BARRY Hooper is determined to make a big splash at this week’s World Open Coastal Rowing Championships in Monaco.
The talented 26-year-old oarsman has made huge waves in the coastal rowing scene this year and he’s ready to conquer the world this weekend when he represents Ireland in the men’s single sculls.
‘I’ve never done anything like this before,’ the Castlefreke, Clonakilty man told The Southern Star.
‘This is the biggest event I have ever competed in. I have never represented my country at any level before so this is a massive honour.’
Hooper earned his place at the world championships in Monaco when he won gold at the All-Ireland Open Coastal Rowing Championships held in Courtmacsherry in mid-September – it was another highlight in a season that has seen him stock up his trophy cabinet.
Captain of Galley Flash Rowing Club (Ardfield/Rathbarry), Barry and his crewmates – John Harrington, Paul Deasy, Mark O’Brien and cox Julie Harrington – conquered all this year, enjoying a clean sweep of senior men’s titles, starting at home with the South West Coast Yawl Rowing Association (SWCYRA).
‘I work in the merchant Navy, I’m the second officer on the Celtic Explorer, the Irish research ship, I’ve been away the last few years so this was my first season back in a few years and we’ve gone very well. We laid a good base over the winter. It’s the first year since 2008 that we won a South West championship in the senior men’s and we went on to win the county and the All-Ireland as well so we’re delighted,’ explained Barry, who also gold in the single sculls at the Ocean to City race in May.
These world championships are different to what Barry is used to competing in locally in the SWCYRA championships.
‘They could be considered two different codes,’ he explained.
‘What we generally do in West Cork during the summer is sweep rowing, it’s one oar each, but at these worlds it’s sculling so it’s two oars. The boats are different also, there are sliding seats as opposed to the fixed seats we used all summer.
‘There’s a different technique involved, a different style, and we can go out in a lot more challenging conditions. At the open championships in Courtmacsherry a few weeks ago there were six foot waves at one point during the day, the traditional boats wouldn’t be able to go out in those conditions but we could.’
Barry is one of a number of local rowers who will compete in Monaco this weekend, with Galley Flash (John Harrington, Paul Deasy, Mark O’Brien and Denis O’Donovan from Courtmacsherry) and Courtmacsherry both sending quads, and Courtmac is also sending a men’s double to the world championships.
Having flown over to Monaco on Wednesday, Barry will set up his boat and have a training session on Thursday before he will be in action in one of three heats this Friday, as 60 rowers from all over the world compete for a place in the A final.
Open coastal rowing is also an endurance sport with the heats rowed over four kilometres and the A final race over six kilometres.
‘You could be over 30 minutes rowing in the A final in the single scull, and over 20 minutes or more for the heat depending on conditions,’ explained Barry, who will be competing in Liteboat’s latest offering, Literace 1x.
‘They are launching a new version of the boat and they want me to be an ambassador for the company, Liteboat,’ he added.
Hooper is one of 11 local rowers, as well as two coxes, competing in these world championships this week.
Courtmacsherry’s Joseph O’Leary, Denis Griffin, Daniel Whelton and Damian O’Leary, and cox Fiona O’Leary, make up a quad crew, while the club will be represented in a double by Brian Whelton and George Henchion.
The Galley quad includes Denis O’Donovan, Paul Deasy, Mark O’Brien and John Harrington, with cox Robert Farrissey.