Deluges couldn’t dampen spirits of 7th annual Boyne Boat Race

Dave Stanley caught this great shot of the crew entering the mouth of the Boyne.

Crew 2 pic L-R - James, Glenda, Martin, Darragh, Gerry (cox)

Crew 1 pic L-R - Stephen (cox), Joanne, Fiona, Tom, Sarah

thumbnail: Dave Stanley caught this great shot of the crew entering the mouth of the Boyne.
thumbnail: Crew 2 pic L-R - James, Glenda, Martin, Darragh, Gerry (cox)
thumbnail: Crew 1 pic L-R - Stephen (cox), Joanne, Fiona, Tom, Sarah
Drogheda Independent

The recent 7th Annual Boyne Boat Race was a roaring success, with nearly 30 crews from all over the country taking part.

It is fast becoming one of the main highlights of the coastal rowing calendar, with clubs travelling from as far afield as Wexford, Clare and Antrim. This is because of the unique race course from sea to river, but also because of Inver Colpa’s top quality organisation and hospitality.

The starting line is framed with the picturesque backdrop of Clogherhead, and finishes in the heart of Drogheda at Scotch Hall. From early morning traffic management in Clogherhead, to Michael Devine’s chicken curry by the banks of the Boyne (in the lashing rain), the event is a credit to the club.

Recalling the day, James McKevitt, Club Chairperson, and one of the men’s crew, said they ploughed on despite the deluge!

"We thought the weather couldn’t have been any worse than last year……but it was. We almost experienced four seasons in one day, with sun, wind, rain and hail,” he says with a laugh.

"The weather was good earlier in the day which was ideal for race preparation, but conditions deteriorated during the race itself, culminating with an unmerciful deluge as most of the boats were on the home straight in view of the viaduct. The rain was so heavy that a lot of the crews lost their stroke/rhythm or indeed their sense of direction! All part of the experience”.

Inver Colpa had two crews competing in an overall race entry of 30 boats. The men’s crew (Glenda, Martin, James, Darragh) won their category in 2022 but faced stiffer competition this year. Whitehead took gold, but the real race was against Castle for second place. The two crews went toe to toe over almost two hours and were neck and neck coming into the final straight, only for some clever coxing by Castle to deny Inver Colpa on the line. The club's own Gerry Hodgins called for a steward’s enquiry, but in their absence, he’ll have to settle for a call to Specsavers!

The mixed crew rowed an excellent race. It was a Boyne Boat Race debut for Tom, Fiona & Joanne and a second-time around the block for their stroke, Sarah . A gargantuan effort by both crews in horrendous conditions, doing themselves, the club and the town proud.

The coastal rowing clubs form an amazing community. It is great for everyone to see their old friends from other clubs and to also meet new ones on the day. The atmosphere before, during and after the race is palpable, with everyone pulling together to achieve a truly successful occasion. Hats off to Strangford rowing club for rescuing Dundrum rowing club who had a puncture on the motorway on the way down.

On behalf of the club, James would like to say a special word of thanks to local volunteers.

"I especially want to thank The Boyne Fisherman Rescue & Recovery Service without whom the club wouldn't be where we are now. As always they were there to support us unreservedly on the day. Also a huge thanks to Drogheda Port, the RNLI, the Irish Coastguard, the Red Cross, and all our friends and family who helped on the day - Noel & Frank had a hand in lifting almost every boat out of the water, which was probably as tough as rowing the race itself!”, he adds. “ Most importantly of all, we thank our very own Shirley Byrne & Orla O’Connor for all their organisation and coordination – they kept us on our toes, shouted at us on occasion, but made it all happen. Like the anti-climax after a big wedding, we now rest up and regather for the busy season ahead. We are already eagerly awaiting the Boyne Boat Race 2024, which based on our annual trajectory will be even bigger, better……drier and sunnier!"