The semifinals started at 10:55am CET under calm conditions with a small cross-wind that barely registered for much of the racing. Sunny skies with temperatures reaching into the high 20s degrees Celsius made for hot racing conditions for the rowers.

Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Semifinals

Imogen Great of Great Britain decided to make her mark early on in Semifinal One with a very quick start. Grant recorded the fastest qualifying time two days ago in the heats and the medical student was still in the lead coming into the middle of the race. Australia’s Wallis Russell was chasing hard with New Zealand and Greece very much on the pace. Grant raced earlier this season at one World Rowing Cup and finished a very credible fourth. New Zealand’s Courtney Rennie was the only boat in this semi that had raced last year in this boat class at the under-23s.

Coming through the third 500m Grant remained in the lead with Rennie doing a big push to try and overtake Russell. Greece had slipped back and would need to do a lot to get into a qualifying spot. Grant was able to hold 32 in the final sprint and remained easily in front with Russell at 34 and Rennie at 33. They were the qualifiers.

First to show in Semifinal Two was Switzerland’s Sofia Meakin. Meakin had come directly to this semi from the heats two days ago and in the second 500, Meakin was put under pressure by Vera Spanke of Germany. Spanke had recorded the second fastest qualifying time in the heats and she rowed in the lightweight quad at last year’s under-23 championships, winning a bronze medal. Spanke then got into the lead with Clara Guerra of Italy moving up to take on Meakin. Guerra raced at World Rowing Cup II in June and scored a medal at that regatta.

Coming into the final sprint the top three boats were under no threat of keeping their qualifying spots and Guerra looked happy to remain in third. Meakin decided to push it which forced Spanke to keep the power on.

Qualifiers: GBR, AUS, NZL, GER, SUI, ITA

Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Semifinals

It was surprising to see the under-23 champion, Uncas Batista of Brazil at the back of the field in Semifinal One. Would this last? Instead it was Tunisia’s Mohamed Taieb that was leading the way. Would this last? Then Australia’s Sean Murphy took over in the lead. Murphy raced earlier in the month at World Rowing Cup III and showed his boat speed then. Now Batista started to move and in the third 500 Batista had moved through the field and into second behind Murphy. Murphy was ready and had to be. Four boats were in the mix to qualify with Austria also charging for the line along with Greece. It was oh so close. Murphy went to 42. Greece’s Ninos Nikolaidis had missed out by a fraction of a second and Murphy had finished just a fraction ahead of Batista.

Semifinal Two had Hugo Beurey of France in the lead at the start. Beurey recorded the fastest time in the heats and he was definitely one to watch. By the first 500m marker Beurey had a full boat length lead over Germany’s Jonas Ningelgen who held second place. Then Italy’s Dimitri Morselli really put the pressure down and moved int second and closed on Beurey. There was still half the race to go and it looked like Morselli could not hold his sprint with South Africa’s Nicholas Oberholzer and Obbe Durk Tibben of the Netherlands going neck-and-neck and moving on France.

Beurey was ready. Italy had been dropped. The boats did not sprint the last 50m. Beurey, Tibben and Oberholzer are going to the final.

Qualifiers: AUS, BRA, AUT, FRA, NED, RSA

Women’s Single Sculls (BW1x) – Semifinals

The start of Semifinal One had New Zealand’s Samantha Voss in the lead, but only a little over Norway’s Thea Helseth. Helseth had to go through the repechage to get to this semifinal. Germany was also very much on the pace with Lisa Gutfleisch being one of the more experienced athletes. Then Desislava Georgieva of Bulgaria did a piece and overtook Gutfleisch and getting into the qualifying spot. Helseth finished fifth last year in this boat class and she continued to hold on to Voss.

Coming through the third 500 Voss kept the pressure on and got a small advantage. But now Helseth and Georgieva were having a full-on tussle. This tussle brought them closer to Voss with these three crews now breaking clean away from the rest of the field. Would they sprint or be happy just to qualify? Ratings were around 31, so no big sprint was happening with Voss enjoying the ‘Kiwi’ chant from the large group of New Zealand supporters at the finish line.

Emily Kallfelz of the United States has been looking great through this regatta and today she led the way in Semifinal Two. Kallfelz recorded the fastest qualifying time from the heats and today Kallfelz had a handy half boat lead with 500m rowed. Kallfelz finished third in this boat class at last year’s under-23 championships and she must be a favourite to medal again this year. Great Britain’s Ruth Siddorn followed in second with Ukraine’s Kateryna Dudchenko on the pace. Dudchenko has moved across from lightweight rowing and looks to be doing well in this boat class.

Now Italy’s Elisa Mondelli started to move up and she had worked into third coming into the final sprint. Dudchenko was under threat of qualifying with Milena Viana of Brazil also a threat. Dudchenko went to 34 as Latvia’s Jelsaveta Simaceva now charged. Kallfelz was far enough in front that she didn’t need to sprint with Siddorn at 35 and Dudchenko at 34. Then Dudchenko stopped rowing. She was completely spent and drifted over the finish line.

