Packed race programme for regatta along the River Bann

Portadown Boat Club junior rowers during Saturday's special showcase in Rushmere Shopping Centre. This weekend marks the annual regatta on the River Bann. Pic by Phil Ray.INPT17-322
Portadown Boat Club junior rowers during Saturday's special showcase in Rushmere Shopping Centre. This weekend marks the annual regatta on the River Bann. Pic by Phil Ray.INPT17-322
  • First on the water around 8.30
  • Clubs expected from across Ireland
  • Public support welcome for annual fun

A first taste of regatta season arrived in the mind of the general public last weekend with a special rowing showcase at Rushmere Shopping Centre.

The River Bann meeting is established as a firm sporting fixture in early May and club officials opted to accept the Craigavon invitation to help raise awareness.

It is always nice to see the support we get on regatta day from the general public

Stephen Donovan

Junior members spent the day clocking up the miles and setting a challenge for shoppers to guess the final total.

The final tally of 162 kilometres proved a welcome example of what to expect when rowers take to the water tomorrow (Saturday).

A 120-race programme has been mapped out by Portadown Boat Club’s experienced committee in recognition of support from clubs across Ireland.

The opening race is planned for 8.30 and the packed programme should finish around 5 o’clock, with the lunch break considered a traditional highlight as the focus turns from the picturesque River Bann setting to the impressive clubhouse facilities.

Saturday’s fun day in Rushmere proved an indication of the growing partnership between Portadown Boat Club and the company.

“We are delighted to confirm Rushmere Shopping Centre as our main sponsors, so that support from a local firm is a big boost,” said Portadown Boat Club captain Stephen Donovan. “However, we have a great group of sponsors overall and appreciate the backing from the business community.

“It was a great day out at Rushmere, with everyone enjoying the occasion.

“It was well-received by the public and a great opportunity to raise the club’s profile.”

Donovan has spent large parts of this week alongside the team of volunteers implementing the crucial closing decisions in preparation for Saturday.

“The regatta calls for a significant time commitment from everyone but we are all looking forward to the big day,” said Donovan. “This week has been about the small details and we were putting a lick of paint on inside the clubhouse on Sunday.

“Everyone puts so much into getting the place ready and, certainly, there are demands on my role as captain but I enjoy every aspect.

“I am now in my fifth year as captain and love the variety of responsibilities.

“We have rowers coming from all over the place on Saturday and that spread helps add to the field’s quality.

“It is that time of year already and my personal thanks go to those who have put so much in.

“It is always nice to see the support we get on regatta day from the general public.

“The August summer school is a great recruitment opportunity but, first and foremost, the focus will be on the regatta this weekend.

“It should be another great meeting.”

Anyone interested in the August summer school can contact the Twitter account or Facebook page.