THE three main disciplines in rowing – Olympic, Offshore and Coastal – have recently come together under the leadership of Rowing Ireland.
The movement of offshore and coastal rowing under the Rowing Ireland umbrella will greatly benefit the clubs of the South West Coast Yawl Rowing Association as they now have access to the resources of the national governing body such as coach education.
Rowing Ireland was founded as the Irish Amateur Rowing Union in 1899 and as the national governing body of rowing on the island of Ireland. It established the first rowing championship in 1912 and has been sending crews to world championships and Olympic Games since 1948.
It is currently on a high following the exploits of the popular O’Donovan brothers from Skibbereen who won silver medals at the Rio Olympics.
In 2017 Rowing Ireland formed an offshore division. Offshore rowing, or FISA Coastal, takes place in single, double and quad scull boats which are wider than Olympic boats and more importantly are self-bailing.
The crews race a course with multiple turns around a single buoy where navigation is as important as pulling hard.
The inaugural Irish Offshore Rowing Championships were held in Arklow in 2017. Irish crews have competed at the World Rowing Coastal Championships since its inception in 2007 but 2017 broke all records with over 20 Irish crews, including seven from West Cork, taking part. This highly exciting form of rowing has often been referred to as the BMX of rowing.
Following successful lobbying from 20 of Ireland’s largest traditional fixed seat coastal rowing clubs, including the clubs of the SWCYRA, Rowing Ireland also created a coastal division in late 2017 and in doing so unified the three major codes of rowing in Ireland under one umbrella.
Traditional fixed seat coastal rowing has a long tradition going back centuries and was often associated with boats rowing out to arriving ships to obtain work. Competition in traditional wooden boats or coastal fours takes place in lanes with crews rounding individual buoys before returning to the start/finish line.
The inaugural Irish Coastal Rowing Championships will take place in the National Rowing Centre in August 2018 where a large number of participants as well as spectators are expected.
Speaking at the photo-shoot, Kieran Kerr, chair of the Rowing Ireland Coastal and Offshore divisions said, ‘This is a wonderful occasion bringing all three rowing codes together for the first time.
‘Rowing Ireland is delighted that the coastal and offshore clubs have joined the Rowing Ireland family and we are committed to developing and growing all three codes so that eventually there is a rowing club in every county in Ireland offering coastal, river or offshore rowing.’