Another year, another record, and what better year to do it that on the Cairndhu Rowing Club’s 30th anniversary?
The rowers added to the hall of fame with 10 podium finishes at the All Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships at Courtmacsherry in Cork, where more than 500 crews competed in 72 races in a three-day regatta over the bank holiday weekend.
The opening races on the Friday evening were the FISA coastal boats. Cairndhu entered twosingle Schulls in these races with Lisa Cameron winning their first gold medal and Adam Boreham finishing in silver medal position.
In the U16 Boys’ category Alex McVeigh, Alistair Burke, Matthew McGarrell and Aiden Murray - coxed by Norman Black - claimed the bronze medal in the final after qualifying second in their heat. The crew rowed a thrilling race, holding on to silver medal position until the final 100m.
The U18 Boys’ ‘A crew’ - Callum Oakley, Ethan Brownlee, James Bacon and Jack Ringland (coxed by Norman) - and ‘B crew’ Robert Rea, Perry Sittlington, Aiden Murray and Sam Bowen (coxed by Kris Perry) rowed in the same heat but failed to qualify for the final, with one crew having gear failure and breaking an oar.
Two Cairndhu crews rowed Antrim Coast hand-built gigs in the Open Classic Ladies race. The senior crew - Debbie Hanna, Joy McNeill, Leah Craig and Lisa Cameron, coxed by Norman - finished second in The Dawn and the crew of Victoria Stirling, Julian Mitchell Keane, Anne Snoddy and Leigh Snoddy, coxed by Caroline Hunter, were fourth in The Laurel.
In the Men’s Open Classsic race the crew in The Dawn was Alex McDonald, Ryan McNeill, Cahal McCauley and Scott Leitch, coxed by Norman Black, who finished in second place ahead of the third-placed Laurel, powered by Kris Perry, Michael Curtis, Jordan Brownlee and Ryan Murphy and coxed by Caroline.
This year, Cairndhu entered a Pre-veteran Mixed crew of Lisa Cameron, Joy McNeill, Ryan McNeill and Cahal McCauley, coxed by Norman, and in Saturday’s heats they were second. They were fired up for a podium finish on Sunday and after a race that went right down to the line they won the bronze medal.
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The Veteran Mixed crew of Anne Snoddy, Stephen Snoddy, Trevor Gardiner, Juliane Mitchell Keane, coxed by Norman, were fired up and ready, after narrowly missing out on a medal in the 2011 Championships. They won their heat on Saturday and returned later that day for the final, in which they gave it everything and finished fourth overall. They were disappointed not to podium, but rowed two fantastic races.
Cairndhu entered two Senior Mixed crews this year and both made it through their qualifying heats to Sunday’s final. Alex McDonald, Adam Boreham, Debbie Hanna and Lisa Camero,n coxed by Norman, finished fifth overall after qualifying through their heat in third position; and the crew of Victoria Stirling, Leah Craig, Jordan Brownlee and Ryan Murphy, coxed by Kris, were tenth.
The Pre-veteran Ladies’ crew of Caroline Hunter, Joy McNeil, Morag Keating and Julie Gardiner - coxed by Norman - were focused this season on what colour of medal they wanted after finishing in silver position in 2011. After rowing well and winning their qualifying heat on Saturday, they came out on Sunday for the final and blew the competition away, bringing home a gold medal for Cairndhu.
Cairndhu Senior Ladies have a tradition of finishing on the podium at the All-Irelands and this year wasn’t going to be any different. The regular crew of Lisa Cameron and Debbie Hanna, re-enlisted Joy McNeill and new crewmate Leah Craig, were determined to get a podium finish. As weather conditions worsened they battled the cross-winds, kept focused on the racing and tore away from the lead pack on the final 400m, claiming their first gold medal together.
The Intermediate Men’s crew of Michael Curtis, Jordan Brownlee, Paul Vennard, Ryan Murphy - coxed by Caroline - finished second in their qualifying heat on Saturday and rowed a thrilling race in the final, spurred on by the full force of the Cairndhu supporters roaring from the shore. The crew stormed home to take the gold medal and were delighted with their performance.
The Junior Men’s crew (Alex McDonald, Adam Boreham, Ryan McNeill, Scott Leitch - coxed by Norman), went through the heats easily and finished in fourth place. Then the wait was on, as the final was the penultimate race of the regatta on Sunday. The men’s course in coastal rowing is 2,300 metres, with three turns, so it is a test of endurance and power. The Cairndhu men rowed a brilliant race and finished fourth overall in their final.
Congratulations to all the crews at Cairndhu taking home 10 sets of medals to last year’s eight.
The All Ireland Championships will be held next year in Carnlough and all the crews will be keen to perform on local waters. See the Carnlough, Cairndhu and glenarm clubs’ respective websites and facebook pages for details on joining.
Meanwhile, Cairndhu welcomes all Antrim Coast members past and present to join them at the 30th nniversary dinner and prize giving at Cairndhu Golf Club on Saturday, September 8.