St Michaels 2023 Regatta Season sees crews clock up multiple wins across all age groups
St Michaels 2023 Regatta Season saw the crews race all over the country clocking up multiple wins across all age groups
St Michaels Rowing Club saw a sensational end to this year’s Regatta Season which ran from April to July racking up victories across different age groups throughout the country.
Commercial Regatta Dublin – 6 wins, Skibbereen Regatta (Cork) – 6 wins, Limerick Regatta – 5 wins, Ghent International Regatta (Belgium) – 3 Gold, 5 Silver & 7 Bronze and Metro Regatta (Dublin) – 5 wins.
Cork Regatta is the final regatta before the July Championship and it is where crews get to see who is in contention for the all-important ‘Pot’ but also to secure their seats representing Ireland at the Home International Regatta, against England, Scotland, and Wales.The weather gods were against the regatta once again as Cork was cancelled due to high winds. This left many of the championship crews unsure of how they would fair against rivals they have not raced since the early part of the season.
Unperturbed, the St Michaels crews continues their championship preparation by decamping to O’Briensbridge to train on the 3km stretch from the village to Castleconnell. The Limerick Regatta course allowed the crews to race side by side, simulating race conditions and preparing them for the 3 days of tough racing to come, and prepare them it did.
The National Rowing Centre is in Farran Woods on the Inniscarra Reservoir in Cork and the home of the High-Performance National Team. The 3 day forecast was not looking good and the Championship committee confirmed that there was only pockets of row able conditions which meant crews and coaches needed to be aware of potential schedule changes including racing starting at 6am and finishing at 9pm. Friday morning saw the regatta programme race but cut short at the lunchtime break with the remaining Friday afternoon races moved to a 6am Saturday morning start.
First in championship action for the club was the Men’s Junior 4x- who competed in a time trial event with 19 other clubs on Saturday morning. The time trail would see the fastest 6 crews advancing onto the final later that day. The St Michaels crews laid down the benchmark with a time of 6:13.7 which was over 7 seconds ahead of the 2nd fastest crew Castleconnell. A short rest from the time trial to final allowed them to reaffirm the race plan of getting out to an early lead off the start and dominate the race. They stuck to the plan in the final and took an early lead from the start. Pushed on by a strong tailwind, the St Michaels crew continued to race away from the chasing pack and coming to the finish line were in full control crossing with over 10 seconds to spare back to 2nd place Muckross RC and 3rd place Methodist College.
This is the 2nd year in a row which St Michaels have won the event with Fionn Mc Donnell picking up 2 in a row. The winning crew: Stroke – Jack Rafferty, 3 Fionn McDonnell, 2 Eoin Balfe & Bow Jack Redmond. The crew was coached by Eoin Kearny, Niall (Fish) Ahern, Justin Sherin & Pa McInerney.
Racing was once again interrupted with the wind picking up and making the afternoon racing unfair and more importantly unsafe. The championship committee met with club captains to present a revised plan for Sunday which see over 100 races being run to fit the Saturday afternoon schedule in with the complete Sunday programme as possible. It was a testament to the championship committee that all the racing was delivered.
St Michaels had a number of non-Championship crews races also and Evan O’Bryne did a fantastic job in his time trial to qualify for the final out of a whopping 48 scullers. Evan raced a great final and picked up a bronze medal. Evan and the Junior 16 boys squad are coached by Andy O’Sullivan, Dave McNamara and Daithi Smalle.
It was an unusual set up for the Women’s Junior 18 4- event which saw just 6 crews entered. This meant that it would be a straight final for the 6 crews. There was no time trial or heats for the crews to gauge how they would preform in the final. The St Michaels girls got off to a great start in the race, but it was Skibbereen RC from Cork who took the early lead. Coming to 300m to go the St Michaels crew was pushing all the way to the line and within a length. Rowers know that racing is not over until after the last stroke is taken and the Skibb bow person caught a boat stopping crab which allowed the charging St Michaels crew to pass in the last 10 strokes and take the win. All credit to the St Michaels girls who held their heads and kept onto their immaculate technique to take the win. The girls 4 crew were Stoke Ella Page, 3 Laoise Phillips, 2 Cloda Phillips & Bow Abbie Cullinane.
Celebrations needed to be put on hold as the 4 had a short turnaround time to prepare for the heats and final of the Women’s Junior 8 race. 10 crews contested the heats with 3 crews to qualify from each heat for a 6-boat final. Rested, hydrated and ready for the race of their lives, the local girls were not planning to just qualify as one of the 3. They dominated their heat winning in 6:49.6 with 2022 winner Enniskillen in 2nd place and Skibbereen winners of the other heat. The St Michaels coaches had instilled a self believe in this crew and they were focused on not repeating the 2nd place from 2022.
They came off the start lightning fast to establish the early lead. Throughout the course it was Enniskillen and Skibbereen who pushed St Michaels with Enniskillen briefly taking the lead in the middle 500m, but St Michaels responded with power and control to each and every push the chasing pack made. With 300m to go they held the lead and the roars from the crowd knew that finish line was incoming fast. They powered home in full control to take the win ahead of Enniskillen and Skibbereen. This was a huge win for the St Michaels girl’s squads who have had top 3 finishes in the last few years but finally broke through to do the double and take the win in the 4 and 8. The win was made all the sweeter as the crew were racing in the Richie O’Brien boat, named in memory of the great St Michaels man.
The championship-winning crew are – Cox – Siun O’Keefe, Stroke – Ella Page, 7 – Laoise Phillips, 6 – Abbie Cullinane, 5 – Cloda Phillips, 4 – Aida Hehir, 3 – Rachel Connelly, 2 – Sarah O’Donnell & Bow Ally Conlon. The girl’s squad was coached by Shane Cullinane, Laura Kerr, Len Smalle, Meadbh O’Brien & Colm Horan.
To wrap up an amazing day of racing the Men Junior 2x took to the water to race in another time trail as the event had an amazing 42 entries. They came home with the fastest time of the 42 crews with Neptune just behind them by less than a second along with Cappoquin and Clonmel in the mix. The final was one of the last races of the 3-day regatta and the St Michaels boys must have been in a hurry to get home as they powered off the start to lead throughout the race. They finished with 3seconds to spare over 2nd place Neptune with Muckross in 3rd place. A fantastic way for the club to complete the championship regatta.
St Michaels president Declan Harnett praised the crew’s determination and commitment to the sport as well as thanking the coaching crew and support volunteers who work tirelessly in the background to ensure the crews have the best of training facilities, boats and equipment.
St Michael’s season successes were rewards with a number of the crews being selected to complete in the Home International, Coupe de la Jeunesse (Junior European Championships) and the U19 World Championships.