Bann’s Boxing Day races another great Success

Bann’s Boxing Day races another great Success

With World Rowing Champion Richard Chambers, his young brother and World Championship finalist Peter, and big Alan Campbell, the second fastest single sculler in history, all racing against each other, excitement and drama were almost guaranteed at the 2010 Bann Boxing Day scratch races. But the races would feature no less than forty four highly competitive rowers, all determined to put one over on the Rowing Superstars. With a very enthusiastic  packed gallery of hardy spectators, and delicious refreshments kindly provided by the Bann Rowing Club’s  sponsors ”Cookstown” the scratch crews were selected randomly and the race order drawn all under the watchful eye of Club President Bobbie Platt MBE.

The draw saw the largest athlete, double Olympian Alan Campbell, in the same crew as the diminutive figure of Bann’s Lily Ferguson, and this crew had a great win in its first quarterfinal race. Joel Cassells, Bann’s sixteen year old prodigy, set up a clash of the titans when he stroked his crew into an all Bann semi-final showdown against the crew of his greatest friend and rival, fellow Bann sixteen year old prodigy Chris Black. This time, Joel, with bowman John Gordon and the flying Bann girls Sarah Allen and Lauren Taggert  just, just, just emerged victorious in such a tight race that a single mistake would certainly have meant defeat.

The other semi-final saw, big Alan’s crew against the dark horses, with big heavyweight Conor Logan stroking his fellow Irish champion James MacAfee, and the very talented young pair of Joe Skelly and Johnny “silent” Wilson in the bows. As the race progressed the crowd roared as Lily in the bow seat, brilliantly pulled big Alan and the rest of her crew down the river, but they were just shaded out by big Conor’s very technically proficient crew.  This set up a thrilling final, with the girls in Joel’s crew knowing that they could expect little male gallantry when the starting gun sounded.  Both boats sped off like the absolute hammers, raising the classical question of would Conor’s long, slow, elegant stroke defeat the shorter, punchier, faster tempo stroke from Joel’s boat? One mistake at this speed would be race lost, but both young crews raced faultlessly and this time the giant Conor’s crew were victorious in their splendid boat the Victor Hamill.

Club Captain Keith Leighton received thunderous applause when he paid tribute to all participants and supporters alike, and wished the Bann men Alan, Richard and Peter the very best on their journeys for places at the highest level at which rowers compete, the forthcoming Olympics.  With Bann’s own historic successes in London and at the National Championships in Cork, rowing had enjoyed a truly fabulous season.

January 7th, 2011

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