Ocean to City – An Rás Mór is Ireland’s very own long-distance rowing race attracting hundreds of participants annually. Started in 2005, it has grown from its origin as a race for traditional fixed-seat boats into an all-inclusive rowing and paddling event, embracing everything from traditional wooden working boats, currachs, skiffs, gigs and longboats to contemporary ocean racing shells, kayaks, canoes and even stand-up paddle boards.
With thousands of spectators each year, the race is a real flagship event for Cork Harbour; one of the largest natural harbours in the world. An Rás Mór (”The Big Race”) appeals to a wide range of rowers and paddlers from across Ireland and beyond. It includes races over four course distances: the 28km Ocean Course, 22km City Course, 13km Monkstown Course and the 4km Youth Course – all finishing to a warm welcome in Cork’s city centre.
Modelled on London’s Great River Race, start times are staggered with the slowest boat types leaving first, and the fastest boat types leaving last. Celebrating both traditional boats and the more competitive contemporary craft, An Rás Mór is much more than just a race… it is a test of endurance, a personal challenge and a shared effort.
To provide enjoyable racing for both traditional boats and the more competitive contemporary craft, Ocean to City is divided into a Main Race and a number of Sub-Races:
Main Race: Traditional or fixed-seat rowing boats
The main race is run on a handicap pursuit basis, with the slowest boat types leaving first and the fastest boat types leaving last. Participants within the main race are eligible for main race prizes (i.e. 1st Ocean Prize, 1st Women’s Prize, 1st ICRF, etc), awarded to the first to cross the finish line. The main race is run over three course distances, all all finishing to a warm welcome in Cork’s city centre:
- Ocean Course: 15 nm | 28 km
The complete Rás Mór starts at Crosshaven and goes out to the mouth of the harbour at Roches Point, turns back to Cobh, then Monkstown and through Lough Mahon into Cork City.
- City Course: 12 nm | 22 km
The City Course covers a slightly shorter route from Crosshaven to Cork City, skipping over the stretch to Roches Point.
- Monkstown Course: 7 nm | 13 km
Those who are interested in doing the half-marathon option, can start at Monkstown join the fleet of boats as they pass by.
Sub-Races: Kayaks, canoes, SUPs, dragon boats, sliding-seat and outrigger boats
Kayaks, canoes, SUPs, dragon boats, sliding-seat and outrigger boats have their own dedicated sub-races within the race. These sub-races are not run on a handicap pursuit basis and participants compete against others within the same boat-type category for the fastest time. Sub-races have their own dedicated category prizes (e.g. 1st City Kayak, 1st Woman Kayak, 1st Dragon Boat, etc.) and are not eligible for main race prizes. Although a range of different start times can be given, this practice is for safety purposes only and aims to keep the fleet of boats together as much as possible.
- Kayak Race: Paddlers have their own dedicated sub-race within An Rás Mór, with dedicated prizes and guidelines. The Kayak Race can be done over two distances: the 12 nm/22.2 km City Course or the 7 nm/13km Monkstown Course.
- Dragon Boat Race: Each year Meitheal Mara’s four dragon boats are available to hire for the race. Contact us for info.
- Sliding-seat Race: Single, double or quad sliding-seat boats with inbuilt buoyancy which are appropriate for coastal rowing also make up a sub-race in Ocean to City. If you are unsure whether your boat would be suitable, please contact us in advance.
- SUP Race: Piloted in 2016, the Ocean to City now also includes a SUP class which starts from Monkstown. NOTE: Participation is restricted to experienced stand up paddle boarders and by invitation only. Please contact the Ocean to City office in advance of registering.
- Youth Race: The Meitheal Mara Youth Race starts from Blackrock Harbour, covering a 2 nm/4 km stretch into the city. Youths typically participate in our Bádoireacht programme before participating. Contact Clare Hayden for info.