Belfast boat crews in grandest of starts
Queen's University's new-look £1.2m Boathouse is sure to make a splash at the 2016 University Boat Race with 18 crews from across Ireland taking to the River Lagan on Saturday, June 11.
Now in its 12th year, the top men's and women's crews from Queen's University and Trinity College, Dublin will launch from the revamped Boathouse which has been the home to Queen's Rowing Club for 65 years.
School crews from Methodist College, Portora Royal School and Royal Belfast Academical Institution, along with Bann Rowing Club, will also be competing.
The Queen's Boathouse, which is a Lagan landmark, offers a world-class facility for rowers and includes a floating pontoon as well as purpose-built storage.
Head of Queen's Sport Liz McLaughlin said: "The opening of our new Boathouse is set to add further excitement to our 12th annual University Boat Race, as the crews will now launch and finish from this point, offering fantastic viewing opportunities for spectators.
"This investment is further evidence of Queen's commitment to ensuring its students and the community continue to have access to world-class facilities.
"Our thanks go to Belfast Boat Club for allowing students to row from their facility while our Boathouse was being refurbished."
Belfast Deputy Lord Mayor Alderman Guy Spence, who launched the 2016 Boat Race, said: "Rowing on the Lagan has been part of life in Belfast for over 170 years and I am delighted that the Boat Race is continuing to strengthen this tradition."
Trinity are the reigning champions over the 2000m long course. Last year thousands of spectators lined the course to support the crews, with the towpath and bridges providing viewing points in addition to the new facility at Queen's Boathouse.
Queen's Head Rowing Coach Mick Desmond added: "The event is unique as it showcases our sport to the wider community and gains much needed profile for the universities and schools."
Spectators can enjoy a VIP enclosure at Cutters Wharf offering a superb view from the bar's riverside terrace. On offer will be lunch and live music. Tickets, costing £25, can be bought from Queen's, telephone 028 90681126 or email firstname.lastname@example.org