From time trials to British medals at Munich World Cup

31/05/2011 - 00:00:00

The 1972 Olympic regatta course in Munich, Germany hosted the Samsung World Rowing Cup last weekend with Great Britain pulling off a near-record performance in the opening regatta for the 2011 international season.

The large contingent of British athletes was on a roll with the first three races of the 14 finals (of Olympic events) resulting in gold for Great Britain. The women’s and men’s pairs started off the run, followed by Katherine Grainger and British sculling substitute Melanie Wilson, adding a further gold in the women’s double sculls.

The Germans then broke the British winning streak as 2009 World Champions, Eric Knittel and Stephen Krueger showed that they are back to their previous dominating form in the men’s double sculls. The British came back to take gold in the men’s four with the gold rush continuing into the lightweight women’s double sculls. Great Britain finished with 11 medals.

Germany made the most of the home-water advantage scoring four golds in Olympic events. Apart from the men’s double, Germany also won gold in the lightweight men’s double sculls, the men’s quadruple sculls and the all-important, blue riband men’s eight.

The most support from the largely German audience, however, went to two silver medallists. Annekatrin Thiele, racing for the first time internationally in the women’s single sculls, led the dominating Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus for three-quarters of the race before being overtaken and slipping into second. Germany’s Marcel Hacker also had huge crowd support when he raced the reigning World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic in the men’s single sculls.

Hacker took most of last season off from international competition and has come back relaxed and fighting fit and with the power to push Synek for the full 2000m. Hacker took a popular silver medal behind Synek.

The regatta signalled the return of Danish lightweight rowing legends. Eskild Ebbesen showed that at 39 years old he is still in fine form winning his first international race since taking gold at the 2008 Olympic Games. Ebbesen stroked the lightweight men’s four to victory at Munich. Also returning as a potential Olympic duo was Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist. Quist and Rasmussen finished third in the lightweight men’s double sculls in their first international race together since medalling at the 2008 Olympics.

On day one of racing, instead of the usual 6-laned racing format for the heats, time trials were conducted. This was a test to see how this one-boat-at-a-time format would work at an international event with the potential for time trials to be used in the future in situations of inclement weather. At the conclusion of the day, athletes and umpiring officials proved that it was feasible.

Executive Director of the International Rowing Federation, Matt Smith, announced that FISA was working with researchers from more than one Dutch university on projects to better prepare weather information for future rowing regattas.

Smith also announced FISA’s new partnership with WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature, as part of FISA’s ongoing promotion of clean water.

The Samsung World Rowing Cup now moves to Hamburg, Germany for round two of the series from 17 to 19 June 2011.

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