WHEN the Irish J18 pair sped over the winning line in the Olympic Regatta course, Munich, last weekend, the members of Bann Rowing Club hit the roof with delight.
Both athletes, sixteen-year-olds Joel Cassells and Chris Black, along with Bann head coach Seamus Reynolds, had been selected by Rowing Ireland to compete in Munich, in the premier European Junior International Regatta, which is contested between the strongest European rowing nations.
The Bann men’s results in Munich were the last stage in Rowing Ireland’s selection process to determine their team for the forthcoming Coupe de la Jeunesse International European Championship regatta.
Since the age of twelve, both Joel and Chris have rowed for Bann under Seamus’s watchful eye, and have already accumulated nine Irish Championship medals between them, at full J18 standard. This is truly remarkable as both Joel and Chris have two further years at this age category. Coach Seamus Reynolds commented that this International win in Munich was a great result for Bann and for Ireland, and that he believed both boys would continue to get even faster.
During the preliminary trials in Cork the Bann pair had achieved an astounding winning race time of 94% of the world record and this had won them their International selection. The last Bann men to row for Ireland were brothers Peter and Richard Chambers along with Steven Feeney, who are now all British Internationals and very much in the mix for Olympic Selection at London 2012.
In the Munich pairs final itself the Bann men defeated two German crews, with Slovenia and Poland just out of the medals. The split times at each 500m stage showed that the race tactics repeatedly practiced at Bann, in the Chambers Pairs Ladder, had worked perfectly at International level.
Their winning time of 7:38.52 was exceptionally fast, and their blistering finish over the last 500m in a split time of 1:52.92 had burnt off all other crews and gave them a large winning margin of over three seconds.
Bann Club Captain Keith Leighton revealed another huge first for the Bann Club with the news that earlier in the year, in response to Bann winning the Irish Championships, Yale University had approached Bann concerning ‘serious boat movers’.
After discussions with parents and careers advisors, three men from the Club, from three different local schools, Joel Cassells from Coleraine Inst, Matthew Wray from Dalriada and Chris Black from Dominican College, were all proceeding very well through the entrance process for this prestigious American Ivy League University.
As Craig Cup winners for the past two years, Bann will again be organising and hosting The Craig Cup for the Northern Ireland J16 schools championship. The Club wishes to thank their sponsors Cookstown for supporting this event.
The Bann Club will be attempting to win the Craig Cup for the third consecutive time and extend a warm welcome to everyone, to come down to the Boathouse and enjoy this regatta at 1:30pm on Saturday 21 May.