Calm and controlled in Lucerne World Rowing Cup heats
Calm, flat water and warm temperatures painted a perfect picture for the first day of racing at World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, Switzerland. The regatta course proved why this venue is loved by rowers throughout the world. Racing in the heats went by with few surprises.
Women’s Pair (W2-) - Heats
The top two boats in each of the three heats would get to go to the semifinals directly and in Heat One it was no surprise to see the European, World and Olympic Champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain One leave the quickest. But what a pace it was! In 40 strokes Glover and Stanning, rating 39, had gone to an open water lead. Germany and Denmark fought it out for second. Denmark then took the pace down giving Germany an easy second. No one sprinted the finish.
In Heat Two Felice Mueller and Grace Luczak of United States One got away quickly, but not at the speed of Glover and Stanning. This meant the Americans kept the pressure on through the middle of the race and did a 36 stroke rate sprint to stay ahead of New Zealand's new duo of Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown. These are the two qualifying crews. Mueller and Luczak recorded the fastest qualifying time.
USA2 led from start to finish in Heat Three and kept their pace up to stay ahead of South Africa's Christowitz and Peresse. Towards the end of the race China took up the pressure to try and catch South Africa, but they'd left it too late. The order did not change.
Qualifiers: GBR, GER, USA1, NZL, USA2, RSA
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) - Heats
The four heats had rowers aiming for a top two position to make it directly to the semifinals and Magdalena Lobnig of Austria set the standard in Heat One. Lobnig stayed rather easily ahead of Canada's Carling Zeeman who was putting the pressure on to keep up. Zeeman currently leads the World Rowing Cup series after winning at World Rowing Cup I.
Heat Two was a lot closer and saw a great battle between China's Jingli Duan and Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland One. These two boats matched each other through the middle of the race before Duan pushed away in the final sprint with Gmelin choosing not to really push it.
Two boats separated themselves from the fleet in Heat Three. Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic had the leading edge with Genevra Stone of the United States holding Knapkova's pace. Stone finished fourth at last year's World Rowing Championships and has taken time away from her medical career to focus solely on the Rio Olympics. Stone then did a powerful third 500, rating 33, and getting ahead of Knapkova. The Czech did not react and there was no finishing sprint. Stone recorded the fastest qualifying time.
The World Champion, Kim Brennan of Australia made her 2016 international debut in Heat Four. The recently married Brennan was chased hard by Micheen Thornycroft of Zimbabwe at the start, but then the Australian pushed away and had no need to sprint the finish. Thornycroft easily took the second qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: AUT, CAN, CHN, SUI1, USA, CZE, AUS, ZIM
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) - Heats
The biggest boat class of this regatta, the men's single had six heats and the top three boats from each heat would go directly to the quarterfinals. The top boats were seeded to be spread throughout these heats and in Heat One Stanislau Shcharbchenia of Belarus was one of the seeded. Shcharbchenia got away the quickest before Stefan Broenink of the Netherlands pushed into the lead. These two boats stayed neck-and-neck for the entire race. Broenink was the only sculler to go under seven minutes of these six heats.
Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand debuted his 2016 season in Heat Two. At the start Thibaut Verhoeven of France was in the lead and remained there through the half way point with Drysdale slotting a distance back in second. Though the 1500 Drysdale pushed into the lead and once there comfortably took his black boat home in first.
The favourite in Heat Three was Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba after finishing second at World Rowing Cup I last month. Fournier made the best of it and led from start to finish over Argentina's Brian Rosso. There was no change in the order right through to the finish. Heat Four looked like a similar scenario with World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic the easy leader. Jean-Benoit Valschaerts of Luxembourg followed courageously in second.
Is the London Olympic bronze medallist back on form? Alan Campbell of Great Britain has not been in great form lately, but today he led Heat Five by taking a fast start and pushing away from Juan Carlos Cabrera of Mexico. Germany Two's Patrick Leineweber overtook Egypt to get the third qualifying spot.
