Black & White meets Sang et OR.

A recent visit to the South of France provided me with the opportunity to row at the wonderful Lac de la Raho in French Catalonia.  Aviron Perpignan is situated south of the city of Perpignan and about 30mins from the Spanish border where you can actually see the Pyrenees drop into the Mediterranean.  Their colours, Blood and Gold (Sang et Or) are synonymous with French Catalonia and are proudly displayed on their rowing kit.  In fact, most sports in the region use the Sang et Or as part of their club colours.

The approach to Lac de Villeneuve-de-la-Raho

I strategically planned a family holiday in the area (Saint Cyprien) which is only about 20mins drive from the lake.  I contacted the club a couple of weeks prior to arriving in Saint Cyprien via their facebook page and they were very helpful in sending on their rowing schedule.  Unlike Limerick where we have a great rowing history and have 4 clubs in the city as well as Castleconnell and UL, Aviron Perpignan is a municipal club.  So if you want to row, the decision is easy – they are the only club in town.

Pic du Canigou


After a week of unwinding, I was ready to see what this lake had to offer.  With stunning views of Pic du Canigou and near perfect conditions on the lake, I arrived at the club at about 10am.  After quickly introducing myself to the club captain and doing the necessary formalities I was brought to the Boat House…well Boat yard…..a bit like what we have at Limerick boat Club …you know, a Boat house without any roof.

Aviron Perpignan Boat Yard

With a choice of boats, I turned down the racing scull in favour for the more generous training scull.  My thought process was – better to enjoy the row in the fat scull instead of struggling to “sit up” (balance) the thin scull.  It was the correct decision as I spent the next 45mins rowing around the lake taking breaks to savour the surroundings and rub the mixture of sun cream and sweat from of my eyes.

They have a great set up at the lake and the club caters for Junior/Senior and Recreational rowing.  They also offer sessions open to the public.


The Spin was great but….


By the time I had launched the scull the mercury was hitting 26degC and it was only a little after 10am. After making the final adjustments to my footstops, I was on my way.  “Stay to the smaller part of the lake” I was instructed but I didn’t and rowed away until I had to stop and turn the boat.  Later that evening I started thinking about the difference between rowing at the lake and rowing at home on our river Shannon.

raho pics
Great Views of the Pyrenees

I really enjoyed my spin and the scenery was pretty spectacular with the majestic Pyrenees in the background.  The facilities and conditions couldn’t have been better but there was something missing…….. or just not there.?  After a few “verres du vin” I finally came to the conclusion that rowing at the lake was a bit restrictive in that you could row so far and then you must turn around or else row around in a circle.  I suppose this wouldn’t be an issue if you were a competitive junior or senior rower as they would be more focused on technique and work load.  As for recreational rowers…..well they need to be kept interested and the rowing is only one part of the experience.

1st time coxing

As I said, the setting was spectacular but I missed the variation that the Shannon offers, going through bridges, dealing with the tides, and medieval Limerick.  In Limerick we have a great stretch of water on our doorstep, as long as it stays at our doorstep.  I recently brought my son out coxing and we counted 7 bridges that he/we had to negotiate throughout the duration of the spin.  We also had different rowing conditions to contend with, varying from flat calm on the the Abbey, to white horses on the Shannon.  I suppose during a rowing spin in Limerick, the vista is constantly changing and keeps the rower interested.  Its something I see and hear from our recreational rowing every time they are on the water in Limerick.  They are constantly raving about the views of the city from a different perspective –  a seat in the boat.

Limerick rowing.jpg
Great Views of the city – Our Recreational Rowers on the Shannon

For now, I look forward to rowing on our Shannon and coaching enthusiastic people that want to learn to row and explore our city from a rowing boat with a seat that rolls up and down a slide.

I’d love to go back to Aviron Perpignan for a spin in March/April when there is still snow on Canigou and then maybe head to the slopes….now that would be a good trip..!!










Limerick Boat Club rise from the ashes at Phoenix Regatta.

This is the post excerpt.


Limerick Boat club  -Recreational Rowers- Phoenix regatta – Islandbridge Dublin

On a bright but blustery day at Islandbridge, Dublin,  Limerick Boat Club made their long awaited return to the water at Phoenix regatta.  As the distinctive black and white colours of LBC took to the water there was a realisation that we were truly back on the rowing scene.  Phoenix regatta is aimed at the recreational (Rec) rowing category which allows people get a taste of the sport of rowing.  We have been building our membership through a number of “Learn to row camps” and we are fortunate that a good percentage of the participants decided to join the club.  They have been a breath of fresh air for the club and their enthusiasm is so infectious it has rubbed off on the seasoned members.