Qualifiers: NZL, NOR, BUL, USA, GBR, LAT

Men’s Single Sculls (BM1x) – Semifinals

The Under-23 Champion from 2017 made his intentions very clear. Trevor Jones of Canada came out in front at the start of Semifinal One and by the middle of the race he was way out in front leaving the very experienced Boris Yotov of Bulgaria to have to sit in second. Jones held a 39 stroke rate for a good part of the first half of the race to create this lead. Brazil’s Lucas Ferreira sat in third and it would take a lot for Sam Marsh of Australia in fourth place to get into a qualifying spot.

Jones had now dropped his stroke rate down and he came through to the finish rating a very calm 31 to win the race. Yotov went to 32 and closed the gap with Ferreria doing enough to hold his position.

Marc Weber of Germany took the lead in Semifinal Two with Ben Davison of the United States and Ireland’s Ronan Byrne very much on the pace. Then Davison did a push. One lane over Byrne matched the push and these two scullers went head-to-head through the middle of the race. Byrne got the better of the battle and was now in the lead. Byrne has been rowing since he was 12 and he was giving this race his all. Weber was still up with the leaders with three countries now breaking away from the rest of the field.

Ireland, the United States and Germany continued to take each other on even though they were all comfortably in qualifying spots. Pride must have been at stake. Davison, who raced in the double at last year’s World Rowing Championships, then got the edge with Byrne taking second and Weber holding on to third.

Qualifiers: CAN, BUL, BRA, USA, IRL, GER

Women’s Double Sculls (BW2x) – Semifinals

Great Britain was just ahead of Italy at the start of Semifinal One. The British crew had recorded the fastest qualifying time from the heats. Italy was the only crew that looked like they could hold the British speed and these two boats moved away from the field. Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne and Anna Thornton of Great Britain held 35 to maintain the lead. Then Romania started to move and closed on Italy. This race was far from over.

The final sprint was on and with Great Britain and Italy in secure positions the big race was going on between Romania and New Zealand. These two boats were side-by-side and Romania had moved to 38 with New Zealand at 37. What a sprint. Luka Ellery and Nicola Baker of New Zealand looked more powerful and in the final strokes they got into third and qualified.

Semifinal Two opened with Anneta Kyridou and Sofia Asoumanaki of Greece in the lead. This duo raced earlier in the season at the World Rowing Cup with Asoumanaki returning to the Greek team after spending the off-season racing for an American university. Asoumanaki is also well-known for her indoor rowing World Record and she is known to be very powerful. By the middle of the race Greece had a half boat length lead over Leonie Menzel and Pia Greiten of Germany in second with Australia’s Harriet Hudson and Ria Thompson very much on the pace.

The three top leading boats did not seem to be under any threat of a qualifying spot from the rest of the field with Greece keeping their pace going as Germany pulled out a closing sprint. Australia had to keep an eye on Lithuania on the far side, but it looked like the Lithuanians had left it too late. The order did not change.

Qualifiers: GBR, ITA, NZL, GRE, GER, AUS  

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Semifinals

Italy met Germany today in Semifinal One for the first time at this regatta. Both won their heats with Germany recording the faster time. Today Italy’s Emanuele Fiume and Andrea Cattaneo had the edge at the start with Henry Schwinde and David Junge of Germany in second. Greece, Slovenia and South Africa were all on the pace with this race still having a lot of rowing to do.

Then Cattaneo and Fiume managed to push away with Greece and Germany now neck-and-neck. Slovenia’s Nik Krebs and Miha Alajancic were still within striking distance. This crew raced together in last year’s b-final and they are back to try and make the a-final. Italy were now dominating this race, rating 37 to hold their large lead. Slovenia was closing on Germany. Slovenia went to 36 and Germany reacted by going to 38. Greece was at 38. The sprint was on. Germany was suffering. Slovenia had made the a-final.

The Netherlands crew of Melvin Twellaar and Luuk Adema had the fastest qualifying time from the heats and they looked to be the crew to beat in this race, Semifinal Two. Twellaar and Adema took off in the lead, but it was small with France and Poland moving with them. Coming into the middle of the race margins started to extend between the crews with Twellaar and Adema holding the leading edge. Poland’s Fabian Baranski and Mateusz Swietek had moved into second just ahead of France with China maybe close enough to get into a qualifying position.

The Polish then began to really push it. This was the host nation’s most important race of the day and Baranski and Swietek was making the most of it. The Dutch rated 29 in the close of the race as they had enough of a margin that they didn’t need to sprint. Poland looked comfortably in second with France easily holding third.

Qualifiers: ITA, GRE, SLO, NED, POL, FRA

Men’s Four (BM4-) – Semifinals

New Zealand raced in Semifinal One and came to this race as the fastest qualifiers from the heats. But it was Romania that led at the start. Both Romania and New Zealand left the starting blocks rating 50 and they were joined in the leading group by the United States. Romania kept the pressure on leaving a full-on tussle through the middle of the race between the United States and New Zealand. This opened up a gap between the leading three boats and the rest of the field.

