Eton Dorney revived again for World Cup heats
The Samsung World Rowing Cup II at Eton Dorney, Great Britain saw the London 2012 Olympic regatta course once again come alive with international rowing.
Some of the athletes, hailing from 40 nations, last rowed internationally on this course in the Olympic finals. This added to the magic as rowers raced in heats which signalled the opening of this three day regatta. In calm conditions under cloudy, cool skies racing got under way. Temperatures in the low teens saw the crowd of around 3000 huddled under blankets before the sun started to peek out.
One of the toughest battles went on in the men’s quadruple sculls with every indication this will be a hot final on Sunday with a mix of 2012 Olympic crews and new blood fighting it out. Read on to find out more.
AS Men’s Single Sculls (ASM1x) – Heats
The goal here was to finish first for a direct path to the finals and in Heat One Russia’s Alexey Chuvashev came out in the lead with Andrew Houghton of Great Britain Two in hot pursuit. Chuvashev was third at last year’s Paralympic Games and is known to be a tough competitor. At the line Chuvashev had finished first and earned a spot in the final. Houghton will have to return for this afternoon’s repechage.
In Heat Two former World Champion, Tom Aggar of Great Britain One got out quickly and grabbed the lead using his long reach to get in front. Aggar dominated this event leading up to the London Paralympics, but finished outside of the medals in the high-pressure final. Today Aggar looked back in such dominating form that by the 500m, half-way point, Aggar had a full 21 second lead. This meant that Aggar did not have to push the finish to be the sole qualifier.
Qualifiers: RUS1, GBR1
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Heats
This event had ten scullers seeded into two heats with the top two boats in each heat able to go directly to the final.
In Heat One Germany’s Leonie Pless jumped off the line the quickest at a 45 stroke rate. But it wasn’t long until the very experienced Michaela Taupe-Traer of Austria One took the lead. Taupe-Traer has been a mainstay in this event for nearly two decades apart from a few breaks to give the double a go. Taupe-Traer then settled into a comfortable rhythm of 28 strokes per minute and let Pless do the chasing at about 32 strokes per minute. These two crews remained comfortably in the two qualifying positions and both were under no pressure in the final sprint. Taupe-Traer’s time of 7:49 was the fastest qualifying time.
The return of 2011 World Champion, Fabiana Beltrame of Brazil to the single was seen in Heat Two. Beltrame looked very comfortable as she got away in the lead followed by Ruth Walczak of Great Britain. By the middle of the race Beltrame and Walczak had established themselves comfortably in qualifying spots and nothing changed to the end. Beltrame and Walczak had qualified.
Qualifiers: AUT1, GER3, BRA, GBR
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
The formula here was three heats with the top two boats from each heat getting a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One Great Britain’s Chris Boddy took the lead but it didn’t last long as Pedro Fraga of Portugal took over. Fraga is very accomplished internationally in the lightweight double but he looked just as proficient in the single as he led the way. Boddy, meanwhile, slipped back being overhauled by Konstantin Steinhuebel of Germany2. At the finish Fraga and Steinhuebel had held on to the top two spots despite a big push at the end by Jamie Kirkwood of Great Britain One.
A lightening start by Paul O’Donovan of Ireland set the pace in Heat Two. This put winner of the Sydney World Rowing Cup, Duncan Grant of New Zealand into second. But Grant wasn’t letting this 2011 World Rowing Junior Championship finalist get away. Going through the middle of the race O’Donovan was just underrating Grant and keeping a very slight lead. This remained the case coming into the final sprint with O’Donovan keeping the pressure on and beating the former three-time World Champion, Grant, to the line. Grant, taking the pressure down, easily retained the second qualifying spot.
