800-plus rowers start their World Rowing Cup II mission
The Lake Malta regatta course in Poznan, Poland was a picture of calm water, mild temperatures and rowing for day one of World Rowing Cup II. The racing schedule for these heats had changed as adverse weather conditions were expected later in the day. This made for a schedule of four-minute intervals in all non-para-rowing races.
Para PR1 Men’s Single Sculls (PR1 M1x) – Heats
The para-rowers opened racing at World Rowing Cup II in Poznan, Poland. These athletes got to enjoy early morning calmness on Lake Malta in the heart of Poznan. Three heats lined up for these men and Heat One had Benjamin Pritchard of Great Britain 2 come storming out to take the lead at the start and hold it through the race. Belarus’s Dzmitry Ryshekevich held on to second but never got close to Pritchard. The top three boats would qualify for the semifinals with Lithuania taking the third spot.
There was no surprise to see Paralympic Champion Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine out in the lead of Heat Two. Polianskyi won at Garivate last month showing that he’s in fine form this season. Andrew Houghton of Great Britain 1 followed in second. Polianskyi held 30 strokes per minute through the body of the race and so did Houghton. At the line Polianskyi had recorded a speedy 9:53. Houghton held on to second and Poland’s Jaroslaw Kailing was third.
Erik Horrie of Australia is the reigning World Champion and he led the way in Heat Three. Horrie and Polianskyi have been racing each other at the head of the field for years now and it was a given that they would be meeting later in this regatta. Rating 35, Horrie was out ahead of Julien Hardi of France and moving at a faster pace than Polianskyi did in the previous race. At the finish line Horrie had gone 9:19 to qualify with the fastest time overall and send a message to Polianskyi. France was second and Germany third.
Qualifiers: GBR2, BLR, LTU, UKR, GBR1, POL, AUS, FRA, GER
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and it opened with Paola Piazzolla of Italy 2 leaping out in front in Heat One. The goal here was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. Piazzolla raced in the lightweight quad last year and her change to the single was looking good. China 2 of Fang Chen came up to challenge. With 500m left to row Chen was right up with Piazzolla with Australia’s Gerogia Nesbitt right there as well. This was one three-way wild sprint to the line with Nesbitt hitting 41 strokes per minute. Piazzolla had missed out.
Ursula Grobler last raced at the 2016 Olympics in the lightweight double. She finished fourth and has decided she has unfinished business and has come back to try again for the Olympics. Grobler led the way in Heat Two and by the middle of the race had over a boat length lead. China 1 of Mengyin Cheng followed in second but could not catch Grobler who recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Three saw Germany’s Leinie Pless out in front at the start by a huge margin. This left a virtual line behind Pless between Canada, Austria and Sweden. Pless continued to pull away from the rest of the field rating 34 and leaving a huge tussle for second. Jill Moffatt of Canada managed to break away and take on Pless. This closed the gap with Pless crossing only just in first.
Qualifiers: CHN2, AUS, RSA, CHN1, GER, CAN
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
The goal here was to be in a top three position for these three heats and in Heat One it was the very experienced Peter Galambos of Hungary in the lead. In recent times Galambos has been Hungary’s top rower and he is hunting for a partner with the aim of going for Olympic qualification. Galambos crossed the line in first with New Zealand second and Norway in third.
Martino Goretti of Italy was up front in Heat Two with Australia’s Sean Murphy in hot pursuit. Croatia’s Luka Radonic followed in third and these boats looked to be dominating the qualifying positions. This did not stop Murphy of challenging for the lead and he pushed Goretti into second.
Heat Three began with Germany 2 in the lead of Florian Roller. Then Poland’s Artur Mikolajczewski took over out in front and never gave it up. Mikolajczewski crossed the line in a very swift 6:48 with Lucas Schaefer of Germany 1 overtaking his fellow countryman to take second. Roller held on to third with a last minute sprint that kept him ahead of the US.