The sprint was on to the line and the New Zealanders had managed to drop the Americans and close on Romania. Romania, however, had enough of a lead that they managed to hold off the boys in black. These boats will meet again in Sunday’s final.

Italy rated 53 at the start of Semifinal Two, but it was Great Britain that led in the start of this race. The British had to substitute their stroke man and it did not seem to be impacting on their boat speed. Germany and Italy followed in second and third respectively. Great Britain had recorded the best time from the heats of these crews and they continued to move well getting to the half way point still in the lead.

Meanwhile Italy and Germany were neck-and-neck for second. Neither was giving an inch as these boats charged through the third 500, trying to get into the final sprint in a solid position. The Italy-Germany battle continued into the close of the race with both boats now up with the British. Germany was at 42 forcing Great Britain to up their stroke rate. Italy was at 40. The British held off Germany by half a second with Italy in third.

Qualifiers: ROU, NZL, USA, GBR, GER, ITA

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (BLW2x) – Semifinals

It was a great start for the Irish in Semifinal One. Ireland had one of the slowest qualifying times from the heats and they were soon looking under threat from Greece and Italy. Ireland’s Lydia Heaphy and Margret Cremen then looked to be conceding to Italy’s Stefania Buttignon and Silvia Crosio who took over in the lead with Greece now moving up to overtake Ireland. Australia and the Netherlands were still very much on the pace. This race was far from over.

Coming into the final sprint Buttignon and Crosio looked great and rated at 33 with Greece moving to 37 and Australia at 35. The sprint was on with the Netherlands in fourth giving their all to get into a qualifying position. The Dutch had only just missed out at the line.

Great Britain won their heat two days ago and they returned today to take on Switzerland who had recorded the second fastest qualifying time in the heats. They met in Semifinal Two. Susannah Duncan and Danielle Semple of Great Britain got to the first 500m mark in the lead with Eline Rol and Lara Eichenberger of Switzerland moving with the British. Then Spain’s Rocio Lao Sanchez and Estel Boix started to move and they got an overlap with Switzerland with Germany right there too. Spain and Germany then carried on a full-on fight for the third qualifying spot.

Germany’s push was so good that it took them into second ahead of the Swiss and now they had Great Britain in their sights. These boats would have to sprint for the finish as four boats were separated by very little. Switzerland fought back at 34. Germany was at 37 with Spain and Great Britain at 35. The British had won. Germany snuck through to second and Switzerland held off Spain to take the third and final qualifying spot.

Qualifiers: ITA, AUS, GRE, GBR, GER, SUI

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (BLM2x) – Semifinals

From the heats Ireland had recorded the fastest qualifying time and they raced in Semifinal One. But at the start is was Spain in the lead followed closely by Portugal. As the Costa brothers of Portugal slipped back New Zealand’s Isaac Everitt and Christopher Stockley moved into second with the Irish holding on to third. But margins were still rather tight and Portugal was still very much within striking distance.

Spain’s Manel Balastegui and Rodrigo Conde Romero continued to hold the lead with Ireland overtaking New Zealand to take third. Spain went to 35 and their long strokes kept them in the lead. Ireland, at 37, held on to second and New Zealand earned the final qualifying spot.

The reigning under-23 champions, Italy sat in lane 5 with Gabriel Soares remaining from that 2017 crew. They lined up in Semifinal Two which was delayed slightly as Austria got in line. The boats got away a couple of minutes late with Italy starting at a 54 stroke rate. But it was Chile who had the fastest start. They raced in the b-final last year and they really wanted to be in the a-final. Germany and Italy were neck-and-neck for second.

Italy’s Alfonso Scalzone who has partnered with Soares, then moved into a small lead over Chile’s Abaroa and Sanhueza Rojas with Germany’s Jonathan Schreiber and Julian Schneider holding on to the leading pace. Now Great Britain had moved up and there were four boats fighting for three spots. Wow there was nothing in it with 20m left to race. Germany rated 40 with Chile and Great Britain at 38. The Italians had won by a fraction. Great Britain had just missed out on qualifying by 0.21 of a second.

Qualifiers: ESP, IRL, NZL, ITA, GER, CHI

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BM4x) – Semifinals

Judging by the heats, Great Britain was the crew to beat in this boat class. They raced in Semifinal One and right from the start the crew of Meijer, Armstrong, Haywood and Law of Great Britain had the lead. Germany followed closely in second with both Ukraine and Belgium within striking distance of qualifying. The British led the way into the finish with the real battle going on for third between Ukraine and Belgium. Ukraine got there first.

Italy led the way in Semifinal Two. They won their heat two days ago and today they met New Zealand, the reigning under-23 champions. Through the first half of the race it was Switzerland who were the closest challengers to Italy with France in third and in a qualifying spot. Italy then managed to move away from the field and they were able to watch the battle going on behind them. Now Hungary began to move up with New Zealand starting to move. This was going to be a sprint for the line.

Italy, at 38, looked great. Switzerland, at 37, held their spot. Hungary, at 42, was in third. These were the qualifying boats.

Qualifiers: GBR, GER, UKR, ITA SUI, HUN