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All at Bann Rowing Club wish Alan, Richard, and Peter every sucess as they compete at the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand.

Friday, October 29th, 2010

It seems incredible that three young men who are frequently around the boat club at Bann are now on the other side of the world competing at the highest level in the World Rowing Championships.

Alan Campbell goes in the single scull, whilst Richard Chambers is in the light weight four and his not so baby brother Peter has secured the GB place in the lightweight scull. All our hopes and wishes are with them and their family members who have travelled to watch them compete.  

We also wish every success to Irish crews competing at the same Championships. Below is the link to Championship time table.

Who to Watch at the 2010 World Rowing Championships apart from the Bann Boys.

Friday, October 29th, 2010
New Zealand’s Lake Karapiro is the venue for the 2010 World Rowing Championships, starting at the later-than-usual time of 31 October and going through to 7 November. This later date is to make the most of New Zealand heading into spring. This week Karapiro has been enjoying warm weather with more good days expected as athletes from 49 nations, including a large contingent from the United States, Great Britain and Germany, settle into this southern hemisphere location.

To follow is a summary of the 14 Olympic class events, including the four blue riband events (men’s and women’s single scull and men’s and women’s eight), with an overview of the rowers to watch in those boat classes.

Women’s Pair (W2-)

New Zealand’s Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown come into this event as the winners of the final Rowing World Cup. But a lot of strokes have been rowed since that July race and Romania’s convincing win at the European Championships in September shows that Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu (Romania) are stepping up. Lupascu and Albu are in their second year together and last year they finished second at the World Rowing Championships. At Lake Karapiro Lupascu and Albu will focus solely on the pair, rather than the usual double-up with the eight. This indicates their desire to not let anything get in the way of them winning.

Lupascu and Albu, however, will not only have to overcome the home-course advantage of the New Zealanders, but also they face the return of 2009 World Champions, Susan Francia and Erin Cafaro of the United States. Like the Romanian’s, Francia and Cafaro are not doubling up in with the eight. There is no doubt the seriousness and toughness expected for this event.

Keep an eye out also for Kerstin Hartmann and Marlene Sinnig of Germany and also the new, improved combinations coming out of Australia (Sarah Tait and Phobe Stanley) and from Canada (Krista Guloien and Andreanne Morin).

Men’s Pair (M2-)

If all of the hype around this race is correct, the final will come down to a showdown between New Zealand’s Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and Great Britain’s Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge. These two boats have been vying for supremacy for two years with Bond and Murray always managing to preserve the upper hand. But British uber-coach Juergen Grobler has put full faith into his two top men by keeping them in the pair and Reed and Hodge are hugely motivated by their desire to throw the New Zealanders.

But this event is far from a two-boat race and both the Kiwi’s and the Brit’s had better not ignore Italy and Greece. Lorenzo Carboncini and Niccolo Mornati of Italy may be in their first season together but they have an enormous amount of experience behind them including Olympic medals. Greece’s Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou have earned their spot by beating in the pair their fellow countrymen, the Gkountoulas brothers, who were 2009 bronze medallists.

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)

This event has been dominated all season by Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins of Great Britain. Grainger, the top British woman rower and alrounder, has committed to this boat over other boats showing her desire to dominate the double. Through this season Grainger and Watkins have doubled up and raced the quad as well, but at Lake Karapiro they will put their full focus and skills into the double.

Behind Grainger and Watkins results have been mixed. Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele and Stephanie Schiller look to be improving after taking gold at the European Championships, but their racing earlier in the season has been inconsistent. Czech sisters, Lenka and Jitka Antosova are unpredictable. Sometimes they pull off a great race but other times they appear to flounder. Australia has been trying different combinations through the season, settling for Kim Crow and the return of 2008 Olympian Kerry Hore.

But the real scoop may be Poland. Magdalena Fularczyk and Julia Michalska are the reigning World Champions, however injury issues early this year kept both of them out of the boat. Fularczyk and Michalska made their 2010 debut at the European Championships and a silver medal proved that they are very much back in the game.

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)

The French are oozing confidence and after their win at the final Rowing World Cup as well as the European Championships, Cedric Berest and Julien Bahain go to Lake Karapiro with a sense of entitlement. Berest and Bahain, however, have been known to stumble when they get behind and this could be an advantage for Matthew Wells and Marcus Bateman of Great Britain. Wells and Bateman won two of the three Rowing World Cups this season – their first season together – and they look to still be in their honeymoon stage of racing.