As the rain began to fall and a bit of a cross wind picked up, Heat Three got under way. Denmark had entered three boats and they all raced each other in this heat. Denmark3, Christian Michaelsen got the early lead but soon dropped back with Andrej Bendtsen then taking over out in front. Denmark1, Steffen Jensen was now moving. Bendtsen and Jensen sprinted for the line with Hugh McAdam of the United States joining in at a stunning 43 stroke rate. McAdam had left it too late with Jensen finishing first and Bendtsen taking the second and final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: POR, GER2, IRL, NZL, DEN1, DEN2
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Heat
This event had two heats with the top two boats from each heat getting a direct path to the final. In Heat One featured the new New Zealand line up of London Olympic bronze medallist, Rebecca Scown now partnered with Kayla Pratt. At the start it was the German regulars, Marlene Sinnig and Kerstin Hartmann, who had the lead. Sinnig and Hartmann held this lead through the middle of the race before Scown and Pratt got in front. At the line New Zealand and Germany were the two qualifying boats, New Zealand with the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Two received a huge amount of interest from the crowd as it featured Olympic Champion in the pair, Helen Glover of Great Britain. Glover has a new partner, Polly Swann, and together they won the first World Rowing Cup in Sydney. Today they stayed in the lead for the entire race to take a qualifying spot. Australia’s new duo of Tess Gerrand and Katrina Bateman sat in the second qualification place for the majority of the race but in the final 500 Great Britain Three took up their speed and took the direct route to the final.
Qualifiers: NZL, GER, GBR1, GBR3
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats
This event had two heats and the top boat only in each heat would earn a direct path to the final. The rain had now stopped with the sun momentarily peaking through the thick cloud in time for Heat One. It opened with Poland’s Wojciech Gutorski and Jaroslaw Godek in the lead. By the middle of the race Gutorski and Godek, who finished second earlier this month at the European Rowing Championships, had a nice lead with Romania One in second. The order remained the same to the line with Gutorski and Godek building up their lead to finish comfortably in first.
Heat Two saw the return to international racing of Olympic Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand. The last time Murray and Bond raced internationally it was on this Eton Dorney regatta course in the final of the Olympics. It did not take long for Murray and Bond to stamp their superiority on this race and the rest of the field must have known they would be racing for second. China gave it their best shot, rating 42 coming into the final sprint. But with just one qualifier, China would have to go to the repechage. Murray and Bond go directly to the final.
Qualifiers: POL, NZL
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Heats
This event had attracted 15 entries and they were divided amongst three heats with the top three boats from each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One the Chambers brothers, Peter and Richard of Great Britain, led the way. Last time Peter and Richard raced together internationally it was in the final of the lightweight men’s four at the Olympics. Today’s race in the double is a new boat for them. The Chambers remained in the lead for the entire race comfortably crossing the finish line ahead of another set of brothers, Vincent and Tycho Muda of the Netherlands. Hong Kong China One (Chiu Mang Tang and Kwan Hoi Lok) were third and also get to progress to the semifinal.
Norway’s Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli featured in the lead of Heat Two. These athletes looks like they’ve really come into their own this year with a second place finish at the European Rowing Championships earlier this month. They have been together since 2008 and 2013 may be their season. Poland’s Artur Mikolajczewski and Milosz Jankowski followed in second with Hungary in third. Although margins were relatively tight, the order didn’t change and Norway, Poland and Hungary were the qualifiers.
In Heat Three Germany (Konstantin Steinhuebel and Lars Hartig) had the fastest start and they still had the lead going through the middle of the race. But Austria’s Paul and Bernhard Sieber were right with the Germans and coming into the final sprint Germany and Austria were neck-and-neck with Argentina and Japan also going head-to-head in the fight for the third spot. Ratings went up. Japan hit 40 strokes per minute. Austria finished first, Germany was second and Japan won the battle to take third.
Qualifiers: GBR, NED, HKG1, NOR, POL, HUN, AUT, GER, JAP
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Heats
The two heats in this event required scullers to finish first or second if they wanted to go directly to the final. Heat One featured Great Britain’s new look boat of Kathryn Twyman and Imogen Walsh. But it was Great Britain’s second boat of Brianna Stubbs and Eleanor Piggott that had the lead at the start. This lead didn’t last long with Twyman and Walsh, who were third at the Sydney World Rowing Cup, then pushing into the lead. With that, Twyman and Walsh did not look back and pushed away from the pack.