Heat Six saw fast starter and 2015 world bronze medallist, Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania One in second. Instead it was Maximillian Fraenkel of Germany One in the lead. Then Thomas Graves of United States Two overtook Griskonis and then Fraenkel. This was quite a race. Won by Graves with Griskonis doing a last-ten-stroke sprint to get up with Fraenkel
Qualifiers: NED, BLR, THA, NZL, FRA, USA, CUB, ARG, EGY, CZE, LUX, BRA, GBR, MEX, GER2, USA, GER1, LTU
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (LW1x) - Heats
Three heats lined up and the top two boats in each head would get to go directly to the semifinals. Former World Champion, Fabiana Beltrame of Brazil was in the lead at the start and remained there until just before the finish in Heat One. Olympian Beltrame will not get to go to the Rio Olympics, but it looked like she was still making the best of her season. Denmark's Runge Holmegaard did a great closing sprint to finish first.
Anja Noske of Germany was the fastest out of the blocks in Heat Two. Noske is the European Champion after winning earlier this month in Brandenburg. By the middle of the race Noske had an open water lead over the field with Canada's Katherine Sauks in second and just ahead of Japan. Then Shoko Ueno of Japan looked to run out of steam and Noske and Sauks had an easy time of qualifying.
Reigning World Champion, Zoe McBride of New Zealand debuted her 2016 season in Heat Three. At the start McBride sat behind Joana Dorociak of Poland before she pushed into the lead going into the middle of the race. Dorociak then found herself under pressure from Elisabeth Woerner of the Netherlands One who pushed into second. The order did not change to the line with Woerner rating 33 to stay ahead of Dorociak. McBride recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: DEN, BRA, GER, CAN, NZL, NED1
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Heats
Three heats saw the top two scullers getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One Croatia's Luka Radonic had the best race. Radonic was fast at the start but with Lukas Babac of Slovakia chasing hard. Babac raced earlier in the week in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. As this boat class is not an Olympic event, Babac raced in the open men's single. He made the final but missed out on qualifying. Back as a lightweight, Babac remained comfortably in second and let Radonic take first.
World Champion from the lightweight men's double sculls, Stany Delayre of France featured in Heat Two. Delayre got away well and led with a slight marin over Bence Tamas of Hungary. Tamas kept in touch with Delayre until the French sculler decided to up his rating and move to an open water lead.
Heat Three was led by Rajko Hrvat of Slovenia. Hrvat is the World Cup series leader in this boat class after winning last month at World Rowing Cup I in Varese. Hrvat also medalled at the European Rowing Championships earlier this month. By the middle of the race, Hrvat had an open water lead over Austin Meyer of United States Two. Japan's Yuki Ikeda challenged Meyer in the final sprint, but was unable to get into that second place qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: CRO, SVK, FRA, HUN, SLO, USA2
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) - Heats
This boat class had attracted three heats and the rule was to be in a top two position for a direct path to tomorrow's semifinals. Heat One saw Poland get away with a slight edge over South Africa and Switzerland. South Africa has qualified for the Rio Olympics, while Switzerland missed out on Olympic qualification earlier this week at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. Then Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler of South Africa pushed into the lead and stayed there until the end of the race. China Two of Miao Wang and Dandan Pan came through to take second. It is likely China (with two entries) is still deciding their Olympic line-up.
At the London Olympics Canada's Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee raced but did not medal. They are back to aim for an Olympic medal and today they moved toward their goal in Heat Two by leading from start to finish. But they were up against winners from World Rowing Cup I, China One of Wenyi Huang and Feihong Pan. Jennerich and Obee remained in front with Denmark using a 44 stroke rate to challenge China at the end. Denmark just missed out and will need to do the repechage. Canada recorded the fastest qualifying time.
World Champions Sophie MacKenzie and Julia Edward of New Zealand raced in Heat Three with their main competition coming from Fini Sturm and Marie-Louise Draeger of Germany. Sturm and Draeger were in the lead at the start before MacKenzie and Edward got their nose in front. Then Ireland's Claire Lambe and Sinead Lynch (nee Jennings) came storming through, grabbed second and nearly caught the Kiwis.
Qualifiers: RSA, CHN2, CAN, CHN1, NZL IRL
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) - Heats
Three heats in this boat class meant that these crews needed to be in a top three position to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One the 2014 World Champions, South Africa's James Thompson and John Smith were in front. By the middle of the race Thompson and Smith had worked their way to a very handy lead over recently-crowed European Champions, Gary and Paul O'Donovan of Ireland. Then the Irish did a huge closing sprint, rating 38, to catch up to South Africa who kept it strong on a 33 stroke rate. Thompson and Smith only just held off Ireland. Switzerland came through from fourth to grab the final qualifying spot.
