The Celtic Challenge is the World’s Longest true rowing race where teams race from Arklow in County Wicklow, Ireland to Aberystwyth on the Welsh coast, a distance of about 90 nautical miles. Celtic and Pembrokeshire longboats take part (and occasionally other similar boats also join in) – each boat is about 24 feet (8m) long and has 4 fixed seats and one cox.
Each team doing the Celtic Challenge consists of 12 people who take it in turns to row, spending the time in between on a support boat. A small inflatable is generally used to transfer people between the support boat and the rowing boat. How often teams swap rowers and how people are utilised is all part of the tactics of the race. The teams taking part are: Women’s, Miscellaneous, Mixed and with the Men’s team leaving 2 hours later.
The race is an extreme test of endurance and generally takes between 15 and 24 hours, depending on the weather. The race usually starts in the afternoon with all teams rowing throughout the night and sometimes arriving in Aberystwyth very early in the morning! The race happens every 2 years and last took place on the first weekend of May 2017.
This year, 2019, the challenge will commence between the 3rd to the 6th of May.