An Irish rowing team of seven boats has been announced to compete in the opening regatta of the FISA World Cup series next week at the 1972 Olympic regatta course in Munich, Germany.
All seven Irish boats compete in Olympic boat classes, in this the first chance to test the 2008 international field. Ireland already has one boat qualified for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing; the heavyweight men’s four (M4-) which will compete in Munich. This regatta, and the second one in the series (May 30 - June 1) in Switzerland will give the Irish coaches the opportunity to assess the crews and finalise team selection for the crucial final Olympic qualifying regatta in Poznan, Poland from June 15-18.
There will be four heavyweight boats in action; the Beijing bound heavyweight men’s four (M4-) which will see one change from the crew that qualified the nation place for the Games with James Wall coming in for Sean Casey alongside Alan Martin, Cormac Folan and Sean O’Neill. Casey will partner Jonno Devlin in the heavyweight men’s pair (M2-), Sean Jacob will race in the heavyweight men’s single (M1x), and Sinéad Jennings and Caroline Ryan will team up in the heavyweight women’s double (W2x).
Three Irish lightweight crews will also race in Munich; the lightweight men’s four (LM4-) of Paul Griffin, Richard Archibald, Gearoid Towey and Eugene Coakley, the newly formed lightweight men’s double (LM2x) of Cathal Moynihan and Richard Coakley, and another new combination; Niamh NiCheilleachair and Orlagh Duddy in the lightweight women’s double (LW2x).
Speaking ahead of their departure to Munich Irish team manager Mike Heskin said: “We’ve had a solid few months preparation behind us with extensive training camps in France, Germany, Portugal and Switzerland, as well as at home at the National Rowing Centre in Inniscarra, so the crews are looking forward to testing out that work in racing now.
"This regatta and the following one in Lucerne will allow us to assess the crews and the combinations for selection ahead of the final Olympic qualifier in June. We want to see who is within striking distance of an Olympic qualifying spot. With that uppermost in our minds it will be interesting to see how we compare to the other nations chasing qualification, and obviously to those already assured of a starting berth in Beijing".
The overall World Cup champions are determined after a series of three regattas (Munich, Lucerne, Switzerland May 30-1 June, and Poznan, Poland from June 20-22) with the initial focus this year on the final Olympic qualifying regatta in Poznan, Poland from June 15-18 where the last few Olympic spots will be decided.
Ireland already has one nation place secure for the Games in the heavyweight men’s four (M4-) but the athletes for that boat will not be selected until after the final World Cup in Poznan. The 2008 Olympic regatta will be held at Shunyi Olympic Rowing-Canoeing Park on the side of the Chaobi river from August 9-17.