Rowing has been a sporting option at Inst since the 1950’s and Inst remains one of only 4 schools in Northern Ireland to offer the facilities which allow boys to participate in such an activity. Training takes place at the purpose-built Boat House in Stranmillis, South Belfast. The Inst Rowing Club offers a great opportunity to participate in this fun, energetic, outdoor team sport. The Club competes at events all over Ireland and the UK, including attending the prestigious Henley Royal Regatta.

Rowing: Summer Regattas

During the month of August RBAI Senior Squad members participated in two Regattas. Carrick on Shannon was the first to be held where Nick Reid was successful in winning the J16 and J18 events. This was a great achievement as Nick defeated some very competent scullers from Athlone, Commercial, Portadown and Carrick on Shannon Boat Clubs. The J18 Coxed Four of Cox Rory Hulatt, Brent Whiteside, Josh Hoy, Michael Gaston and Aled George were also successful in winning this event from Athlone in what proved to be a very exciting race. Last Saturday, 23 August saw Belfast Rowing Club hold their annual Summer Sprint Regatta where once again Nick Reid was successful in reaching two Finals in the Single events, winning the J18 event and narrowly losing out in the Intermediate event to a Sligo sculler. The Coxless Quad of Josh Hoy, Brent Whiteside, Mark Stewart and David Roy defeated Belfast Rowing Club by two lengths in the Final. The Squad are now looking forward to resuming training for the forthcoming Head of The River Season. 


MV Warnock.      

Rowing: RBAI-MCB Regatta

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

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 Junior Squad listen intently during the boat naming ceremony

The Principal names the pair Stentor

The Principal names the pair Stentor

The Principal addresses the boys and their parents during the boat naming ceremony

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 4 on their way to the start of their race

The Senior Squad at the Boat naming ceremony

The Senior Squad at the Boat naming ceremony

Rowing: RBAI-MCB Regatta 21/06/14

This Saturday, 21st June, will see the annual RBAI-MCB Rowing Regatta taking place.

This year the event will be staged at Queen’s University Boat House, the first boat house you approach as you come along Lockview Road.  The racing will commence at approximately 1pm with refreshments available.  The event is planning to finish at 3pm with a bbq taking place at Lagan Scullers’ Club shortly after.

It would be great to see as many supporters of RBAI Rowing there as possible to cheer on the boys.

There will also be a boat naming ceremony planned for 12-30pm at RBAI boat house to name the recently acquired four and pair.  This will finish just before racing begins, so feel free to come down as a warm-up to the racing.

Casual dress is recommended for the day, but remember to bring an umbrella just in case.

Rowing: Belfast Sprints Regatta 24/05/14


It was an early start and an overcast day on Saturday on the Boat House straight, where the annual Belfast Sprints Regatta, hosted by Belfast Rowing Club, took place.  A long day of 500 metre sprint racing stood ahead of the RBAI boys, with lots of jumping in and out of boats to assess how their recent training was paying off.

The second race of the day brought about the first appearance of an Inst boat at the regatta, with the newly formed pairing of Louis Magowan and Brent Whiteside competing in the Junior 18 2x.  They were racing against BRC’s top boat and after a close encounter down the length of the course the Inst crew pulled away in the last couple of strokes to win by a very narrow margin of just three feet.  This meant they progressed to the semi-finals, where they met a very strong double from MCB.  In the end the boys put up a good fight, but their lack of time together showed up and they were defeated by a good pairing from their Belfast rivals.

In the same event, but on the other side of the draw was the Junior 18 2x of Michael Gaston and Aled George.  Again, this was a new combination being tried out for the event.  Like the other boat Michael and Aled made it through their first heat by defeating an experienced CAI crew.  In their semi-final, however, they were drawn against a quick Portadown outfit, who had received a bye in their first round.  The Inst duo put up a good fight, but sadly were beaten over the course.

The next event for RBAI was the final of the Men’s Senior 1x.  This was one of only two Senior level events being run at the regatta and the final featured Mark Stewart.  He was up against Instonian Johnny Curran, now racing for Belfast Boat Club.  Curran used all his experience to get the early jump, but he didn’t get away.  Mark kept up the pressure and by the end of the course was little more than a length down on his much more experienced opponent.  This was a very good result for Mark and a good warm-up for his usual boat of the double.

The Inst Junior 18 4x- was up next.  This boat class has gone unbeaten all season, even though it has seen a number of crew line-up changes.  They were dominant in Portadown Regatta, but with Lucas Prodohl and Josh Hoy being brought in to partner regulars Louis Magowan and Andrew Mallon, how would the new crew get on??  In their heat they were up against CAI, who showed themselves to be a well-drilled crew by keeping up the pace in the early strokes.  But as the race unfolded the boys in black and yellow let their fitness, power, technique and training show through to ease into the lead and take victory.  In the final they faced a home crew form BRC.  The Inst boys made no mistakes by putting in another dominant performance to leave no-one with any doubt as to who the best Junior 4x- is in Ulster this year.

Next race on the schedule was the Men’s Lightweight 1x, with David Roy getting his first outing of the day.  David has been showing some excellent pace in training in recent weeks and was keen to display this on race day.  He rocketed out to a very quick start over his Portadown opponent and maintained a lead down the course.  As the finish-line drew near, David started to suffer with the amount of lactic acid that had built-up in his muscles.  The Portadown sculler attacked and David had no reply and was rowed down just metres form the line.  It was a cruel end to a good race, but one David will definitely learn from.

