"When the ninth day arrives the festivities begin with a rowing race. Four galleys participate, each piloted by one of Aeneas’s captains and manned by many eager youths. A suitable distance is marked off along the coastline and the race starts with many spectators cheering from the beaches. Gyas, piloting the ship Chimaera, leads during the first half of the race, but at the turnaround point his helmsman takes the turn too wide and his boat falls behind. Down the final stretch Sergestus takes the lead, but plows into the rocks. Cloanthus and Mnestheus race together to the finish, but Cloanthus prays to Neptune, who causes him to win. Lavish prizes are bestowed upon the competitors — even upon Sergestus, after he dislodges his ship from the rocks."
As you have guessed, this was not a report on the LIRC 1st Anniversary Regatta, held on December 10, 2011, but a brief account of an earlier coastal rowing race, described in graphic detail in Virgil's epic poem, 'The Aeneid'. Written in 19 B.C., it reminds us that rowing is one of the oldest competitive sports, with a history of more than 2000 years. In the modern era, the International Rowing Federation was founded by representatives from France, Switzerland, Belgium, Adriatica (now a part of Italy), and Italy in Turin on 25 June 1892. It is the oldest international sports federation in the Olympic movement.
The Lantau Island Rowing Club was founded on 7 December 2010 and being part of a sport with such a long racing heritage, I felt we should not allow the first year to pass without a regatta to mark the anniversary. Some of our members are relatively new to rowing, while others had rowed before, but never raced, so I was not expecting a big turnout. Marcello and I discussed the programme, expecting no more than a dozen to enter, and we decided to offer races for men and women in fours, doubles, and singles, hoping to squeeze the races into a three-hour period.
The intention was to have a lighthearted event, race the singles and doubles round a short buoyed course in the bay, expose those who had never raced to the stress of racing alongside another crew, provide a test of steering ability, involve members in helping to run the regatta and to have some fun followed by a social get-together on the clubhouse terrace at which members could get to know each other.
Awah and I laid the buoys to provide a triangular course of about 750 metres for the doubles and singles. It was planned that the fours would race over a straight course of 1000 metres, but the strong northerly wind made it too rough outside the bay and they eventually raced from the headland to the beach, a distance of about 600 metres.
To the credit of members, we had virtually a full turnout, with 22 out of 26, evenly divided between men and women and with a high percentage who wanted to row in everything. Marcello and I did the draw, trying to accommodate the wishes of members as to who they wanted to row with, but eventually we had to limit the numbers in the women's single sculls. Next time, ladies, you can all race in the singles.
As it turned out, with everyone helping to run the regatta as well as race, we finished the programme ahead of schedule and retired to the terrace for a well-earned rest and refreshments.
The draw and results are shown below. Congratulations to the winners. To everyone else, I hope you had a good time and went away determined to do better next time.
Now some observations on the results of the racing: Among the ladies, Estelle put in a stellar performance, wining the ladies singles and the doubles in partnership with her sister, Zoe.
Marcello took the men's singles, but Liam looks increasingly likely to offer strong competition in the future.
In the men's doubles, Geoff and David S. rowed to a solid victory. Both of them have many years of experience, but there may be some combinations in the club that could challenge their supremacy.
The men's fours race was won by David C., Vincent, Kush, and Liam, coxed vociferously by Geoff, while the women's fours was won by Sue, Ulrike, Grace, and Marianne, coxed by Bob.
Our thanks to Grace's husband, Liam, for his many photos. They are on the club's Facebook page together with some taken by Ulrike and a few are attached to this report.
I am glad the regatta turned out well. Next time we will be sure to have mixed doubles in the programme.
See you on the water.
— Bob Wilson, Vice-Chairman, Lantau Island Rowing Club