Fiercely contested semifinals at World Rowing Cup II, Linz-Ottensheim
Semifinals are always hotly contested as this is the last chance to make it to the final. At World Rowing Cup II in Linz-Ottensheim, Austria this was exactly the case. Rowers lined up in relatively calm conditions with a small tail wind and a rather cool summer day. The temperature was in the low teens with some cloud.
Para PR1 Men’s Single Sculls (PR1M1x) – Semifinals
Coming through from yesterday’s heats Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine recorded the fastest qualifying time and as the Paralympic Champion from Rio, Polianskyi must be a favourite at this World Rowing Cup. He raced in Semifinal One. Polianskyi got away the quickest and used a 42 stroke rate to get to the 500m mark first. But Brazil’s Rene Pereira is not slouch and he was holding on to Polianskyi’s pace. Pereira finished fifth at last year’s World Rowing Championships and has been rowing internationally since 2015. Italy’s Fabrizio Caselli followed in third and this order did not change through to the finish. Polianskyi’s finishing time of 9:44 was ten seconds outside of the World Best Time that he set yesterday in the heats.
Semifinal Two saw Alexey Chuvashev of Russia take the lead. Chuvashev took bronze at last year’s World Rowing Championships and he was rating 35 strokes per minute to stay ahead of Andrew Houghton of Great Britain. But the real battle was going on for third between Poland’s Jaroslaw Kailing and Julien Hardi of France Two. Hardi then got his nose in front of Kailing rating 39 in that push. Hardi went to 37 and fought back.
At the head of the field Chuvashev continued to push away from Houghton getting to the finish line in a time of 10:03. Houghton kept his stroke rate rather low as all of these qualifiers will be racing again this afternoon in the final. Hardi remained ahead of Kailing and took third.
Qualifiers: UKR, BRA, ITA, RUS, GBR, FRA2
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Semifinals
At the head of the field in Semifinal One Joanna Dorociak of Poland must have been feeling confident. She recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s heats and she proved to have a very fast start. By the middle of the race Dorociak had built nearly a boat length lead over Anastasia Lebedeva of Russia who had the second fastest finishing time yesterday. Germany Two and Italy were challenging Levedeva making this a real race for the three spots. Italy’s Clara Guerra then got ahead of Lebedeva as the boats went into the final sprint. Guerra held off Lebedeva with both boats qualifying.
First off the line in Semifinal Two was Katrin Thoma of Germany One. Thoma gave it her all to get to the first 500m mark, but then couldn’t maintain that initial pace and Christine Cavallo of United States Two took over in the lead. Then Alena Furman of Belarus overtook Thoma and so did Sweden One of Emma Fredh. This was looking to be a tight race. Then Furman got into the lead with Cavallo fighting back. This left Fredh to see a challenge coming from Austria’s Anja Manoutschehri. Manoutschehri had an underweight boat in yesterday’s heats so got relegated to an outside lane. She was giving it her all in this race. Furman finished first in a time of 7:36. Cavallo came back to take second and Fredh held on to third.
Qualifiers: POL, ITA, RUS, BLR, USA2, SWE1
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Semifinals
Jason Osborne of Germany One went flying out of the start and got a very handy lead by the 500m mark with only Martino Goretti of Italy anywhere near Osborne’s pace. This was the start of Semifinal One. Going through the half way point the real race was going on between China’s Zhinyuan Zhang and Florin Rueedi of Switzerland Two. Meanwhile Osborne was being pushed hard by the high rating Goretti. Osborne held him off with Rueedi getting the better of Zhang.
In Semifinal Two Jonathan Rommelmann of Germany Two went off at an incredibly high 48 stroke rate pace and held onto it. This gave Rommelmann a bit of a lead as he ‘settled’ into a 37 stroke rate. Switzerland One of Michael Schmid pushed Rommelmann hard and at the same time tried to hold off New Zealand’s James Lassche. Then Schmid challenged Rommelmann with Rommelmann responding and this moved them further away from Lassche who was now solidly in third. Schmid now had the lead with the last couple hundred metres left to row. Rommelmann had to accept second with Lassche qualifying from third.
Qualifiers: GER1, ITA, SUI2, SUI1, GER2, NZL
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Semifinals
The current World Champions, New Zealand had a very fast race yesterday in the heats and today they sat in the middle lane in Semifinal One. Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand are the World Best Time holders and they took the lead at the start and never looked back. This put Great Britain Two of Rowan McKellar and Harriet Taylor into second. The British duo have only just come together as a crew and they had a great race in yesterday’s heats. These two boats moved away from the rest of the field with Italy a boat length back.
The New Zealand duo then broke clean away from Great Britain and turned this race into a procession. Gowler and Prendergast crossed the finish line in a very quick 7:02.
Great Britain One of Anastasia Merlott Chitty and Rebecca Girling won their heat yesterday and today they got out into the lead of Semifinal Two. But then Italy One of Alessandra Patelli and Sara Bertolasi put their boat into the lead. This duo raced at the Rio Olympics and then took a break in 2017. They are now back and racing hard. Chitty and Girling held onto the pace of the Italians. And there was very little between these two crews going through the 1500m mark with Ukraine’s Oksana Golub and Anna Kontseva coming up to challenge the two leading crews. The sprint was on to the line between three boats. Great Britain went to 36 with Italy on 34. The British crossed the line first with Italy One following and Ukraine in third.
