Para PR1 Women’s Single Sculls (PR1 W1x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and the goal here was to finish in a top three position for a direct path to the semifinals. Heat One had former World Champion and Rio Olympics bronze medallist, Moran Samuel of Israel in the lead. There’s no doubt that Samuel was the most experienced in the field and within 500m Samuel already had a large lead. This left a very close battle to go on behind her between China’s Lili Wang and Sylvia Pille-Steppat of Germany. The more experienced Pille-Steppat then got the advantage over China. The order did not change through to the line with Samuel recording the fastest qualifying time of all of the heats.

Heat Two opened with France’s Nathalie Benoit in the lead. Benoit took silver at the 2012 Paralympic Games before taking a break from the sport. Benoit is now back and doing really well. Ukraine’s new star, Anna Sheremet chased hard and kept within striking distance of Benoit. These two scullers moved out ahead of the rest of the field.

When you line up against the World Champion, you are probably racing for second. World Champion Birgit Skarstein of Norway was in lane one of Heat Three. Skarstein, who has competed at both the summer and winter Paralympics, was in the lead at the start with Hallie Smith of the United States chasing in second. Smith tried to keep up with Skarstein but instead had to keep an eye on Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus. Rating 36, Smith kept ahead of Vauchok who was rating 40. The order remained the same through to the line.

Qualifiers: ISR, GER, CHN, FRA, UKR, ARG, NOR, USA, BLR

Para PR2 Men’s Single Sculls (PR2 M1x) – Heats
This boat class had two heats with the winner only of each heat getting to go directly to the final. Leading the way from the start in Heat One was Jeremy Hall of Canada. Hall had a huge amount of support in the crowd at the finish line and it must have helped him along as he stayed ahead of Italy and managed to move to an open water lead by the end. At the end of the two heats, Hall had proved to record the fastest time overall.  

In Heat Two the World Champion, Corne de Koning of the Netherlands sat in lane one. De Koning hasn’t lost a race this season and he also races in the PR2 mixed double sculls. The Dutch sculler took a handy lead at the start and never looked back. This left Isaac French of the United States back in second and working to stay ahead of new competitor, Gavin Foulsham of New Zealand. The World Best Time holder de Koning continued to lead the way using a 28 stroke rate. By the end he was racing his own race.

Qualifiers: CAN, NED

Para PR3 Men’s Pair (PR3 M2-) – Heats
Two heats lined up I this boat class and the aim was to finish in first for a direct path to the finals. In Heat One the reigning World Champions, Kyle Fredrickson and Andrew Todd of Canada had the lead at the start. But Ukraine’s Maksym Zhuk and Andrii Syvykh, who have two silver medals from this season, were giving the Canadians a good run for their money. Then Canada managed to get away and move to an open water lead. Ukraine tried to keep the pressure on in second. The order did not change through to the line.

Heat Two had Australians William Smith and Jed Altschwager in the lead at the start. But the lead was tiny with France’s Jerome Hamelin and Laurent Viala right on their tails. Smith and Viala then managed to break away but the French were still holding on. This is the first international race for the Australian duo together with Altschwager having experience from last year’s World Rowing Championships with another partner. They crossed the line in first and also with the fastest overall time. They will now meet the World Champions in the final.

Qualifiers: CAN, AUS

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
This boat class had a huge field of 21 countries entered with them all aiming not just for a World Championship medal, but for an Olympic qualification spot. They were divided into four heats and the aim was to be first for a direct path to the semifinals. Heat One opened with Poland in the lead. But this didn’t last long as Romania’s Bodnar and Radis pushed out in front. Bodnar and Radis took gold at World Rowing Cup III this season. With Romania now in the lead, the Netherlands started to really find their pace and moved up to attack the Romanians. De Jong and Scheenaard of the Netherlands finished fifth in 2018 and they have been rowing in different boats this season. The Dutch then pushed into the lead. Romania didn’t let them go and they went to 40 and then 41 to get back into the lead. The Dutch were at 38 to win by a fraction.

Heat Two had Amanda Bateman and Genevieve Horton of Australia jump out quickly. The duo are having a great season, picking up two World Rowing Cup medals already. But margins were tight and with 500m rowed just a second separated the top four boats. Australia managed to remain in front with China’s Shiyu Lu and Yuwei Wang in second and attacking with every stroke. Australia was at 38 and China at 34 saw China gain on Australia. Now France was coming. The French are the 2018 European Champions and continue to gain in experience. France was now level with China in the final sprint. Australia was at 39 and looking good. France nearly caught the Australians.

The fastest moving boat at the start of Heat Three was Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe of New Zealand. But it was the Czech duo of Lenka Antosova and Kristyna Fleissnerova that got to the first 500m mark in the lead. The margins, however, were tight and coming through the second 500 the New Zealand crew was able to take the lead. Loe and Donoghue are the 2017 World Champions and in 2018 they took silver. The Czech crew held on to second, but they could not keep up with the New Zealand pace. Loe and Donoghue then moved away to an open water lead. Using 33 strokes per minute the New Zealanders looked to be cruising the finish.

Heat Four saw the Americans take the lead at the start. Cicely Madden and Genevra Stone of the United States are in their first season together with Stone coming from the single where she medalled at the Rio Olympics. The reigning World Champions, Lithuania followed in second. At the half way point Madden and Stone still had the lead and had broken away from the Lithuanians. The Americans looked like they were untouchable with Lithuania looking like they did not want to push all the way. Canada then got into second and forced the United States to sprint the finish. The US got to the line first and recorded the fastest overall qualifying time.

Qualifiers: NED, AUS, NZL, USA

Lightweight Men’s Pair (LM2-) – Heats
Two heats started in this boat class with the top boat only in each head getting to go directly to the final. At the start of Heat One it was Italy that had a small leading margin with Brazil keeping well within striking distance. The Italian duo of Raffaele Serio and Giuseppe di Mare took bronze two years ago in the under-23 championships and then rowed in different boats at this year’s under-23’s – both medalling. Italy then got ahead of Brazil who continued to press on. Italy kept their stroke rate at 38-39 throughout the race and remained in the lead. Brazil went to 41 in the final sprint but could not catch the Italians who qualified with the fastest overall time.

The fastest movers at the start of Heat Two were the Russians. The crew of Nikita Bolozin and Maksim Telitcyn of Russia reached the first 500m mark in the lead. But it was still very tight and the Czechs were now attacking Russia for the lead. Russia and Juri Kopac and Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic then moved away from the rest of the field holding their own battle out in front. Kopac and Hajek, who have medals in the past from the lightweight men’s four, then got out in front. In the final sprint both the Czechs and Russia were at 39 and matching each other. Kopac and Hajek got to the line first.

Qualifiers: ITA, CZE

Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats
It was necessary to finish first in this race of two heats. This would give a direct path to the final. In Heat One it was Italy who had earned a very slight lead. Italy has already medalled this season and have much historical success in this boat class. Italy’s Fontana, Scalzone, Amarante and Soares continued to lead with Denmark and Austria fighting it out for second. Austria then went to 39 to try and overtake Denmark who sat on 36. This fight did not dent the Italian lead and they took the one spot in the final.

China made a big dent at the start of Heat Two. This left the other three crews forming a virtual line behind the Chinese. With China breaking away to a decent lead, the crews of the Netherlands, France and the United States were still on top of each other. Then the Dutch broke away from the chasers and closed on China. The Chinese saw them coming and remained in the lead. Both Italy and China will meet in the final and both recorded identical finishing times.

Qualifiers: ITA, CHN