This event, however, has come to represent close starts and very tight finishes and this closeness means that there are at least three other boats that have proven medal potential. The Estonian’s (Allar Raja and Kaspar Taimsoo) are one and their silver at the European Championships indicates that potential. New Zealand’s Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan are unrelenting when they race and have already medalled at a 2010 Rowing World Cup. Current World Champions, Germany (Erik Knittel and Stephan Krueger) have had to deal with injury issues earlier in the season and although they were a bit sluggish at the European Championships, a lot can change in seven weeks.

Men’s Four (M4-)

The most stable and consistent crew this season is Great Britain. Partridge, Egington, Gregory and Langridge of Great Britain have won two of the three Rowing World Cups for 2010 and, unlike the bulk of their competition, they have held on to the same line up.

But the late running of the World Rowing Championships may play to the advantage of crews who have had to deal with changes. Germany finally won late in the season at the European Championships and they have now had more time to settle into their combination. Late running may also help the Greeks who raced into the silver position at the European Champs. Greece pulled out a phenomenal closing sprint which will surly cause other crews to be wary.

Watch out too for three other crews; The United States often come through in this event even after very little international racing, France have a very talented line up and New Zealand who are fronting up with a gutsy young crew.

Women’s Single Scull (W1x)

Belarus has put all of their eggs in one basket with their sole representative at Lake Karapiro being Ekaterina Karsten. Odds are that their exclusive choice will pay dividends with Karsten coming to these World Champs having not lost a single major race in two years. To beat Karsten another competitor will have to out-fox her as the six-foot tall Belarusian has the power and finishing speed that regularly leaves no answer for her competition.

Perhaps, however, this is the year of Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic. Knapkova was the first overseas rower to arrive in New Zealand, giving herself a month to acclimatize to the country and the best possible shot at dethroning Karsten. Knapkova has been the bridesmaid to Karsten for nearly eight years and in that time she has gathered a huge collection of silver medals.

Also sitting closely behind in Karsten’s formidable wake is the gutsy pocket dynamite Frida Svensson of Sweden and New Zealand’s Emma Twigg. Twigg cut her season short when she stepped out of the international picture to recover from exhaustion. Now back on form Twigg will be taking advantage of her knowledge of Lake Karapiro to go after the medals. Watch out too for the very experienced Julia Levina of Russia who, on a good day, is a medal prospect and newcomer to the single game Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark. Erichsen is already making waves after her fourth place finish at the European Champs.

Men’s Single Scull (M1x)

Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic has been the dominating force this season coming to Karapiro unbeaten in 2010. He has demonstrated a new-found confidence which enables him to race well from behind as well as in front. But this is the World Rowing Championships and the stakes are higher. They are particularly high for New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale. Drysdale is going after his fifth consecutive World Champion title and on his home turf. Drysdale, however, is coming back from an early season injury and may have to play it cool.

The stakes are also high for Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway who was the last sculler to claim a World Champion title since the arrival of Drysdale. Watch out too for the gutsy Alan Campbell of Great Britain – the best single sculler to come out of Britain for many years. There is also Lassi Karonen of Sweden and the ever improving Canadian, Malcolm Howard.

This race also welcomes to the international rowing world two new countries. Bradley Jowitt represents Samoa and Saeed Alzahmi is racing for the United Arab Emirates.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)

Last year’s World Champions, Greece’s Christina Giazitzudou and Alexandra Tsiavou spent most of the season racing in other boats, but when they finally came together last month at the European Champs, they won and did it convincingly. This must be food for thought for final Rowing World Cup winners, Alice McNamara and Hannah Every-Hall of Australia. McNamara and Every-Hall lead the way for Australian women lightweights as well as one of the main medal hopes for the Australian team. They will be hoping to grab that gold for the team.

But both of these crews must have taken note of the Americans. Ursula Grobler and Abelyn Broughton raced just once this season internationally – winning the first Rowing World Cup – and the duo are so confident that they have doubled up to race in the lightweight quad as well.

The depth of talent continues with Poland (Magdalena Kemnitz and Agnieszka Renc), Canada (Lindsay Jennerich and Tracy Cameron), Great Britain (Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking) and Germany (Daniela Reimer and Anja Noske) all holding the potential to medal. Making the A-final of this race will be a big achievement in itself.

