Three clubs combine for the big 'Celtic Challenge'
TWELVE intrepid Wexford athletes are counting down to embarking on an epic voyage at the weekend.
The crew from the Ferrycarrig, St. Kearns and Killurin Rowing Clubs will be setting out from Arklow for Aberystwyth in Wales under their own steam.
They will be on board an old-style long boat for Saturday's 96 miles journey across the Irish Sea as part of the 'Celtic Challenge' long distance event.
Members of the crew warmed up at the Bullring in Wexford recently to draw attention to their participation in the longest rowing race in the world.
They paraded their skills on rowing machines borrowed for the day from the gymnasium at the Talbot Hotel.
Conditions on May 3 will be considerably more demanding as the daring dozen fend off the challenges of seasickness and hypothermia – as well as the inevitable blisters.
The six men and six women from Wexford will be on board a craft borrowed from a club in Donegal for the occasion.
In training since September for the big pull, they are one of eight Irish crews participating in a fleet of 30 rowing boats, most of them from the UK.
It is expected that they will need at least 21 hours to complete the epic trip, working in shifts of four rowers.
They have the support of a safety boat, with Dermot Geer of Sailing Ireland and the RNLI trio of David Maguire, Philip Hatton and Philip Byrne aboard.
'The Celtic Challenge is a big thing to take on,' says Gillian Roche, one of two members of Saltmills based St. Kearns RC taking part. 'I wanted to take on a new challenge.'
She and her ship mates have been keeping an anxious eye on the long range weather forecast, which has been predicting favourable wind.
The Wexford twelve are: chairman Kevin Fitzharris, Lorraine Foley, Orla Curtis, Darron Jordan, Deirdre Morrin, William Curtis, Sharon McGuinness, Mark Lane-Joynt, Sarah Howlin (all Ferrycarrig); Richard Roche, Gillian Roche (both St. Kearns); Chris Corley (Killurin).
The dry run in the Bull Ring raised money for RNLI, Wexford hospice home care and Good to Talk.