The O’Donovans will have a busy few days as they have also entered the heavyweight double sculls. Not only that, but both Paul and Gary will compete separately in the lightweight men’s single sculls. Their most notable competition will be two of Britain’s most experienced lightweight rowers, Peter Chambers and Will Fletcher.
Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan will race in the men’s pair, in both the lightweight and heavyweight categories. Two-time Olympian Sanita Puspure will once again take her place for the women’s single sculls, while Denise Walsh will feature in the lightweight equivalent. Puspure will come against great rival and fellow Rio Olympian, Belarusian Ekaterina Karsten. Puspure beat the two-time Olympic champion in the first of the heats in Rio, but Karsten went on to finish five positions ahead of the Irish sculler in 8th place.
This season opener is generally an opportunity for teams to experiment with athletes and crews and see which combinations may work for the season ahead. In this post-Olympic year, it will be particularly interesting to see what the opposition holds due to retirees, new athletes/combinations and new talent emerging. The draw for Friday’s heats and start times will be made today.
Meanwhile, athletes are being sought to begin the process of developing a heavyweight men’s pair, four, and/or double with the aim to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Athletes will be required to compete at the Cork Regatta in June and the Irish Championships in July, as well as attending a number of training camps over the coming months. A women’s crew to compete in the second World Cup of 2017, and interested athletes are required to compete in either a single scull or a pair at the London Metropolitan Regatta on June 3-4th, to show before World Cup II that they are at the required standard to compete at International level.
On native waters, the Castleconnell Sprint Regatta takes place on Saturday. With a massive entry of 420 crews taking part, the regatta will run 102 races, one race every five minutes, from 9am-5.40pm. This is yet another regatta to boast a record entry this year. The regatta in Castleconnell is part of the Waterways Ireland “Row For It” League and is also a Grow the Sport regatta. It is a straight 500m course, with five lanes buoyed along the banks of the River Shannon.
The biggest two-day rowing event in Ireland took place last weekend in O’Brien’s Bridge, with a record breaking 904 crews compete in 400 races for the historic Limerick Regatta on Saturday and the 12th annual Schools Regatta on Sunday. The noise on the banks of the Shannon was deafening when Laurel Hill and St Colman’s Fermoy were announced joint winners of the Irish Schools Regatta. This is the first time a Limerick School has achieved maximum points and won the prized Victor Ludlum Trophy.