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Tuesday January 17 2017 

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About Us

About Our Association

The Coastal Rowing Association is the Respresentative Association for the Sport of Coastal Rowing in South and East Cork.  The Association covers a large area of County Cork and has eight affiliated clubs namely:

  •      Kinsale and Doc
  •      Crosshaven
  •      Whitegate
  •       Rushbrooke
  •       Cobh Fishermans
  •       Passage West
  •       Blackrock
  •       East Ferry    

As an Association we are affiliated to the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation who are the governing body of Coastal Rowing in Ireland. We organise regattas both Championships and fundays throughout the summer months at various location throughout our division.  We meet monthly with the delegates from all our clubs to discuss how to promote and develop our sport.  Each year we also organise a charity row around Cobh Island in Cork Harbour. You can find our more about this event in the Great Island Row Section of the website.



Up to the late 1980's clubs from both East and West Cork competed at the SWCYRA (South West Coast Yawl Rowing Association) championships. Initially the clubs that would have competed from East Cork were Passage West Cobh Fishermans and Cobh Commodore. At the All Ireland Championshiops which were helt in Valenita in Co Kerry in 1991 twenty two crews lined up for the senior mens race, with the Cobh Fishemen Crew taking home gold and the privilege of hosting the All Ireland Championships in 1991.  This was to be the begginning of a significant increase in the interest in the sport in East Cork.  As more and more clubs started to form and re-form, a decision was made to split the association into two distinct division with the Bandon River being used as the natural dividing point.  Club to the East of the Bandon would become the Irish Yawl Rowing Association Eastern Division and club to the West of the Bandon would become the Irish Yawl Rowing Association Western Division.

Starting in 1992 the club in the west operated under the banner of the South West Coast Yawl Rowing Association and the clubs in the East operated under the Coastal Rowing Association, and so the CRA in in its current format was born.

The initial clubs in the CRA were Passage West, Cobh Commodore, Cobh Fishermans, Kinsale and Dock, Crosshaven, Rushbrooke, and Whitegate.  In 2005 / 2006 Blackrock Rowing CLub was reformed in Cork City and following a near 30 year break they were back on the water and they became a member club of the CRA.  In 2012 the CRA welcomed in East Ferry based outside Midleton in East Cork.  At present we have eight of the nine clubs competing annually with just Cobh Commodore having ceased to operate in the late 1990's.

In 1992 the innaugural Cork County Coastal Rowing Championships was held where the top crews from boath associations compete to seek the title of Cork County Champions.  This event alternates between the two associations each year.  In 2001 both associations also competed at the Irish Naval Base in Haulbowline in a commerative regatta for the Irish Naval Service.  This was a very special occasion and we were delighted to have been invited to be part of it.  To mark the occasion a very special commerative medal was commissioned on a once off basis.  See image below.




About the Sport of Coastal Rowing

The sport of Coastal Rowing can be traced as far back as the old cobblers and fishermen of the mid-Nineteenth Century. Various boats and crews of cobblers are recorded as racing out to meet the incoming schooners, etc. with the winners receiving the valuable piloting contract. There was also the benefit of racing to the best fishing grounds. This was a means of survival and of earning a living, but in their spare time and during holidays these coastal crews raced for sport.

The development of competitive rowing at regattas was not dissimilar to the development of competitive sailing. Seventy years ago, heavy punts, practical and sturdy but not exactly streamlined, were snatched from their mundane existence for one exciting day a year.

There was a four 80oar race which sometimes lacked a serious competitive edge as the members of the four of five teams who had worked hard enough all week saw little point in over exerting themselves. Whoever won, by default rather than heroic effort, would share the prize money with all the other competitors and everyone would drink a toast to manly endeavor with the prize money.

The six-oar gig race was the most important race of the regatta. This was the only race which was rowed by purpose built racing gigs. The gigs, along with their crews and supporters would arrive by lorry. Teams from Ardralla, Myross, Reengaroga, Glandore and Baltimore took part. The famous Crowley brothers (Pictured above on the left) rowed for Ardralla and were great oarsmen, winning many races. One of these gigs is still in the loft in Skinners yard. She was rowed by the Myross team in the All-Ireland at Valentia. She is about 28 feet long, very graceful and finely balanced. In the gig race each team had their own buoy so the mayhem that ensued at the turn in the other races was absent.

This was much more serious stuff and the coastal rowing competitions of today can trace their origins back to those gig races of the thirties. The six oar gig race was the most high profile race in the rowing competition and Dan Griffen remembers crowds of spectators "roaring like horses" lining the fields from the Pier in Schull to the Doghole.

Throughout the Twentieth Century the sport has waxed and waned in popularity, but consistently enjoyed a loyal following. For many it has been the only sport available through geographical restrictions of living in rural coast communities. In the last twenty years coastal rowing has seen a huge resurgence in popularity.

In the 1988 two neighbouring rowing associations, namely The Irish Yawl Rowing Association (Co Cork) and The South and Mid Kerry Rowing Board attempted to revive interest by running a regatta between the two associations (loosely called an "All Ireland"). It was from this small beginning that the present organisation evolved and the Irish Coastal Rowing Federation as it stands today represents around fifty clubs on the island of Ireland, with another ten clubs attempting to re-form and join the Federation.

In 2002 the new one design boat was introduced and rowed at the All-Ireland Regatta in Carnlough in County Antrim.


Cork's Rowing Boats

Traditionally the cork coastal Rowing clubs have rowers the 21' Cork Yawl.  These are wooden built boats which in the past would have been used by the Salmon fishermen in the Harbour.  In 2002 the ICRF one Design Boat was introduiced throughout Ireland.