A record 109 crews have entered the 62nd Erne Head of the River which takes place on Saturday.

This is Ireland's premier long distance rowing event which was started in 1957 by Portora Boat club to prepare Irish crews for the world famous Head of the River race in London - the distance is an exact replica 4.25 miles in 'old money'.

The start is one mile above Lisgoole Abbey and finishes at the boathouse and the race has grown in recent years to be the biggest event of it's kind in Ireland.

The aforementioned record number of crews have entered this year from the four provinces - all eager to test if their winter training has borne fruit.

Six senior crews are vying for the coveted winner's pennant - Trinity who were last year's winners have to hold off Irish champions Commercial from Dublin and UCD who will push them hard according to recent indications of form.

Enniskillen Royal Boat Club has a Junior 18 crew who are untested but contain four members of last year's successful crew led by their new stroke Michael Stewart - they have found a strong rhythm in recent weeks and should give six other crews from Belfast, Limerick ,Athlone and Galway plenty to think about.

There is an interesting composite entry of Enniskillen and Tideway Scullers from London. Over 18-year-old athletes Timoney, Kennedy and club captain McDade join with recent alumnus Lloyd Seaman in a very fast quadruple scull.

The Junior Girls crew is a more established unit with Irish champions on board and, stroked by Maeve Donnelly with Zoe McCutcheon in the engine room, thye should have enough to subdue St Michael's from Limerick, Bann and Dublin Commercial.

There is also an Enniskillen Royal Girls junior 16 eight who have shown some grit and form in training in recent weeks and the boys junior 15 eight, just formed last week, actually look to have a chance despite their recent formation. Tim Murphy drives this unit on.

These crews are the future of the club and will be keen to ensure the tradition will be carried on. The exciting prospect of seeing younger rowers, many of whom who only started in September 2018,will bring the crowds out on the day.

The boys and girls octuple crews where each rower has two blades are particularly fascinating to watch.

The biggest entry is in Girls Junior 16 quad sculls where 10 are entered from all over Ireland. one of the three local entries here may be dark horses.To finish the demanding course is an achievement in itself.

It is pleasing to note that two past rowers , Miriam Kelly and Áine McCreesh , are rowing for Trinity and UCD respectively- no predictions available for this battle! Áine's father, Colm, will be rowing for Portora Boat club Masters eight who have really come on this season under the tutelage of Simon Dickie. There is a big entry of nine in this event.

The Portora women's masters eight are on a maiden voyage - it is their first real race and thye should acquit themselves well with Valerie Crawford at stroke.

The viewing points are many- Killyhevlin Hotel jetty, Weirs Bridge where the recent removal of trees allows a fine view from the Dublin Road footpath, West Bridge, Enniskillen Castle and the Round O as well as the finish at the boathouse.

The race starts at 2pm and leading crews will take a maximum of 20 minutes to finish the course but there will still be crews coming through at 2.45pm. This event has been embraced by the town of Enniskillen for many years and the crews would welcome your vociferous support along the testing course.

Many local businesses have rallied round the cause and of course Waterways Ireland have backed and will monitor the racecourse. The volunteer input is outstanding as is the PSNI and RNLI back-up.