Aiming for advancement at rowing's under-23 championships round of heats
The Plovdiv regatta course in Bulgaria gave rowers a unique perspective for this year's World Rowing Under 23 Championships. With the water level just 20cm below the road level, rowers, coaches and fans alike are all on the same level. Today more heats were held as the regatta continued into day two of competition.
In fair conditions of barely any wind and hot, dry heat in the low 30's degrees Celsius, the under-23 competitors worked towards moving into the next round of competition.
Women’s Four (BW4-) – Heats
The first of two heats had Great Britain get away quickly with the United States in hot pursuit. The US are the reigning Under 23 World Champions and just Kendall Chase has returned to the boat for 2015. The United States then took over in the lead with Canada fighting hard. Last year Canada finished with bronze, but today in the final sprint they propelled themselves into the leading position to take the sole qualifying spot for Saturday's final and with the fastest qualifying time.
Australia got away the quickest in Heat Two and by the middle of the race they had pulled away to a very handy lead with last year's silver medallists, New Zealand following in second. This meant the race looked pretty much sorted by the half way point with New Zealand needing to do something very special if they wanted to get into the one qualifying spot. But Australia was ready for any challenges and it looked as though the rest of the crews were resigned to racing in tomorrow's repechage.
Qualifiers: CAN, AUS
Men’s Coxed Four (BM4+) – Heats
Two heats of the men's coxed four required a top two finish for a direct path to the A-finals. Australia got away just behind Germany in Heat One, but soon managed to reel in the fast-starting Germans. Australia then had to contend with Turkey who overtook Germany and started after the Australians. At the line Turkey won the battle against Germany to qualify directly for the final along with Australia. Australia recorded the fastest qualifying time of 6:14.
Italy looked to be outclassing the other crews in Heat Two so that by the middle of the race they had a full boat length over New Zealand in second. But New Zealand, who were the 2014 silver medallists, were not giving up and they managed to close on Italy in the last 500m of the race. These two boats had qualified for the final.
Qualifiers: AUS, TUR, ITA, NZL
Women’s Pair (BW2-) – Heats
The role of these pairs was to finish in a top two position for a direct path to Saturday's final. In Heat One Germany had a fast start but were soon battling it out with Australia. Australia are the 2014 bronze medallists, but they have a new crew of Addy Dunkley-Smith and Katrina Werry for this year. The German-Australian battle continued to go neck-and-neck as they moved clean away from the rest of the field. Dunkley-Smith has an older brother on the senior Australian team and she must have received some sibling inspiration as Australia moved away from Germany with 500m to row. It was semantics whether they finished first or second, but Australia must have wanted to prove a point.
Last year's sliver medallists, the United States got out the fastest in Heat Two. Jessica Eiffert is back in the American boat this year with new partner Georgia Ratcliff and by the middle of the race they had worked to a half boat length lead over Great Britain. These two countries remained clearly in the two qualifying positions until the final sprint. This is when Norway decided to give it a big burst and close on Great Britain. The British held them off. In front, Eiffert and Ratcliff had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: AUS, GER, USA, GBR
Men’s Four (BM4-) – Heats
The first of two heats featured a whole bunch of nations that are known for good men's four crews. The goal here was to finish first for a direct path to the final and at the start Canada had a very small lead. By the middle of the race Canada and Romania were neck-and-neck at the head of the field. Romania finished second in 2014 and they were looking solid and in control today. Going through the third 500, Romania did a piece that put them ahead of Canada. Romania remained in the lead until the end and were the only crew to go under 6 minutes.
Lithuania were the first to show in Heat Two. This showing, however, was soon lapped up by the United States. Most of the US rowers come out of university crews and they were proving their rowing prowess today as they continued to lead through the second half of the race. Austria got ahead of Lithuania and did a big push to close the gap on the US. The push did not finish and a massive closing charge saw them nearly overtake the US. Austria will have to go to the repechage after finishing just 0.38 of a second behind the US.
Qualifiers: ROM, USA
Men’s Pair (BM2-) – Heats
The British crew of James Rudkin and Thomas George looked impressive together in Heat One. They were in the first of three heats and the aim here was to be in a top three position for a direct path to Saturday's semifinals. Romania followed in second. Romania raced in the A-final last year and are always a force to consider. France followed closely in third. A strong finish by Aicoboae and Gontaru of Romania put them ahead of Great Britain at the line with Rudkin and George qualifying from second.
The 2014 Bronze medallists, Pivac and Mackovic of Serbia raced at the head of Heat Two. This is Pivac and Mackovic's first international showing this year and they worked to stay ahead of Finland in second. In the close of the race Pivac and Mackovic remained in the lead with their only real challenge coming around about the middle of the race by Finland. No one sprinted the finish with Finland in second and Hungary qualifying from third.
