The Dublin Head of the River race will take place tomorrow, starting from O’Connell Bridge at 12.15. With forty boats taking part, it’s quite the spectacle. Crews race from a 3.5km course from O’Connell Bridge to Islandbridge, including the challenge of 13 bridges in the city centre which must be safely navigated. You have to trust your cox.
I’m really looking forward to it. My favourite bit of the course is the start, which happens directly out of O’Connell Bridge. It’s a running start, which means that the boat needs to be up at race pace by the time it crosses the start line and then timing begins. In order to do this, boats start on the other side of O’Connell Bridge, in order to get a run at it. As O’Connell Bridge is as wide as it is long, it gives the effect of rowing through a tunnel. If you get get your boat set and moving, it produces an amazing sound as the curve of the archway amplifies the sound of the bubbles under the bow and when all the blades all strike out and square in unison, the arch generates an explosive bang. After three bangs, the boat has cleared the bridge, and like a bullet from a gun, the VIII is then expelled across the start line and up the river towards home.
The race begins at 12.15. We are the sixth boat off the start, so we should be underway by 12.20. So grab a bike, head down to O’Connell Bridge for midday tomorrow and get your shout on. “C’mon Trinideee!”
For readers who aren’t based in Dublin, I’ve included this handy map.
N.B. The temptation with Dublin Head is to think that the course is over after we pass the last bridge in the city centre at Heuston, however, as this map reveals there is the half the distance again to be rowed after Heuston. In fact, that’s where the race will be one or lost. Won, hopefully.