European Rowing Championships take off in Lucerne
It was almost perfect rowing conditions on the Rotsee for the 2019 European Rowing Championships day of heats. Held in Lucerne, Switzerland this was the day for nearly 600 athletes to get their racing going and aim to get into the next round on their way to the finals. A following wind building as racing continued saw some new European Best Times being scored.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Heats
Three heats lined up with the aim of being in a top three position for a spot in the semifinals. Romania got away quickly with Adriana Ailincai and Maria Tivodariu in the lead in Heat One. They kept the rating high up around 36-37 strokes per minute through the middle of the race. Both Ailincai and Tivodariu raced in their country’s eight at last year’s World Rowing Championships. They are just 20 years old. Great Britain and Norway and Ukraine were neck and neck for second. This battle continued through to the line. Romania finished first and in the fastest overall qualifying time.
In Heat Two, the Netherlands got away quickly with Germany and France in hot pursuit. The Dutch crew of Aletta Jorritsma and Jose van Veen remained in front through the middle of the race with Germany right behind in second. Then Italy came charging through, overtook Germany and went after the Netherlands. The Germans then began to drop back as France came through. Aisha Rocek of Italy then took their stroke to 37 and overtook the Dutch. Italy had won. The Dutch held on to second and Germany fought back to take third by just 0.21 of a second.
The Greeks took off quickly in Heat Three. The under-23 duo finished first at the 2018 World Rowing Junior Championships and fourth at the 2018 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. Kyridou and Bourmpou were still in first at the half way point with Spain and Lithuania battling it out for second. Then Spain did a big push and Aina Cid and Virginia Diaz Rivas took the lead. This duo raced at World Rowing Cup I earlier this month and finished sixth. Once in front Cid and Diaz Rivas pulled away from the pack and took first. Greece qualified from second.
Qualifiers: ROU, GBR, UKR, ITA, NED, GER, ESP, GRE, LTU
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats
There were three heats in this boat class with the idea to be in a top three position for a direct path to the semifinals. Romania led the way in Heat One with Marius-Vasile Cozmiuc and Ciprian Todosa coming to this race after finishing second at last year’s World Rowing Championships. The rest of the field was very tightly packed with just two seconds separating them at the half way point. Then Great Britain managed to break away into second and France held third. These were the qualifiers at the line.
Serbia had a great start in Heat Two. This duo of Martin Mackovic and Milos Vasic won at World Rowing Cup I at the start of the month and in the process beat the World Champions, Croatia’s Sinkovic brothers. Belarus followed in second with the Czech Republic in third. Going through the middle of the race Mackovic and Vasic had over a boat length lead over Belarus with the Czechs challenging Belarus. Serbia continued to dominate and included a few pieces despite being out in front. Serbia then dropped to 33 strokes per minute and did not sprint the finish. Belarus went to 37 to take second.
It was no surprise to see Croatia out in front in Heat Three. Martin and Valent Sinkovic are World Champions in the pair and Olympic Champions in the double. They led over a full-on, neck-and-neck race between Spain and Italy. By the middle of the race the Sinkovic’s had an open water lead and they looked all style. At 38 strokes per minute, Croatia went into the final sprint with Spain now having broken away from Italy. Croatia had qualified with the fastest time overall.
Qualifiers: ROU, GBR, FRA, SRB, BLR, CZE, CRO, ESP, ITA
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
The three heats meant a top three position was needed for a path to the semifinals. Out in lane 5 in Heat One were the European Champions, France. But it was Germany that had the lead at the start. The German crew of Leonie Menzel and Carlotta Nwajide was still in the lead at the half way point with France back in third behind Belarus. Belarus was keeping the Germans very honest and just a second separated them coming into the final sprint. The sprint went the German way over Belarus as Ukraine came flying up the outside to take third, nocking France into the repechage.
It was Romania in the lead of Heat Two. This is their senior debut, coming through from the under-23s. Nicoleta-Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Radis of Romania remained ahead and they had managed to break away from the battle going on between Greece and Italy with Great Britain joining in. Using 36 strokes per minute Bodnar and Radis managed to remain easily in front. Now Great Britain, who usually row as lightweights, got ahead of Greece and into third with Italy in second. Then Greece went to 40 strokes per minute and went after a qualifying spot. They did it. Romania finished first and Greece took second. Romania had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Norway had to pull out for medical reasons in Heat Three leaving a four-boat race. So it was all about not coming last. All eyes were on the Dutch duo of Elsbeth Beeres and Laila Youssifou medalled in the eight earlier this month at the World Rowing Cup I. Beeres and Youssifou took off in the lead with Lithuania right on the pace. Then the World Champions, Milda Valciukaite and Ieva Adomaviciute got into the lead. The Dutch held on with Poland back in third. The very well-timed race by Lithuania saw them keep their pace up through to the final sprint. The Dutch held on with Poland and Russia going head-to-head, try to grab the final qualifying spot. Russia had done it by a mere 0.01 of a second.