Last year Australia took silver in this boat class and that crew has now moved into Australia's senior squad. But they are still young enough to compete here. Jack Hargreaves and Nicholas Wheatley of Australia raced in the World Rowing Cup III earlier this month and made the A-final. Today the made easy work of Heat Three to lead comfortably for the entire race. Germany and Austria made up the remaining qualifying position with Brazil just not having enough push to challenge for a qualifying spot. Hargreaves and Wheatley had scored the fastest qualifying time overall by a handy margin.
Qualifiers: ROU, GBR, FRA, SRB, FIN, HUN, AUS, GER, AUT
Women’s Double Sculls (BW2x) – Heats
Three heats lined up in this boat class with the top three in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals on Saturday. In Heat One New Zealand had the leaders advantage. New Zealand are the World Champions at the senior level in the double, but have not recently shown the same standard at the under-23 level. Today the two Kittis, Kitti Horvath and Kitti Bertus kept the New Zealand boat in front with Hungary back in second and Poland in third. The lead by the Kiwis meant that Hungary did not have enough to close on New Zealand as Horvath and Bertus kept the pressure on right through to the line.
Heat Two opened with Great Britain in the lead. But Italy - sixth in 2014 - were following so closely that by the middle of the race they had managed to get their nose ahead of Great Britain. Cecilia Bellati and Ludovica Serafini of Italy raced to seventh in the women's quadruple sculls at last year's World Rowing Under 23 Championships and they have continued in the double this year. The British remained in striking distance and in the final sprint the British duo of Francis and Hodgkins-Byrne got back into the lead. Italy was second and Germany qualified from third.
The Romanians are the reigning Under-23 World Champions in this boat class and they have retained Viviana-Iuliana Bejinariu and Ioana Vrinceanu again for the 2015 team. After a fast start by the Netherlands, Bejinariu and Vrineanu moved into the lead. But only just. There was still 1000m to row and the Dutch and Belarus were in striking distance. In the final sprint Romania proved they had another gear, but so did the Netherlands with Youssifou and De Jong of the Netherlands earning first place and recording the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: NZL, HUN, POL, GBR, ITA, GER, NED, ROU, BLR
Men’s Double Sculls (BM2x) – Heats
The rules for advancement here was a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals in each of the three heats. In Heat One Germany's Stephan Riemekasten and Tim Ole Naske led the way over Spain. Last year Germany finished fourth and this crew must be looking for medals for 2015. Coming into the final sprint Germany looked to be comfortably in front with Spain under pressure from France. Spain held their cool and kept their power on to remain ahead of France.
Heat Two saw five boats move away together at the start. By the middle of the race Hungary and the Netherlands had got away and were holding their own battle at the head of the field. Then Norway began to close on the two leading crews. In the final sprint Norway looked like they had had enough and as their boat speed dropped away, the Netherlands and Hungary were able to easily hold the top two spots - the Netherlands ahead of Hungary.
First to show in Heat Three was Australia's Thomas Schramko and Luke Letcher. This is a new crew for Australia from last year's seventh-placed line up. By the middle of the race, Australia still had the lead but they were under increasing pressure from Italy. Switzerland remained in striking distance of a qualifying spot as these crews moved through the second half of the race. Italy's Setfano Ciccarelli and Davide Mumolo then managed to get their boat ahead of Australia with Australia holding on. This saw Switzerland drop off the pace. At the line Ciccarelli and Mumilo had finished first with Australia qualifying from second.
Qualifiers: GER, ESP, NED, HUN, ITA, AUS
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BM4x) – Heats
This is looking to be the day of Australia as they again lead in this boat class. Australia raced in the first of three heats with the goal of being in a top three position for a direct path to the finals. Going through the middle of the race, Australia had a bit of a lead over Germany. The Germans finished third last year while Australia was not in the final. Then Belarus and Italy did a big push in the last 500m with Germany unable to hold off either of these boats. This pushed the German crew back and they will now need to go through the repechage with Australia, Italy and Belarus qualifying.
In Heat Two Canada got away quickly with New Zealand and Ukraine chasing hard. Of these crews, Ukraine won silver in 2014, while New Zealand and Canada raced in the B-final. By the middle of the race New Zealand's Parry, Hollows and the Crampton brothers had moved into first with Canada and Ukraine neck-and-neck in holding the pace. Then a big push from New Zealand enabled them to move away. Canada fought back, but could not overtake New Zealand who finished the race in the fastest overall qualifying time.
