Irish crews bring stellar form to Lucerne event

The World Rowing Cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, presents Ireland’s seniors with a final chance to test themselves before the year’s main event, the World Rowing Championships in September.

Nearly 700 competitors from 54 counties have travelled to the famous Rotsee regatta course this week, the largest field of the season. The event runs from tomorrow through to Sunday.

The waters of the Rotsee are ideal for competitive rowing: The lake’s size and shape enable Olympic-style six-lane racing over 2,000m and its geographical position makes the course arguably the fairest in the world.

The O’Donovan brothers will again feature for Ireland in the lightweight men’s double sculls.

The most consistent crews in this event this year have been France, Ireland, and Poland, with all three winning medals twice so far.

France’s Olympic champions Jeremie Azou and Pierre Houin, the O’Donovans’ nemesis to date, will again start as favourites.

The other Skibbereen duo, Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan, return in the lightweight men’s pair with a view to making it four wins from four and bringing home another gold medal.

The pair are European champions in the event and have also won gold at both World Cup I and II. With just six entries in this category, all crews go straight to the ‘A’ final, preceded by a preliminary race for the allocation of lanes. Ireland line out against Brazil, France, Britain, Norway, and Russia, and will fancy their chances, having beaten all but Norway already this year.

Denise Walsh, World Cup I and European silver medallist, sits this event out, but Ireland have two entries in the women’s (heavyweight) single sculls: London and Rio Olympian Sanita Puspure of Old Collegians Rowing Club, and Killorglin’s 2016 World Coastal Rowing Champion Monika Dukarska.

The event draw takes place this afternoon with live video streaming of the A finals on the World Rowing website on Sunday.

After previous World Cup events in Belgrade and Poznan, the overall table is topped by Britain, Poland, and the Netherlands.

Meanwhile, clubs around the country are busy preparing for the highlight of the domestic rowing calendar, the Irish Rowing Championships, which take place the following weekend at the National Rowing Centre in Cork. There has been a noticeable trend of increased crew entries for domestic events this year, so the championships are on course to be one of the largest to date, with close to 1,000 crews registered.

The Irish Championships date from 1912, when the first race for the men’s senior eights was rowed at the Metropolitan Regatta in Ringsend. Other championships followed, slowly at first, with the junior (now intermediate) “eights” in 1934 and the Maiden eights (now club) in 1945. Junior men’s events were added in 1964, followed by women’s events in 1976, and junior women’s events were the last to be added in 1981.

Eventually, the first full championship regatta took place in 1987, combining all events. This year’s championships run from July 14 to 16 and will feature all current high-performance senior athletes.

This weekend is just the beginning of an extremely busy month for Rowing Ireland, with Under 23 World Championships, Home International Regatta and Coupe de la Jeunesse (junior international event) all to take place across the next four weekends.



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