Qualifiers: GER, BLR, UKR, ROU, GRE, ITA, LTU, NED, RUS
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
It was a new Irish crew out in front of Heat One. Their job was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. There were four heats and the competition looked intense. Ireland’s Philp Doyle Ronan Byrne remained ahead of Romania and Bulgaria. The Irish looked powerful and comfortable and they then sprinted to get away from Romania. The Romanians looked happy to have second with the rest of the field deciding not to sprint the finish.
From lane one Poland had the lead in Heat Two. The main challenge came from the Netherlands and Spain. Then Lithuania went to 39-38 and remained at that pace into the middle of the race. This put the Lithuanians ahead of Spain. Meanwhile the Dutch had closed on the Poles who were underrating the rest of the field at 36. Miroslaw Zietarski and Fabian Baranski of Poland looked calm and collected. The Poles and Dutch had now broken away from the rest of the field and it looked like the qualifiers had been decided. Zietarski and Baranski was is the gold medal men’s quadruple sculls at World Rowing Cup I earlier this month. The Dutch then sprinted the finish. Poland did just enough to hold them off.
Switzerland had the fastest start in Heat Three. The crew of Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli of Switzerland got to the first 500m mark in first. But Greece was chasing hard. They were both at 35-36 strokes per minute to try and break away from Great Britain. The British then got the better of Greece and closed on Switzerland. Great Britain was at 37 and Switzerland hadn’t reacted remaining on 36. Delaraze and Roeoesli are the 2018 silver medallist and they were now bow ball to bow ball with Thomas and Collins of Great Britain. It was all going to come down to the best sprint. The British, who come out of the quadruple sculls, had the better speed going to 42 with Switzerland reacting and going to 41. The British had won and also scored the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Four had Germany’s Stephan Krueger and Tim Ole Naske show the fastest start. Naske comes into the double after racing the single for most of his rowing career. He comes into the double with regular double sculler, Krueger. The World and European Champions, France sat is second but very close to the Germans. Italy was very much on the pace as well. Naske and Krueger then managed to get half a boat length over Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias of France. Then Italy pulled out a big sprint and overtook the French and went after Germany. The Germans underrated Italy and managed to pull away to the win.
Qualifiers: IRL, ROU, POL, NED, GBR, SUI, GER, ITA
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
There were three heats with the goal being to be in a first and second spot to get through to the semifinals. Heat One had Italy’s Martino Goretti out in front with Switzerland in second. Also in this race was Ireland’s Gary O’Donovan making his single sculling debut. Goretti then opened up clear water over Schaeuble of Switzerland. Goretti finished seventh at last year’s World Championships and he was owning this race. Goretti and Schaeuble went to 37 and 38 in the final sprint and were the two qualifiers.
The fastest mover at the start of Heat Two was Peter Galambos of Hungary. Galambos has racing internationally for 14 years and he had loads of experience over this field. Poland was in second with Austria in third. Poland’s Artur Mikolajczewski held on to Galambos’s lead and they moved away from the rest of the field. Then Poland overtook Hungary and went on to win by a handy margin.
Heat Three had five boats and it was Rajko Hrvat of Slovenia out in front. Behind him there was a close race going on between Germany and Serbia. By the middle of the race Hrvat had a clear water lead. Hrvat’s international racing goes back 13 years and in recent years he has been Slovenia’s most successful rower. Serbia’s Milos Stanojevic was now in second with Croatia’s Luka Radonic challenging him. Hrvat held 41 strokes per minute for the majority of the race to form a huge lead and finishing with the fastest qualifying time of 7:01.90. Germany came through to take the second qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: ITA, SUI, POL, HUN, SLO, GER
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats
Turkey won bronze at last year’s World Championships. This is the best Turkey has ever done at a World Rowing Championships and they led the way in the first of two heats. Behind Turkey Italy challenged with every stroke. The Italians has a history of winning this boat class and coming into the middle of the race they began to push ahead of Turkey. Once in front the Italians really moved. Turkey held on to second. The goal was to finish first for a direct path to the final and it looked like it could be Italy. At the line Italy had recorded a new European Best Time. This time was 5:57.18.