The lead was held by Poland in Heat Three with the main challenges coming first from the Czech Republic and then Slovenia. Then in the second half of the race Poland, who were B-finalists in 2014, managed to break away, leaving Slovenia and the Czech Republic to try and hold of Great Britain. They were successful and will join Poland in racing the semifinals.
Qualifiers: AUS, ITA, BLR, NZL, CAN, UKR. POL, SLO, CZE
Men's Single Sculls (BM1x) - Heats
This boat class had one of the biggest fields and so four heats lined up with the first boat in each the only sculler that would get to go directly to the semifinals on Saturday. In Heat One Great Britain's Jack Beaumont had the edge right from the start. Beaumont got away just ahead of Serbia to earn a half boat length lead going through the middle of the race. The rest of the field looked like they had decided not to press in the second half and Beaumont was able to take an easy first.
Denmark's Sverri Nielsen had a very good start in Heat Two, Nielsen has been racing in senior international races and earlier this season he finished eighth at the European Rowing Championships. By the middle of the race Nielsen had built up an open water lead and looked to have no competition for his qualifying spot. Nielsen will move directly to the semifinal.
In Heat Three Philipp Syring of Germany looked to be the fastest. Syring warmed up for this regatta by racing at World Rowing Cup II in June where he finished a very credible eighth. Going through the second 500, Syring was in the lead but was under some pressure from Ioan Prundeanu of Romania. These two boats, from their two middle lanes, challenged each other through to the line with Syring able to hold off Prundeau. Syring had managed to score the fastest qualifying time overall.
Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk of Poland was the sculler everyone had been waiting for. Wegrzycki-Szymczyk finished second in this boat class last year and he was the highest ranked boat. The tall Wegrzycki-Szymczyk got away quickly and by the middle of the race he had nearly two boat lengths lead. Sweden followed in second before Vladislav Yakovlev of Kazakhstan did a huge push to overtake Sweden and close the gap on Wegrzycki-Szymczyk. Yakovlev tried, but Wegrzycki-Szymczyk controlled the race from the front of the field, giving just enough to stay ahead.
Qualifiers: GBR, DEN,GER. POL
Women’s Single Sculls (BW1x) – Heats
The goal here was to be in a top three position in each of the three heats. A top three would earn a direct path to Saturday's semifinals. In Heat One Ieva Adomaviciute of Lithuania threw herself wholeheartedly into the race to take a very handy lead at the start and build it as the race continued. Last year this race was won by Adomaviciute's fellow country-woman, Milda Valciukaite who now remains solely on the senior team. In the second half of the race Adomaviciute did not need to keep too much pressure on to stay in front right through to the line. Elza Gulbe of Latvia crossed in second with Ekaterina Pitirimova of Russia taking third.
Germany's Julia Leiding got out just ahead of Lovisa Claesson of Sweden in Heat Two. These two boats remained neck-and-neck at the head of the field leaving Switzerland, Italy and Croatia in a virtual line behind them. The pressure between Leiding and Claesson remained to the line with Leiding crossing only just in front. Switzerland's Pascale Walker won the second battle to take third and qualify for the semifinal.
Heat Three saw Mary Ann McNulty of the United States get away the fastest. McNulty, however, had gone out too quickly and she soon slipped to the back of the field. China's Yue Zhou took over in the lead and was the first to cross.
Qualifiers: LTU, LAT, RUS, GER, SWE, SUI, CHN, NOR, UKR
Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) - Heats
The goal here was to finish in a top two position for a direct path to the finals on Saturday. In the first of two heats Italy proved their worth and finished first over Switzerland. The Italian win also was the fastest qualifying time of the two heats. Last year Italy won silver to Switzerland's bronze and these two crews will certainly be the ones to watch in the final.
Heat Two was led by France from start to finish. The French raced to eighth at last year's World Rowing Under 23 Championships and they look ready for a better result this year. Great Britain tried to keep up with the French pace and in the process earned the second qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: ITA, SUI, FRA, GBR
Lightweight Men's Quadruple Sculls (BLM4x) - Heats
There were two heats in this boat class and the aim was to finish either first or second for a direct path to the final on Saturday. Germany had the best start in Heat One and once in front managed to move away to lead from start to finish. Behind Germany, Denmark had to push their way through to the second qualifying spot. They did it in a very well-timed race that saw them in second going into the last 500m of the race.
The French are the reigning Under-23 World Champions in this boat class and they raced at the head of the field in Heat Two. Great Britain followed rather closely in second and these two crews moved away from the rest of the field. There was no pressure on the two leading crews and the race seemed all but over with 500m still to row. France and Great Britain will meet again in the final on Saturday.