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)

New Zealand’s Storm Uru and Peter Taylor come into this event as the reigning World Champions, but with the 2012 Olympics coming closer into view, the standard has stepped up. British Olympic Champions, Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase are back on the scene. Germany has the young, but ever-improving, duo of Lars Hartig and Linus Lichtschlag already showing that they have medal potential. Then there is Canada’s Douglas Vandor and Cameron Sylvester who are working towards Olympic gold to redeem their disastrous 2008 Olympic medal bid that ended due to illness.

The talent, however, does not end there. Portugal’s Nuno Mendes and Pedro Fraga are the flagship crew for Portuguese rowing and they are already looking to be Portugal’s most successful rowers ever. Then there is the ever-present Italians. Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini have every chance of medaling on a good day.

Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)

The results at the European Championships last month really shook up the status quo in this event with regular medallists, Denmark at the back of the pack and reigning World Champions, Germany coming through for gold despite being sluggish for most of the season. The Germans have had one change to their 2009 winning crew with Bastian Siebt now looking much more comfortable in the boat.

Everything will step up a notch for the World Champs with winners of the final Rowing World Cup, Great Britain back in action. The Brits and Danes have been duking it out for most of the season and as both boats always race to win, the final in this event is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Also likely to be in the mix are the surprise of the season, Switzerland. The Swiss took bronze at the European Championships ending a medal drought for the country in this event. The Italians are regulars in the A-final and as long as they don’t leave their sprint too late, they will be medal contenders. Keep an eye out too for the Dutch and Australians.

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)

Great Britain won two out of three of the Rowing World Cups this season, but the crew that will race on Lake Karapiro has a new, albeit familiar, look. Grainger and Watkins are out as they focus solely on the double and in their place sees the return of Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton – both returning after taking silver two years ago at the Beijing Olympics in this boat. Beth Rodford and Annabel Vernon complete the lineup.

Great Britain will have to keep a wary eye out for reigning World Champions, Ukraine who have put their top women into this event and come to Karapiro following a win at the European Championships. Germany is also itching to do well and claim back the status they had in this event for so many years. Watch out too for Olympic Champions, China. Ziwei Jin, from the 2008 gold crew, is back in stroke seat with a very strong crew following her. And the United States often surprise when the pressure is on.

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)

All eyes will be on Croatia. Sain, Martin and the Sinkovic brothers have managed to beat the Polish Olympic Champions on more than one occasion this season and with Poland not racing at Lake Karapiro, it is the Croats that will have the ‘favourite’ sign pinned to their back.

The depth of talent facing Croatia at Karapiro, however, is quite formidable. The Italian lineup includes 2000 Olympic gold medallist, Simone Raineri. Ukraine, Australia and Russia also have a mix of very experienced Olympians. But it does not end there. Both Germany and Great Britain have relatively new crews but, despite this, both of them have medalled so far this season. Be prepared for a very close final.

Women’s Eight (W8+)

This season has unfolded in a similar manner to the last couple of seasons with the United States and Romania eyeing each other up at the head of the field. But this could all change at Karapiro. At the final Rowing World Cup, Canada led over the United States for most of the race only to be piped into second on the final stroke.

Coach Al Morrow is back at the helm for the Canadian women and the wonder-coxswain, Lesley Thompson-Willie is back in the steering seat. This combination of coach and coxswain has a proven track record stretching back many years. The Canadian’s, however, have chosen to double up with Andreanne Morin and Krista Guloien also rowing the pair, while both the United States and Romania have decided not to follow that road.

Keep an eye out also for the Netherlands and Great Britain. The British have already medalled this season while the Dutch, stroked by Femke Dekker, always seem to pull off a medal when it really counts. And be advised, Dutch supporters love to swim out to meet their medal winning boats, Karapiro may be just the right place to do that.

Men’s Eight (M8+)

Current World Champions Germany is coming to Karapiro on the back of an unbeaten season and their convincing wins means that the Germans will be the crew to beat. Australia and Great Britain gave it a good bash at the final Rowing World Cup. Australia, however, come to these World Champs as a relatively unknown factor. The lineup has changed to include the four that struck silver at the 2008 Olympics. Meanwhile, Great Britain has altered their World Cup crew by two.