On Saturday morning we boarded the train at Colbert station like we did so many times for past regattas.  The heads were slightly fragile due to the previous nights celebrations where the club celebrated with Tony Tynne, on his 80th birthday.  While celebrations continued into the wee hours, the rec rowers and coaches retired at a relatively respectable hour.

As the first Whats app started to “ding”, word had got out that one of our rec rowers (Eileen) was preparing Hi-energy breakfast sandwiches.  We assembled at the station where Maria “mammy” worked her magic with the automation ticket machines to assist the older (Peter/Alan) crew members.  With the Hi-energy sandwiches dished out and seats secured we quickly rocked our way up to Dublin.  Before we knew it we had arrived in Heuston station, Dublin.

You can’t be too early

Arriving at Heuston at bang on 11’oclock gave us ample time to get our strategy right, like how to kill 2½ hours.  With blue skies above we headed to the phoenix park via the criminal courts (picture opportunity) for a leisurely walk about.  As we turned in the direction of Chapelizod where the Boat clubs reside, we couldn’t resist another quick picture at the Wellington testi-monial.  (It wouldn’t be the last time we heard of testi)

Catch Finish and eventually Release


As we approached the boat clubs, the final member of the crew swiftly arrived by chauffeur at exactly the right time (even though no time was given).  Bride, using her mind reading skills.  With a full crew, we made our way to Garda Boat Club, passing by the host club Phoenix where we positioned ourselves along 2 sturdy benches that would look great on our own pier head. While we felt “very safe” at Garda boat club, the auld pot of tea/ lemon drizzle cake and brownies was enough to entice the group over to Phoenix Rowing club.  10 euro got you race registration and more importantly access to all the BBQ.

You’ll find it in the Google

Flying Start :- Attention ……Gooo

So the trick with a flying start is 1) to be ahead of the other crew at the start 2) to be positioned on the more favourable station 3) have an aggressive lightweight cox (hint Peter) to keep the crew motivated and lastly “GO” on the “A” of Attention.  I’m not exactly sure if we ticked all those boxes.

Our Recreational rowers were first up.  They were split up into 2 quads with Bride/Susanna in 1 boat and Noreen/Maria in the other. The former combination edged it by a length but the technique shown by all crew members in each boat was impressive.  The Club quad battled strongly against the eventual winners and the Novice quad performed with great composure only for the course to “run out when they were gaining with every stroke.  Its hard to believe that these crew members have only been rowing a couple of months and only formed semi formal crews in the last 3/4 weeks.  A mixed “experienced” quad took to the water  with Hannah/Alan/Peter/Cathie and were pitted against a very fancied Phoenix quad.  We lost out by length probably due to not having our own cox. wink wink.

Race Time at Phoenix Regatta

Our rec rowers did us proud in representing the club and mingled with the other crews at the club BBQ.  Phoenix R.C were great hosts and couldn’t have been more welcoming.  There was plenty of food and the salad spread was incredible.

No holding back with the smile!!

After helping ourselves to refreshments Noreen was called upon to row one last time.  She jumped at the chance and “pushed through the pain”  and Eileen to have a great row in a mixed quad.

Where’s Maria

The long stroll back in the direction of Heuston station was halted abruptly when someone asked “where’s Maria?” Mammy was lost, only to be found 2mins later, dawdling up the road after us.  We jumped into Nancy Hands Bar for some refreshments before the train journey home where the chat was all about the days racing.   After debating the races in detail and taking all the variables into consideration, we nearly convinced ourselves that we actually won a couple of races.  On boarding the train to Limerick, it wasn’t long until the group started singing.  A rendition of the boat club song was sung with great gusto with a few word changes thanks to Peter, inspired by Noreen – a totally new version that I never heard before and not sure if I want to hear it again!!….but the crew were in stitches.

City of The Tribes

While we didn’t return with medals this time, there was more than enough to suggest that this band of rec rowers are not finished and have more to give on and off the water.  The real characters of our rec rowers emerged and reflected the Boat Club spirit.  Onward and upwards to the Tribesmen regatta. Sept 2nd 2017.  For the Captain (Hannah) and Vice Captains (Peter & Alan) it was a great privilege to witness the Black & White T-shirts   Zephyrs back on the water again.


Members of the REC Rowing Crew competing at Phoenix Regatta- “CLUB” and “Novice” Quad+