On Saturday, in a rather overcast Portadown where the threat of rain was never too far away, the RBAI Rowing Club Senior squad arrived to compete in a number of events at the annual regatta. Due to the unpredictable weather patterns since Christmas this was the first competitive outing of 2014 for the Inst boys, due to a large number of race cancellations in recent months.
The first race of the regatta featured Nick Reid in the Junior 18 1x. Nick is a Junior 16 but was racing in the older age category for added experience. In the first race of the day Nick blasted off the start and never looked back against his Belfast Rowing Club opposition, winning comfortably. This set the trend for the morning session, which saw RBAI Rowing Club win all but one heat during this period. This run of results also featured more wins for Nick which led him to the final of the Junior 18 1x, after wins against a competitor from Bann R.C. and one from MCB. He also made it through to the final of the Junior 16 1x after two convincing heat wins. In the final of the Junior 16 1x he was up against an opponent from Neptune Rowing Club, Dublin. Nick was pushed hard all the way but ultimately triumphed against the experienced sculler. In the final of the Junior 18 1x Nick raced well against his opponent from Bann but in the end he was beaten narrowly in a close contest. The Junior 18 final was Nick’s 7th race of the day over the 1,000metre course and showed his level of improvement over this year that he was able to win all but one of these races.
Following on from Nick’s success the rest of the Club was able to show their strong levels of fitness and strength over the days racing. Mark Stewart managed to comfortably make the final of the Intermediate 1x after beating a sculler from CAI, only to be beaten in the final by a strong Bann sculler. David Roy faced the same Bann sculler in his heat and unfortunately got beaten after a strong row in the senior men’s category.
The Junior 18 2x of Brent Whiteside and Aled George were unlucky in their heat against MCB. A strong row over the course and a brilliant wind-up was not enough to beat an experienced Methody crew in a very close finish.
The Club 4+ is a new event to Irish Regattas this year and the entry saw a straight final draw between RBAI and CAI. This new event allowed some of the over-age athletes to compete with the Junior boys. The crew of Louis Magowan, Lucas Prodohl, David Roy and Mark Stewart, with cox Rory Hulatt, put in a good effort down the course but come the finish-line had just dropped back slightly from their rivals and came in a very close second.
The Junior 18 4+ of Andrew Mallon, Daniel Hewitt, Michael Gaston and Josh Hoy, with cox Rory Hulatt, faced a strong MCB crew in their heat. They made a good start in their race and pushed the Methody crew all the way in their race but ultimately came up short against a good crew.
The next event saw two RBAI 4x-‘s race in the same category but line-up in opposing semi-finals. The crew of Louis Magowan, Brent Whiteside, Daniel Hewitt and Andrew Mallon came up against a home crew in their semi-final. A strong start set up a comfortable row to the line and saw them easily through to the final. In the other semi the crew of Lucas Prodohl, Josh Hoy, Michael Gaston and Aled George were up against a very capable MCB crew. The Inst boys put in a strong start and rowed well in the middle of the course. Coming up to the finish-line they were slightly down on their Belfast rivals and even a spirited push for the line wasn’t enough to get them in front. The crew were disappointed not to be able to have an all Inst final but showed great form to push the Methody crew very close to the line. In the final the RBAI 4x- put in a powerful start to open a slight advantage over Methody, who then put in a big push to try and get back in contention, but the Inst boat had the race under control and slowly pulled away over the remainder of the course to finish with a winning margin of almost two lengths.
The main event of the day for the regatta was the Junior 18 8+ event. This was going to be a re-row of one of the tightest races of last years racing program, where the RBAI boat were beaten to the line by a couple of inches by the CAI boat in the semi-final of the Junior 8’s. The majority of the Inst boat, Aled George, Michael Gaston, Josh Hoy, Andrew Mallon, Daniel Hewitt, Brent Whiteside, Lucas Prodohl, Louis Magowan and Rory Hulatt, were in the 8 last year and were keen for history not to be repeated. Off the start the CAI crew took the advantage and pushed out to a very quick lead. The RBAI boys were patient and showed great maturity as they slowly built up their speed and then let their fitness show as they reeled in the Coleraine boat to create a grandstand finish. As both boats passed the Portadown Boat House the Belfast crew seized the initiative and put their bows in front for the first time. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish and they pulled away from their opposition all the way to the line.
In the end the RBAI Rowing Club managed to come away from Portadown with three wins, in some of the most competitive categories.
Well done to all the athletes involved and to a number of the parents and friends of the Club who came out to support on the day. A big thank you also to the coaches, Mr. M. Warnock, Mrs. A. Honan, Mr. P. McMath and Mr. C. Woods for their continued help that has brought about these strong performances on the day, as well as a special mention to Mr. R. Caruth of Lady Victoria Boat Club for towing the trailer to Portadown. It is only with the continued support of the those around the Club that we will be able to achieve such encouraging results. Thank you.
The winning Junior 18 8+ team
The winning Junior 18 4x- team