World Champions France took the lead in Heat Two. The French line up has changed with Jeremie Azou rowing with a new partner, Pierre Houin. They remained in front for the entire race. Poland's Artur Mikolajczewski and Milosz Jankowski overtook Chile to get into second and remain there until the finish. Brazil's Xavier Vela Maggi and Willian Giaretton qualified from third.
Heat Three had the 2015 world silver medallists from Great Britain, Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers debuting their 2016 international season. But it was the 2013 World Champions, Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway who took an early lead. Fletcher and Chambers followed closely and these two boat went neck-and-neck through the middle of the race. Also keeping up with the leading pace was Joshua Konieczny and Andrew Campbell. There was a full on sprint from the 1500m mark between GBR, NOR and USA. Then with 200m left to row the British took down their rating as they were still in a qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: RSA, IRL, SUI, FRA, POL, BRA, NOR, USA, GBR
Lightweight Men's Pair (LM2-) - Heats
The top two boats in these two heats would get to go directly to the final on Saturday afternoon. Heat One had Joel Cassells and Sam Scrimgeour of Great Britain - the current World and European Champions - get away the quickest. But there was nothing in it at the start with just two seconds separating the entire field. The margins remained tight through the middle of the race with only Japan dropping off the pace. Coming through to the finish the British, Italy and Spain were all neck-and-neck. Spain went to 39. Great Britain was on 38. Spain then dropped their stroke rate right down giving Italy the qualifying spot. Great Britain recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Emil Espensen and Jens Vilhelmsen of Denmark were second at the European Rowing Championships earlier this month and they were back racing in Heat Two. At the start France had the lead before Denmark took over in the lead and never looked back. Espensen and Vilhelmsen kept their strokes long and flowing to stay in front with France's Augustin Mouterde and Alexis Guerinot
Qualifiers: GBR, ITA, DEN, FRA
Men's Pair (M2-) - Heats
Two heats in the men's pair meant that these athletes were aiming to be in a top two position to get to go directly to Sunday's final. In Heat One Spain got away to a flying start before Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman of the Netherlands One got their nose ahead. Braas came into the pair from the single last season and it seems to suit him. Going through the middle of the race Great Britain's Matthew Tarrant and Nathaniel Rielly O'Donnell were going head-to-head with the Dutch. This remained the case right through to the finish with boat boats sprinting to the line. The British rated 40, the Dutch went to 42. The British got there first. Both will qualify.
The World and Olympic Champions, New Zealand's Hamish Bond and Eric Murray debuted their 2016 season here on the Rotsee in Heat Two. At the start it was South Africa's Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling who had the lead. They held it over Bond and Murray through to the middle of the race before the Kiwi pair pushed away to win the race. South Africa held easily on to second to go directly to the final.
Qualifiers: GBR, NED, NZL, RSA
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) - Heats
The goal here was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the final on Sunday. In Heat One of the two heats it was Australia's Sally Kehoe and Genevieve Horton who had the fastest start. The Australians still were in front with 2013 World Champions, Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania chasing hard. Coming into the last 500m, Lithuania got their nose ahead of Australia and they used a 36 stroke rate sprint to stay ahead of Australia and cross the line in first. Surprisingly, the reigning World Champions had a slow start and could only manage a third-spot finish.
In Heat Two the best race was coming from Julia Lier and Mareike Adams of Germany. They were the silver medallists earlier this month at the European Rowing Championships and they took bronze at the World Championships last year. Belarus, the current European Champions, were in third and pressing France hard for the second place. Belarus found it as the final sprint came into view. France, though, fought back and with 200m left France was back in second. France continued to sprint and took on Germany. The ratings rose. Germany got there first by inches. Belarus had been pushed into third and will need to go through the repechage. Germany recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: LTU, AUS, GER, FRA
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) - Heats
There were two heats and the top boat only in each heat would get to go to the final. It was incredibly tight at the start of Heat One with just two seconds separating the top five boats. Then New Zealand's Robert Manson and Cristopher Harris got their nose just ahead of Germany's Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger. The battle also included Great Britain. Coming through to the final 500m Germany was just in front with Jonathan Walton and John Collins of Great Britain One moving up on the leaders. The sprint was on and the Germans seemed to have the most power. New Zealand decided to wind it down. Germany qualified for the final.