Qualifiers: HUN, NZL, NOR, AUS, ITA, CRO, POL, GER1, GER2
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Heats
This boat class had four heats and only the first boat in each heat would get to go directly to tomorrow’s semifinals. It was New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler who led the way in Heat One. This is the New Zealander’s first international race for the 2019 season and they had nearly a boat length lead over the United States 1 by the middle of the race. The US crew of Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser continued to push and in the final sprint they closed on the Kiwis with a 41 the 42 stroke rate. At 37 New Zealand held them off.
Heat Two was opened with Poland in the lead. Then Ireland’s Claire Feerick and Eimear Lambe took over out in front with Italy 2, Poland and China 2 right on their pace. This was going to be one close fight. As Poland slipped back, Italy 2 and China 2 continued to push on the Irish. Italy 2’s crew of Alessandra Patelli and Sara Bertolasi had the best sprint. They went to 39 strokes per minute and crossed the line in first.
Norway jumped out very quickly in Heat Three. But they were soon overtaken by Xinyu Lin and Rui Ju of China 1. This duo finished fourth at World Rowing Cup I and since then they have been training in Europe. Lin and Ju had now built up a handy lead with Italy 1 back in second. The Chinese had too much speed for Italy to catch them and China 1 will go directly to the semifinals.
Heat Four had Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre of Australia 1 out in front. The Australians must have been working on their starts as Australia 2 sat in second. Then Morrison and McIntyre broke clean away from the rest of the field with an open water lead by the middle of the race. Their time was tracking at faster than the World Best Time and they continued to dominate. Canada 2 was in second but was not anywhere near striking distance of the leaders. Morrison and McIntyre were at 33 strokes per minute to cross in a time of 6:53.75, just a fraction slower than New Zealand in Heat One.
Qualifiers: NZL, ITA2, CHN1, AUS1
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats
The four heats lined up and the aim here was to finish first to qualify directly for the semifinals. Heat One was all about Serbia’s Martin Mackovic and Milos Vasic at the start. This was the crew that beat the World Champion Sinkovic brothers at World Rowing Cup I, but then they finished sixth at the European Championships. The Serbian duo continued to lead with China and Belarus 1 pushing hard. Mackovic and Vasic held on to the lead.
Australia’s Joshua Booth and Alexander Hill had a very fast start in Heat Two. Both of these athletes were in the World Champion men’s four last year and are very experienced sweep rowers. Is this now Australia’s top men’s sweep boat? Going through the middle of the race Australia had open water over France in second and Cuba in third. Rating 34 strokes per minute, Australia continued to dominate even in the final sprint and despite under-rating the other crews.
In Heat Three Turkey was fastest off the line and led through to the 500m mark. Then New Zealand 1 of Thomas Murray and Michael Brake took over out in front. Turkey tried to hold on but the Murray and Brake combination, in their second year together, continued to lead and pull away from the rest of the field. Turkey put up a great sprint, but they couldn’t catch the Kiwis.
Canada’s Kai Langerfeld and Conlin McCabe raced in Heat Four. They have loads of experience between them but this is their first season in the pair together. Bu the middle of the race Canada 1 remained ahead of the Vela Maggi brothers who have moved from Spain to Brazil. Langerfeld and McCabe crossed the line in first to qualify for the semifinal.
Of these four heats the times of three of the winners was separated by just 0.15 of a second. This bodes well for incredibly tight semifinal racing.
Qualifiers: SRB, AUS, NZL1, CAN1
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
This had four heats and the goal was to be first for a direct path to the semifinals. Racing opened with the new USA double of Cicely Madden and Genevra Stone in Heat One. This double beat the established US combination of O’Leary and Tomek at their recent US trials, giving Madden and Stone the status of USA 1. Italy 1 slotted into second behind USA 1, but they were now a distance back and Madden and Stone looked very, very much in control. If this is how Madden and Stone race their first ever international race together, it is definitely a sign of things to come for this crew.
