the race routes, but instead, they were online in the middle of launching their Ocean to City Virtual Challenge. From the comfort of their homes the organisers did a countdown for over a hundred participants, from all over the world, who were getting ready to row Ocean to City on their rowing machines.
At 10.30 am the Zoom screens were filled with participants from Ireland, UK, Portugal, USA, Australia, Germany and Lebanon. Race Director Donagh MacArtain began the event talking about the difficult decision to cancel this year’s race and thanking those who supported and continue to support the Cork Harbour Festival: Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Port of Cork, Fáilte Ireland and many more who have ensured the future of the festival and Ocean to City. Lord Mayor of Cork City, Cllr. John Sheehan joined in the Zoom meeting to formally welcome all participants. The Lord Mayor spoke on the importance of a collective in these strange times and how vital it is to bring people together. He remembered starting his term as Lord Mayor launching the Lee Swim and how apt it was to finish it with the Ocean to City.
The event had two categories to choose from, the Rowing Machine Challenge – where participants rowed the equivalent time to either the Ocean Course (2hr23min39sec) or the Monkstown Course (1hr1mins12secs). The furthest distance rowed within the time limit would win. The second category was the Fun Time challenge – where participants had to record their most creative rowing or paddling training on land. The event was also joined by UK runner Lawrence Washington who ran for the full Ocean Course time limit, from his home to the town of Porthmadog and back.
The race began at 11am and stayed live on Facebook and Zoom where spectators could watch the efforts of the participants in the rowing challenge. Along with the rowing challenge, participants were asked to send in videos of their creative home training and the submissions were fantastic! All submitted videos are available on oceantocity.com along with the full results on the day.
The 16th Ocean to City was a very different day but thankfully the day and the ethos of this wonderful race was marked, as a community of like-minded people who have a love of the water, of Cork and the spirit to adapt to new circumstances.
Ocean to City – An Rás Mór, the flagship event of Cork Harbour Festival is organised by Meitheal Mara, the community boatyard, training centre and charity located in the heart of Cork City. The event is sponsored by Cork City Council, Cork County Council, Port of Cork, Fáilte Ireland and made possible with the help of dozens of Event Partners and hundreds of volunteers.
Cork Harbour Festival will be back next year 5-13 June 2021 with the flagship Ocean to City – An Rás Mór taking place on Saturday 5 June 2021.