Bumpy ride through Poznan World Rowing Cup semifinals
The final World Rowing Cup in the series of three, 2016 World Rowing Cup III, moved into day three of racing featuring semifinals. Racing in Poznan, Poland on Lake Malta saw rowers having tail wind conditions under partially cloudy skies and bumpy water. The water remained bumpy, but with fast times helped by the tail wind.
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (LW1x) - Semifinals
The heats yesterday saw the junior World Champion Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands Two record the second fastest qualifying time. She raced today in Semifinal One against two other Dutch boats. This looked like a trials race for the Netherlands with perhaps the Dutch Olympic spare being chosen. Keijser left the start with Germany's Fini Sturm before taking over in the lead. Sturm has come into the single after her doubles partner suffered an injury and had to withdraw. Keijser then remained in the lead with Sturm being challenged by Elisabeth Woerner of Netherlands One.
Keijser crossed the line in first rating a comfortable 31 with Woerner coming through in second and Sturm holding on to third.
Zoe Mc Bride of New Zealand is the reigning World Champion and she recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday's heats. McBride raced at the front of the field in Semifinal Two. By the middle of the race McBride had a clear water margin over Aja Runge Holmegaard of Denmark. Then Emma Fredh of Sweden One picked up the pace and moved ahead of Runge Holmegaard and tried to close on McBride. But the New Zealander now had an incredibly comfortable lead and crossed the line easily in first with the fastest qualifying time. Fredh held on to second with Runge Holmegaard in third.
Qualifiers: NED2, NED1, GER, NZL, SWE1, DEN
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Semifinals
In Semifinal One Italy's Pietro Ruta of Italy got away very quickly and moved to a half boat length lead before the 500m mark. This left Germany's Konstantin Steinhuebel, who had recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats, in second with Norway following in third. Ruta then moved out to a full boat length lead with Steinhuebel under threat from Norway's Ask Jarl Tjoen.
Ruta's lead continued to grow with Steinhuebel having to hold off a battle between Brazil and Tjoen. Uncas Batista of Brazil then got into third. Tjoen pushed back and again found third. This fight closed the gap on Ruta, who crossed the line in first but with a very much diminished lead.
Poland's Jerzy Kowalski had the lead at the start in Semifinal Two. But his margin was small and by the middle of the race Slovenia's Rajko Hrvat had pushed from the back of the field and into the lead. Hrvat was being chased by Luka Radonic of Croatia. This meant that at the middle of the race only a second separated the top three boats. As Kowalski fell back into third, Hrvat and Radonic dominated the top two spots. Then Kowalski took his stroke rate into the mid 30s to try and close on the leaders, the two leaders held him off. Hrvat crossed the line in first with his time just half a second different from the winner of semifinal one - Ruta. This will be a very close final which will be raced later today.
Qualifiers: ITA, GER, NOR, SLO, CRO, POL
Men's Pair (M2-) - Semifinals
Australia's Spencer Turrin and Alexander Lloyd got away quickly in Semifinal One with Serbia's Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik in hot pursuit. They moved through the first 500m mark together with Great Britain's Alan Sinclair and Stewart Innes very much on the leader's pace. Sinclair and Innes are part of the British second boat who are hoping that this regatta will earn them the Olympic spot for their country. Going through the middle of the race only a second separated the top three crews.
Then Sinclair and Innes did a big push that earned them a spot ahead of Australia with Serbia now in the lead. Coming into the final sprint Sinclair and Innes pushed again to earn the lead. Australia and Serbia did enough to stay in qualifying spots and these three boats will meet again in tomorrow's final.
The fastest qualifying time from yesterday's heats went to the World and Olympic Champions, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray of New Zealand. Bond and Murray took off quickly and got into the lead. Often Bond and Murray work their way to the lead, but today they decided that a fast start was in order. By the middle of the race Bond and Murray had nearly a boat length lead over Great Britain One of Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell and Matthew Tarrant. Reilly-O'Donnell and Tarrant gave the New Zealanders a real run for their money last month at World Rowing Cup II and they did the same today. But then Bond and Murray pushed away and crossed the line in a fast time of 6:16 - eight seconds ahead of the British time in Semifinal One.