Canada’s Gabrielle Smith and Andrea Proske led the way in Heat Two with France 2 and United States 2 in hot pursuit. By the middle of the race Smith and Proske still had the lead with the main threat now coming from O’Leary and Tomek of the United States. Despite a little wobble just before the line the Americans had outsprinted the Canadians to win the race.
Heat Three opened with Germany 1 of Leonie Menzel and Carlotta Nwajide in the lead. This new German duo won at the European Championships earlier this month and they still had the lead at the half way point. But China 1 of Shiyu Lu and Yuwei Wang were pressing hard and in the third 500, China 1 did a piece that got them ahead of the Germans. Lu and Wang continued to push hard. This duo won at World Rowing Cup I last month and they were the first to the finish line.
At the start of Heat Four it was Australia moving the fastest. The crew of Genevieve Horton and Amanda Bateman was leading the way at the 500m mark and they still had the lead at the half way point. In the meantime New Zealand’s Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe was pushing up. This duo had set the World Cup best time on this course two years ago and they are definitely a known quality. A third 500m push gave Donoghue and Loe the lead. Once in front Donoghue and Loe were able to push away from Australia. Horton and Bateman had no reply. Donoghue and Loe had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall of 6:47.
Qualifiers: USA1, USA2, CHN1, NZL1
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
A big field of six heats lined up and the goal here was to be in a top three position for a direct path to the quarterfinals plus the next fastest time from all of the heats. For all other boats this would be their only race as the progression meant no room for repechages. Heat One had Great Britain leading the way from start to finish with John Collins and Graeme Thomas in fine form. Lithuania pushed the leaders hard, but Collins and Thomas held them off.
Germany 1 of Tim Ole Naske and Stephan Krueger led the way in Heat Two. Naske and Krueger are in their first season together and they were not happy to finish outside of the medals at the European Rowing Championships. Today they looked powerful as they led the field home. The 2018 World Champions, France followed in second and in the final sprint closed on Germany. It was close at the line. Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias of France had finished just a fraction behind Germany.
Australia 1 of Hamish Playfair and Campbell Watts were in the lead of Heat Three. This is a new combination but they must be doing well in Australia to be chosen as the top boat. Italy 2 and China followed in second and third respectively and carried out a tussle of their own. China kept the pressure on as Italy slipped back with Australia remaining in the lead.
The Norway 2 crew featured the great Olaf Tufte in stroke seat. Tufte, 43, was teamed up with Jan Oscar Helvig and they had the lead in Heat Four. Canada and Poland 1 tried to hold on to Norway’s lead and coming through the third 500 Mateusz Biskup and Miroslaw Zietarski took the lead. They held it to the end with Tufte and Helvig holding on to second.
Heat Five started with New Zealand in the lead and finished with New Zealand in the lead. John Storey and Chris Harris of New Zealand are former World Champions but didn’t do as well last season. Are they back on form.? By the middle of the race New Zealand had open water leaving Cuba and Poland 2 holding second and third. These would be the qualifying crews.
Heat Six opened with the Germany 2 of Stephan Riemekasten and Hans Gruhne out in front. Switzerland’s Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli took chase and these two crews went neck-and-neck through the race. Switzerland had the better sprint and pulled off the win.
Qualifiers: GBR, LTU, ARG, GER1, FRA, AUS2, AUS1, CHN, ITA2, POL1, NOR2, CAN, NZL, POL2, CUB, SUI, GER2, BLR
Women’s Four (W4-) – Heats
Three heats lined up and the goal was a top three position for a direct path to the semifinals. Australia took the lead in Heat One. But there was nothing in it with USA2, GBR1 and IRL right on top of them. By the middle of the race it was Australia and United States 2 head-to-head with Ireland and Great Britain 1 doing their own battle for third. It was a sprint to the line with Ireland hitting 44 strokes per minute. It wasn’t enough. Ireland had missed out.
