LAST weekend would have seen the annual running of the Ocean to City An Ras Mor event – part of the Cork Harbour Festival in Ireland.
The event, which is run around and outside Cork Harbour (one of the biggest natural harbours in the world and last departure point of the Titanic from Cobh), usually attracts more than 600 entries for 28km course. Whilst for some competitors the only goal is to complete the course, for others it is a full-on race!
As with all rowing this year, the actual competition had to be cancelled and replaced with a virtual online race on rowing machines, designed to keep the keener competitors sharp and interested.
The growth of online virtual racing attracts entries to events from across the world which was replicated at the Ocean to City An Ras Mor event as large numbers of crews in a number of different events from relay teams to individual races competed across a range of age groups.
The virtual event was raced against a specific time target of two hours, 23 minutes and 39 seconds – representing last year’s winning time for a traditional Irish four oared coxed sweep boat.
Stratford Boat Club were represented by masters vice-captain Tom Doherty in the individual ‘men’s masters 40 and above’ singles event.
All entries had the chance to meet their opposition via a co-ordinated Zoom starting ceremony and then got down to the business of more than two hours’ rowing on a static ergo machine.
Doherty said: “With the importance of pacing being essential over such a long race, a steady start was critical to establish a good rhythm and not emptying the energy tank too early!
“Despite a few showers, the non-stop race time was completed without incident but with some discomfort on a distance of 33,812m (33.8km), just shy of the 34,000m mark.
“Being almost 60 years old and up against competitors up to 20 years younger and significantly fitter, it was never going to be a winning time as the results show, but was in excess of the 32,000m target and proved enough for a fifth-placed finish out of 20 means veteran entries.”
The use of virtual racing on rowing machines is proving very popular and may well be a side of the sport which persists past the reopening of actual on-water racing.