Last Saturday saw the annual at-home regatta between Methodist College and RBAI Rowing Clubs. This event always comes at the end of the racing season and offers up one last chance for both clubs to show what they can do, in front of a home crowd. The day was added to by the boat naming ceremony taking place at Inst Boat House for the two recently acquired racing shells.
It was a slightly overcast morning, but as the day went on the sun came out in force to bathe the crews and spectators in sunshine for the majority of the day. At 12-30pm some supporters of Inst Rowing gathered at the boathouse to see the naming of two new boats, the quad “Hermes” and pair “Stentor”. Both are named after characters from Greek Mythology, in honour of long-standing Inst Classics teacher, rowing coach and former master-in-charge of the Club, Mr W O’D Jacques. Both these characters were famed for their loud voices so it is only fitting that they are named after a coach who was renowned for his booming voice being heard across, and beyond, the Lagan. The Principal was on-hand to do the unveiling and pour the customary champagne over the newly named bows of the boats.
Following on from this the parents and supporters of the Club made their way down to Queen’s University Boat Club to be close to the finish-line for the racing, and it was the best place to see some very close finishes.
First up was the singles event. Nick Reid has had a very successful season in the single. With two wins from two regattas and he was keen to continue this trend. A good start against his Methody opposition put him in the race and as he neared the finish he edged a slight lead to take the victory by 2/3 length. A fine end to a successful season for Nick.
Next up was the senior double of Mark Stewart and David Roy. Both boys have been racing strongly all season and won the Inter double at Belfast sprints, but the strong Methody crew proved too strong on the day. After another tight finish the boys just fell short by ½ length at the line.
The next event again featured Mark and David, who were joined in their coxed four by Rory Hulatt, Brent Whiteside and Daniel Hewitt. This new combination raced hard but again just missed out by ½ length at the finish.
The coxless quad of Andrew Mallon, Josh Hoy, Lucas Prodohl and Louis Magowan were up next. This boat has been unbeaten all year, even though it has seen a number of different line-ups. In the head-to-head against MCB the boys were made to work hard to defend that record. The Methody crew took an early lead, but a big push brought the Inst boys right back into contention and eventually led to them taking the win by the narrowest of margins of 1 foot.
The next race was the first of the eights races and featured the Junior 16 crew of Daniel Simpson, Michael Gaston, Daniel Hewitt, Jamie Dickson, Angus Harley, Jonathan Bailie, Nick Reid, Darragh Patterson and Conor Craig. This crew had only been together for a few sessions and had been undergoing crew changes right up until the morning of the racing, but this only added to the desire to race as fast as they could. Under the guidance of Mr. Warnock the crew had made massive strides forward in recent weeks and this showed in their racing. They pushed hard from the start and were with the MCB crew all the way to the finish-line, just slipping back to lose by a ½ length in the end. This was a very encouraging result for such a young and inexperienced crew and bodes well as they venture to join the senior squad next year.
The final race of the day was the Senior eight of Rory Hulatt, Louis Magowan, Lucas Prodohl, Brent Whiteside, Daniel Hewitt, Andrew Mallon, Josh Hoy, Michael Gaston and Aled George. This crew had raced against Methody twice within the last month and had been victorious in both, very tight, occasions. So the Inst boys were looking for a hat trick, where MCB were intent on payback. The start was fast and loud as both eights burst out of the blocks looking to get the early advantage. The Inst crew had the power against Methody’s high tempo. There was nothing to separate the crews as they flew down the course, it was anyone’s race. As both crews approached the finish every spectator had a different opinion as to who was leading, but at the line the judgement went to Methody by a distance of 3 feet. An agonisingly close finish after a long and hard season.
Congratulations to all the boys for their efforts on the day and a big thank you to the supporters of RBAI Rowing for all their help in making Saturday such an enjoyable event and the season such a successful one. A special mention should go to Gillian Hetherington for organising the Inst “Stern Parents” as well as Queen’s University Boat Club for allowing us to stage the event at their boathouse. A thank you also to the Principal for naming the boats and the Board of Governors for their continued support, allowing us to purchase the two-man boat. Finally, thank you to the coaches who have given up countless hours to assist with the training of the RBAI Rowing squads over this year, most notably Mr M. Warnock, Mr C. Woods, Mrs A. Honan and Mr P. McMath. It would be impossible to get any boys on the water without their help, but the increased levels of success within the Club are an indication of the ability of the coaches as well as the time they dedicate.
Mr Archibald and Mr Warnock enjoy the excellent weather before the days business begins
The Junior Squad listen intently during the boat naming ceremony
The Principal names the pair Stentor
The Principal addresses the boys and their parents during the boat naming ceremony
The Senior 4 on their way to the start of their race
The Senior Squad at the Boat naming ceremony