At the line Twyman and Walsh had easily qualified with Great Britain Two taking the other qualifying spot.
Germany’s Anja Noske and Lena Mueller were second at the European Rowing Championships earlier this month and they looked strong today as they led Heat Two. But Sweden’s Cecilia Pultz and Emma Fred were challenging hard. Coming through the second half of the race Germany managed to shake Sweden off and move away from the field. There were no challenges to the two front leaders and Germany and Sweden both got to qualify, Germany recording the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: GBR1, GBR2, GER, SWE
Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
There were two heats in the men’s four and it was up to crews to finish first if they wanted a direct path to the final. In Heat One Australia took the lead at the start. The Australian boat has held on to two members of the crew that won silver at the London Olympic Games – William Lockwood and Joshua Dunkley-Smith – and by the middle of the race they were the clear leaders. Romania put up a fine effort to keep up, but they were outclassed by the Australians who remained in front.
Great Britain has retained the same crew that came fourth at the Sydney World Rowing Cup and they were in the lead from the start of Heat Two. This pushed third-place getters from Sydney, New Zealand into second. The crowd, which had now moved from the grandstand down to the banks of the lake, was loving it. Great Britain was brought home to rapturous cheering to take the qualifying spot and also recording the fastest qualifying time of 6:00.
Qualifiers: AUS, GBR
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
This event had two heats with the first boat only getting a direct path to the final. In a very stacked Heat One, Olympic Champions, Germany took the lead over Olympic silver medallists, Croatia.
Germany held a slight margin over Croatia with the Croatian’s continuing to push hard. Then coming into the final sprint Croatia took their rating to 38 and attacked. Germany took up the challenge, taking their stroke rate to 37 to hold the Croatian’s off. It worked. Croatia backed off and Germany got to qualify for the final and with the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Two was an incredibly tight battle with the Czech Republic showing a very slight margin coming through the first half of the race. But the margins were tight and a solid push by Great Britain gave them the lead. It looked as though the Czech’s didn’t have an answer as the British crept away. Then then Australia and New Zealand began to move up. They had, however, left this attack too late. Great Britain held off the Antipodeans and got to go directly to the final.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
The men’s double sculls had attracted 12 entries. They were divided into two heats with the top boat only from each heat getting to go directly to the final. In Heat One winners of the Sydney World Rowing Cup, New Zealand got away the fastest, albeit only just over Aleksandar Aleksandrov and Boris Yotov of Azerbaijan. Aleksandrov and Yotov kept the pressure on and going through the half-way point they had earned the lead. New Zealand’s Michael Arms and Robert Manson were not giving up and pushed their way back into the lead. This must have unnerved the Azerbaijanis (who both originally come from Bulgaria), and Arms and Manson were able to push away. At the line Arms and Manson had an open water lead to qualify for the final.
Germany’s Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger took the lead in Heat Two. Knittel and Krueger have been together for a few years but had quite an up and down career with a ninth-place finish at the Olympics last year. It looks like they’ve got it all together for this regatta as they continued to lead over Great Britain through the middle of the race. By the second 1000m the rest of the field looked as though they did not want to challenge the Germans and Knittel and Krueger easily took first using a very relaxed-looking style of rowing. Germany also had the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: NZL, GER
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
This event had attracted enough crews for two heats and the deal was to finish first or second for a direct path to the final. In Heat One Germany’s Lisa Schmidla and Mareike Adams took the lead after overtaking the fast-starting Mette Petersen and Lisbet Jakobsen of Denmark. The Danes gave it their all to hold on to Germany and coming into the final sprint it was very close. This race between Germany and Denmark pushed them away from the rest of the field. Germany crossed the line in first and Denmark qualified for the final from second.