Qualifiers: NZL, GBR2, ITA2, GBR1, ITA1, UKR
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Semifinals
Winners of World Rowing Cup I, Valent and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia did not get out the fastest in Semifinal One. That honour went to Belarus. But by the middle of the race the very experienced brothers from Croatia pushed into the lead. Great Britain Two of Matthew Rossiter and Oliver Cook now pushed into second with Belarus’s Dzimitry Furman and Siarhei Valadzko fighting to stay on the pace. The British remained just ahead of Belarus and this two-way fight led them to close on Croatia. But the Sinkovic’s held them off to finish first in a time of 6:27. The British and Belarus qualified from second and third respectively.
In Semifinal Two the identical twins from France One, Valentin and Theophile Onfroy had the lead. But the Czech Republic’s Lukas Helesic and Jakub Podrazil was challenging hard. These two boats remained neck-and-neck at the half way point with Austria One back in third. France and the Czech’s were the only crews in this race that did not have to contend yesterday’s repechage. Now Helesic and Podrazil took the lead with the Onfroy brothers holding on. Now Hungary was challenging Austria One. The local crowd was sitting up and taking notice. Austria then caught a crab in all of the finishing excitement. The Czech’s took first, France One second and Hungary’s Juhasz and Simon grabbed third.
Qualifiers: CRO1, GBR2, BLR, CZE, FRA1, HUN
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Semifinals
It was looking good for France’s Matthieu Androdias and Hugo Boucheron in Semfinal One. They got away very quickly and they led the New Zealand World Champions of John Storey and Christopher Harris through to the middle of the race. Storey and Harris then got overtaken by Great Britain’s Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont. Groom and Beaumont motored into the lead and France and New Zealand had no reply. The British duo finished second earlier this month at World Rowing Cup I and they must have found some new speed inbetween. France took second and New Zealand was third.
Recording the fastest time from yesterday’s heats was Timo Piontek and Lars Hartig of Germany and they took an early lead in Semifinal Two. But it was tight and there was just two seconds between the top five boats. Then Piontek and Hartig managed to get a slight margin. The German’s finished third at World Rowing Cup I and they are a new partnership for 2018. Switzerland now squeezed into second. The duo of Nico Stahlberg and Roman Roeoesli of Switzerland raced in singles at World Rowing Cup I. Now in the double they were looking good. Italy One of Romano Battisto and Simone Venier now started to sprint as they tried to get away from Poland and close on Switzerland. The Swiss reacted and overtook Germany to win the semifinal. Germany took second just a fraction ahead of Italy One.
Qualifiers: GBR, FRA, NZL, SUI, GER, ITA1
Men’s Four (M4-) – Semifinals
In yesterday’s heats Romania recorded the second fastest qualifying time and they got away the quickest today in Semifinal One. Poland followed in second with Great Britain One in third. Then France put in a push and overtook the British with Romania and Poland now breaking away from the field. Great Britain are the Olympic Champions in this boat class but the head coach has decided to put his top rowers into the eight, so this new four has a lot of ground to make up. Tiganescu, Pascari, Berariu and Huc of Romania continued to lead as Poland tried to hold off a flying finish by France and Great Britain. The British went to 42, France followed suit. The British got there first. France missed out on qualifying by just half a second.
Semifinal Two had the World Champions, Australia in the lead. The Australians recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s heats and they look to have lost nothing in the ‘off season’ as they come to their first international regatta for the 2018 season. Belarus sat in second with Great Britain Two in third. By the half way point the Australian crew of Hicks, Turrin, Hargreaves and Hill had broken away and they moved to a full boat length lead. Then Germany came flying. They had been in fourth and overtook the British to take third. Great Britain fought back. It was Belarus that missed out as they could not match the British – German charge at the end. Australia had recorded the fastest time overall.
Qualifiers: ROU, POL, GBR, AUS, GER, GBR2
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals
Magdalena Lobnig of Austria won her heat yesterday and today she raced at the head of the field in Semifinal One. This gave Lobnig the lead over World Champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland. Lobnig settled to 33 with Gmelin at 35. Australia’s Madeleine Edmunds followed in third. These three boats moved away from the rest of the field with Gmelin now about to overtake Lobnig. Going through the middle of the race Gmelin and Lobnig were neck-and-neck, then Gmelin got her nose ahead of Lobnig and never looked back. Could Lobnig do something special in the final sprint? Gmelin was too good.
Annekatrin Thiele of Germany has a wealth of experience from Olympic medals to years of international rowing. She got out the quickest in Semifinal Two. This left Victoria Thornley of Great Britain and Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark to tussle it out for second and third. Thiele did not have a good race in yesterday’s heats and she looked to be making the most of today. The three leaders were the three boats that didn’t medal at World Rowing Cup I. They finished fourth, fifth and sixth.
