The Irish crews were out in force at Piediluco Regatta with experienced members of the squad being highly competitive, while the younger team members gained great experience and showed their potential on the international stage. Sanita Puspure, Ireland's dominating force, topped the podium once again in the Heavyweight Single Sculls with a convincing win over her competitors.
Sanita Puspure topped her heat on the Friday, progressing into the final. Puspure came through the 1000m mark at 4:00:66 pushing away from her competition. Jovana Arsic of Serbia was trying to hold on, with Diana Dymchenko right behind her. The latter half of the course saw Puspure increase the distance between her and her competitors, winning in a time of 7:58:89, with her second 1000m faster than her opening 1000m. Dymchenko also had a faster second 1000m, enough to push past Arsic and claim silver.
Lightweights Lydia Heaphy and Cliodhna Nolan, finished 6th in the Lightweight Double Sculls event. They came through the 1000m mark in 6th and retained it to the finish. The top 5 in their race were very competitive, with the Irish double a bit off the pace. Heaphy (21) and Nolan (20) are gaining great experience in their event at senior level, competing internationally, which will stand to them when competing at U23 level.
In the Women's Pair event, Ireland entered three combinations; Aileen Crowley and Emily Hegarty, who finished 4th in Heat 1 and progressed to Final A, Aifric Keogh and Monika Dukarska who comfortably topped Heat 2 with the young Dublin combination of Eimear Lambe and Claire Feerick finishing in 5th, 12 seconds behind them. Keogh and Dukarska progressed to Final A, while Lambe and Feerick progressed to Final B.
Keogh and Dukarska finished in 5th in the final in a time of 7:33:3, 8 seconds behind the winning pair of Romania, while Crowley and Hegarty finished in 7th, in a time of 7:42:36. Lambe and Feerick, the U23 pair, finished third in the B Final.
Mixing things up, the Irish women took to the Coxless Fours event, with combinations of:
Crew 1: Eimear Lambe (S), Aileen Crowley (3), Emily Hegarty (2), Claire Feerick (Bow)
Crew 2: Monika Dukarska (S), Aifric Keogh (3), Sanita Puspure (2), Tara Hanlon (Bow)
It was brilliant to see two Irish womens fours competing on the international stage, mixing things up and pushing eachother on. The stern pair in both boats were familiar and strong combinations; Dukarska and Keogh the top finishing Irish pair, while Lambe and Crowley have had success in a pair at the Irish National Championships together in 2017, winning the Senior Pair event.
With Dukarksa and Keogh in the stern, the crew took third position in their heat behind two Romanian crews, 5 seconds behind the winner in a time of 6:47:25. The crew of Lambe, Crowley, Hegarty and Feerick finished in fourth in Heat 2, in a time of 6:49:09. Both crews progressed to Final A, ready to go head to head.
In the final, three Romanian teams came storming in, with the two Irish crews following right behind them. The winning crew finished in a time of 06:58:69. Appearing the more seasoned of the crews, with great cumulative experience in the boat and world champion Sanita Puspure in 2, it was expected they would be the top Irish boat in the event. Puspure swapped her two sculling oars for one sweep oar and put on a great display with the crew.
The crew stroked by Eimear Lambe with an average age of 21.5 years old, gave them a run for their money, finishing less than a second and a half behind them in 5th place. The performance of this crew shows great talent and potential of Irish rowing going forward. Exciting to see the two crews go head to head, which will undoubtedly improve and drive the squad as a whole.
Crew 2 - 07:05:53 4th
(1) HANLON Tara 20
(2) PUSPURE Sanita 37
(3) KEOGH Aifric 26
(4) DUKARSKA Monika 28
Crew 1 - 07:06:98 5th
1) FEERICK Claire 20
(2) HEGARTY Emily 20
(3) CROWLEY Aileen 25
(4) LAMBE Eimear 21