‘A massive step up’ will be taken by young oarsmen from Portora Boat Club, Enniskillen, who are set to demonstrate their rowing talents at Henley Royal Regatta at the start of next month, July.

However, before that it will be the turn this weekend of the Portora girls, who will race at Henley Women’s Regatta, June 19 to 21.

Racing at Henley Royal starts on Wednesday, July 1, with the finals taking place on Sunday, July 5. The boys will compete for The Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup for Junior Men’s 8s at the prestigious rowing event, held annually on the River Thames at Henley-on-Thames.

Those due to head across the water are cox: Rory Farragher, James Foster, Euan Murray, Conor Keys, Samuel Armstrong, Barney Rix, Euan Gebler, Josh Kennedy, Ryan Ballintine, Aaron Johnston; they still have to finalise the full line of the crew which will be done in coming days.

Henley Royal is being used as preparation for the forthcoming Irish Championships in Cork, where Portora’s focus is very much on retaining the Irish Junior eights Championship of Ireland which they won last year.

According to Mr. Derek Holland, Head of Rowing at Portora, “it will give us we hope two good rounds against the best schools from around the world at the toughest regatta in the world.” Portora will be racing at Henley Royal Regatta http://www.hrr.co.uk/ for the first time since the eighties, and Mr. Holland, who will be accompanied by coach Patrick Madigan, feels it is great to have a crew returning this year.

“This will be a massive step up for the Portora boys who will be representing Portora Royal School at the highest ranked club Regatta in the World, without question,” indicated Mr. Holland, adding: “Our expectations going into the event are to take each round as they come and hopefully get a good draw and get through at least two rounds against some of the biggest and most elitist schools from across the UK, Australia, Germany and the US.” People will be able to follow the boys’ progress on You tube live by subscribing to the You tube channel. http://www.hrr.co.uk/media/tv/ In reference to the support received, Mr. Holland acknowledges the Headmaster and staff of Portora Royal School; Donnelly’s Motor group for sponsoring the Mini van in order to transport the Boys to Henley Royal. He also paid tribute to the Old Portora Union who have kindly contributed to help with the trip; the parents’ support group for their efforts in fundraising, and all the generous people who have contributed to the Givey page, and finally the Boat Club President Sir Anthony Hart for his continued support of the Boat Club.

Meanwhile, this Saturday, June 20, and Sunday, June 21, the Portora girls’ 1st eight with Portora student Alice Beacom (Yr13) stroking the girls’ crew will be racing Women’s Henley Regatta. Their expectations are to make the semi-finals in the Girls’ Championship Junior 8 event.

Competing will be Cox Chloe McClean, Emma Glover, Elizabeth Clarke, Mia Jane Elliott, Alice Beacom, Lydia Mulligan, Sophie O Dolan, Orla McConville, Carrie McShea. Coaches travelling with the girls will be Jo Balcombe and Dave Ewart.

Last year, at Women’s Henley, Portora had entered two fours, one Junior 16 coxed four and one Junior 18 coxed four.

Their Junior 16 four got knocked out in the semi-final against the winners’ Henley RC. Prior to that they had a good run in 2009 making it to the final and losing out to Headington school by ¾ of length.

And as the young oarswomen prepare to compete in this major international regatta, Mr. Holland commented: “The girls have been drawn a very favourable draw and we would be very hopeful of making the semi final at least. We would also be quietly confident that they can actually make it all the way to the final of their event if they can step up to the mark.” Appreciation of the support received, as previously highlighted, by the Portora girls is also expressed by Mr. Holland.