Close finishes in Eton Dorney World Cup semifinals

22/06/2013 - 12:07:00

The 2013 Samsung World Rowing Cup in Eton Dorney, Great Britain continued with semifinals in four boat classes.

Cross wind conditions meant that lane orders were changed so that the crews with the best results from yesterday’s preliminary rounds being moved from the middle lanes to lanes five and six. It also meant the leading three crews in these semifinals did not just want to qualify; they chose to fight it out to the end in the hope that they would get the best lane in tomorrow’s final.

Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One was delayed due to technical issues with the alignment of crews at the start. When they finally got of the line Portugal’s Pedro Fraga had a very impressive start. Fraga last raced at Eton Dorney in the London 2012 Olympic final of the lightweight men’s double sculls and this year he’s decided to give it a shot in the single. Fraga came through from the heats with the fastest qualifying time and today he was showing that yesterday’s race was no fluke.
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By the middle of the race Fraga had a very comfortable lead over Andrej Bendtsen of Denmark Two in second who was being challenged with every stroke by Paul O’Donovan of Ireland. With Fraga still in the lead, Bendtsen and O’Donovan continued to go head for head through the middle of the race. Bendtsen raced last year at the under-23 level while 19-year-old O’Donovan was in the junior ranks in 2012.

Coming into the final sprint Fraga was still comfortable with O’Donovan taking his stroke rate to 38 to hold off Bendtsen. It worked. With Fraga in first, O’Donovan qualified from second while Bendtsen takes third to qualify.

A hugely aggressive start by Steffen Jensen of Denmark One saw the Dane rating 50 strokes per minute out of the start in Semifinal Two. But it didn’t last long as Sydney World Rowing Cup winner, Duncan Grant of New Zealand took over in front. Grant continued to lead through the body of the race making it look like a done deal. But the race was far from over.

Around the 1400m mark Jensen attacked. Upping his stroke rate Jensen went strongly after Grant and with 300m left to row, Jensen had got into the lead.  But Grant was not going to let his lead go easily and the Kiwi counter-attacked pushing his stroke rate to 37. Jensen reacted back with a 39 stroke rate. Then Konstantin Steinhuebel of Germany Two gave it his all, joining in the fight for the line. Steinhuebel attack was very effective and with 70m left to row he had pushed ahead of Grant. At the line these three scullers had all qualified the order being Jensen, Steinhuebel, then Grant.
Qualifiers: POR, IRL, DEN2, DEN1, GER2, NZL

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals
In yesterday’s heats Norway’s Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli recorded the second fastest time and they decided to stamp their claim early on Semifinal One. But Richard and Peter Chambers of Great Britain had other ideas. The Chambers brothers stuck tightly to Brun and Strandli as these two crews moved away from Germany’s Jonathan Koch and Lars Hartig in third.
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Coming into the final sprint Brun and Strandli kept the power on and pushed away from the Chambers brothers to finish first. Peter and Richard Chambers looked reasonably content to keep second and Germany earned the third and final qualifying spot.

Semifinal Two saw Japan take a flying start, but by the 100m mark Poland had taken over in the lead. Poland’s Artur Mikolajczewski and Milosz Jankowski finished with the fourth fastest time from yesterday’s heats and come to this regatta after finishing seventh at the European Rowing Championships. But by the middle of the race Paul and Bernhard Sieber of Austria – yesterday’s fastest qualifiers and under 23 champions – were in the lead. But margins were tight and both Poland and now the Netherland’s Vincent and Tycho Muda were right there. It was going to be a fight for the line.

Poland, the Netherlands and Austria all charged for the line finishing in a spread of less than two seconds. Austria had earned first, Poland were second and the Netherlands earned a spot in the final by being third.
Qualifiers: NOR, GBR, GER, AUT, POL, NED

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals
The Norwegian sculler, Kjetil Borch had a very fast start in Semifinal One. Borch is usually found in the double, but in the absence of his partner (who is sitting exams) Borch decided to race the single and he is showing quite a bit of prowess in this boat class. But the race was far from over and by the middle of the race Olympic silver medallist, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic had smoothly pressed into the lead.

Borch, meanwhile, had his work cut out for him as Olympic bronze medallist, Alan Campbell of Great Britain did a big push through the 1200m mark and got his nose ahead of Borch. The order did not change with the tall, strong Synek crossing the line in first. Campbell took second and Borch qualified from third. These three boats were far ahead of the rest of the field.
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Semifinal Two opened with winner of the Sydney World Rowing Cup in March, Georgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria in the lead. But this lead did not last long as the very experienced Marcel Hacker of Germany decided being first was very important to him. Hacker last won a major title ten years ago and he has had mixed results since. Today, however, Hacker made it look easy as he did just enough to remain ahead of Bozhilov.

Meanwhile, Cristian Rosso of Argentina was trying to shake off the United States sculler and hold on to that third and final qualifying spot. Rosso is usually seen in the double but usual partner Ariel Suarez is recovering from injury (although is expected to re-join Rosso for the final World Rowing Cup in Lucerne). As the field began to spread out Hacker finished comfortably in first, Bozhilov was second and Rosso took third.
Qualifiers: CZE, GBR1, NOR, GER, BUL, ARG

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals
Great Britain’s Victoria Thornley got off very quickly in Semifinal One leaving New Zealand’s Emma Twigg and Eleanor Logan of the United States to battle it out for second. But this early order was no reflection of what would happen through the middle of the race. Olympic Champion from the eight, Logan pushed into the lead while Olympic fourth-placed in the single, Twigg got ahead of Thornley to sit in second. Thornley, coming from the women’s eight at the London Olympics, looked like she had started just a bit too aggressively.
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Coming into the line Logan kept the pressure on to win easily. Logan has an added incentive at this regatta to do well. If she finishes in the top four in the final, Logan will earn a spot on the United States 2013 team. Logan put herself in a very good position to do this by winning with Twigg qualifying from second and Thornley holding on to third.

When Magdalena Lobnig of Austria finished second at the European Rowing Championships, the word was out that she was a new force in the single. Today Lobnig led Semifinal Two from start to finish. This left Germany’s Julia Lier and Frida Svensson of Sweden to battle it out for second. The more senior Svensson got the better of the battle and qualified from second, while Lier had to accept third. These are the three qualifying crews from this semifinal.
Qualifiers: USA, NZL, GBR, AUT, SWE, GER1

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