Qualifiers: GBR2, AUS, SRB, NZL1, GBR1, ITA1
Men's Double Sculls (M2x) - Semifinals
Withdrawals saw Semifinal One turn into a four-boat race. Germany's Marcel Hacker is ill and so his crew did not race. Neither did Poland. It was Romano Battisti and Francesco Fossi of Italy that had the lead at the start. But their lead did not last long as Olaf Tufte and Kjetil Borch of Norway pushed through with Serbia's Marko Marjanovic and Andrija Sljukic very much on the pace. Only China was off the pace so the top three crews really had no reason to push hard as they were all on qualifying spots.
They did, however, push hard with Italy going to 41 in the final sprint. Norway stayed in the lead and Serbia crossed the line in second.
France's Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias raced at the head of the field in Semifinal Two. Boucheron and Androdias finished seventh overall at World Rowing Cup II last month and they continued to lead over the World Rowing Cup II silver medallists, Robert Manson and Chris Harris of New Zealand. Then the Kiwis did a push that helped get their nose ahead of France with Great Britain's Jonathan Walton and John Collins solidly in third. Cuba and Australia did try to challenge in the final sprint, but it appeared to be too late. New Zealand went to 39 to hold the lead. Manson and Harris finished first and with the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: NOR, SRB, ITA, NZL, FRA, GBR
Women's Single Sculls (W1x) - Semifinals
The reigning World Champion, Kim Brennan of Australia was the early leader in Semifinal One. As has become Brennan's habit, by the first 500m mark Brennan already had a very handy lead. This left the rest of the field to race for the remaining two qualifying spots. The reigning European Champion, Magdalena Lobnig of Austria One got herself into second with Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands One just ahead of New Zealand Two, in third. Meanwhile the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Champion, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus sat back in fifth. What could Karsten do. Coming into the final 500m, Karsten began to move. Overtaking first New Zealand and then going after Scheenaard, Karsten was showing her true pedigree.
But Scheenaard was not giving up. As Brennan crossed the line in first and Lobnig held on to second, Karsten took third place to a photo finish. Scheenaard had done it. She had scored third and the final qualifying spot.
Semifinal Two featured the 2014 World Champion, Emma Twigg of New Zealand. Twigg qualified for the Rio Olympics last month at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta and then went on to win at the Holland Beker in Amsterdam. Today she was back doing what she likes to do - being the leader of the race. Twigg got away the quickest with Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark chasing in second. Switzerland's Jeannine Gmelin followed in third. These three boats had a huge lead over the rest of the field as they came into the second half of the race.
Coming into the finish Twigg remained comfortably in the lead with Gmelin, who trained for part of the off season with Twigg in New Zealand, pushing through into second and Erichsen holding on to third.
Qualifiers: AUS, AUT, NED, NZL, SUI, DEN
Men's Single Sculls (M1x) - Semifinals
The winner of World Rowing Cup I, Damir Martin of Croatia took off in the lead of Semifinal One. Martin was due to race at World Rowing Cup II last month in Lucerne, but he pulled out due to illness. Martin remained in the lead through the middle of the race being chased hard by New Zealand's Olympic Champion, Mahe Drysdale. Then the second New Zealand crew of John Storey followed in third. Despite being pushed by Drysdale, Martin remained in front, taking his stroke rate to 36 to stay in front. Drysdale pushed hard but had to resort to second and Storey, rating 40 to hold off Great Britain Two, held on to third. Martin's time of 6:45 was the fastest qualifying time.
In the lead of Semifinal Two was Alan Campbell of Great Britain One. Campbell had a slight lead over France's Thibaut Verhoeven. Going through the middle of the race Campbell, Verhoeven and now Michal Plocek of the Czech Republic were neck-and-neck. Then Campbell did a big push and moved clean away from Verhoeven and Plocek. Had Campbell done too much too soon? Coming into the line Campbell remained in front with Plocek just a fraction behind in second and Verhoeven holding off Switzerland to take the third and final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: CRO, NZL1, NZL2, GBR1, CZE, FRA