Donegal is to host the All-Ireland Rowing Championships for the second successive year.
Donegal Bay Rowing Club will be hosting the All-Ireland Rowing Championships at the Lakeside Centre in Ballyshannon over three days commencing on Friday, August 18th.
The event last year, at the same venue, was judged an outstanding success by both rowers and visitors alike. The championships attract approximately 2,000 oars people, and with club supporters for each team, this number swells to over 5,000 attendees for the three days.
In tandem with the Ballyshannon event, the Donegal Maritime Festival will be hosted at Donegal pier on Sunday 20th from 12 noon. This year the inaugural Dragon Boat regatta will be the highlight of the festival at the pier, and will commence at 2pm.
The programme in Donegal town will be very family orientated with lots to entertain, and later in evening there will be a spectacular fireworks display.
Donegal Bay Rowing Club chairman, Seamus Maguire, is the driving force in bringing rowing in the North West onto the national stage.
After last year's All Ireland, the club decided to channel all its resources into what are called One Design boats or Celtic yawls. This type of boat is used in all races other than the Heritage boat events on Friday 18th.
The strategy involved an indoor training programme with newly sourced rowing machines and a recruitment drive in the local schools.
A 'winter' boat was stationed in Donegal and on the water training began in late January.
The culmination of these efforts has resulted in the Donegal Bay club being represented in nine race categories with 12 crews in this year's All Ireland. Of particular satisfaction will be the participation of three girls crews in the Under-14 age girls category, and one mixed crew (male/female) in the Under -14 events. Some members of the crew were 11 years at the start of the year, and this is a great achievement to be in an All Ireland. At senior level the club's men and Under-21 crews have been winners in regattas in Cairndhu (Antrim) and the club's own regatta in Ballyshannon last weekend.
The Ballyshannon event saw both crews being named Ulster Champions in their respective event categories. The club's senior ladies and mixed crews have also been in the medals this season, indicative off the significant winter / spring training programme they have undertaken.
The programme on Friday, August 18th, offers a unique opportunity to showcase what are called heritage boats. These would include Cork yawls, St. Ayles skiffs, Donegal skiffs, and Celtic longboats.
In running these races, the intent is to maintain the link between the old style of rowing and wooden boats , and the new computer designed moulded structures.
Over the three days, the majority of the races will be held over a specially laid out course at the Lakeside Centre that measures 1,500metres.