Boat Clubs open season at Erne Fours Head of the River

DUBC and DULBC saw success in Enniskillen at the first race of the 2023/24 season

Dublin University Boat Club (DUBC) and Dublin University Ladies Boat Club (DULBC) travelled to Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh on 11 November to participate in the third annual Erne Fours Head of the River. Erne Fours, modelled after the UK’s Fours Head, sees a variety of four-athlete boats compete for both category wins, and the title of overall fastest mens’ and womens’ crew. 

In line with the time trial format common to the head racing season of the northern hemisphere, Erne Fours sees crews released at fifteen to thirty second intervals from the top of the Killyhevlin Straight, marking the commencement of the notoriously challenging (twists, bends, bridges, and stream galore) three-and-a-half mile course. Correspondingly, catching up with or passing a crew released ahead of yours is an mid-race indicator of success, while the inverse – having your boat be passed out – signals a poorer performance. It is more common, however, for relatively few passings-out to occur; the crews are released in the order that, on paper, they are expected to finish in.

With the Men’s Head being held first at 11am, DUBC opened proceedings for the Trinity encampment in Enniskillen. With three entries in the Intermediate 4+ category, DUBC aimed to defend their win in the same from the 2022 head, and to ensure strong performances across their entries. Success was taken in this respect, with DUBC A (Ethan Coplan, Cormac Feely, Ben Reid, Anrijs Lorencs & James O’Brien (cox)) claiming the category win from five entries in a respectable time of 18:33.9. DUBC B (George Roberts, Alfie Hales (Capt.), Ross McAuley, Andrea Grasselli & Caroline Welch (cox)) took third in 18:47.9, while DUBC C (Luke Gilderdale, Morgan Brennan, Sam Walker, Pearse Mooney & Maeve Hannan (cox)) came fourth in 18:56.7. DUBC A’s time, however, was only fourteenth overall, compared to last year’s win in the same category which was fourth fastest of the day.

The culmination of the 2022/23 season saw a number of DUBC’s athletes depart to cross the river and join Islandbridge rivals Commercial Rowing Club. Former Trinity athletes old and new representing Commercial saw some impressive performances, including a win in the Senior 4x- (also taking home the John Mills Cup for fastest men’s time), and second and third place in the Senior 4-. 

The Women’s Head followed at 2pm, and DULBC fielded entries in the Senior 4+, Intermediate 4+, and Club 1 4+ categories. With no other entries in their category, the Club 1 4+ (Sophia Mulvihill (Capt.)), Annie Moore, Sadhbh Merriman, Amélie Ní Roibeáird & James O’Brien (cox)) took home the pennant with a time of 21:46.8, while the Intermediate 4+ (Sarah Tavey, Rachel Alexander, Eliza Barrett-Cotter, Emma Moloney & Lily Hassett (cox)) came third in 21:19.3 after St. Michael’s RC and fellow Islandbridge-based Neptune RC. Incidentally, the Neptune boat was composed mainly of DULBC alumnae, with Laura Brown, Lily O’Keeffe (Captain 2019/20), Miriam Kelly (Captain 2018/19) & Hannah Devitt (cox), and one Orla O’Loughlin in the 2 seat, taking the category win in 20:22.3.

The performance of DULBC’s Senior 4+ was the major success story of the day for Trinity, however, with the crew placing third overall in the Women’s Head as the fastest senior, fastest four-oared, and fastest coxed boat. Comprised of Addy Telzrow, Jen Forde, María Mezquita García-Poggio, Imogen Cooney & Maeve Hannan (cox), their time of 19:41 outstripped both Senior 4- entries from University of Galway BC and was less than 10 seconds off the fastest women’s time of 19:31.8 from Enniskillen Royal BC’s J18A 4x-. DULBC’s entry in the category is a close replica of last season’s Intermediate 4+ crew (Telzrow, Forde, and Mezquita García-Poggio raced together almost all season), a side which won the Academic 4+ at London Metropolitan Regatta last June.

DUBC and DULBC are expected to next race in early March, making the journey to Enniskillen once again to compete in Erne Eights Head of the River. Eights Head will officially close out the winter season before the Colours Boat Race, a historic battle between the respective Senior and Novice VIIIs from Trinity and University College Dublin, is held in mid-March. Last year’s clash saw UCD take a tight win in the Gannon Cup and a comfortable victory in Corcoran Cup for Senior VIIIs, while Trinity saw successes in the Dan Quinn Shield and Sally Moorhead Trophy for the Novice VIIIs. Following Colours, the University Championships in April will kick off regatta season in earnest, culminating in July’s National Championships where crews from the length and breadth of Ireland will battle it out to take home a coveted “pot” as national champions.

If interested in learning more about the Clubs, check out @duboatclub and @dulbc_rowing on Instagram. Contact [email protected] and [email protected] for further information.

A version of this article published in print on 28 November incorrectly reported Commercial RC as the winner of the Senior 4+ category, rather than University of Galway BC. Trinity News apologises for this error which has been amended here.

Jane Prendergast

Jane Prendergast is Co-Sports Editor of Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister student of Law.