Last year at the London Olympics Great Britain took the gold in this boat class. Today, with an entirely new crew of Frances Houghton and Victoria Meyer-Laker, Great Britain led Heat Two from start to finish. Houghton and Meyer-Laker raced at the Sydney World Rowing Cup in March and they finished third. It looks like, with a bit more time in the boat, this duo is really gelling. At the line the duo had recorded the fastest qualifying time. China’s Dongxiang Xu and Feihong Pan followed in second to earn the other qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: GER, DEN, GBR, CHN2
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Heats
Two heats lined up with the challenge to be in first place for a direct path to the final and in Heat One Denmark took no chances. The Danes have retained three of the crew that claimed Olympic bronze last year and they came out in dominating style. This left Poland, Japan and Austria to fight it out for second and fight they did. Sprinting to the line Denmark remained comfortably in front to qualify for the final. Poland took second but will have to return for the repechage.
Heat Two saw all crews get out of the starting blocks swiftly with New Zealand being just a bit swifter. New Zealand finished first at the Sydney World Rowing Cup in March and they look like they’ve come to the Northern Hemisphere ready to race. Coming through the 1000m mark New Zealand retained the lead with Great Britain challenging the New Zealanders. Taking their stroke rate to 37, New Zealand, looking strong and smooth, pushed away to take first at the line despite Great Britain really trying to hang on. The New Zealand time of 6:00 gave them the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: DEN, NZL
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Heats
Three heats lined up with the top three boats able to go through to the semifinals. In Heat One Olympic silver medallist, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic lined up as the favourite. Synek didn’t disappoint and got out in front with his superior skills. This left a very tight fight for the remaining qualifying spots between John Graves of the United States, Georgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria and Jonathan Walton of Great Britain Two. This fight meant that Synek had to stay alert and at the line Synek only had a one second lead. Bozhilov came through in second and Walton took third.
Surprisingly at the start of Heat Two, usual double sculler, Kjetil Borch of Norway had the lead over Germany’s Marcel Hacker. Hacker, however, was not going to let Borch go and the two went head-to-head through the 1000m point. Then Hacker decided to up the pressure and took a couple of boat lengths out of Borch.
As the line came into view Hacker felt that he could drop the pressure but still he kept his stroke rate high. Borch crossed in second and Cristian Rosso of Argentina took third. These are the three qualifiers.
Heat Three featured Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell of Great Britain. This is Campbell’s first international race this season and he showed that he had lost nothing of his race speed. The rest of the field looked contented to let Campbell go with Oleg Gonorovski of Israel in second and Joseph Sullivan of New Zealand Two in third. With no challenge, Campbell was able to comfortably tap his boat home. Israel and New Zealand also qualified.
Qualifiers: CZE, BUL, GBR, GER, NOR, ARG, GBR, ISR, NZL
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats
This event had three heats and for these scullers it was all about finishing in a top three position to earn a spot in the semifinals. In Heat One Germany One, Julia Lier had the lead at the start with New Zealand’s Emma Twigg right behind her. By the middle of the race Lier and Twigg – who is racing in her first international race for 2013 – were neck-and-neck. Then the more experienced Twigg moved out to take the lead over Lier with Melanie Wilson of Great Britain Two following in third. The order did not change to the line with Twigg, Lier and Wilson earning a direct path to the semifinals.
Victoria Thornley of Great Britain got out quickly in Heat Two followed extremely closely by Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. Thornley comes to single sculling from rowing last year in the Olympic women’s eight while Lobnig was in the under-23 double in 2012. Lobnig showed that she is solid in the single when she finished second at the European Rowing Championships earlier this month and she stuck tightly to Thornley through the middle of the race. Then, using long, strong strokes, Lobnig pushed into the lead to qualify from first, Thornley took second and Sweden’s Frida Svensson qualified from third.
Heat Three was all about Olympic gold medallist from the women’s eight, Eleanor Logan of the United States. Logan was in the lead at the start and by the middle of the race she had more than a boat length lead. This left Julia Levina to race in second and China’s Yunxia Chen was in third. The order did not change and this procession crossed the line with Logan, Levina and Chen became the qualifiers.
Qualifiers: NZL, GER, GBR2, AUT, GBR1, SWE, USA, RUS, CHN