Cork Regatta is the final event of three in the Rowing Ireland Grand League series, following on from Skibbereen Regatta and the Dublin Metropolitan Regatta in April and May. This year, there are over 700 crews entered in the Cork City Regatta, with clubs from the four provinces.
Gary and Paul O’Donovan race each other in the Men’s Division 1 single sculls on Saturday, and then come together to take on the rest of Ireland in the Men’s Division 1 double sculls on Sunday.
Olympian Sanita Puspure races in the Women’s Division 1 single sculls and competes against team-mate Monika Dukarska and Ireland’s gold medallists in Poznan, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll, compete in the Men’s Division 1 pair.
Margaret Cremen (Lee RC) and Aoife Casey (Skibbereen RC), who won Silver at the European Junior Championships in May, are also rowing for their respective clubs.
The highlight of the weekend, the “eights” races, for the coveted Leander Trophy, has 16 entries, with NUIG returning to defend their title.
Within the event there are senior trials for the Home International Regatta at Strathclyde Park, Scotland, on Saturday July 22.
The Home International has been, for some, the pinnacle of their rowing career; for others a first step on the road to World and Olympic Championships. Twenty-nine junior athletes have already been selected to travel, but the Cork Regatta will serve as a final chance to join the Irish team, with a number of scullers, as well as one men’s pair still to be added.
With a number of international events still to come throughout the summer, culminating in the World Championships in September, Rowing Ireland hope to build on the outstanding results of Irish crews so far in 2017. The total medal tally is now at eight; the first two World Cup events, which took place in May and June, saw the O’Donovan brothers winning silver in the lightweight men’s double, while Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan took gold at both events.
The European Championships saw unprecedented results for Ireland, with all three competing crews winning medals: Gold again for the lightweight men’s pair, silver for the lightweight men’s double, and silver for Denise Walsh in the lightweight women’s single.
Medals aside, no Irish crew has placed outside the top 10 in their event to date. Earlier in May, the Irish junior team also made their mark on the European stage, coming home with a silver medal in the women’s double sculls (Casey and Cremen), and again a top-10 finish for every other crew.
Next on the calendar, for seniors, is the third and final World Cup event of the year, World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland, from July 7-9.
Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board recently announced the Tokyo 2020 Olympic rowing event programme and quota. The FISA (World Rowing) proposal for the Olympic Rowing Regatta, has been approved: The gender-balanced 14 event programme is now official.
The IOC reviewed all sport quotas, with seven being reduced, some dramatically. The rowing quota has been reduced by 24 athletes, so the sport will have 526 athletes in Tokyo compared to the 550 athletes in Rio. For rowing, the move to gender equity sees the adding of the women’s four and the removal of the lightweight men’s four from the Olympic rowing programme. This change will make for an equal number of women and men competing in rowing at the Olympics, 263 athletes of each gender.