O'Donovans face extra competition in Lucerne bid
The O'Donovan brothers once again lead Ireland's charge for medals this weekend in Lucerne, where racing gets under way today at the third and final World Cup regatta of the season.
The Swiss venue always attracts the largest entry of the year, as international squads use it as a barometer of their crews' likely chance of success come the World Championships in Florida in two months' time.
The Skibbereen Olympians face a very large field of 18 other crews in the lightweight men's doubles, following the IOC decision earlier in the year to relegate the lightweight four from the Olympic programme, to be replaced by the women's openweight four.
But Gary and Paul O'Donovan will remain focused on their nemesis, the French double of Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou, who have beaten Ireland to the line at each of their last three encounters, including the Olympic Games in Rio. The O'Donovans took silver in the Poznan Regatta and will win the overall World Cup if they capture gold in their final on Sunday.
However, despite being one of the most consistent crews this year, the brothers' trademark final push has been unable to match their French opponents this season.
The women's single sculls sees a rematch between Old Collegians' Sanita Puspure and Monika Dukarska of Killorglin.
Olympian Puspure had the upper hand three weeks ago in Poland and will be looking to break back in to the 'A' final this weekend.
In the non-Olympic boat classes, Mark and O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll will be looking for their fourth successive gold medal of the season in the lightweight men's pair, with another straight final on Sunday.
Elsewhere, the European silver medallist Denise Walsh races the lightweight women's single, where she will be looking to improve on sixth place in Poznan.
Almost 700 competitors from 54 counties have travelled to the Rotsee regatta course this week, making it the largest field of the season which runs until Sunday.
Meanwhile, clubs at home are gearing up for the Irish Rowing Championships at the National Rowing Centre in Cork next week which has been bolstered by increased crew entries with organisers expecting 1,000 registered crews.