WITH all of the local West Cork regattas cancelled for this year, Kilmacsimon Rowing Club decided to take up a challenge issued recently by Kerry rowing club Portmagee to come and race them in a Seine boat.
It was a huge test and one that could not be prepared for by the West Cork club as the Seine boats are native to the shores of the Kingdom.
Seine boats are wooden boats, more than 30-feet long and six feet wide. The oars are square which means they can’t be feathered in the water – this makes the boats harder to row. They are crewed by 12 oarsmen and a cox with two rowers on each oar, so it’s a little different to the five-person boats that Kilmacsimon and other coastal rowing clubs are used to!
These boats are traditionally seen on the Kerry coast and a challenge to any coastal rowers to come and race the Seine boat against the locals was first set back in 1954. Now in 2020 Portmagee re-issued the challenge.
Kilmacsimon provided seven of the 12 rowers to represent a Cork crew that ventured deep into the Kingdom. Davin Jennings was in stroke position and was joined by David Duggan, Kevin O’Connor, Martin McCarthy, Kieran Curtin, Padraig McCarthy and Jack Scannell, all from Kilmacsimon Rowing Club. They were joined on the day by John Driscoll, Brendan Kelly, David Murphy, Kieran Sugrue and Kerry footballer Maurice Fitzgerald. Kieran ‘Cap’ Murphy, a Kerryman, agreed to cox the Cork team.
A ten-minute training session was all the Cork crew had to find their rhythm and settle into this new type of rowing. The water was perfect as both the Cork and Kerry boats left the starting line.
Spectators were treated to a great race. Two 30-foot boats on an almost still sea with the wooden oars providing a mighty splash each time they hit the water. Those who travelled from Kilmacsimon said it was a wonderful sight, so different from the much smaller coastal and off shore boats the club normally rows in.
The journey from West Cork was worth it. The Rebel boat – powered by the seven Kilmacsimon rowers – beat the natives with a flourish as they overtook the Kerry boat in the final moments of the race.