Croatia's Martin sets Best Time in European Champs semifinals
The weather was challenging for day two at the 2015 European Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland. A strong cross tail wind caused waves and demanded technical excellence but still a few crabs were spotted. It also meant that times were rather quick as the rowers went through semifinal races in pursuit of a spot in tomorrow's finals. One of the best shows of speed was Damir Martin of Croatia. Martin set a new European Best Time in the men's single sculls with 6:47.35.
In between semifinal racing, the men's quadruple sculls repechage also saw a new European Best Time when Great Britain finished in a time of 5:41.88.
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Semifinals
Pierre Houin of France had the best race in Semifinal One. Houin won his heat yesterday and today by the half way point he had gone to a two second lead over Zak Lee-Green of Great Britain, the winner of his heat. Then Ukraine's Igor Khmara started to move on the two leaders. Khmara came to the semifinals after having both a heat and repechage yesterday and his second half move was showing that Khmara had very good stamina in his third race of this regatta. Last year's under-23 medallist, Houin kept the pace on and remained in front with Lee-Green doing just enough to stay ahead of Khmara.
Winner of the World Rowing Cup earlier this month in Bled, Lukas Babac of Slovakia led Semifinal Two at the start. Babac has had a long international career which has seen him sometimes race as an openweight rower. By the middle of the race Babac had earned a small lead over Bulgaria's Nedelcho Vasilev. Both of these scullers qualified for the semifinal through yesterday's heats and they met today to try and qualify for the final. Then Slovenia's Rajko Hrvat took chase and managed to get his nose ahead of Vasilev. Babac, Hrvat and Vasilev all went hard for the finish line. All three scullers went under seven minutes to qualify for the final. Babac recorded the fastest qualifying time of 6:57.
Qualifiers: FRA, GBR, UKR, SVK, SLO, BUL
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (LW1x) - Semifinals
Semifinal One was all about the final sprint when four boats fought it out for three qualifying spots. Irealand's Sinead Jennings led for the first half of the race. Jennings is doing a comeback after a six year hiatus and the heats made her look very much on form. Going through the middle of the race Jennings still had the lead but Great Britain's Imogen Walsh was moving on her. Then Russia's Anastasiia Ianina took chase and moved on the leaders with every stroke. Sonata Petrikaite of Lithuania was also moving very fast. Petrikaite came to the semifinals through the repechage and she was making the best of her third race at this regatta.
At the line Jennings had run out of steam and Ianina, Petrikaite and Walsh had made the final.
Germany's Judith Anlauf had a very well timed race in Semifinal Two. Anlauf came out at the start with the bunch and then pushed her way into the lead to stay there for the rest of the race. She was kept very honest by Emma Fredh of Sweden who came through Denmark to take second. Despite a slow start Anna Ioannou of Cyprus was able to get into a qualifying spot by doing a beautiful closing sprint. Anlauf's time was just one second off a new European Best Time.
Qualifiers: RUS, LTU, GBR, GER, SWE, CYP
Women's Pair (W2-) – Semifinals
When you line up against the World, Olympic and European Champions, you know that you may be racing for second. That certainly looked the case in Semifinal one. Heather Stanning and Helen Glover of Great Britain led at the start and pushed easily away from the rest of the field. The British duo were able to drop their stroke rate down to 26-27 and still remain easily in front. The Polish crowd celebrated as Poland took second with Denmark in third.
Winners of the first World Rowing Cup, Olivia van Rooijen and Elisabeth Hogerwerf of the Netherlands did like Glover and Stanning when they raced in Semifinal Two. The Dutch duo got out early and by the middle of the race they had a three second lead over Romania's Cristina Grigoras and Laura Opera with France in third. In the final sprint Rooijen and Hogerwerf remained in front and crossed the line with the fastest qualifying time of the two semifinals. Romania and France qualified from second and third respectively. Hats off to all of these crews for making the best out of the conditions.
Qualifiers: GBR, POL, DEN, NED, ROU, FRA
Lightweight Men's Double Sculls (LM2x) - Semifinals
It was Great Britain that had the lead at the start of Semifinal One. Richard Chambers and William Fletcher are in their first international race together and they won their heat yesterday. Norway's Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli followed closely in second with Ireland and Austria neck and neck for the third spot. Then Austria started to slip back as Czech brothers Jan and Ondrej Vetesnik pushed forward. The Czechs, however, did not have enough left for the sprint and with Great Britain and Norway taking the first two spots, Ireland gave it their all to grab the third qualifying spot.
The European Champions, Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou of France led the way in Semifinal Two. The duo finished fourth at the London Olympics and ever since they have made it very clear that their intentions are for a Rio gold medal. Today Delayre and Azou proved that they had lost no speed over their off season as they pushed to a huge open water lead with 500m left to row. This left the more exciting part of the race to Turkey and the Netherlands.
At the line France had won with the fastest qualifying time, albeit only 0.28 faster than Great Britain. The Muda twins from the Netherlands came through to take second and Huseyin Kandemir and Enes Kusku of Turkey gaining a very well deserved spot in the final.
Qualifiers: GBR, NOR, IRL, FRA, NED, TUR
Lightweight Women's Double Sculls (LW2x) - Semifinals
The Germans looked very confident in the lead of Semifinal One. Fini Sturm and Marie-Louise Draeger are in their first season together and are the quintessential mix of youth and experience. The mix was serving them well as they moved to a large five second lead by the middle of the race. Then a very tight fight between the Netherlands and Great Britain brought two boats up to challenge the Germans. In the final sprint Katherine Copeland and Charlotte Taylor of Great Britain had nearly caught Draeger and Sturm and will definitely be a crew to watch in the final. Germans only just held on to first with Great Britain in second and the Netherlands in third.