Heat Two opened with Denmark out in front. Right behind them in was a virtual line. Then Denmark managed to push away a bit as United States 1 took over in second. Now Canada was being pushed by Germany so no real third place had been established. Denmark took first with USA 1 in second. Germany grabbed the final qualifying spot by holding off Great Britain 2.
China had the lead at the start of Heat Three with Croatia in hot pursuit. Then Poland came after Croatia and the local crowd sat up to pay attention. As Poland and Croatia went heat-to-head through the middle of the race, China remained clearly out in front. But the race was far from over. New Zealand was now showing their stamina and had moved up into second with Poland now a fraction ahead of Croatia. This helped the chasing crews to close on China. The Chinese, however, looked ready and they held the lead to the line. Poland did an almighty sprint to get back into second. New Zealand qualified from third.
Qualifiers: AUS, USA2, GBR1, DEN, USA1, GER, CHN, POL, NZL
Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
This boat class had four heats and the aim of these crews was to finish first. This would give them a direct path to tomorrow’s semifinals. In Heat One Germany 2 had the lead at the start. But it was a small lead. Going through the middle of the race Germany 2 still had a slight lead with Italy now picking up their stroke rate and pushing into the lead. Germany 1 was also very much on the pace of these two leading crews. Italy, now in the lead, looked great and looked to be enjoying their high stroke rate. They took the win.
It was looking good for Poland in Heat Two. They had the lead at the start and held it through the middle of the race over Austria. The Austrians, to get into second, had overtaken Belarus and were now chasing down Poland. The Polish crew had medalled at World Rowing Cup I last month so their speed was known. Despite an ending push by the United States 1 and Austria, Poland held the leading spot.
An aggressive-looking Australian crew had the lead at the start of Heat Three. By the middle of the race this Australian crew, that is a new line up from their 2018 World Champion crew, remained in the lead. Rating 39 through the body of the race, Australia was dominating. Uzbekistan sat in second with Denmark in third. Then Great Britain 2 did a huge push and moved into second. But they were way too far off the Australians to catch up. Australia, rating 36, did not have to sprint the finish.
The fourth and final heat opened with United States 2 in the lead. This put them just ahead of Great Britain 1. These two crews challenged each other through the body of the race and both boats battled right through to the line. Great Britain 1 had the better sprint.
Qualifiers: ITA, POL, AUS, GBR1
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats
The aim here was to finish first or second for a direct path to the semifinals in these three heats. In Heat One Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig was in the lead. Lobnig is Austria’s best rower at present and she must have her eyes set on big things at her home World Championships this year. Victoria Thornley of Great Britain followed in second. Thornley finished second at the Rio Olympics in the women’s double sculls before swapping to the single. But then overtraining put her out of racing. Thornley is back and she held on to second. The two leading positions looked comfortable and New Zealand 2 in third looked too far back to challenge.
The return of Emma Twigg of New Zealand to international racing saw her take the lead at the start of Heat Two. By the middle of the race Olympic silver medallist from 2012, Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark had snatched the lead. Following closely was Olympic Champion from the quad, Annekatrin Thiele of Germany 1. Erichsen and Twigg hung on to each other through the second half of the race and both will qualify, Erichsen by just a fraction faster.
Heat Three had Kara Kohler of the United States and Canada’s Carling Zeeman neck-and-neck. Kohler had beaten Gevvie Stone (the Rio medallist) in their country’s recent trials to hold her spot in the single and she was ready to prove herself. Kohler held on to the lead but Zeeman, who is known for her awesome sprint, pushed at the end. Both will qualify for the semifinals.
Qualifiers: AUT, GBR, DEN, NZL1, USA, CAN
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) -Heats
The boat class that received the most entries, the men’s single sculls had 30 boats lining up. They were divided into six heats and the goal was to be in a top three position for a direct path to the quarterfinals. In Heat One the European Champion Oliver Zeidler of Germany was in the lead. The tall Zeidler managed to under-rate his competitors and stay in front of the field for the entire race.