The very next race was to be one of the racing highlights of the day.  The hotly anticipated showdown between Inst and MCB in the Junior 18 8+.  Having defeated CAI at Portadown to take the title there, the RBAI boys of Rory Hulatt, Louis Magowan, Lucas Prodohl, Brent Whiteside, Daniel Hewitt, Andrew Mallon, Josh Hoy, Michael Gaston and Aled George, were confident, but knew that the Methody crew would be quick.  As both crews attacked every stroke down the length of the course it became clear to all watching that this would go right to the line.  The two contrasting styles of Methody’s punchy pace versus Inst’s powerful rhythm meant that the winner was anyone’s guess.  As they neared the line the crews were neck-and-neck.  As they crossed the line the spectators waited for the official verdict.  It was adjudged to be an Inst win by a bow-ball, which is about two inches.  It was a fantastic result for RBAI, but a great effort by both crews.

Nick Reid was involved in three singles events at the Regatta.  The first of which was the Junior 18 event.  Nick was drawn against an MCB sculler in his heat.  Using his trademark fast start he was able to comfortably make it down the course in first place, which took him into a semi-final clash with a BRC sculler.  Nick again made short work of his opponent to set up a final draw with Murray from Belfast Boat Club.  Nick was also draw in the final of the Club 2 1x against Murray.  In the end both finals went the same way.  Nick got a good start but just slipped back over the length of the course to finish a close second and give the Boat Club and Irish Development sculler a good race on both occasions.  Nick’s other event was the Junior 16 1x, his actual category.  Nick won this event at Portadown and had no difficulty replicating the same result at home.  A consistent pace down the course brought him home comfortably in first.  Well done to Nick for another good day’s racing, meaning he has now raced ten times in the single in two Regattas and only lost three of these races.

The next crew out was the Intermediate 4+ of Rory Hulatt, Louis Magowan, Mark Stewart, Brent Whiteside and Josh Hoy.  They were up against a BRC home crew in the heat and after a very close race managed to over-haul their much bigger and more experienced opponents in the last hundred metres of the race.  In the final they met another BRC crew, who got a bye to the final.  After a strong row the Inst boys were unfortunately defeated by another experienced open club boat.

The Junior 18 4+ of Rory Hulatt, Andrew Mallon, Lucas Prodohl, Michael Gaston and Josh Hoy took to the water next to race in their heat against a very slick CAI boat.  Their rivals from Coleraine made a good start and were able to slowly open up the gap over the length of the course, bringing them home 1 ½ lengths ahead of the RBAI boat at the line.

The last few races of the day brought about a flurry of activity for the Inst boys.  First up was the Intermediate 2x of David Roy and Mark Stewart.  Back in their more comfortable boat, but racing against over-age athletes the boys were keen to put everything into this straight final.  Racing against Portadown, which continued the lightweight sculler who beat David earlier in the day, the boys were keen not to make any mistakes.  A powerful performance over the length of the course brought about a comfortable victory at the line as the RBAI boat cruised home three lengths up on their opponents.

The last two events of the day were back-to-back races.  The Inst boys were to race a Club 4+ then jump straight into their 8 and race up to the start for the Club 8+ final.  In each event they were going to be lining up against BRC, who were able to field a completely different crew for each event.  First up was the 4+ of Rory Hulatt, Louis Magowan, Mark Stewart, Brent Whiteside and Daniel Hewitt.  The crew were obviously keen to get the race over and get into the 8, as they make a very quick start and didn’t relent over the 500 metres.  They came home comfortably ahead of their Belfast neighbours and showed good form to win an open event.

The last race of the day was the Club 8+ of Rory Hulatt, Andrew Mallon, Lucas Prodohl, Brent Whiteside, Mark Stewart, Louis Magowan, Josh Hoy, David Roy and Aled George.  Jumping straight out of another boat and racing up to the start was never going to be ideal preparation but the RBAI crew showed their composure as they raced fast all the way down the course and pushed their BRC opponents all the way to the line, only losing out in the last hundred metres.  It was a good effort after a very long day of racing.

Well done to all the boys for their efforts on the day.  And a big thank you to all the coaches, Mr M. Warnock, Mr P. McMath and Mrs A. Honan, for their continued assistance.  Thank you also to all the parents and friends of RBAI Rowing Club who turned up to show their support on Saturday.

The next outing for the Club will be at the annual Queen’s University Boat Race event, which takes place this year from the Queen’s PEC to Ravenhill Reach on Saturday 7th June.  For further details please check back to the School website closer to the time.


Rowing: Regatta Day – Saturday 21st June

On Saturday 21st June, RBAI and MCB Rowing Clubs will be joining together to have their annual Regatta Day.

Both Clubs will be competing in a variety of boats in races on the Boat House straight at Stranmillis.

This year the event is planned to be held at Queen’s Boat Club, where the finish-line of the racing will be.

Racing will begin at approximately 1pm and last until approximately 3pm.  These are provisional times, which will be confirmed closer to the time.

Please note this date in your diary and make plans to attend this annual event to show your support to the rowers and coaches from both Clubs.

Keep an eye on the RBAI School website for more information over the coming weeks.