CARNLOUGH’S picture-postcard harbour is to host one of the biggest sporting events on the island of Ireland this summer.
The annual all-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships on the weekend of August 23-25 is expected to feature 3,000 competitors and around 15,000 spectators. Anticipating a visitor spend of around £600,000 in the borough, Larne Council has indicated it is willing to grant Carnlough Rowing Club up to £15,000 to help meet the cost of the event. Free use of the harbour and associated facilities will be worth an additional £5,000 to the club, which estimates the bill for the regatta and entertainment will be in the region of £56,000.
Co Antrim, with its strong interest in the sport dating back at least 100 years, is offered the opportunity to host the biggest and most prestigious rowing regatta in Ireland once in every six years. Cairndhu staged it very successfully in 2008, but since then the event has grown, with an extra day of competition, more crews and additional costs to the host club.
Carnlough is likely to attract 500 crews from 45 clubs, including neighbouring Irish Coastal Rowing Federation clubs, Glenarm and Cairndhu. It is hoped crews from England and Scotland will participate in open races.
A programme of events is being planned for the amusement of competitors and spectators alike, including music, street entertainment and a fireworks display which should encourage overnight stays and a greater spend within the area.
It will cost Carnlough Rowing Club £10,000 to hire pontoons to ensure that the races start in the harbour, but as Larne Council director of development Linda McCullough informed councillors recently, the organisers are determined to meet the expense because it keeps the event within the heart of the village and in a more manageable and safe area.
The club has also applied for funding from the Rural Development Programme through the village renewal programme, and is seeking to generate revenue through advertising, sales and private sponsorship.