NUIG’s alumni boat club, Gráinne Mhaol RC, undertook its first overseas trip recently, joining hundreds of boats in a 30km row of the River Seine in Paris.
The event, known as La Traversée de Paris et Haut-de-Seine, attracted 208 boats, including crews from Germany, Portugal, Spain, Holland, Switzerland, New Zealand and America.
Crew member Jennifer Cunningham says such is the growing interest in the event, all other river traffic is closed down for four hours to facilitate this rowing extravaganza.
Gráinne Mhaol RC, which was formed two years ago by former NUIG Boat Club members who still want to enjoy the sport of rowing, entered two crews into the event, which began in the early hours of a Sunday morning.
And according to Cunningham it was an amazing sight,
“A flotilla of boats and oars bobbing on the Seine with coloured glowsticks hanging around each participants’ necks, all counting down in French dix, neuf, huit….before a horn blasted from the first of 36 spectacular bridges.”
Despite the organiser reminding all crews that it was not a race but a ‘randonnée’ or ramble, Cunningham said it was in vain.
“ The coxswains had the unenviable job of trying to navigate their crews through the plethora of rowing boats, each vying for space to flex their own oars and catch some water, all under the darkness of a French dawn.
“The route took in some of Paris’ most famous and historic bridges and some of the most well-known and iconic monuments of this city of light - Notre Dame de Paris, La Tour Eiffel and the Louvre, all still shrouded in the mist of morning.”
The first of the Gráinne Mhaol crews came in 12th place, and the second crew was the first sweep boat to finish just a few minutes later.
Cunningham says it was the first overseas trip for Gráinne Mhaol Masters, but it will not be the last.
Anyone wishing to give recreational rowing a go visit the club’s Facebook page: GrainneMhaolRecreationalRowing, or email: [email protected].