The Dutch led the way in Heat Two recording 40 strokes per minute into the second 500. The Netherlands took bronze at last year’s European Championships and two of the crew remain this year. The Germans are the European Champions and they have quite a new crew over last year. The Netherlands continued to lead with France the closest challengers for the lead and that one qualifying spot. The Netherlands and France both went into the low 40s in the final sprint. Both wanted that one spot. France had won and beaten Italy’s time from the last race. France had scored the new European Best Time of 5:55.21.
Qualifiers: ITA, FRA
Women’s Four (W4-) – Heats
Two heats lined up with the goal of being in a top two position for a direct path to the final on Sunday. At the start of Heat One Germany had the lead. This did not last long as Romania came charging through and took over out in front. The early pace of the Germans looked to be costing them as they then slipped back into third with Poland moving up into second. Poland now tried to close on Romania who had remained in the lead. The Romanians had won with Poland holding on to second. Romania had recorded a new European Best Time of 6:31.86.
The Dutch led the way in Heat Two with Denmark in second. Then a big second 500 piece by the Netherlands propelled them clean away from the rest of the field. Only half the race had been rowed and the Netherlands were off with open water. The Danes then decided to fight back and they gave it their all to get an overlap on the Dutch who won at World Rowing Cup I earlier this month. The Netherlands had set a new European Best Time, taken from Romania in a time of 6:28.15.
Qualifiers: ROU, POL, NED, DEN
Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
Three heats made up this boat class with the goal in each heat to be in a top three position. This would give a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One the first and second place getters from World Rowing Cup I – Poland and Austria – raced. But this time they had more competition in the form of Germany and Serbia. The Germans were out in front at the start and remained in first going through the middle of the race. Poland held on to second only one second back and Serbia was in third. Then Germany managed to get a very small lead with Serbia coming up to challenge Poland. The German four is a new line up with Merget, Planer, Wimberger and Brummel in the boat. They won in a time of 5:54.66.
Heat Two saw Romania and Belarus take off stroke for stroke together in the lead. But by the middle of the race everything had changed. Great Britain had taken the lead. Behind the British a virtual line formed with just a second separating Belarus, Switzerland, Romania and France. Great Britain then did a big third 500 push and broke away from the field with the race now between Switzerland and Belarus. It was oh so tight on the line. Belarus was second ahead of Switzerland. Great Britain’s time of 5:53.73 was faster than Germany in the previous heat.
Italy was out in front at the start of Heat Three. Ukraine was close behind in second. At 40 strokes per minute Italy continued to lead. The Italians held their high rate through the 800m mark. They took silver at the 2018 World Rowing Championships and they are known to rate high. Ukraine hung on to second over the Netherlands. The one-two order didn’t change coming into the final sprint with the real race going on for third between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. Italy went to 41 to hold off Ukraine. The Italians remained in the lead.
Qualifiers: GER, POL, SRB, GBR, BLR, SUI, ITA, UKR, NED
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and the first two boats would go through to the semifinals. In Heat One London Olympic silver medallist Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark led the way. But in lane one was home favourite and European Champion, Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland. At the half way mark Gmelin managed to slip just ahead of Erichsen. These two crews were now well ahead of the rest of the field. Then Gmelin took off and left Erichsen in the dust. Gmelin had won.
The winner of World Rowing Cup I, Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands was in the lead of Heat Two. Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig followed very closely in second. Then Lobnig did a push and moved into the lead with Jovana Arsic of Serbia very much on the pace. In the third 500 Mirka Topinkova Knapkova of the Czech Republic did a push that moved her ahead of Serbia and close to Scheenaard. Knapkova went to 37 to take on Scheenaard. Lobnig had won with Knapkova and Scheenaard crossing the line together. Knapkova had done it by 0.10 of a second. Lobnig had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Sanita Puspure of Ireland was a late entry and as the reigning World Champion, she must have been the favourite. Puspure took off in the lead of Heat Three. But Victoria Thornley of Great Britain was moving with Puspure. Thornley took a break in 2018 after overtraining and she is back looking powerful. Then Puspure managed to get a bit of an edge over Thornley. The race began to spread out and there was no big sprint at the end.
