After 539 days without any racing due to Covid, seven crews from Enniskillen Royal Boat Club (ERBC) have just returned from a very successful National Schools Regatta at Eton Dorney, the venue for the 2012 Olympics rowing event.

This event saw ERBC racing against the top schools in the UK with very strict Covid restrictions in place. The Regatta was cancelled last year due to the pandemic so all competitors were delighted that the event went ahead this year albeit on a much smaller scale. One of the biggest differences this year was that spectators were not allowed so parents and supporters had to watch it on YouTube from home.

Saturday saw three crews in action with the boys winning the Hedsor Cup for the Championship Coxed Four. The crew of Lewis Nixon, Tim Murphy, Charlie Smith, Tom Blake and cox Frankie Reihill led the race from the start, covering the two kilometre distance in a time of 07.17.69 which was 5.76 seconds faster than Tideway Scullers School.

The boys were absolutely delighted with the win, Frankie, ERBC boys’ captain said: "It was great to be back racing after such a tough year with Covid. It’s great to be the first ever crew from Enniskillen to win a Championship event at National Schools.

"Lockdowns in the last year have meant that we had to find alternative ways of training such as cycling and running as we couldn’t go on the water. We would like to thank all the coaches, Derek Holland, Patrick Madigan, Barney Rix and all the support coaches, without them all ERBC would be nothing."

The Girls Championship Coxed Four crew of Nikki Kernaghan, Martha McBrien, Jenny Little, Katie Donnelly and Cox Grace Ralph qualified very comfortably for the A Final as the third fastest crew in the morning’s time trial. During the final the girls pushed hard to the line just missing out on a medal finishing in fourth position in a time of 8.20.65.

Caitlin O’Hare, Aine McCaffrey, Abigail Linton and Niamh Campbell had a great row in their time trial on Saturday morning but unfortunately they missed out on securing a place in the finals.

ERBC had four crews taking to the water in Sunday morning’s time trials with three of those crews making the B Finals.

The girls J16 4X- crew of Laura Turner, Zoe Elliott, Niamh Cassidy and Chloe Thompson were disappointed to miss out on an A final place after finishing eighth out of 30 crews in the time trial with the six fastest crews progressing. The girls went on to finish in fourth place in the B Final with a time of 07.51.63 behind Wycliffe Junior Rowing Club, Molesley Boat Club and Weybridge Rowing Club

The Boys J16 4X crew Callum Timoney, Nathan Kelly, Marcus Davis-Kunze and Kyle Abraham were 10th fastest out of 27 crews in the time trial which earned them a place in the B Final. They completed the two kilometre course in a time of 7.15.29 with Nottingham and Union Rowing Club taking the win.

Next it was the turn of the girls J16 8X+ Cristiona McCaffrey, Olivia Jordan, Clodagh O’Donnell, Rachel Cullinan, Sophie Stewart, Eve Courtney, Cathy Fallis, Keeva Corry and Cox Georgia Maxwell had a great row in the time trial securing a B Final spot where they finished thid. This was a great race for the girls, some of them can complete at this age group again next year.

Sean Tracey and Conor Richardson were unlucky not to reach a final in their Championship pairs event but they gained a lot of experience competing in the Regatta.

The Junior members of the Club will compete at Portadown Regatta, Covid restrictions permitting on Saturday, June 19. This will be the first experience of racing for many of the younger rowers at the Boat Club.

The next focus for the seniors will be Womens Henley Regatta in July and the Henley Royal Regatta and the Irish Rowing Championships in August. After the challenges of the last year it is great to see a return to competition for the rowers of ERBC. Derek Holland, Head of Rowing