Great Britain Two and Croatia got away the quickest in Heat Two. Then the reigning World and European Champions, Martin and Valent Sinkovic picked up the pace and with every stroke they moved further and further away from the rest of the field. The Sinkovics looked to be doing a training piece as they conducted their own race at the head of the field. Their time of 6:10 was the fastest qualifying time and just 11 seconds outside of the World Best Time.
Qualifiers: GER1, CRO
Men’s Four (M4-) - Heats
There were two heats in this boat class and the goal was to finish first or second to get to the finals on Sunday. Heat One was a showdown between the Olympic gold and silver medallists - Great Britain and Australia. The Australians were the fastest at the start with Great Britain right on the pace. Through the middle of the race the British got their bow ball into the lead and once there Gregory, Nash, Sbihi and McBrierty (filling in for a sick Louloudis) of Great Britain, worked their way to an open water margin. The British, even with a spare rower, were still a dominating crew. Meanwhile something had happened in the Russian boat. They had to paddle to cross the finish line so that they could still go to the repechage.
Argentina had an absolutely flying start in Heat Two. Then the Netherlands pushed into the lead with Argentina starting to slip back. This gave Germany the opportunity to try and get into a qualifying spot with the United States following suit. It was a wild sprint to the finish between Germany, the Netherlands and the United States. The Dutch had held on to first and recorded the fastest qualifying time. The United States also qualified by overtaking Germany just four strokes before the finish.
Qualifiers: GBR, AUS, NED, USA
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) - Heats
The rule here was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the finals on Sunday. There were two heats and Heat One featured some of the top crews in the world. At the start France had a very slight lead over the Netherlands. But margins were very, very tight with just one second separating the top four boats. At the half way point the margin was still incredibly tight, but Great Britain put their nose out in front. This was going to be a full 2000m sprint. Denmark then demonstrated their stamina and sprinting ability. They went to a 42 then 44 stroke rate to cross the line first. Their finishing time of 5:55 was just ten seconds outside of the World Cup Best Time (set by Denmark in 1999). Great Britain qualified from second.
Heat Two turned out to be just as tight at the start. The top four crews had a spread of a mere half a second. New Zealand had a very slight lead before the World Champions, Switzerland got their bow ball out in front. The Czech Republic then started to drop back, leaving the race to go on between Switzerland, New Zealand and China. The fight was on to the line and New Zealand had got their nose ahead of the World Champions. Rating 43 New Zealand kept ahead of Switzerland. The Swiss qualified from second. New Zealand's time - 5:54.
Qualifiers: DEN, GBR, NZL, SUI
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) - Heats
The top boat only in each of these two heats would get to go directly to the final on Sunday. In Heat One the reigning World Champions, the United States One was at the back of the field at the start. Out in front was the Netherlands with Australia chasing in second. Going through the middle of the race Achterberg, Beukers, Janssen and Bouw of the Netherlands remained just ahead of Australia and the order did not change to the line.
The World silver medallists and current European Champions, Germany led the way in Heat Two. Poland, who was second at the European Rowing Championships, followed closely in second with the United States Two off the pace. Germany and Poland went neck-and-neck through the middle of the race before Germany proved to have the better endurance and better sprint to finish first. Germany recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: NED, AUS, GER, POL
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) - Heats
This boat class had the top boat only in each of the two heats qualifying directly for the final. Canada just qualified for the Rio Olympics earlier this week in the brutal Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. But they looked fresh and on fire in Heat One as they led at the start of the race ahead of World and Olympic Champions, Germany. Going through the middle of the race Canada still had the lead as a line formed behind them between three boats. Coming into the final sprint Australia came storming through to not only take the lead but take a clear water lead. What a race by Canada! Behind them there was nothing in it. The rest of the field was separated by just one second.
The United States had the lead in Heat Two with Great Britain hot on their tails. Going through the second 500m, Great Britain got into the lead and then completely dominated the race. From the back of the field Switzerland came through to take second. Meanwhile the British extended their lead and looked strong crossing the finish line easily in first.
Qualifiers: AUS, GBR