Qualifiers: SUI, DEN, AUT, CZE, IRL, GBR
Men’ Single Sculls (M1x) – Heats
A full five heats lined up with the goal being to be in a top four position to get to the quarterfinals. This was the only boat class at the regatta that would have to go through quarterfinals, adding another race to the men’s single programme. In Heat One Finland’s Robert Ven was having a great race. Ven took the lead over Lithuania at the start and then got away to over a boat length lead with half the race gone. The more successful Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania remained in second and under no threat from Hungary in third. The race was quite spread out and no one had to really sprint.
The Netherlands boat of Stef Broenink was the fastest at the start of Heat Two. Broenink comes out of the Dutch men’s quadruple sculls and he pulled away to a boat length lead over Sverri Nielsen of Denmark who was in second. Coming through to the final sprint Broenink remained out with a handy lead ahead of an incredibly tight race between the rest of the field. Just two seconds separated all four scullers and one would miss out on qualifying. Azerbaijan had missed out.
The World Champion, Kjetil Borch lined up in Heat Three and took off in the lead. Borch has been out of the boat for several weeks due to injury and he was up against winner of World Rowing Cup I, Damir Martin of Croatia. Borch remained in the lead at the half way point with Martin in second and Bulgaria’s Pilip Pavukou sitting in third. Martin, who is the silver medallist from the Rio Olympics, did a big third 500 push and got his nose in front of Borch. Borch pushed back and these two scullers went into the final sprint leading over the rest of the field. Martin then went down to a 30 stroke rate as Borch went to 37 to get back into the lead. Borch had made his point an took the win.
Germany’s top single sculler and top indoor rower, Oliver Zeidler was in the lead of Heat Four. Belgium’s Pierre de Loof sat closely in second. Switzerland’s Nico Stahlberg then joined the leaders and these three boats moved away from the rest of the field. A big tail wind gust helped push Zeidler down the course as he moved away from Belgium and Switzerland. Stahlberg then got ahead of de Loof as Zeidler went to 37 in the final sprint to stamp his dominance.
Heat Five saw the return of Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Synek is one of the masters of this boat class. He was the silver medallist from 2018 and has a bronze from Rio in 2016 to name a few of his medals. Synek took the lead at the start ahead of Israel and France. Israel and Thibaut Verhoeven of France remained neck-and-neck coming into the final sprint as Synek continued to lead. Great Britain then moved up to take on Israel and France. Verhoeven dropped his stroke rate to just hold on to fourth.
Qualifiers: FIN, LTU, HUN, ESP, NED, DEN, ROU, POL, NOR, CRO, BLR, BUL, GER, SUI, BEL, TUR, CZE, ISR, GBR, FRA
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and the leading three boats in each heat would get to go directly to the semifinals. Heat One had Italy’s Giulia Mignemi and Valentina Rodini out in front for the first half of the race. But their margin was only tiny over Belarus. Moving into the third 500 Ianina and Furman did a push that propelled them into the lead. Alena Furman is usually in the single, but she is racing here in the double and they were doing just fine. At the line Belarus had set a new European Best Time of 6:52.06 and scored the fastest time overall.
Out in front in Heat Two was Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove of France. This pushed the reigning World Champions, Romania out of the lead. Romania, despite a slow start, started to come back and they had moved into second going into the middle of the race. This didn’t phase Tarantola and Bove who had now gained a clean water lead. The race was a procession with Austria in third and under no threat to Romania. The field was spread out to the end.
Great Britain’s Eleanor Piggott and Imogen Grant had the leading edge at the start of Heat Three. It was just a small margin though with Switzerland’s Patricia Merz and Frederique Rol right on their tails. Going into the half way point it was neck and neck between Great Britain and Switzerland. This tight race had moved the two crews clear of the rest of the field with open water between them and everyone else. Rol and Merz continued to push and got their whiskers ahead of Piggott and Grant. Once in front they took their stroke rate to 38 to move further away. Going to 40 strokes per minute, Merz and Rol crossed the line in first.
Qualifiers: BLR, NED, ITA, FRA, ROU, AUT, SUI, GBR, IRL
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and their goal was to be in a top two position for a direct path to Saturday’s semifinals. Germany’s new combination of Jonathan Rommelmann and Jason Osborne were the first to show in Heat One. They led the way just ahead of Belgium’s Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe. Osborne and Rommelmann remained out in front and they also managed to extend their lead over Belgium who sat comfortably in second.