Also fighting to push onto the medals podium will be Poland. The Polish crew are a long term project with their sights set on the 2012 Olympics and a silver medal at last month’s European Championships indicate that they are improving and on track. Watch out too for Canada who continue to rebuild after their 2008 Olympic win.



Bann win gold at Irish Championships

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

In their greatest ever day, at the 2010 Irish National Rowing Championships in Cork, Bann Rowing Club won the biggest prize in Irish Junior Rowing , the mens J18 eights, and also took silver in the mens J18 fours. This is truly remarkable when you consider that it is the first time that a complete Bann crew have ever won the MJ18 gold in their 146 year history, it is their tenth Championship Gold in 146 years, and it is their first Gold from The Irish Championships for 26 years since way back in 1984.
Championship momentum had been building up at the Bann Club with this “golden” crew seeking to complete a superb, unbeaten run which stretches right back to July 2009. To improve on the previous years’s Championship silver, won in a time of 6:40.2 in poor, wet conditions, and to win gold in 2010, the Bann crew would, most probably, have to be capable of breaking the magical six minute barrier for 2,000 meters. Many International senior “eights races” are won in times of over six minutes so this incredible target“on the water” time for 2010, meant many sacrifices and a full year of extreme, sustained, training under coach Seamus Reynolds.
Recent highlights for the crew included their top ten place in the London 2010 Schools Head, which is the highest ever finish by any Irish crew, over the 6,800m Oxford Cambridge Boat Race championship course. In May “Cookstown” had come onboard as supporters of Bann, and this had enabled the club to purchase their new Janousek racing eight boat, aptly called”The Sizzler.” When Mrs. Gillian Chambers officially named this new boat, she said that she hoped its bowball would always cross the finishing line first. Respecting her wishes, over the past nine races, all over Ireland, “the Sizzler” had remained unbeaten.
Bann Rowing Club’s development squad, had raced in “the Sizzler” when victorious in the recent 2010 Northern Ireland MJ16 eights championship and retaining the “Craig Cup.” Good MJ18 wins had followed at the Metro and Athlone regattas, but on the long journey down to Cork everyone knew that “on the water” at the National Rowing Centre, was “where it counts” and that this was the elite,“creme de la creme”of Irish Rowing Clubs competing for the biggest “Pot”.
Of course all the “big guns” from Portora, Commercial, Presentation College and last year’s champions St. Josephs, the “Bish” from Galway, were again competing against Bann, but a major surprise was the last minute entry from the fabulous Skibbereen Club. The “Skib” Club has won an incredible 109 Championship gold medals in the last thirteen years and have attained a richly deserved and almost legendary status and reputation in Irish Rowing. So, that’s the race background, Bann’s golden unbeaten crew,racing against all the top Clubs in Ireland, including”Skib”, all competing for one single prize, the National Championship GOLD.
All the big Clubs had successfully negotiated their way through the semi-finals and the pressure cooker of excitement and weight of expectation was now really starting to kick in, and so coach Seamus Reynolds protected his crew over the final two hour wait, from friends and foes alike, including the vast travelling army of parents,families and supporters who had all made the long journey down to Cork for the big race.
From the second that the Bann “Golden Crew” launched, for the final time as a J18 crew, and took that first, big, ”square blades, firm “stroke, with perfect balance, we all felt something very special was going to happen. The packed spectator gallery had no problems identifying the Bann eight rowing past on their way down to the start, with their distinctive scarlet and white colours, and equally distinctive, Bann’s unique rowing technique. The spectating crowd’s roaring, chanting and stomping erupted crazily when the race commentator announced that the six rival crews had now taken their stations on the stake boats and that the biggest race of their lives was about to start.
Two questions would be answered very shortly. Who would win? and could anyone beat that magical six minute race time ? The commentator announced,”And they’re off” and a whirr of power strokes saw all six crews get away cleanly. At this vital early stage of the race, the complete trust of Seamus and the whole Bann Club rested on the shoulders of two sixteen year olds, stroke man Joel Cassells and cox Ryan “Acer” Hourican. With unbelievable coolness the exact rate set by the coach was executed so that the entire crew could now work flat out for every inch of the race. In Bann’s race plan, the progression from the “acceleration phase” to the “attain and maintain top racing speed phase” called “the Stride” was achieved so smoothly that the Bann men easing into a small lead by 500m looked almost effortless, just like the running of the superb Olympian sprint Champion Usain Bolt. Similarily, the sheer amount of power that the Bann eight were generating was masked by the fluidity of their rowing technique. The average weight of the Bann crew at 75kg per man couldn’t reveal if they had the necessary amounts of power, endurance, determination, boatspeed and pure heart which would be required. This race was now the ultimate acid test.
Would Bann have enough, and how much were the other big crews holding back ? Portora in second place were grimly determined to improve on last year’s bronze, “Skib” in third place were tucked in neatly, and alongside them the “Bish” crew were still very much in touch. The race seemed set to be between these top four clubs and as they approached the half way mark at 1,000m, all spectator noise quickly quietened down for the race commentator’s live report. “It’s Bann’s race now, unless the other crews move right now..they must make their move right now.. or its Bann’s race”
