Methodist College Belfast were the victors in the longest race of the Irish rowing calendar, the Portadown Marascull.
This prestigious endurance event took place over a distance of 16km (9.5 miles) along the River Bann earlier this month.
The event attracted 37 crews, including visiting rowers from as far afield as Aberdeen and Carrick-on-Shannon. The Methody senior crew included Junior internationals Patrick Jacques, Peter Gillanders and Luke Acheson, all competitors in the Home International Regatta in Cardiff this July and the youngest member, Mark Magill, who, as a bronze medallist in July, is certainly a rower to look out for in the future.
Stroked by Patrick Jacques and with Gillanders at the bow, the crew averaged 29 strokes per minute and managed not to crash on a gruelling course which included several 90° bends.
It was an exciting race in which the crew powered ahead despite recurrent gusts of wind and the strong, tough flow of the river. Matthew Gowan from Methody also participated, coxing a mens senior quad for Belfast Boat Club (BBC) and they also managed to win their category.
At 17 he is thought to be a very able cox. The Methody crew managed to beat Portadown by a convincing three minutes, posting a ground speed of 8.77m per second, which is an excellent time for a junior crew.
Though they have been competing in the Marascull since 1992, this is Methody’s first time as outright winners.
Methody’s Junior squad, stroked by Rodrigo Prodohl, with Simon Hewitt, Daniel Li and Peter Passmore, also competed in the Marascull. Prodohl, Hewiitt and Passmore had been in the junior 15 Irish championships in July and the crew had a hugely strong start.
Never tiring and blocking out the pain. The crew stayed on the tail of Carrick-on-Shannon, finally pulling through to a strong lead over them.
Success at the Portadown Marascull follows a victory at Enniskillen earlier this year, when Methody won the Craig Cup, the Under-16 Championship for Ulster Schools Rowing.
Such triumphs are in part due to a tough regime that demands two hours’ training a day including vigorous weight and endurance training, up to six days per week.
The Methody Rowing Club now boasts 112 members, including a number of competitive girls’ eights of great potential, who are trained by the Irish champion coach Alison Graham.
Altogether there are twelve coaches in the club, headed up by Mr. Enda Marron. All give freely of their time and energy to achieve these excellent results which can only stand the Methody rowers in good stead as they now look towards the Lagan Mini Head of River race, which takes place on 1st November.