Then Erichsen and Thornley started to close on Thiele as New Zealand’s Hannah Osborne, rating in the high 30s, tried to get into the top three positions. Thiele then pulled out a sprint as Thornley came after her. Thiele had won with Thornley in second.
Qualifiers: SUI, AUT1, AUS, GER, GBR1, DEN
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals
Kjetil Borch of Norway had the centre lane in Semifinal One. At the start it was Tim Ole Naske of Germany Two that took an early lead. Naske is known to rate high and he was giving his all to be in front. Germany One of Oliver Zeidler was in second. Zeidler finished third at the World Rowing Cup I earlier this month in an astounding show of athleticism as this rower had been in the sport of less than two years. Now Borch moved ahead of Zeidler. But it was very close with just a second separating the top three boats. These three crews moved away from the rest of the field. Naske remained in front with Zeidler taking second.
Semifinal Two had Robert Manson of New Zealand in the middle lane leading at the start. But there was very little in it with less than two seconds separating the five boats. Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand Two had to pull out for medical reasons. Manson still had the lead at the half way point with Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez in second. Fournier recorded the fastest time in the quarterfinals, but it looked like he couldn’t catch Manson. The New Zealander crossed the line in first with Fournier and Sverro Nielsen of Denmark almost crossing with identical times.
Qualifiers: GER1, GER2, NOR, NZL1, CUB, DEN
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Semifinals
China One of Fang Chen and Dandan Pan shot out quickly in Semifinal One with the 2017 silver medallists, Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle of New Zealand back in fifth. By the 1000m mark it had all changed. Switzerland’s Patricia Merz and Frederique Rol had grabbed the lead with McBride and Kiddle chasing hard. Chen and Pan had slipped to the back of the field. McBride and Kiddle then took over the lead with Italy’s Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini now getting ahead of Switzerland. Rating 36 Italy was establishing themselves in second as New Zealand continued to lead. Switzerland held on to third.
Poland’s Weronika Deresz and Katarzyna Welna moved away the quickly in Semifinal Two. But then the winners from World Rowing Cup I, Ilse Paulis and Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands got in front. This didn’t last long as then the current World Champions, Ionela-Livia Cozmiuc and Gianina-Elena Beleaga of Romania took over in front. China Two remained on the pace of these leading boats as the race moved into the second half of the race. This looked like it would have to be a sprint to the finish as Deresz and Welna then got in front of Paulis and Keijser. The Polish combination is new for this season as Welna joins the very experienced Deresz. Romania crossed the line just ahead of the Netherlands who had taken their rating to 38. Poland was third.
Qualifiers: NZL, ITA, SUI, ROU, NED, POL
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One opened with 2016 Olympic medallists Norway in the lead. Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway led over France’s Pierre Houin and Thomas Baroukh – France’s new 2018 combination. At the half way point only three seconds separated the top five crews and coming into the final sprint Belgium had moved ahead of Italy Two to get into a qualifying spot. Belgium’s Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe then took their stroke rate to 41 and overtook the French who also went to 41. But it was the Norwegians who led the entire race.
At the start of Semifinal Two Italy One of Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta had the lead. The Italian double had qualified with the fastest time from yesterday. Poland’s Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski followed rather closely in second with New Zealand’s Matthew Dunham and Benjamin van Dalen slotting into third. The Italians continued to lead coming through to the second half of the race. Now Switzerland began to move up as there was very little between position two to five. Oppo and Ruta crossed the line to take first with Poland getting through in second as New Zealand went to 40 to hold off Denmark and close on Poland. The finalists had been decided.
Qualifiers: NOR, BEL, FRA1, ITA1, POL, NZL
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Semifinals
In yeaterday’s heats Italy recorded the second fastest qualifying times. They led at the start of Semifinal One, just a fraction ahead of Germany. Italy settled to 37 strokes per minute at the half way point led by Giacomo Gentili in stroke season. This gave them a bit of a margin over Germany with New Zealand in third. The New Zealanders raced the B-final at last year’s World Rowing Championships and they must want to step up this year. The Italians of Gentili, Rambaldi, Mondelli and Panizza then got more than half a boat length over Germany with the real battle going on for third. New Zealand’s stroke, Lewis Hollows took his crew above 40 to hold off France and hold on to third.
In the centre lane sat Great Britain who had recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats. They were racing in Semifinal Two. But it was Poland that jumped out the quickest at the start. They were followed closely by Ukraine who looked like they got up to 50 at the start. Coming into the middle of the race Posnik, Zawojski, Czaja and Chabel of Poland still had the lead with the Netherlands now pushing into second. Meanwhile the gold medal crew from World Rowing Cup I, Great Britain sat back in fifth.
The Dutch now moved up on Poland as Great Britain began to show their talent and push out Ukraine and Australia. Australia realised they were in trouble and took their stroke rate up for the final sprint and overtook Great Britain. There was still some water remaining. Australia went to 44-45-46 strokes per minute and closed on the Netherlands. At the line Poland had only just remained in first with Australia grabbing second and the Dutch holding on to third.
Qualifiers: ITA, GER, NZL, POL, AUS, NED