Qualifiers: GER, DEN, FRA, GBR
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (BLW1x) – Heats
This boat class had attracted entries from 18 countries and they were divided into three heats with the top two boats from each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals on Friday. In Heat one Lithuania's Sonata Petrikaite took a nice lead with Greece following in second. Then in the second half of the race Anastasiia Ianina of Russia did a big push and closed on both Greece and Lithuania. Ianina continued to sprint with Greece's Amalia Tsiavou and Petrikaite having no reply. Ianina qualified from first with Petrikaite holding on to second. Ianina also recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
After an initial lead by the Czech Republic's Lucie Zabova, Japan's Chiaki Tomita did a big piece through the middle of the race that saw her not only close on Zabova, but overtake her. Zabova looked like there is nothing that she could do. Tomita was rating high and showing that the heat was not affecting her. Zabova and no reply and as she was comfortably in second and in a qualifying spot, Zabova let Tomita get away.
Germany's Samantha Nesajda jumped out at the start along with Anne Marie Schonk of the Netherlands. Schonk, looking much more in control and relaxed, moved away from Germany with Nesajda now having to keep an eye on Italy. The Italian managed to get her nose into second. This was the wake up call that Nesajda needed. The German jumped into action, got her boat back into second and moved on Schonk. Shonk crossed the line first, Nesajda followed in second. These became the two qualifying boats.
Qualifiers: RUS, LTU, JPN, CZE, NED, GER
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Heats
This boat class had 21 countries entered and they were divided into four heats with the top boat only in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One Pierre Houin of France led the way. Houin has been racing at the senior level this season and won World Rowing Cup II in June. By the middle of the race Houin had more than a boat length lead over China in second. Houin went on to extend this lead as he worked his way to the finish line to be the sole qualifier for Friday's semfinals and also record the fastest qualifying time.
Japan's Yasushi Fukui had the upper hand in Heat Two. Fukui got away quickly so that by the middle of the race he had and open water lead over Australia. By this stage no one wanted to challenge Fukui and he was given an easy time in his first place position. Fukui will now go directly to the semifinals, while the rest of the field, including Jack Kelly of Australia will return to race in the repechages.
Hector Formoso-Murias of the United States had the fastest start in Heat Three. Behind Formoso-Murias, Slovakia and Switzerland chased hard. So hard that coming through the third 500, Slovakia's Peter Zelinka took over in the lead. This was an impressive move by Zelinka who finished 14th in this boat class a year ago. In the final sprint Slovenia's Ales Jalen challenged Zelinka, but Zelinka had enough energy to hold off Jalen who ended second ahead of the United States.
Heat Four saw the Netherlands get away quickly with Italy's Francesco Pegoraro following incredibly closely. Pegoraro finished with bronze at last year's World Rowing Under 23 Championships and this makes him one of the highest ranked scullers here. By the half way point, Pegoraro had moved into the lead with Van Lierop of the Netherlands slipping back in second. Pegoraro stayed ahead right through to the line.
Qualifiers: FRA, JPN, SVK, ITA
Lightweight Men's Four (BLM4-) - Heats
This boat class had two heats with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the finals on Sunday. Last year's bronze medallists, Italy featured in Heat One and they featured strongly. But the middle of the race Italy had a very handy four second lead over Great Britain in second. The Italians remained strong to keep a handy margin over the British with Great Britain keeping an eye on the United States who sat in third. Last year's Under-23 World Champions were back in the field and not really featuring. Italy and Great Britain had earned spots in the final and also earned two days of 'rest'.
France and Germany jumped out quickly in Heat Two. Then the Germans, who finished fourth last year, pushed away from France leaving the French under attack from the Japanese. Japan was able to overtake France by keeping a good amount of pressure on , with France slipping out of the qualifying positions. But Japan was not stopping there. Japan then went after Germany and in the close of the race the Japanese crew moved into first. Japan also recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: ITA, GBR, JPN, GER
Men’s Eight (BM8+) – Heats
France and Great Britain had the fastest start in Heat One. They were racing in the first of two heats and the goal was to finish first if they wanted a direct path to the final on Sunday. Great Britain, who were sixth last year in this boat class, but are the World Champions at the senior level, now got in front. But the race was far from over as charging down the outside was Romania. Great Britain did not look like they had a response. Romania moved into the lead and into the position of qualifier.
Over the years Germany has fared well in the under-23 men's eight, but last year they finished outside of the medals in fourth. Today they did their best to head towards the medals table by jumping out very quickly in Heat Two. The United States, who has also seen success in this boat class, had other ideas. By the middle of the race the United States was in first. Germany did not give up and in a neck-and-neck sprint to the line, Germany managed to get in front of the US to earn the sole qualifying spot in the final and with the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: ROU, GER