(Above: Layout of the course)
The inaugural Irish Open Coastal Rowing Championships took place in Arklow, Co. Wicklow on Sunday 20th September 2015. The event was hosted by Arklow Rowing Club and involved crews racing in FISA type coastal rowing boats around a 4km course. In terms of both participants and the number of boats in the country, FISA type Coastal Rowing has enjoyed a continuous and steady growth over recent years and in recognising this, the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation (ICRF) took the decision in late 2014 to separate this type of Coastal Rowing from the All Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships and give it its own dedicated 'Championship' regatta which will be open to international competition and hence its title ‘Irish Open Coastal Rowing Championships’. Following a detailed review of potential hosts, it was decided to award the honour of hosting the inaugural event to Arklow Rowing Club, due in equal parts to the club's vast experience gained from participating in this type of rowing including at every FISA World Coastal Rowing Championships since 2006, the great open sea venue which is available off the Arklow coast and the great organisational skills which the club has displayed over many years.
FISA Coastal Rowing uses boats similar to traditional river sculls however they are anything but 'Traditional'. They carry a great deal more buoyancy and are self-bailing which makes them eminently suitable for use in even the roughest of open sea conditions. FISA Coastal rowing is experiencing a period of rapid international growth at the moment and it is widely anticipated that it will soon be declared as an Olympic Sport. The Class involves Singles, Doubles (two rowers) and Quads (four rowers and a cox) and this, due to its wider international appeal, will enhance its future growth as a sport within Ireland. Although this type of rowing is still in its infancy in Ireland, Arklow Rowing Club has considerable experience when it comes to coastal rowing having participated in, and won, numerous Celtic Challenges, a biennial event which sees 26 twelve member crews race across the Irish Sea from Arklow to Aberystwyth in Wales. The club also competes on the East Coast Rowing Circuit where in 2015 they took part in 9 regattas and enjoyed one of their most successful seasons in the history of the club with individual championships for the Arklow Senior Ladies, Intermediate Ladies and their Under 16 Boy's crews, They were also successful at the 2015 All-Ireland Coastal Rowing Championships where they were Gold Medalists in two Ladies categories. To top all of that, the club also won the and ‘Sportmans Trophy’ for their endeavours at the World Pilot Gig Championships on the Isles of Scilly last May.
The Irish Open Coastal Rowing Championships will had crews and rowers from both Ireland and Wales taking part in nine races that were run over the course of the two days. While this event represents a wonderful opportunity for the Arklow Rowing Club who also celebrated their 25th Anniversary in 2015, it also demonstrates the overall growth and awareness that rowing has within Ireland. Coastal rowing represents one of the easiest sports to access and participate in as it is only the hardest of weathers that would prevent a coastal rower from getting out on the water. The local Arklow community can testify to that.
On behalf of all members of Arklow Rowing Club we would like to thank all competitors, guests and spectators of the Irish Open Coastal Rowing Championship. This event was the first of its kind in Ireland and it has been an honour for the club to have been chosen to host it. We look forward to seeing you all again at events in the future. Please find results of the finals here.