Change of style didn’t faze West Cork rowers
CASTLETOWNBERE Rowing Club’s ladies crew finished a marvellous sixth overall at the World Rowing Coastal Championship finals held in Vancouver Island, Canada.
Cliona O’Regan is a ten-year veteran of Castletownbere Rowing as well as the club’s assistant secretary and also makes time to help coach the current U14 girl’s crew.
O’Regan was part of a group that made the long trip to Canada to compete in the recent World Rowing Coastal Championship finals following Castletownbere’s first appearance at the renowned event the previous year.
The background to Castletownbere ladies’ remarkable result in the A class followed an enforced change from the club’s traditional rowing style.
‘We had won the Irish offshore championships for three years running prior to 2017,’ O’Regan explained.
‘Sweeping or using one oar was always our traditional way of rowing. You can win the Irish national championships using the ‘sweeping’ method but you cannot represent Ireland in the offshore championships because you have to be able to scull (using two oars) like everybody else.
‘So we set our minds to learning how to scull under the guidance of Noel Casey from Kenmare.
Then, we won the 2017 Irish offshore sculling and decided to make the journey to Lake Geneva in France to represent our country.
‘It proved a great experience and we managed to finish 14th overall. Our big goal in 2018 was to finish in the top ten so we were absolutely delighted to get sixth overall.
Add to that, our men’s crew finishing 12th in the B finals and it proved a very worthwhile experience for the club.
‘Our ladies team was made up of Carmel Connolly (cox) from the Myross club, Miriam Sheehan (stroke), Orla Gilsenan, Fiona O’Regan, Emily Dulohery and myself.’
Not even a change in the competition’s usual format could prevent Castletownbere from finishing in the top six whilst over in Canada.
Before that, a step up the club’s winter training programme coupled with increased time on the water were the foundation for O’Regan and her crew’s success.
‘We competed in Vancouver for a full week and it was a wonderful experience,’ recalled O’Regan.
‘The format of the championships is normally 20 boats competing in heats from which ten qualify. This year however, because of safety restrictions, the organisers decided that only six would go through from the heats.
‘Castletownbere finished fourth in our initial heat and then sixth in the overall A final. In terms of improvement from the previous year, we got quite serious about our winter training and took things from there. We got a strength and conditioning coach in before embarking on a very intensive winter programme.
‘Everyone worked very hard during that programme, but time in the water is the key thing for any crew.
It requires a big commitment from everyone and a minimum of five days a week rowing.’
Another successful trip to the world championships bodes well for Castletownbere Rowing Club’s ladies’ crew’s future as long as they build on their recent successes and encourage younger rowers to sign up.
‘I would hope our result in Canada would be a showcase for the younger members of our club and inspire even more children to get involved,’ O’Regan stated.
‘Our club was traditionally a gig rowing club but there are only three clubs left in the south of Ireland who use that technique.
Hopefully, children will have seen our successes and realise what can be achieved by being a member of Castletownbere Rowing Club in the future.’