Greek lightweights speedy in World Champ heats
The near perfect rowing conditions on Lake Bled saw Greece’s Christina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou close in on the World Best Time when they raced in their heat of the lightweight women’s double sculls. Giazitzidou and Tsiavou were racing in day two of the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia. Flat, warm water and a very light tail on Lake Bled meant fast heat times today as crews in five events raced for the first time at this regatta.
Men’s Coxed Pair (M2+) – Heats
This event used to be an Olympic event but is now raced internationally at the World Cup and World Championship regattas. Athletes have to haul a coxswain down the 2000m course so often stroke rates are lower and huge power is needed. At the 2011 World Rowing Championships eight countries had entered. They were divided into two heats with the first boat in each heat earning a direct path to the finals.
In heat one Italy’s Vincenzo Capelli and Pierpaolo Frattini with coxswain Niccolo Fanchi led the way. The Italians often do well in this event and last year Frattini was in the crew that took silver at the World Rowing Championships. Both the United States and Canada, however, held on tightly to the Italians so that going through the middle of the race less than two seconds separated these three boats. The Italians pushed on and despite underrating their competition, they managed to stay in front. At the line Italy had managed to shake off their competition and advance to the finals.
The fastest qualifying time came in heat two after Australia’s William Lockwood, James Chapman and coxswain David Webster drove their boat home to first under the pressure of Germany. Chapman returns to rowing after taking a post-Beijing Olympic break and he must have relished in racing the Germans. Germany pushed hard right to the line, but Australia was able to counter all of their moves and earn the sole qualifying spot in the final on Friday.
Women’s Eight (W8+) – Heats
This event saw two heats with the winner of each heat taking a direct path to Friday’s final and lining up in heat one was Canada. The Canadian’s finished second at the final World Rowing Cup in July and proved at this time that they would be definite medal prospects in this event. Sitting in stroke of Canada’s eight was Andreanne Morin who was part of Canada’s Beijing Olympic eight. They finished fourth that year and four members of the Beijing boat remain including coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie. Today they got out ahead of Romania and worked up enough of a lead that the Romanian’s had no comeback. Canada goes directly to the final.
It seems like it doesn’t matter who USA coach Tom Terhaar puts in his eight, they still dominate. The United States raced in heat two and continued to show absolutely dominant style as they ate up the Lake Bled course well ahead of the rest of the field. Coming into the finish the Americans, coxed by the very, very experienced Mary Whipple, had an untouchable open water lead. In second, Great Britain, in comparison, looked like they just had a lot less push per stroke than the Americans. The United States move directly to the final where they will meet Canada.
Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) – Heats
Two heats lined up in this event with the top boat in each event able to go directly to the final on Saturday. All other boats would get a second chance in the repechage. Heat one saw a very stylish Italian crew leap out into the lead. Stroked by 35 year old Erika Bello, the Italians had a mixture of youth and experience. For Bello it’s been 18 years since she first raced internationally as a junior in 1993. Italy remained in the lead despite Australia trying their best to catch up. The Australian’s also enjoyed loud support coming into the finish line, but Italy still managed to stay in the lead. The Italians go directly to the final.
Heat two recorded the fastest qualifying time in a race that saw China and Great Britain going head-to-head for the entire 2000m Lake Bled course. China, who hold the World Best Time in this event, held a small lead coming out at the start, but Great Britain was relentless and remained very much on the pace. Coming into the third 500 Great Britain, stroked by Andrea Dennis, did a push that saw their bow ball get just ahead of the very dynamic Chinese crew. China, now rating 43 strokes per minute, held on and the two crews matched each other right to the line. It needed a photo finish to award the first place to Great Britain. The British advance to the final.
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats
This event had two heats and only the top boat in each heat would earn a direct path to the final to be raced on Sunday. Germany, Ireland, the United States and Armenia lined up in heat one. The Germans won last year, but their 2011 crew is entirely different. This new crew of Wieler, Wallat, Schuetzeberg and Voigt showed that they had what it takes to defend the World Champion title by getting out into the lead and holding off the rest of the field. Ireland gave it their best shot to challenge the Germans, but appeared to not have the same stamina. At the line Germany had qualified directly for the final.
Heat two featured the Italians. Italy regularly wins this event, but at the World Championships in 2010, Italy finished outside of the medals in fourth place. They have brought Daniele Gilardoni back into the boat. Dr Gilardoni has 10 World Champion titles in this event and, from two seat, he must have commanded great respect. The Italians got out fast leaving Denmark to play catch up. Denmark could not catch up and the Italians earn the one qualifying spot in the final as well as recording the fastest qualifying time.
Four heats lined up in this event with the top boat in each heat earning a direct path to the semifinals. This is a big bonus in lightweight rowing as it means one less race and one less time of getting down to the correct weigh-in weight. The crews must have had this on their mind in heat one as the opening pace was hot and it remained hot. Greece’s Christina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou got out very quickly at the start and it must have been their strategy to really shake things up early on, then hold on until the line. By the half way point the Greek’s had built up a very handy lead over Australia and China. Greece was third last year and it looks like they have really stepped up this year.
Coming into the line Greece had enough of a lead that they were able to enjoy what looked like a relaxed 32 stroke rate to not only cross the line in first, but also record the fastest qualifying time by a huge six seconds. Giazitzidou and Tsiavou’s time of 6:56.12 puts them less than seven seconds outside of the World Best Time.
The World Champions, Canada raced in heat two. Canada’s Tracy Cameron has been swapped for Patricia Obee as Cameron recovers from back problems. Obee, along with Lindsay Jennerich, took the lead at the beginning and had nearly a boat length lead with just 500m rowed. Belgium then attacked through the middle of the race and got their boat overlapping with the Canadians. Canada, however, kept the pressure on and a stroke rate of 42 coming into the finish line gave Obee and Jennerich the first place position. Canada advances to the semifinals.
Heat three turned into a two-way tussle between Great Britain and New Zealand with Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking of Great Britain having a slight advantage. Goodsell and Hosking were fifth in 2010 while New Zealand’s Lucy Strack was in the boat that finished sixth. Strack is now rowing with Louise Ayling and the duo finishes seventh at the final World Rowing Cup this season. Coming through the middle of the race these two countries remained locked together with the British holding a slight advantage. Coming into the line both crews upped their rating, New Zealand hitting 38. Great Britain held them off, only just. Great Britain earns a spot in the semifinals.
Winners of the World Cup season, the United States lined up in heat four. Kristin Hedstrom and Julie Nichols of the United States are in their first season rowing together, but both already have experience at the international level. Today they left the start just behind Belarus, but by the middle of the race Hedstrom and Nichols had found the lead. With that the Americans looked to relax, lengthen their stroke and drive their boat home strongly. A last minute challenge by Italy closed the gap on the Americans, but Hedstrom and Nichols were in control. The United States earn a spot in the semifinals.
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