In Heat Two it was Italy’s Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta who got away very quickly. At 38 strokes per minute going through the second 500, Italy remained in front. But not by much. Oppo and Ruta medalled at last year’s World Rowing Championships and they must be the favourites in this boat class. Italy kept their stroke rate high through the entire race but they still had to deal with challenges from Ukraine and then towards the end, Ireland. This is a new Irish crew of Jacob and Fintan McCarthy then pulled out a huge sprint and grabbed the second qualifying spot. Italy qualified from first.
Denmark’s Emil Espensen and Alexander Modest was the fastest away in Heat Three and they not only took the lead, but they were pulling away from the field. The field, however, wasn’t letting them have it. Spain was challenging Denmark hard with a virtual line following behind. The spread was just half a second between third to sixth. Denmark and Spain were both at 40 with Spain taking the lead. Switzerland was able to push away from their challengers and they took third.
Qualifiers: GER, BEL, ITA, IRL, ESP, DEN
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Heats
In the first of two heats it was all about finishing first. Only first place would get to go directly to the final on Sunday. The Netherlands took off very quickly at a 46-stroke rate pace. They took bronze at the European Championships and bronze at the World Rowing Championships in 2018. Germany then came through and they managed to grab the lead with 500m raced. The Germans are the Olympic Champions from 2016 and it looks as though they are rebuilding their crew for Tokyo 2020. Germany continued to look powerful and the Netherlands had to give it their all to hold on to the speed. Through the third 500 Germany managed to break away with Ukraine now pushing up on the Netherlands. Germany had earned the qualifying spot and in a new European Best Time of 6:14.08.
The World Champions, Poland led the way in Heat Two. They have kept the same crew since winning in September last year. Romania followed in second but it was unlikely that they would be able to catch the Poles. This Polish boat has been together since 2017 and they look to be heading together towards Tokyo 2020. Poland’s Zillmann, Springwald, Wieliczko and Kobus-Zawojska then moved away from the rest of the field to an open water lead.
Qualifiers: GER, POL
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and the goal was to be in a top three position to progress straight through to the semifinals. The Italians are the European and World Champions and they lined up in Heat One. So it was no surprise to see Italy out in front at the start. By the middle of the race Italy had nearly a boat length lead over Russia with France in third. The French had to have a crew substitution so is was good to see them doing so well. Italy kept their stroke rate high and continued to lead with Russia holding on to second. The order was all but decided.
Germany looked good in Heat Two with Lars Hartig stroking the boat. The Germans were in front with the Netherlands following in second ahead of a very close battle for third between Poland, Lithuania and Estonia. The Netherland then pulled ahead of Germany with Poland closing on the leaders. As the Dutch earned a solid lead, Germany held on to stay ahead of Poland. This order remained to the line with the Netherlands recording a new European Best Time of 5:41.76.
The third and final heat had Great Britain shoot out very quickly and into the lead. But with just four boats in this heat, it was oh so close. Norway then stole the lead from Great Britain. Both were rating pretty evenly at around 36-37. Norway had double Olympic Champion, Olaf Tufte in stroke seat. Tufte’s crew then got a small margin over Great Britain as these two crews began to move away from the rest of the field. Great Britain got back into the lead. The final sprint was on. Great Britain had won.
Qualifiers: ITA, RUS, FRA, NED, GER, POL, GBR, NOR, UKR
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Heats
Two heats meant that the first boat only would go directly through to the final on Sunday. In Heat One it was no surprise to see the World Champions, Germany in the lead. The Germans are on a winning streak that is showing no weakness and they had a full boat length lead already at the half way point. Romania was the best of the rest but it looked like no one would be able to catch Romania. Germany kept the speed on right through to the line and rating 37 strokes per minute they remained in the lead. Romania went to 46 strokes per minute, but the Germans were able to hold them off. Their time was 5:27.29.
Heat Two had three boats with all three going for the one leading spot. Great Britain had the most speed at the start and they got to the first 500m mark just in the lead. The Netherlands held on closely with Italy a bit back. The Dutch held 41 strokes per minute to hold level with the British. Great Britain held 41 as well. It looked as if these two boats would go neck-and-neck for the entire race. The Dutch then squeezed into the lead and they kept the pressure on to remain in the lead and in the qualifying spot. The Netherlands had set a new European Best Time of 5:22.95.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR