Right from the start of the open women’s race, Olena Buryak had the edge. Buryak had her husband and fellow indoor row Pavel Shurmei sitting behind her as coxswain. Buryak got into a 1:36 per 500m pace and slowly edged away from her competition.  From the United States national rowing team, Tracy Eisser, at a 1:39 pace, slipped into second. Brooke Mooney, also of the US women’s team, followed in third.  Buryak then sat on 1:37 and remained in front with Eisser in second just ahead of Mooney. The US national team was out in force with Kara Kohler on the pace along with Meghan Musnicki and Lauren Schmetterling.

Going through the 800m to go Buryak pushed to a 1:36 split. It now looked like no one would catch her. Schmetterling then moved into 4th with Eisser at 1:38 trying to catch Buryak. Buryak had won and set a new record for the women’s 30-39-year-old heavyweight category.

Buryak: “I’m surprised at the new World Record. Fist 1000m I didn’t think about anything. I tried to do everything my husband told me to push, push and this is all I can show today.  I hope to be in Paris next year. I’ve never been to Paris.”

Results: Buryak 6:25.6, Mooney 6:30.8 Eisser 6:33.2

The under-23 women raced at the same time as the open women and at the start Marie Natalie Jurkova of the Czech Republic was leading the entire field. Then as the open women started to push past her Jurkova remained at the head of the under-23 field.

At a lower rating at the stat with was Jurkova of u23 getting a small lead. Jurkova still led the u23 but started to get overtaken by all of the open women.  Jurkova finished second at the European Rowing Indoor Championships last month in Copenhagen and she says her hobby is to beat the guys in arm wrestling. Following a distance back was Sammie Schalk of the United States and behind her Maria del mar Gomez of Mexico. Jurkova dominated the field through to the end.

Results: Jurkova 6:40.7, Schalk 7:18.7, Gomez 7:37.2

There were three favourites going into the under-23 men’s open race. Second year as a rower, Cole Guild from the United States was the local favourite. Canada’s Charles Alexander started rowing in 2016 and had set an ambitious target for today’s race. There was also European Indoor Champion and Belgian champion, Ward Lemmelijn of Belgium aiming for 5:51. Lemmelijn had arrived with a large group of vocal supporters. Alexander led the way at the start with Lemmelijn right with him in second and Guild in third. Lemmelijn used a style of pulling his handle in high at the finish and it seemed to be serving him well.

The tall Alexander remained in the lead through the middle of the race despite rating a rather low 27 strokes per minute. He looked relaxed and in control. Guild slipped back behind the two frontrunners but still remained solidly in third. Alexander and Lemmelijn were both on 1:29 with Lemmelijn closing the gap on Alexander. Alexander held on and challenged back taking is pace to 1:27 then 1:28. In the final sprint both leading rowers were matching each other at 1:26 and 1:27. It was neck and neck for the last 400m. At the finish Lemmelijn collapsed off his erg. He had won, set the Belgian indoor rowing record and become a World Champion.

Lemmelijn: “My body was feeling strong and I held my race plan perfectly. I didn’t realise it would be so hard. I start rowing just one year ago and this is a PR and a Belgium record. It’s an amazing sport.”

Results: Lemmelijn 5:50.3, Alexander 5:51.1, Guild 6:03.7

All eyes were on the man who’d never lost an indoor rowing race, Oliver Zeidler of Germany. This was the open men’s race and Zeidler was up against Ukraine’s best, Anton Bondarenko and the best of the United States national team. Zeidler was aiming for 5:38. Zeidler started out at a 1:21 per 500m pace and early on had already pulled away from the field. He then settled into 1:25 and 1:26. Behind Zeidler Michael Clougher held on to second with Bondarenko in third. The rest of the field was incredibly tight with the order regularly swapping. Zeidler, using a 1:25 pace, continued to inch away from the field. He looked focused and in control.

Arne Landboe of the US then moved into third as Bondarenko slipped back. Through the 1000m mark Zeidler was on 1:26 and easily in front with Clougher in second and Landboe third. These three boats now had an edge over the rest of the field. Then Alexander Richards of the US did a huge sprint to get into the medals. He was successful.

Landbowe “Yes, I’m pleased with that time. I’m still working on that sprint.”

Zeidler: “It was hard. I wasn’t as good here, but thanks to the crowd it was easier than I thought. Today it (5:38) wasn’t possible. Now the plan for me is to go through the season in the single.”

Results: Zeidler 5:42.6, Landboe 5:47.5, Richards 5:49.2

Racing was intense in the lightweight men’s open category as two top international rowers, Jason Osborne of Germany lined up against Martino Goretti of Italy. They sat side-by-side with Goretti taking a slight lead at the start with a 1:31 per 500m pace. Goretti held on to a small leading edge with both competitors now on 1:32. Goretti’s stroke rate was slightly higher. A distance back in third was Alex Twist of the United States.

Then at the 1000m mark Osborne took a small lead, but Goretti stuck with them and Twist was trying hard to close the gap on the leaders. Osborne, now at a 41-stroke rate started to pull away ever so slightly from Goretti. Osborne had won.

Goretti: “I think the time difference (from Italy) affected my performance. The first 1000m I was on schedule but my legs felt a bit heavy.”

Osborne: “I was a bit worried with Goretti at the start. I managed to hold the pace and at the 1000m maintain the pace. Yes, I will be trying out the double this year (for Olympic qualification) I think there are some fast combinations coming out of Germany.”

Results: Osborne 6:07.5 Goretti 6:10.7 Twist 6:19.2

The under-23 lightweight men’s category was an incredibly tight race between the top three contestants. It had the favourite, Alexis Lopez of Mexico featuring and Lopez did not disappoint. He held off Adolfo Peralta of Mexico to finish in first with Alex Damjanovic of the United States right on the pace in third. Both Lopez and Peralto are on the Mexican national rowing team while Damjanovic was an a-finalist at the 2018 World Rowing Under-23 Championships.  

Results: Lopez 6:15.5, Peralta 6:16.8 Damjanovic 6:17.3

For the junior women’s category (under 19 years old) it started out with Taylor English of the United States in the lead. She used a 1:45 per 500m pace to stay ahead of Alexandra Foster of Germany and Eliska Podrazilova of the Czech Republic in third. These three moved together remaining in this order. Then English and Foster got a handy lead over the rest of the field using a 1:44 pace. Podrazil was on 1:47. Then Foster sprinted and went to 1:43 and closed on English. English at 1:47 got overtaken with 250m to go and once in the lead Foster moved clean away using a 1:42 pace with English holding 1:47. What a finish for Foster!

Foster: “I just raced like I do every time. This is what I do every day. In the middle (of the race) I didn’t want to give everything and die at the end, so I just stayed constant and in the end I gave it my all.”

Results: Foster 6:56.7, English 6:59.9, Podrazilova 7:08.7

Jumping into the lead in the junior men’s championship race was Jan Henrik Szymczak of Germany. Szymczak used a at 1:30 pace to get ahead of Ivan Ponce of Chile. Right on the pace was Clinton Regen of the United States and Volodymyr Perstenkov of Ukraine as well as local Long Beach rower Andrew Mathison. Perstenkov and Mathison swapped places through the first half of the race.

Szymczak then got a handy lead. Behind him Ponce and Regen were neck and neck. The pace of Szymczak was 1:35 and it helped him pull away from the rest of the field.

Results: Syzymczak 6:11.1, Ponce 6:15.4, Regen 6:24.9

Masters championship racing included age categories from 27 years old (masters A) through to 85-year-olds in the women (masters K) and through to 93-year-old Dean Smith rowing in the masters M category for lightweight men. Categories were also broken down into lightweight and open weight.

There were a number of outstanding performances including Susan Hooten of the United States. Hooten, a former US national team member, finished in a time of 7:50.5 to win her category of lightweight women’s master G. Hooten, 67, already has the World Record in this category for both lightweight and heavyweight.

Carol Woodward, 61, of Great Britain is a regular indoor rowing racer and she took out the lightweight women’s master F category. Woodward finished in a time of 7:54.2. This category’s current World Record holder is Hooten who set the record back in 2015.

Luanne Mills of the United States is another indoor rowing regular although she has taken the last three years off to recover from a knee operation. Mills, 80, stepped up to race in the open master J category and finished it in a time of 8:47.5. This set a new World Record with Mills beating the former record, set in 2008 by Ruth Doell, by seven seconds. Mills started competing as an indoor rower in 2002 as part of a health study. Her best time has been a 7:59 which she achieved about 16 years ago.

Olaf Ellefsen of Norway won the masters I category. Ellefsen  went 7:10.2. He was just short of setting a ne world record due to the date of his birthday. Ellefsen has been indoor rowing since the early 2000’s and started as a winter training tool to help keep fit for his main sport, triathlons.

“Eight years ago I did 7:02 and today I did 7:10 and I feel that if I train properly I can get below seven minutes again,” said Ellefsen.

Thomas Darling was confirmed as the new World Record holder in the 60-64-year-old heavyweight men's category. Darling, an advocate of para-rowing in the United States, went 6:20.7 to set the record. 

Winner of the masters H men’s lightweight category was Henry Baker, 72, of the United States. He finished in a time of 7:15.3, beating France’s Alain Mangin to the line. Mangin did an impressive 7:17.2.