Weekend regatta on River Bann offers rowers the perfect club showcase

Matthew McAdam (centre) is set for his debut regatta as Portadown Boat Club captain. Also included, from left, are Alice Boyd, Niamh Clarke, Adrian Farrell (main sponsors, The Meadows Shopping Centre), Niall Irwin (club president).INPT16-203
Matthew McAdam (centre) is set for his debut regatta as Portadown Boat Club captain. Also included, from left, are Alice Boyd, Niamh Clarke, Adrian Farrell (main sponsors, The Meadows Shopping Centre), Niall Irwin (club president).INPT16-203

Planning and perspiration from a dedicated group of Portadown Boat Club volunteers will culminate tomorrow (Saturday) in the annual regatta on the River Bann.

The packed programme is set to feature 130 races from a double-figure tally of visiting clubs.

Organisers have compiled a race list which will run from 8 o’clock to after 6 o’clock for a day designed to strengthen links with club colleagues, form fresh friendships and showcase the positives of the sport to the wider public.

Favourable weather conditions traditionally result in public support along the banks of the River Bann and club captain Matthew McAdam is anticipating similar scenes this weekend.

“The weather is looking good and that can make a big difference,” said McAdam. “It is always wonderful to see the public turn out and support the club, plus it presents a chance to open the doors and show people what we can offer.

“We have a strong youth programme and an adult rowing class is scheduled to start in May, so there is plenty going on around the place.

“Of course, the regatta is the main event in our calendar and we love to see such excellent backing from visiting clubs.

“We were down in Limerick last weekend for a dual meeting that covered a club regatta and schools’ championship date.

“It was really good and other trips have been planned after our own regatta.”

McAdam’s connection to the River Bann clubhouse covers around two decades but this weekend will mark a first regatta as captain.

“I have been at Portadown from the age of 12 years old and can look back on some great memories of the regatta,” he said. “It is an honour to have this role and I am grateful to more experienced people like Niall Irwin, Kevin McDonagh and Stephen Donovan for helping me settle.

“It is only when you see the regatta from this seat you realise the full commitment required to make it work so well.

“We have crews coming from places like Belfast, Dublin, Carrick-on-Shannon, Coleraine Grammar, City of Derry and Enniskillen’s Portora, so it is an interesting entry list.”

McAdam considers the strong youth section at Portadown of particular cause for celebration ahead of the weekend fun.

“Novice crews seem to enjoy our regatta and it is great to think rowers will get out on the water in a competitive race in April having maybe only joined late last year,” he said. “So much good work is going on around the club and it is brilliant to see increased support from parents.

“Sponsorship backing is vital, with The Meadows Shopping Centre on board as main backers this year.”