Nine Skibbereen rowers will race for Ireland in Bulgaria
JAKE and Fintan McCarthy didn’t have too long to feel sorry for themselves after missing out on the medals at the recent world U23 rowing championships.
Less than two weeks after the U23 worlds, the twins from Aughadown outside Skibbereen were named on the Rowing Ireland team that will compete at the World Senior Rowing Championships in Bulgaria next month.
It will be the first time that Jake and Fintan have competed in a senior international regatta, having been named in a lightweight quad alongside Andrew Goff and Ryan Ballantine, who were part of the Irish lightweight quad that won silver at the world U23s.
‘This will be a big step-up but it will be a really good experience because we need to keep learning,’ Jake explains.
‘This event will be competitive because the lightweight four is gone from the Olympics so everyone who doesn’t make the double at the worlds will be in a quad because the countries still want to develop athletes to potentially break into the double, if one of them gets injured or if one of them progresses to eventually be quicker than the athletes who are in the double.
‘This will be the highest standard in the lightweight category behind the double so it should be good racing.’
This is exactly the stage that Jake and Fintan (21) want to race on, and it’s a timely boost after their disappointment in the A final of the lightweight double at the worlds U23s.
‘We were hoping to get in the medals,’ Jake admits.
‘We had a good heat and semi-final, we beat the Italian world champions from last year in the heat.
‘We had headwind conditions for the heat and semi and so we had light oars for them so we could keep the rate up and keep spinning it down the track without it causing too many problems. It’s hard to keep going with a headwind blowing against you.
‘For the final it swapped around to a tail-wind. The others had heavier oars and blasted off the start whereas we didn’t change our oars to adapt to that. It’s all a learning experience.
‘We would have liked to come away with a medal, it didn’t work out on the day, but it makes us hungry for more.’
The addition of Jake and Fintan to the Ireland team for the senior worlds swells the Skibbereen Rowing Club representation to an incredible nine in a team of 17. They joined Gary and Paul O’Donovan, Shane O’Driscoll, Mark O’Donovan, Denise Walsh, Aoife Casey and Emily Hegarty. The Irish team flew out on Monday to Banyoles in Spain for a training camp ahead of Bulgaria next month.
‘Our first training camp in December really did bring us on and when we get this one under our belts, we will hopefully see big improvements,’ Jake says.
‘Hopefully we will benefit more because we are not used to this type of training so whereas more experienced rowers who are used to training camps make smaller gains, we’re hoping these three weeks will bring us on another step.’
This season, Jake and Fintan concentrated mainly on training for the world U23s but they did win two senior titles (lightweight double and quad) at the national championships, breaking the course record in the quad by eight seconds, and they ran Gary and Paul O’Donovan to 1.5 seconds in the double at the Cork Regatta earlier in the summer.
Now they have a chance to see what it’s like at the top level at the senior worlds, another step up the ladder for Skibb’s second set of international class rowing brothers.