In yesterday's heats Joanna Dorociak and Weronika Deresz of Poland had a great race to finish first. Today Dorociak and Deresz proved it was no fluke as they led Semifinal Two from start to finish. By the middle of the race Dorociak and Deresz had a lead over Denmark's crew of Anne Lolk Thomsen and Juliane Rasmussen. Thomsen and Rasmussen raced together at the London Olympic Games and this is their first international race together since then.
As the race went through the second 1000m the Poles were able to pull further away from the field with Denmark now under threat from Ireland and Russia. Poland crossed the line with the fastest qualifying time with just half a second separating the next three boats. Russia had just missed out on the A-final. Denmark and Ireland's Claire Lambe and Denise Walsh had made it through.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR, NED, POL, DEN, IRL
Men's Double Sculls (M2x) - Semifinals
In yesterday's heats the 2013 World Champions, Norway's Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch proved that they were back in winning form when they led their heat. Today Hoff and Borch led Semifinal One with France's Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias following very closely. As Norway's stroke became smoother through the progression of the race, they managed to pull away. Meanwhile it was very tight now between Great Britain, France and Bulgaria with just one and a half seconds separating these crews. The final sprint was going to be intense. As these crews fought to qualify, the Norwegian leading gap diminished to practically nothing. Bulgaria, rating 41, was flying.
At the line Hoff and Borch just held on to first. Kristian Vasilev and Georgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria took second and Boucheron and Androdias took third. Great Britain missed out on qualifying by just 0.05 of a second. Norway recorded the fastest qualifying time.
With the medalling crews from the World Rowing Cup in Bled all racing in Semifinal Two, there was every indication that this race would be tight. World Cup winners, Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger of Germany took the lead and by the middle of the race they had a comfortable margin over Michal Plocek and David Jirka of the Czech Republic. In the final sprint Hacker and Krueger remained in front with Plocek and Jirka giving it their all to stay just ahead of a flying Ukraine. These became the qualifying boats.
Qualifiers: NOR, BUL, FRA, GER, CZE, UKR
Women's Double Sculls (W2x) - Semifinals
Leading the way in Semifinal One was the famed Polish double of Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj. They are both Poznan locals and also the reigning European Champions. By the middle of the race Poland had nearly a boat length lead over Germany's Julia Lier and Mareike Adams. As the race progressed the Poles looked to be getting better and better. Lier and Adams had no reply and instead had to keep an eye on Ukraine's Olena Buryak and Anastasiia Kozhenkova. Buryak is a very well known name in the indoor rowing world as she is the fastest woman over 2000m on the ergometer. In the final sprint Poland remained in front with Germany holding off Ukraine. These are the qualifying crews. Poland had registered the fastest qualifying time.
Semifinal Two saw the British crew of Katherine Grainger and Victoria Thornley take a very fast start. Then the British were pushed into second by the 2013 World Champions, Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania. The British, which included Olympic Champion Grainger in the boat, held on tightly to the Lithuanians. But Vistartaite and Valciukaite held them off. These two boats charged to the line with Lithuania getting there first. Belarus's Yuliya Bichyk and Ekaterina Karsten took the third and final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: POL, GER, UKR, LTU, GBR, BLR
Lightweight Men's Four (LM4-) - Semifinals
Using the British racing style of fast starts, the crew from Great Britain took the lead in Semifinal One. But looking a lot more together than yesterday, the defending European Champions, Denmark came through to then grab the lead. The Danes have had one change to their line up due to senior crew member Morten Joergensen who is suffering from fatigue. Denmark remained strong and stayed in front with Great Britain having to settle for second. In third, winners of the World Rowing Cup in Bled, Switzerland took the final qualifying sport.
France did not get out the fastest in Semifinal Two. Instead that spot went to Spain with the French chasing them hard. By the middle of the race Spain still had about half a second over France with Germany also right on the pace. Then the French took over in the lead and in the final sprint there was still a lot of room for challenges. The biggest sprint went to the Netherlands which earned them the third spot leaving France and Spain to take first and second respectively. France's time of 5:55.26 was just 0.01 of a second faster than Denmark's time in semifinal one. This will be one very tight final.
Qualifiers: DEN, GBR, SUI, FRA, ESP, NED
Men's Single Sculls (M1x) - Semifinals
Opening in the lead of Semifinal One was Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania. Griskonis had the fastest qualifying time coming through from yesterday's heats. The regular finalist and former European Champion, Griskonis still had the lead at the half way point. This left 2008 Olympic Champion, Olaf Tufte of Norway in second with Hannes Obreno of Belgium very much on Tufte's pace. Tufte, 39, who is aiming for another Olympic medal in 2016, was then overtaken by Obreno as Griskonis remained out in front.
In the final sprint, Tufte retook his second place spot as Obreno looked like he was happy just to qualify. Griskonis had earned a centre lane in tomorrow's final with his first place finish.
Three boats broke away in Semifinal Two. The World and European Champion, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic led the way with Damir Martin of Croatia just behind in second and Great Britain's Angus Groom. This is Groom's first season as Great Britain's top male single sculler, a spot that was held for years by Alan Campbell. Campbell is currently injured but has every intention to come back.
As these crews went through the middle of the race, the very skilled strategist, Synek was doing just enough to
hold off Martin and Groom. Then Martin decided he'd had enough of these games and did a piece that earned him the lead. Once in the lead Martin pushed to a small margin over Synek with Groom now realising that he'd better keep the pressure on as Finland came sprinting down the side. At the line Martin had set a new European Best Time. The standard is now 6:47.35. Synek and Groom qualified for the final from second and third respectively.
Qualifiers: LTU, NOR, BEL, CRO, CZE, GBR