Thunderous roars of support for all the Clubs immediately erupted again, and if there was one thing Seamus Reynolds had prepared his crew for.. it was for this last 1,000m. Since the inception of this crew some four years previously they have proven time and time again that they just do not fade in the closing section. They had never, ever, been rowed down by anyone over the second half of the race and now we would see if any Championship challenging crew would be capable of doing it to Bann. This was absolute top quality racing and sure enough, the superb “Skib” crew responded and put in their mighty push, whacked up their stroke rate, scorched past Portora, and came charging down the course after the Bann men. This stage in the race had now suddenly became absolutly crucial. Bann’s strokeman, Joel Cassells, the youngest man in the boat, kept his cool, kept his length and kept the stroke rate at exactly where “Big Seamus” had planned. The Bann crew kept the power on. The “Skib” boat now jacked their stroke rate up yet again, their famous, race -winning tactic. But again this produced no similar response from Bann. Using an incredibly calm voice the Bann cox”Acer” smoothly eased his crew “No change Bann, it’s ours Bann, it’s ours, on the legs lads, bring her home.”
With exactly 500m left to go, the entire Bann crew began to sense that the gold was becoming theirs, and, as planned, they now increased their stroke rate slightly, relaxed, sat up tall, and slowly, steadily, almost imperceptibly, started creeping further away from the chasing field. The “Sizzler” just kept accelerating, and gaining speed with every stroke. It was unbelievable. The last 250 meters are marked by yellow lane buoys. All the Bann crew saw this, knew what it meant, and, with wild, wild cheering from the stands, and big, long, hard, clean power -strokes, the golden Bann crew absolutly flew over the finishing line. The hooter sounded that the race was over and that the “Sizzler’s” bowball had yet again,crossed the finishing line first. History had been made. Skibbereen hurtled in next for silver, followed by Portora who had to settle for another bronze, very closely followed by “Bish” the previous year’s champions. The winning margin was declared as a length and a third meaning that Bann had established clear water between them and “Skib”which, in Championship rowing terms, is a very good win.
So the first big question had now been answered,”Who would win ?” Answer Bann.
The second question took just a little longer, “Would Bann have managed to break the magical six minute barrier ?” Answer… Yes. Bann’s winning time was 5:54.4. Infact, out of the six excellent crews in the 2010 final, no less than four of them beat six minutes, with Bann 5:54.4, Skibbereen 5:57.6, Portora 5:59.2 and St. Josephs College at 5:59.9.
The quality of this MJ18 race was not lost on Martin Corcoran, Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Amateur Rowing Union, who said that, to the best of his knowledge, having four crews under six minutes in a MJ18 final had never happened before. He added that Bann‘s race time was a mere three seconds from qualifying them for the Senior Mens final.
The President of the Irish Amateur Rowing Association, Tony Dooley, warmly congratulated the Bann Club on their historic victory and also for their sporting behaviour. He remarked that he had witnessed Bann crews applauding other crews , while all were still out on the water after their race, and then on the launching platforms, when the crews had arrived back in, there were the Bann men again, all shaking hands with every single member of the other crews.
Strong emotions of relief and joy were expressed and balanced with the knowledge that this glorious race would infact be the last one together for this unbeaten golden Bann MJ18 crew. All present reflected together that their three year “Rowing for Bann” journey, had really started back at the 2008 Craig Cup up at Portora, and was now ending on the crest of the wave, with their greatest victory, at National Championship level, which the highest level attainable in MJ18 Irish Club rowing.
As an enormous honour to the Bann Club, Tom Fennessey from Clonmel, Past Chairman of the IARA, requested for Bobbie Platt MBE, the Bann Rowing Club President, to do the Honours and present the Bann winning Crew with their awards and the huge, prestigious Irish National Championship MJ18 Silver Cup.
Bann Captain Keith Leighton warmly thanked all Bann’s travelling supporters and friends. He and Seamus had been receiving numerous texts and phone calls from all over the world, including Olympian Alan Campbell, whose parents had travelled down to support Bann, fellow Olympian Richard Chambers, Internationals Stephen Feeney and Peter Chambers who had never been off the phone throughout. All at Bann were wishing Peter the best at the forthcoming World U23 Championships. Keith reflected that this crew had brought enormous honour to themselves, to their families, to their schools, to Seamus, to Bann Rowing Club, to the town of Coleraine, and to the magnificent sport of amateur Rowing, not only by winning the 2010 Championship, but in the manner in which they had tackled, and completed, this enormous task over the past three years. He thanked all the crew individually,and declared that, at this same time one year ago, he had said that in Seamus Reynolds, Bann had the best coach in Ireland. He was today delighted to be able to say that we had now proven that Bann still has not only, the best coach in Ireland, but we also have the best mens junior eighteen crew and cox in the country. Bann stalwart Geoff Bones added that Bann also had the very best Rowing Club captain in the country
The final word went to Bann coach Seamus Reynolds. Seamus said that this was a great Bann crew and Bann was a great club . He continued that the crew had deserved to win the Championship, and finished that “Once an Irish Champion, always an Irish Champion, once a Bann man, always a Bann man, up the Bann !”

