Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Galway Regatta 2018

The 135th Galway Regatta, organised by the Galway Rowing Club, was held on Sunday 17th June on the Menlo Straight on the River Corrib. Over 180 crews representing clubs participated including Athlone, Colaiste Iognaid, CCRC, Galway, Grainne Mhaol, Shannon, St. Joseph’s College, Tribesmen,  Lady Elizabeth BC and Lagan Scullers Club will race in Masters and Junior events, many of whom were gearing up for one of the biggest domestic events of the year, Cork Regatta at the National Rowing Centre, the following weekend. The Galway Regatta took place on a 700-metre, 3-lane “sprint” course, with races run from 9am Sunday morning until after 5pm that evening.

Tom EI2GP was at the start line with Enda EI3IS on the slips and Steve EI5DD at the finish line in the Secretary's station / Control Centre. 

DMR radio was used for the entire operation and proved its worth with very clear and crisp audio even at low power levels. Another advantage of DMR is the longer battery life which was apparent as the day wore on.

The races were started in the order as listed on the race timetable. Tom EI2GP would confirm the crews in the race and would call when the race was started passing information about crews,lane changes and the umpire with the race to ensure that crew were correctly identified at the finish line.

As the crews came over the finish line, Steve EI5DD would confirm the winning crew and pass information about the crew's place in the semi final or final.  Constant updates were made during the race. 

Enda, EI3IS, was located at the slips and was able to ascertain whether crew were on the water and heading to the start line. This was particularly helpful if there were any delays so that the race could be held until the crews arrived at the start line.

If there were any crews missing for a race it was possible to get them on the water quickly after consultation with Enda, EI3IS, on the slips. Some crews may decide not to participate at the last minute so this information was also transmitted to avoid any delays.

This year there was only a light breeze which made life easier. If there were any incidents on the river it was possible to summon help over the radio system. Civil Defence were present if there were any injuries.

As a result of the good weather, the races managed to run on time although this did put pressure on crews to make it to the start line on time to avoid disqualification.

As often happens during the races, it is necessary to change the times of the races to facilitate those crews which need to participate in several races. This is quickly rectified by communication with the start line where a new order can be imposed. 

A constant flow of information has to be transmitted that messages have to be passed with minimal chit chat or delays. Tom, Steve, and Enda have been running this event for the majority of years since the 1980s so it it is well practiced. 

Detailed logs are kept and in the unlikely event of the computer crashing, it is possible to recover the information transmitted and times of races. Thankfully this has only ever happened once in our time. We were able to piece the finals together during the lunch break and transmit them to the start line.

Nowadays, the participants for the finals are written in on the race program by the radio operator as well as entered on the computer by the Secretary each time the races finish which saves a lot of time later in the day. Immediately after the the race is finished this information is transmitted to the start line. This gives us a little more time to relax in the lunch break.

Whilst this is a very busy day with non stop operation, it is one of our favourite events as the operation is flawless and the team works well together as the activity is well practiced. Each transmission is short and to the point. No radioese or irrelevant chat creeps in on this event as messages have to be short and snappy to keep the timetable on track.

DMR or Fusion work well on this event so either may be used on future operations. DMR is preferable as the battery capacity is greater due to the half duty cycle nature of DMR transmission with consequent increase of battery life - no need to carry spares!