Last Saturday, on an unusually bright and warm day at Stranmillis, a number of Inst crews took to the water to compete in the Lagan Scullers’ Head of the River event. This was the last race of the Head season and would be a good lead-in to the Regatta season, due to start on the first weekend in May.
There were three races in total, allowing the RBAI athletes to compete in more than one boat on the day. Race one only featured a solitary sculler as the sole Inst representation. Nick Reid has been making steady progress throughout this season and was looking to continue this trend with another step forward. With a gentle tail breeze behind him Nick sculled his typical rhythmical style with confidence and managed to win his Junior 18 category by some distance. In the process he also pushed the senior scullers all the way to the line, beating all bar the overall winner, Ex-Inst rower Matthew McKibben. Well done to Nick on winning his category and finishing second overall.
Race two had two Inst boats competing. The Junior 18 double of Angus Harley and Brent Whiteside, and the Junior 16 quad of Michael Honan, Harry Hetherington, Jamie Dickson, Sam Kennedy and James Emery. Both crews were to start one place apart on the start list, with the double behind their opposition from Methody and the quad ahead of six boats looking to beat them. Both crews had a fantastic start to the race and put themselves in very strong positions. The double managed to overtake their Belfast rivals by one-third distance, so were able to race for time in the remaining part of the race. By the end the double were comfortable winners of the Junior 18 doubles. The quad also caught and passed the MCB double, but as the race wore on the battling crews behind started to close in. In the final couple of hundred metres the quad slowed slightly giving MCB and Portora a chance to attack. In the end the quad finished a very respectable third in their category, beating four other crews in the process. A special mention goes to Sam Kennedy for a strong performance in his first race for RBAI Rowing Club.
The final race of the day had a number of Inst boats involved. The senior double of Lucas Prodohl and Josh Hoy had a tough race against some of the top athletes in Ulster. They worked hard during the race but were just out-performed by their much more experienced opposition. The Novice Quad is a new crew of Darragh Patterson, Conor Craig, Conor Hamill, PJ Bowman and Michael Honan. This untested boat performed well against a number of much bigger crews and finished third in their category, giving room to build for the remainder of the season. Harry Hetherington raced in the Junior 16 single in race three and put in a strong performance, in his second race of the day. He put in a solid row to finish in second place. The final crew of the day was the Junior Quad of Nick Reid, Angus Harley, Brent Whiteside and Michael Gaston. This crew were up against one crew from MCB for the race win. After a strong start by the Methody crew the Inst boys settled into their rhythm and started to pull them in. Over the next 2,000 metres the RBAI boat closed down their Belfast rivals and coming out of the penultimate bridge had a hint of an overlap. As the finish line approached the Inst boat started to up their pace, but the Methody boat worked hard to stay in front. After a race long battle both crews had given their all, but it was the RBAI boat that came out on top.
A mention should also go to Instonians Matthew McKibben, Johnny Curran and David Roy for their performances for Belfast Boat Club and Queen’s University on Saturday.
Well done to all the competitors, coaches and supporters of the Club for their efforts on the day. A great day was had by all and a dominant set of results achieved by the Junior 18 squad by taking a clean sweep of their events by winning the Single, Double and Quad.
The next event for the RBAI Rowing Club will be Portadown Regatta on Saturday 2nd May.