Bann "Sizzle" at Athlone 2010

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Bann Rowing Club kept up their winning ways down in Athlone, at their last regatta of the 2010 season, before next month’s Irish Championships. The day got off to a very early, but a winning start, when both the Bann’s MJ18 fours won their semifinals and qualified for the afternoons finals.
Both Bann crews defeating Portora and St. Josephs much fancied “fours” was a major upset and set the tone for the rest of the day. Bann’s “stern” crew from their MJ18 eight went on to win the final by two lengths from Portora and with it the prestigeous “Civic Week Challenge Cup”
Next up was the turn of the Bann ladies and this saw the awesome Hutchinson twins, Emily and Rebecca, win the ladies J18 double sculls. This winning performance pleased coach Geoff Bones with the twins still eligible at J18 level for another two years. Further good wins for the ladies were in the WJ18 quadruple scull, beating Neptune and Portora to win the “John lennon Challenge Cup” and the young WJ16 ladies quad winning the Farrell Challenge Cup. Lauren Taggert had an epic single sculls race with N.McGrath from Waterford, eventually losing the 1,700m race by a single foot.
Bann’s unbeaten MJ15 quad continued their season’s run of victories, and the scalp of the previously undefeated Cork crew, when winning the “P.J Walsh Memorial Cup” will have given their coach Jeremy Johnston particular satisfaction.
However, with the Irish Championships so close, the big race of the day was undoubtedly for the Parsons Challenge Cup in the MJ18 eights. This final was the first showdown in eleven months, between all “the big guns” from Bann, Portora and “the Bish.” St. Josephs, since their epic “all the medals” shootout at the 2009 Championships.
The Bann men have not lost to an Irish J18 “eight” since that race, but all previous form meant nothing to the crews on the water. Bann had an amazing win by one and a half lengths over “The Bish.” St. Joseph’s from Galway in the final, and this victory included defeating an excellent Neptune “Intermediate eight” from Dublin.
Retaining the “Craig Cup, winning a record five “Cups” at Athlone, and their new boat “the Sizzler” remaining unbeaten, have now set the Bann Club up well for their final push to the Irish Championships in Cork on 16th July.

Bann Rowing Club sucessfully retain the Craig Cup 2010

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

For the first time in fifty one years Bann successfully hosted, and retained, the Northern Ireland J16 eights Championship, and with it the “Craig Cup”.   Bann remains the only “non-grammar” school Rowing Club to have ever won this Championship, illustrating clearly their empasis on developing top class Junior Rowing.

