Three Irish crews won their heats on a strong opening day at the World Rowing Championships in Sarasota, Florida.

Skibbereen RC duo Shane O'Driscoll and Mark O'Donovan were first up in the lightweight men's pair, a category they are unbeaten in this year.

They eased home in first place with a cushion of over five seconds, producing the quickest time of the day across both heats in the lightweight pair category, and securing a spot in the A final.

Soon after, their clubmate Paul O'Donovan took to the water to race in Heat 3 of the lightweight men's single sculls.

Just a top-four finish was required to progress to the quarter-finals, but O' Donovan was out to make an impression and he also finished with one of the quickest times of the day as he stormed to victory.

Denise Walsh secured Ireland's third success of the afternoon with an impressive victory in the lightweight women's single sculls. She can now looks towards the A/B semi-finals. 

The new Irish men's pair of Patrick Boomer (Belfast Rowing Club) and Fionnan McQuillan-Tolan (NUIG Boat Club) were sixth in their heat and will need to race in the repechage for another chance to progress to the semifinals.


Lightweight men's pair, Heat 1: 
1 Ireland (M O’Donovan, S O’Driscoll) 6:33.20, Britain 6:38.57, Italy 6:40.39, Hungary 07:24.30

Lightweight men's single sculls, Heat 3: 
1 Ireland (P O’Donovan) 6:54.68, 2 Brazil 7:05.75, 3 Italy 7:09.88, Thailand 7:17.50, 5 Guatemala 07:19.380

Men's pair, Heat 1: 
1 Italy 6:27.88, 2 France 6:33.03; Spain 06:39.930, South Africa 06:43.620, 5 Netherlands 06:50.270, 6 Ireland (F McQuillan-Tolan, P Boomer) 6:50.82

Lightweight women's single sculls, Heat 3: 
1 Ireland (D Walsh) 7:43.87
, 2 South Africa 7:44.38, 3 Italy 8:03.34, 4 Germany 08:03.340, 5 Tunisia 08:37.950

Watch the World Rowing Championships on RTÉ2 on Thursday 28 September (3pm), Friday 29 September (4.30pm), Saturday 30 September (4.30pm) and Sunday 1 October (3.30pm)