St Michael’s Masters Regatta to bring the river to life on Saturday afternoon

With the majority of the season’s racing already accounts for, many of the rowing community will be gearing up for a return to a long Winter’s training, but not before the second St. Michael’s Masters’ Regatta which takes place on the River Shannon at 4pm on Saturday next between Barrington’s Pier and the clubhouse on O’Callaghan Strand.

For most of the season it was the junior rowers who took centre stage, however this time it will be the turn of some of the club’s older members to take to the water, compete for silverware and maybe re-ignite some decades-old rivalries!

Favourable weather conditions are expected on what is often a very unforgiving stretch of river. There is sure to be some very competitive racing, with the competitors drawing on their years of experience in order to give themselves an edge.

This year’s regatta sees 51 entries across 12 boat classes in both male and female categories – an increase on last year’s inaugural regatta indicating an increasing demand for dedicated masters’ events.

It also serves as further testament to the infectious nature of the sport of rowing, often drawing past oarsmen and women back after many years out of a boat, eager to get a taste for racing once more.

Such events are also invaluable for crews preparing to race in various masters’ regattas in the UK, Europe and further afield, using local events such as these to hone their skills before their trips abroad.

What makes masters racing different from conventional rowing races is that each of the entrants are assigned a category based on their age, ranging from category “A” at 27 years of age to “M” at an age of 89 years or more. In larger boats, the average age of the crew determines their category.

Another factor that adds a little drama to masters’ racing is the addition of time handicaps, with the older crews going off first and the younger crews going off a designated number of seconds behind them, determined by the age difference, causing for very exciting races as the younger crews chase the older ones to the line.

The regatta is sure to be an excellent spectator event with ideal vantage points available on Barrington’s Pier, Shannon Bridge and Steamboat Quay, presenting the river in an entirely new light and reminding us of an absolutely invaluable resource right on our doorstep that is so often overlooked.

Parking for both spectators and competitors will be available in the newly refurbished Cleeve’s car park, located walking distance from the club allowing all involved to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the some well-deserved refreshments at the club barbecue following racing.

Finally, a reminder to traffic to drive slowly near the club on Saturday evening as various boats will be entering and leaving the club, coming from Cleeve’s further up the road. Best of luck to all crews!

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Raffaele Rocca