The crews from Coleraine Inst,  Methody and Bann had to contend with strong head wins during the initial 1,800m time trial element of the Championship and despite the difficult conditions all boats had achieved exceptionaly fast times resulting in a  sparkling “side by side” final between Methody and Bann.   The 2010 event would be a repeat of the 2009 final, between two very strong and well supported clubs.  As well as the home crowd a  huge contingent of parents, pupils and supporters had travelled from Belfast to enthusiasticaly support their Methody crew.

At the start of the final itself, both crews left the stake boats like rockets but the rowing technique of the Bann crew soon saw the bows of “The Sizzler” take the lead and by the Fortsandal Bridge the sheer power, length and quality of their rowing had increased the lead to two boat lengths.  With the choppy conditions, and the North wind now blowing stronger than ever, the race speed of both boats meant they were taking some water on board.  Undetered both boats surged again at the 500m marker to set up a dramatic finish.  The scarlet colours of Bann swept into view first and a huge cheer went up from the gallery of spectators packed at the Bann Boathouse and all along the Bann wall.  On the finishing line the Bann crew had won it, with considerable style and a healthy four length margin.  Club President Bobbie Platt MBE commented that this was undoubtedly the best organised and supported “Craig Cup” and that he himself had been to almost all 50 previous ones.  He said it was a great honour for boys to row in the “Craig Cup” and many Olympic rowers had started their careers in this excellent event.  “Not all of them won it either.”  Bobbie humourously concluded.

Mrs Gillian Chambers when presenting the medals, and the “Craig Cup” to Joel Cassells, the winning Bann stroke, congratulated everyone on the success of the whole regatta and expressed her delight that the Bann men had taken her words to heart when they ensured that the bowball of the new Bann boat, “The Sizzler” would cross the winning line first.  Bann Club captain Keith Leighton thanked “Cookstown Meats” for their generous sponsorship of the “Craig Cup 2010” and received a huge cheer when he said that every rower on the day, some 68 people, had won, not only great honour, but a special “Cookstown Sizzler” goody bag to take home to remember the occasion by.

When asked about the possibility of Bann equalling the all time record of three “Craig Cup” wins in a row, achieved 35 years ago, Bann coach Seamus Reynolds repeated, “All my crews get faster every year, the Craig Cup is staying at Bann ! “

Sizzling sponsorship deal for Bann Rowing Club

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010

Club One of Northern Ireland’s most successful rowing clubs has secured a three-year sponsorship contract. The entire Bann Rowing Club membership are celebrating this week with the news that local pork producer, Cookstown, h…as pledged its support to the club for the next three years. Head Coach, Seamus Reynolds, is delighted to announce the partnership. He says: “We are thrilled that Cookstown has chosen to become a supporter of Bann Rowing Club. This very generous support will help fund a new racing eights boat to add to our existing rowing fleet. The news that a new boat has been ordered is creating huge excitement amongst our members. We are looking forward to rowing it in the forthcoming Northern Ireland J16 eights regatta for the ‘Craig Cup’ which is being held at our club in Coleraine later this month and the Irish Rowing Championships in the summer. “As a club we are committed to nurturing new and existing talent and the level of commitment from the team is truly inspiring. This new boat has given everyone a real boost and we’ve already given it a worthy name – The Sizzler. I’m feeling very confident that we will have great rowing successes with the new boat and would like to take this opportunity to thank Cookstown for their support.” Colin Glennon, Marketing Manager, Cookstown, says: “Cookstown is committed to supporting the local community and we are very proud to be official supporters of Bann Rowing Club. The club has enjoyed tremendous success in recent years and we hope that ‘The Sizzler’ helps the team row to victory in many events in the years to come. “We believe that sport plays an important role not only in people’s health and well being but is fundamentally important in bringing communities together. Cookstown is a family favourite in homes across Northern Ireland and supporting local clubs across the province is our way of saying thank you for choosing Cookstown. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Bann Rowing Club every success in the future and we look forward to supporting them over the next three years.” Mrs. Gillian Chambers had flown straight back from the Rowing World Cup in Bled, Slovania where both her sons had excelled, to officially name “The Sizzler” . Gillian made a rousing speech and received a great cheer when she declared that she hoped “The Sizzlers” bowball would always cross the finishing line first. Bobbie Platt MBE. President of Bann Rowing Club, commented that Cookstown’s support had now given Bann a fabulous boat and he thought many future Olympians would start their rowing careers in “The Sizzler”.See more

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