The World Champion Kjetil Borch of Norway was in Heat Two and int the lead. This left Great Britain 1 of Thomas Barras to be in second. Barras was holding onto the pace of Borch who has come back from injury earlier this season. Then Borch did a third 500m push at 36 strokes per minute and got a small margin over Barras. Barras did not give up and although Borch remained in front, Barras was right with him at the finish. Borch had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Three had Cuba’s great sculler Angel Fournier Rodriguez out in front. This is Fournier’s first international race of the season and there was a lot of interest over what his 2019 speed would be like. As the rain began to fall Fournier looked comfortable as he stayed ahead of Bulgaria 1 and Italy 1.
The fourth Heat saw Poland’s star Natan Wegrzycki-Szymzyk out in front. He was being chased hard by Pilip Pavukou of Belarus. In the final sprint Pavoukou, who medalled at World Rowing Cup I, got into the lead.
Heat Five had Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis out in the lead. This put him ahead of the Netherlands 1 and World Best Time holder, Robert Manson of New Zealand 1. As the rain continued to fall Griskonis continued to hold the lead with Manson now moving into second. In the finals sprint the top three crews looked like they were doing just enough to hold their positions. There was a lot of racing to come.
It was Denmark’s Sverri Nielson out in front at the start of Heat Six. Nielson still held the lead at the half way point with Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland slotting into second and closing on the Dane. Tunisia’s Mohamed Taieb held on to third. Nielsen looked comfortable at 35 strokes per minute at the finish with Hungary coming up to challenge Taieb. Taieb got pipped at the line.
Qualifiers: GER, SWE1, AUT, NOR, GBR1, FRA1, CUB, ITA1, BUL1, BLR, POL, NED2, LTU, NZL1, NED1, DEN, SUI, HUN1.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Heats
It was all about finishing in a top two position in these four heats that made up the lightweight women’s double. At the start of Heat One the United States had the lead. This was the new combination of Michelle Sehser and Christine Cavallo racing for the United States and they still had the lead at the half way point. Then New Zealand’s Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle began to move and going through the third 500 they took the lead off the Americans. New Zealand had qualified with the fastest time overall.
Australia’s Sarah Pound and Alice Arch were the fastest out of the start in Heat Two. Going through the middle of the race Australia still had the lead with Great Britain 1 and 2 right on top of them. This was turning into a three-way race for two spots and Great Britain 1 of Eleanor Piggott and Imogen Grant had taken the lead. Great Britain 2 continued to challenge the Australians. At the line the British had gone one-two. Australia missed out by just 0.19 of a second.
China 1 of Wenyi Huang and Dandan Pan had the lead in Heat Three with Belarus close behind. China still had the lead at the half-way point over the recently crowned European Champions, Anastasiia Ianina and Alena Furman of Belarus. Then Ianina and Furman did a third 500m push and got ahead of the Chinese. Huang and Pan did not react and Belarus took their boat home in the lead.
France’s Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove were the first out of the blocks in Heat Four. But they were not going to have an easy time of it as Italy was chasing hard with South Africa very much on the pace. Italy’s Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini continued to challenge the French and were just half a second down coming into the final sprint. Then France pulled away to win convincingly.
Qualifiers: NZL, USA, GBR1, GBR2, BLR, CHN1, FRA, ITA
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Heats
This boat class had four heats lining up and the goal was to win the race for a direct path to the semifinals tomorrow. In Heat One Italy had the best pace at the start. The crew of Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta of Italy were holding off Great Britain’s Will Fletcher and Zak Lee-Green. The Italians held 37 strokes per minute through the body of the race to stay ahead of Great Britain. Then Switzerland came up to challenge the British. But with Italy still in front they would be the only qualifiers.
It was a good start for Jason Osborne and Jonathan Rommelmann of Germany in Heat Two. Osborne and Rommelmann won at the European Championships at the start of the month and this new combination for 2019 is looking good for the season. Australia’s Hamish Parry and Leon Chambers held on to second but did not seem to be able to catch the leaders. Australia went to 37 in the final sprint but Osborne and Rommelmann was able to easily hold them off.
