Last year Queens lost Phil Costen to Warwick University, one of our most invaluable and dedicated coaches of recent times, a man who was awarded Queens Sport Coach of the Year 2016. An integral member of the coaching team, he not only delivered a high level of coaching but also had a unique and passionate approach to the sport. He was also willing to put in as many hours as the rowers themselves, pushing the crew to engage with the sport and fulfil their potential.
In celebration of his efforts, Costies Composite Championships was created. 4 individuals are elected captains and go on to pick their team of 8/9 from all those taking part, ending up with a composite crew of men and women including coxes, coaches and rowers. The racing is a series of 300m sprints (Governor's Bridge to the Boathouse) in the eights.
As the event is squeezed in between Cork Regatta and Irish Championships our Saturday began like normal with a 3 x 2k session.
Once this was over and the refuelling was finished the afternoons crew selection process began. We also welcomed a number of potential Queens rowers coming up from junior level who helped make up the teams.
The captains selected were Victoria Coulter, Ewan Murray, Ciaran Foster and Rachel Cartin. With Victoria selecting Trevor McKnight as her stroke man, this became the team to beat.
The first race kicked off with Ewan vs Victoria, with Ewan’s team stroked by never-rowed-before cox Abbie Ellis-Saunders and coxed by Intermediate stroke man and future QUBBC Captain Paddy Holden, somehow crossing the line first and qualified for the final. This resulted in an upset Trevor blaming both his crew and equipment for the loss.
The next race was Rachel v Ciaran, with both crews looked well put together and evenly matched the awaiting crowd could not predict the result. Rachel’s team was led by Emily Sampson-Barnes who’s competitiveness can be as fiery as her hair and Ciaran’s team being led by George Kelly, who we all knew was rowing topless to create distraction for his rivals. We were in for some serious racing. With some interesting ‘novice’ steering from both coxes, Ciaran’s team came out on top and headed through to the final.
The losers final, a face-off between Rachel and Victoria saw another loss from Trevor McKnight's stroke seat despite being given the better equipment as per his request. The saga left for some brilliant entertainment.
The ‘A’ final was down to Ciaran and Ewan’s teams. A strategic crew swap to get Abbie back into an environment she was more used to, meant captain Ewan was leading his crew from stroke seat. With flashbacks of his Henley racing, Ewan called for a tactical false start to deter the competition. On the attention, Ewan’s crew shot off, unsettling their rivals as they were brought back for a re-start.
As the roll-call was finished again, the go was sounded and both crews left Governers Bridge for the final sprint to the finish. With 200 metres down it was neck and neck and one crew needed to make a move. Lorcan Olivers idea of a move was to catch a crab and snap the handle off his oar, but this clearly meant the equipment just wasn’t capable of his immense leg application. The crew left behind however was Ciaran’s, as the crowd cheered both boats through the finish line. A win for Ewan’s crew by half a canvas awarded them their t-shirts, trophy and the bragging rights of Costies Champions of the 2016/17 season.
The day is a perfect example of diversity and that in a sport of numbers and inches, the men and women of Queens Rowing can work harmoniously together. Thank-you to everyone who took part, came along and supported and the Belfast weather for giving us a fantastic day on the Lagan.
Yours in rowing
Abbie Ellis-Saunders and Lucy Burrows