Big year for lightweight men’s eight
17/08/2012 - 16:59:00
The biggest field in a number of years, the lightweight men’s eight at the World Rowing Senior & Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
With nine boats rowing for the world championship title, racing will be ferocious and exciting when they line up for the final on Saturday, 18 August 2012 at 12:10 (EEST).
Already the boats have raced to make it through to the final and the six to race for gold include Italy, Australia, Germany, Poland, China and Japan. Australia is the defending World Champion after an extraordinarily close race against Italy at the 2011 World Rowing Championships. That crew will be aiming to defend their title. Italy is back to avenge defeat last year. Coming through the heats and repechages Italy recorded the fastest qualifying time with Germany next fastest.
The German’s did not compete in 2011 but look strong this year. The crew is coxed by the recently crowned Olympic Champion from the men’s eight, Martin Sauer. Sauer brings years of experience to the boat from coxing Germany’s top boat and he commented on the difference between coxing heavyweights and lightweights is that in the lightweight events the margins are often much closer.
One half of the German boat is the Olympic lightweight men’s four who recently raced at the London Olympics, finishing ninth overall.
Bastian Seibt of the German crew emphasised the importance of having the lightweight eight as a boat class: “To make a really good (lightweight) four you need more than four or six people. It is also important because the next generation of rowers need a boat class where they can start, where the older and younger guys row together and can learn from each other. That’s how I started in 2003. In my first time in the eight, there were people in that boat who had rowed competitively for 15 years.”
Seibt believes the high number of entries is a positive thing for the boat class: “It was quite a surprise for me; I think it’s a very good thing that there are more than six entries. You can see that more nations than the usual entries want to row at this high level, such as Hungary and Japan who usually just row small boats.”
Australian’s Alister Foot and Blair Tunevitsch both were in the 2011 gold medal crew and they welcome the larger number of entries.
Tunevitsch states: “It always seems that in the last year of the Olympic cycle everybody wants to fill this boat class and be successful in it. It’s a great opportunity to give those who missed out on the Olympic opportunity to experience a World Championship.”
“It’s also a fun race to do,” says Foot. “It’s not like any of the other lightweight races, because we hardly ever get to row in eights. The Olympic lightweight focus was on the four and the lightweight men’s eight was the feeder-boat for it this Olympic cycle.”
Foot is cautious about defending their World Championship title: “Yes, we are defending Champions, but we only have three rowers back from last year and four members of the crew made their senior debut in the heats on Wednesday.”
The final will be an enthralling race. In the heats on the opening day of racing, Germany and Poland progressed from heat one whilst Italy and Australia qualified for the final from heat two, Italy getting the better of Australia this time. China and Japan progressed through the repechage. For the first time since 2009, a B-Final will also be raced, the Netherlands, Hungary and the United States contesting for places 7 to 9.