In Heat Three it was Canada’s Patrick Keane and Maxwell Lattimer who held the lead. This kept Denmark in second with Great Britain 2 right on the pace in third. Then the British pushed into second and went after the Canadians. What could Denmark do to stay in a qualifying spot? At the line The Canadian’s held on to first.
Heat Four had Slovakia out in front at the start. Marek Reznak and Peter Zelinka of Slovakia still had the lead going through the middle of the race, but it was only a fraction ahead of the New Zealand crew of Harrison Somerville and Matthew Dunham. Switzerland 1 was also on the pace and well within striking distance of a qualifying spot. Then Somerville and Dunham began to sprint. They had found the lead and were going for the finish line rating 42. Slovakia also upped their stroke rate but could not get the lead back. New Zealand qualifies and earned the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: ITA, GER, CAN, NZL
Para PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (PR3 Mix4+) – Heats
Two heats lined up and the goal was to finish first for a direct path to the final. In Heat One the Italians opened with the lead and they still had it going through the middle of the race. But the United States was closing fast. In the third 500 the US took the lead. And that’s where they stayed until the end despite Italy giving it their all to hold on. The United States had qualified directly for the final with the fastest qualifying time overall.
There was nothing between Ukraine and France in Heat Two. Ukraine had the leading margin over France, but only by a little. Both boats were on 35 and both boats remained unrelenting. Then France did a push that got their nose ahead of Ukraine. And there they remained until the finish.
Qualifiers: USA, FRA
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
Two heats lined up with the aim of finishing first or second for a direct path to Sunday’s final. At the start of Heat One is was New Zealand, with the slightest of margins, in the lead. But the margins were very tight with Great Britain and France right with them. France then did a push and got up to New Zealand with the British right with them. Then the British crew of Lambert, Groom, Walton and Beaumont really began to move. They got into the lead and once there were unrelenting. The British had qualified for the final with New Zealand qualifying from second.
Poland dominated this boat class from 2005 to 2009. They have been rebuilding since that time and they raced in lane one of Heat Two. Poland looked really good as they led the way. They have brought into the boat Fabian Baranski who recently won the men’s double at the European Championships. The crowd was behind them as they led Germany home. With two boats to qualify, Australia was the unlucky one, finishing one second behind Germany.
Qualifiers: GBR, NZL, POL, GER
Women’s Eight (W8+) – Heats
This boat class had two heats and the rowers in this boat class had the goal of winning their heat to earn a direct path to Sunday’s final. In Heat One Germany raced out to the lead at the start before New Zealand managed to take over in the number one spot. But then Australia, who must have been biding their time, came through to be in front. Once there Australia, with James Rook in the coxswain seat, set about to increase their lead and hold on to that one qualifying spot.
The United States won back their World Champion title in 2018 after losing it for the first time in years in 2017. Today the got the lead at the start over Great Britain in Heat Two and never looked back. The British tried their best, but the Americans were back in the position they love, out in front. By the finish the US had an impressive five second lead over Great Britain and their finishing time of 6:11 was six seconds faster than Australia’s winning time from heat one.
Qualifiers: AUS, USA
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Heats
The World Champion German crew led the way in the first of two heats. With only one boat getting to go directly to the final on Sunday, Germany knew where they wanted to be today. This left the rest of the fleet to race each other. Going through the middle of the race Germany had nearly a boat length lead with Italy in second just a fraction ahead of New Zealand. The new New Zealand line up, which includes Olympic Champions Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale, then got ahead of Italy and tried to close on Germany. The Germans, looking comfortable, held them off.
A three-way race was the formula for Heat Two and as the skies began to darken and the wind pick up Great Britain took off out of the blocks and into the lead. Australia chased hard but did not have the stamina of the British. By the finish line Great Britain had a clear water lead and had recorded the fastest time overall.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR