Heats in the heat for under-23 rowers
The World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Racice, Czech Republic started with warnings of storms later in the day meaning that racing was condensed.
The 61 heats and three repechages were squashed into a heady programme of six minute intervals. The weather began in almost ideal conditions with flat water and a very slight head wind. Under cloudy skies and humid conditions, these under-23 rowers looked on form and well prepared.
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This coxless event requires steering to come from within the boat, usually by one of the rowers turning their shoe which is attached to the rudder. The opening event of this regatta had 10 entries divided into two heats with the first two boats of each heat getting a spot in the final. Last year’s winners, Italy looked like they have their work cut out for them as in Heat One it was New Zealand in the lead. Italy meanwhile had to overtake Belarus and then in the second half of the race, the Italians managed to dramatically close on New Zealand. New Zealand, however, remained in the lead. Going to the Final are New Zealand and Italy.
Heat Two opened with France in the lead and closed with Great Britain in front. Last year Great Britain earned the bronze medal and their new crew worked their way through Australia and France to take the lead. Both France and Great Britain rated a steady 36 stroke rate in the final sprint – the same rating, interestingly, used by New Zealand and Italy in the previous heat. Great Britain and France are in the Final on Sunday.
Men’s Coxed Four (BM4+)
After the relatively quiet coxless event, the men’s coxed four stirred up the Racice regatta course waters with the addition of coxswains to steer the boat and give instructions. Added to this was a swell of coaches on bikes following the race on the road beside the rowing course and yelling their encouragement.
New Zealand’s crew which mixed experience with new blood led for the entire 2000m in the first of two heats. These two heats required crews to finish in the top two positions for direct path to the Final. Keeping the Kiwis honest for the first 1000m was the United States. Both crews rowed with a similar long stroke style but New Zealand was able to use their technique just a bit more efficiently to cross the line in first. The United States also went to the Final from second place.
Italy are the reigning champions in this event and they have chosen to put their focus here rather than on the Olympic coxless event. But at the start of Heat Two Italy found themselves behind France and Germany. Urged on by coxswain Leonardo Bellucci, Italy showed their second half strength by pushing into the lead through the third 500m. Germany tried to hold on, but the strong, low rating, Italians with a solid rhythm stayed in front. Italy and Germany will be in the final.
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (BLW1x)
All was quiet in the starting blocks for the 18 scullers in the women’s lightweight single. Divided into three heats, these scullers had to finish in the top two for a direct path to the semifinal. A roll call of the countries lined up in Heat One included little known and late entry, Venezuela. She was soon to be known by the other scullers. Kimberlin Meneses Uzcategui jumped into an early lead. Meneses, however could not maintain it and soon Hungary’s Mariann Novak took over in the lead. No one could catch Novak. Belarus’s Hanna Bandarevich tried very hard but seemed to slip further back. Chasing Novak kept Bandarevich in second and these were the two scullers to go to the semifinal.
Great Britain’s Katherine Copeland turned Heat Two into a procession after shaking off Switzerland and moving out to a clear water lead. Norway’s Anniken Ellingsen tried her best to move on Copeland and in the process overtook Switzerland. But Ellingsen did not possess the same power as the Brit and remained in second. Copeland, at her first international event, went to the semifinal in fine form along with Norway.
Germany’s Helke Nieschlag came second in this event last year and she must be hoping to be in the medals on Sunday. Nieschlag, who raced in Heat Three, also got a big confidence boost by winning a Rowing World Cup gold earlier this month in Lucerne in the lightweight quad. Today Nieschlag led from start to finish and created a huge gaping hole back to Ricki Baxter of Canada who finished second. Nieschlag and Baxter are in the semifinal.
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (BLM1x)
A record number of entries in this event required six heats to be raced for the 31 countries entered. With last year’s winner New Zealand now in his country’s senior team, the race for gold looked to be wide open. For these heats the athletes made use of the new progression system by needing to be in the top three at the finish for a chance to race in the quarterfinal. All other boats would go to the repechage.
Croatia has a strong team here this year and Marko Kusurin of Croatia set the standard in Heat One. Kusurin finished ninth in this event last year and has already raced this year at the senior level, at the Rowing World Cup. Today he used a very strong second 500 to push into the lead and then used good reserves of energy to move away from the field and finish with a good boat length lead. Behind Kusurin, Igor Khmara of Ukraine pulled through the pack into second with Kilian Menzl of Austria maintaining a steady third place throughout the race.
Coming into the final 500m of Heat Two, four boats were very aggressively fighting it out for three places. Javid Afandiyev of Azerbaijan was just leading with Venezuela in second and Argentina and Bulgaria moving with them. All four boats sprinted. Who had the biggest final push? With 200m left to row there was very little in it. Then Venezuela began to slip back, his stroke rate dropping. Bulgaria, Azerbaijan and Argentina are in the quarterfinal.
Brazil’s Ailson Silva is looking hot. His second 500 and closing sprint gave him such a lead that the rest of the field practically gave up in Heat Three. Silva raced in the C Final last year and must have been doing some good work over the past year. Silva’s race plan left Ondrej Luzek of the Czech Republic to cruise on home and be satisfied with second and Bayram Sonmez of Turkey to pull through into third for the final qualifying spot.
Heat Four had the top three boats all but sorted by the 1000m mark. Baring disaster Florin Poienariu of Romania, Michale Orzolek of the United States and Kwan Hoi Lok of Hong Kong China would be in the quarterfinal. No disaster happened although these three crews pushed each other right to the line, sparing little energy for their quarterfinal race.
Keep an eye out for Nikolaos Afentoulis of Greece. In Heat Five Afentoulis, 18, sat behind Ireland’s Michael Maher and then decided to push the pace in the final sprint. Last year Afentoulis raced to average results at the junior champs, but he looks to have stepped up a level this year. Maher, who led for most of the race looked content to be in second with Pietro Gorgoglione of Italy qualifying from third.
Iran’s Mohsen Shadi Naghadeh hit the ground running in 2008 when he won the first medal for his country at a World Rowing event with a silver in this event. Today, with a year’s more experience, Naghedeh looks to be in improved form as he led Heat Six from start to finish. Linus Lichtschlag of Germany did all that he could to keep up but then settled for second. Serbia’s Nemanja Nesic came through in third as the last quarterfinal qualifier.
Andrea Caianiello and Armando Dell’Aquila of Italy have won this event for the last two years and come second in 2006. The four other crews lining up against them in Heat One must have been none too pleased to draw them in their heat. Caianiello and Dell’Aquila gave the rest of the racing fleet good reason to worry. The Italian duo got out in front in Heat One and looked very comfortable in their leading position.
In this event the top two boats would go directly to the Final and behind the Italians, the Dutch were well established. Brothers Vincent and Tycho Muda could not match the opening pace of the Italians but managed to keep up a respectable pace in second throughout the race. Italy and the Netherlands are in the Final.
At the senior level South Africa has a very strong open weight pair. Today their lightweight pair looks to be coming on very nicely. Matthew Brittain and John Smith of South Africa raced in Heat Two. Brittain finished second in this event in 2008 and with new partner, Smith, Brittain looks to be heading for another medal. After an initial lead by Jacob Larsen and Anders Hansen of Denmark, Brittain and Smith found the lead with Denmark unable or unwilling to challenge back. Coming into the final sprint both of the leading crews rated 32 and remained in the same order. These are the two crews that will go directly to the Final.
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Entering the under 23 championships for the first time, this event has attracted nine countries to race. These nine boats were divided into two heats with the top two boats going directly to the Final. The four women in each boat had to weigh in this morning two hours before the race with each boat having an average weight of 57kg. They then took to the water and in Heat One Germany set the pace.
Stroked by Kaja Brecht, Germany got out just in front of the Netherlands. As the Dutch slipped back, the United States moved into second and tried to get up with the Germans. Germany, however, were in control and got to the finish line easily in front. The US earned a spot in the Final with their second place finish.
Australia did not hold back in Heat Two. Despite being in the lead, the French were hot on their tails and unrelenting. France also had to worry about a surging Japanese crew and thus continued to work hard to keep their qualification hopes alive. Coming into the final sprint, three boats were battling it out for two spots with Australia still in the lead. A solid sprint by Japan gave them second and, along with Australia a position in Sunday’s Final.
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With 13 entries, this event has attracted a record number of countries. Divided into three heats, the top three from each heat would get to go directly to the semifinal. Great Britain set the pace in Heat One followed very closely by Denmark and France. This is a completely new crew for Great Britain, all four members are on their national team for the first time. Together they looked strong and in control leading through to the finish line.
Denmark, who are the reigning champions, found themselves going head to head with France. But the French had more staying power and moved through to an easy second for the second half of the race, in the process closing the gap on Great Britain. Great Britain, France and Denmark are in the semifinal.
Italy is very strong in this event at the senior level and last year they were under 23 silver medalists. Today they raced in Heat Two from the front. Stroked by Francesco Rigon, Italy retained a handy margin and let the remaining three boats fight it out for two spots. As Russia, Spain and Sweden came into the final sprint just one second separated them. Spain then ran out of energy. Italy, Russia and Sweden are in the semifinal.
The finishing order in Heat Three established itself early on. With Venezuela off the pace, last year’s third place finisher Germany took the lead. Hungary slipped into second and the United States followed in third. As Germany moved away from the field to earn an open water lead, the United States and Hungary remained very close in pace. Hungary did a bit of a finishing sprint but nothing changed in the order. Germany, Hungary and the United States are in the semifinal.
Women’s Single Sculls (BW1x)
Seventeen countries had entered in this event. These 17 were divided into three heats with the top two in each heat progressing to the Semifinal. Last year Germany won. This year Germany had a new sculler, Carina Baer and she raced in the first heat to win comfortably. Behind Baer, Denmark’s Lisbet Jakobsen slotted into second and did just enough to hold off any chance of Latvia catching up. The boats were largely spread at the finish with Baer and Jakobsen being the two qualifiers.
She is an Olympian. This is her home country. She is a two-time under 23 champion (women’s double). Jitka Antosova showed her form in Heat Two, leading comfortably from start to finish and recording the fastest qualifying time. Antosova has already raced to a solid performance at the senior level in the single and she looks to be the one to beat here on the Racice regatta course. Behind Antosova, Estonia’s Kaisa Pajusalu qualified from second.
Heat Three opened with Switzerland in the lead. But soon Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania took over. Vistartaite raced in the double last year and finished ninth. This year, in the single, she looks to have stepped up a notch. Bringing her stroke rate down to 25, Vistartaite had no reason to sprint. Serbia qualified from second.
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This event included four heats with only the first boat in each heat getting to go to the semifinal. Heat one opened with 2008 champion at the junior level, Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Bulgaria just behind the Netherlands (Roel Braas). These two boats went head-to-head through the body of the race until Aleksandrov had worn out Braas, who was racing on the far opposite side of the course. The Bulgarian is in the semifinal.
Lithuania got their second single sculler through to the Final at the conclusion of Heat Two. Mykoias Masilionis (LTU) has been on the national team since racing as a junior in 2006 and this year he was in the single at the second Rowing World Cup in Munich. Today Masilionis held off challenges from Argentina to be the sole qualifier.
Germany invariably does well in this event and the calls of support from the coaches on bikes as well as spectators showed that Lauritz Schoof of Germany had many people backing him. Schoof raced in Heat Three and after pushing past Latvia and then taking on Kaspar Taimsoo of Estonia. Taimsoo fought back and with 250m left to row completely stopped. Was the heat and effort too much? Taimsoo fell out of his boat and never crossed the finish line. Schoof made a lot of supporters very happy and recorded the fastest qualifying time.
After the dramatic third heat, Heat Four was rather more sedate. Russia’s Denis Pribyl had the lead initially with Andraz Krek of Slovenia tracking closely. By the half way point Krek had worn out the Russian and was able to get home in a comfortable fashion to be the qualifying boat. This continues Krek’s career in the single after racing to eighth place in this event at last year’s European Championships.
(b) and Nicoleta Albu (s) competing at the 2009 World Rowing U23 Championshipd in Racice/Prague, Czech Republic. MyRowingPhoto.com" border="0" src="/medias/images/media_358841.jpg" title=" © Detlev Seyb" width="250">Women’s Pairs (BW2-)
The two heats in this event meant that rowers had to be in the top two for a direct path to the Final on Sunday and, thus, a couple of days for preparation. This prospect seemed to appeal to the Americans and the Dutch. Although Ukraine had the lead in Heat One, the Dutch and Americans pressed hard. Ukraine did not have the stamina and coming into the second half of the race both boats had pushed Ukraine out of qualifying. Then Mary Jeghers and Grace Luczak of the United States pulled out a strong sprint. Their rating went to 34 and they overtook Wianca van Dorp and Olivia van Rooijen of the Netherlands to finish first. Both crews qualify for the Final.
Heat Two featured last year’s winners, Nicoleta Albu and Adelina Cojocariu of Romania. The duo are in their second year together and they looked very strong and tidy as they led the rest of the field. Germany sat in second but slipped far back from challenging Romania and looked content to just qualify through second.
Men’s Pairs (BM2-)
The three heats in this event meant that these pairs would need to finish in the top three for a direct path to the semifinal. Hungary’s Adrian Juhasz and Bela Simon set the standard in Heat One. Simon raced in this event last year while Juhasz was a member of his country’s quad. Together they looked in sync and in control. This left Belarus to chase the Hungarians. Belarus did a very solid job finishing right on Hungary’s tail and leaving France, in third in the qualifying spot but off the pace. Hungary, Belarus and France are in the semifinal.
Heat Two looked nothing like a regular heat when four boats fought it out for three positions over the entire length of the 2000m course. Serbia, South Africa, Great Britain and Germany had to keep the pressure on for all of the approximate 260 strokes. Serbia’s Ivan Ostojic and Aleksandar Radovic held a slight edge with South Africa being the closest rival for the first half of the race. Great Britain then made a move and closed the gap on Serbia. Then Germany pulled out a huge final sprint. Germany’s rating hit 37 strokes per minute. Great Britain was on 39 and South Africa at 36. South Africa were the unlucky ones. Serbia, Germany and Great Britain go straight to the semifinal.
Greece won this event last year and Georgios Tziallas is back in the boat hoping to do it again. Tziallas, along with new partner, Stergios Papachristos raced in Heat Three. After a slow start, Greece got into the lead with Italy slotting into second and Moldova off the leaders pace but still in the third qualifying position. Coming into the final sprint Greece seemed happy just to hold the lead rating a 32 in the final sprint. Italy closed the gap but remained in second and Moldova qualified from third.
Women’s Double Sculls (BW2x)
This event had two heats with the top two from each heat earning two days of preparation for the Final on Sunday.
Heat One sorted itself out early in the piece with Belarus’s Tatsiana Kukhta and Maryia Smaliakova taking the front of the field. Belarus is hosting the under 23 champs next year and their team looks to be building in preparation. Kukhta and Smaliakova stayed well ahead of France in second and both crews go directly to the Final.
Austria’s Birgit Puehringer and Magdalena Lobnig led the way in Heat Two. With half the race rowed Ukraine took over. Viktoriya Koltunova and Olena Iakovenko both raced in the under 23 quadruple sculls last year with a fourth place finish. This year in the double they retained the power and long strokes to finish at the head of the field. Austria held on to second and will also qualify.
(b) and Clemens Wenzel (s) competing at the 2009 World Rowing U23 Championshipd in Racice/Prague, Czech Republic. MyRowingPhoto.com" border="0" src="/medias/images/media_358842.jpg" title=" © Detlev Seyb" width="250">Men’s Double Sculls (BM2x)
The 16 countries lining up in this event were divided into three heats and the formula for advancement required a boat to finish in the top two for a direct path to the semifinal. Setting the pace in Heat One was Robert Manson and Joseph Sullivan of New Zealand. Sullivan is a familiar name to under 23 rowing having won the single in Brandenburg last year. Teamed up with Manson the duo broke away through the second 500 to earn over a full length lead ahead of any other crew. Greece’s Vasileios Tzaninis and Konstantinos Douflias slipped into second but were nowhere close to the New Zealand pace. New Zealand and Greece are in the semifinal.
Germany is traditionally strong in this event and last year earned bronze. In Heat Two the German crew raced with Clemens Wenzel as stroke and Hans Gruhne as the bow. Both of these rowers are regulars on the national team and have raced at the senior level including last year’s Olympic Games. Wenzel and Gruhne earned an early lead and never looked back. Norway pushed past France to move on the Germans but never got within a proper challenging distance. Germany and Norway are in the semifinal, Germany with the fastest qualifying time of the three heats.
As these races are not seeded, sometimes the leading boats have to look across several lanes to see their nearest rivals. On this big watery sports field, that can be a fair distance. In Heat Three the Czech Republic and Croatia struck this dilemma. With Russia just in front, Croatia, in lane five and the Czech’s in lane one tried to push ahead of each other. This battle brought them up to the Russians and their momentum continued to the line snatching a qualifying spot from Russia. The Czech Republic and Croatia are in the Final.
(b), Simon Watson, Hamish Burson and Tyson Williams (s) competing at the 2009 World Rowing U23 Championshipd in Racice/Prague, Czech Republic. MyRowingPhoto.com" border="0" src="/medias/images/media_358843.jpg" title=" © Detlev Seyb" width="250">Men’s Four (BM4-)
Last year Germany won this event. This year they raced in the first of three heats. The stroke pair of Bastian Bechler and Anton Braun come from the bronze medal 2008 junior four and they are joined by Andreas Kuffner and Hendrik Bohnekamp. Today their goal was to finish in a top two spot for a direct path to the semifinal. France jumped out to an early lead but by the half way point the Germans had pushed to the front. France tried to hold on with Romania now putting the pressure on for the coveted qualifying spots.
France tried to hold on, but both Rumania and Germany had a good sprint on them, both taking their rating into the high 30s as they approached the finish line. Germany and Romania are in the semifinal.
New Zealand made no mistakes in Heat Two leading from start to finish. Under the command of stroke Tyson Williams, the New Zealanders rowed a consistent, even race retaining the pressure right to the end despite their comfortable lead. Behind them Slovenia slotted into second and was not really under any threat from the Dutch in third. New Zealand and Slovenia are in the semifinal.
Lightweight Men’s Four (BLM4-)
The four heats in this event required a top two finish for direct advancement to the semifinal and Heat One saw a new kid on the block. Japan led the way from start to finish under the steady rhythm of stroke Hiromi Tanaka. Australia tried to keep pace with the Japanese, but despite their 39 stroke rate sprint, Australia remained in second. Japan looked to be holding their oar in the water just that bit longer to retain the edge. Japan and Australia are in the semifinal.
The United States may have come together just a couple of weeks ago but, despite this they made very good work of Heat Two. Denmark pushed them hard, but the Americans remained in front. The United States and Denmark are in the semifinal.
All five crews got away together in Heat Three but by the half way point Italy had managed to inch away to a half boat length lead. France slipped into second with the remaining three crews absolutely neck-and-neck. As Italy continued to make ground France found themselves confronted by Russia. France upped their rating to 38 to try and retain their second place. Russia went to 39 but did not seem to make much headway. Italy and France are in the semifinal.
Spain and Germany finished first and second respectively last year. They met again a year later in Heat Four. Spain got out to an early lead but by the half way point Germany had come back, overtaken Canada and then Spain to take the lead. The Spanish fought back but the superior technique and the German crowd support kept Germany in first. Germany and Spain are in the semifinal.
(b), Sara Bertolasi, Gaia Palma and Valentina Calabrese (s) competing at the 2009 World Rowing U23 Championshipd in Racice/Prague, Czech Republic. MyRowingPhoto.com" border="0" src="/medias/images/media_358834.jpg" title=" © Detlev Seyb" width="250">Women’s Quadruple Sculls (BW4x)
Heat One of two heats recorded the fastest qualifying time with Ukraine showing complete domination. Ukraine finished fourth last year and they look set to make no mistakes this year. Belarus took over in second and as two boats only would qualify directly for the final, these two crews looked set to be the ones. At the line Ukraine had an open water lead and Belarus was well in front of third placed, current champions, Romania.
Germany and Australia leapt off the line together in Heat Two. By the half way point Germany had secured a comfortable lead with the remaining three boats absolutely evenly matched. Australia still had a very slight advantage but less than one second separated these three boats. Then New Zealand did a huge push propelling them into second as Australia began to falter. A procession across the finish line had Germany well in front and New Zealand easily in second. Germany and New Zealand went directly to Sunday’s Final.
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BM4x)
The 19 countries starting in this event were divided down into four heats with the top two in each heat going directly to the semifinal. The racing opened with Croatia featuring in Heat One. Croatia’s David Sain, Martin and Valent Sinkovic and Damir Martin beat the Olympic Champions, Poland last month at the Munich Rowing World Cup. Today they raced as under 23s and, although in the lead, they did not completely dominate. The Dutch managed to stick with Croatia for the first half of the race but then had to contend with Poland sprinting down the outside. Croatia cruised home in first with the Netherlands holding on to second.
Last year Australia finished fifth. This year they got their regatta going in fine form by taking the lead. Belarus, however, raced hard and by the half way point they had nearly overtaken the Australians. Australia’s stroke Sasha Belonogoff had a strong reply and attacked back. In the outside lane Australia remained as the leading crew and Belarus had to settle for second.
Germany are the reigning champions and they showed their style in Heat Three. With Karl Schulze in stroke Germany got the edge over Ukraine. It was not, however, much of an edge and by the half way point Ukraine continued to stick doggedly to the Germans. This looked like a repeat of the 2008 final when Ukraine took second. Going through the second half of the race Germany asserted their dominance, and their puddle size, with Ukraine content to let them go. Germany and Ukraine went to the semifinal.
Two boats jumped out at the start of Heat Four. Switzerland and France both had a fast enough start that they were able to practically drop the remainder of the crews by the first 500m mark. The gap continued to widen down the course with France and Switzerland swapping the lead. Then France took off. Switzerland’s early work was enough to retain second. France and Switzerland are in the semifinal.
Women’s Eight (BW8+)
The two heats of the women’s eight required a first place finish for a direct path to the final. Great Britain quickly established this position in Heat One and moved away from Ukraine, then Canada. The British were then able to watch every move going on behind them and coming into the final straight they held a steady 31 stroke rate while Canada fought to make up ground on a reasonably ineffective 39. Great Britain are now in the final.
The United States are the reigning champions and their 2009 line up featured in heat two. But leading the way out of the start were last year’s silver medalists, Poland. The Poles still had the lead at the half way point. However they began to slip and their high stroke rate became less effective. The United States, under coxswain Ariel Frost, took full advantage and burst ahead. Poland looked completely wiped out. The United States crossed the line in first, a full eight seconds ahead of Poland. The US went directly to the semifinal.
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The two heats in this event followed the formula of a top two finish for boats to qualify directly for the final. Regulars on the winners podium in this event and second last year, Canada led the way in Heat One. But in true eights racing style, the Canadians were closely followed by the entire five boats. By the half way point, under the command of coxswain Ronan Sabo-Walsh, Canada had managed to move away with just Great Britain still hot on their tails. Canada held the pressure rating 39 towards the end while Great Britain, on 33 seemed satisfied to stay in second. Canada and Great Britain are in the final.
Last year Poland surprised the powerful eights nations by picking up bronze. Today they were in the bunch in Heat Two with Germany leading the way and ahead of reigning champions the United States. With Italy off the pace, Germany, Poland and the Americans fought for the two spots. A sub-par sprint let the Americans down and allowed Germany and Poland to go directly to the final.
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (BLM1x) - repechage
The day of racing concluded with the lightweight singles returning to the Racice rowing course to race in the repechage. This is the biggest event of the regatta with 31 entries and the three repechages meant these rowers last possible chance to make it to the quarterfinals. Each contestant had to finish in the top two to keep their quarterfinal chances alive.
Venezuela’s Jose Guipe Jimenez made it through in Repechage Two with the fastest qualifying time (7:27) when he held off Sophus Johannesen of Denmark for first. Both boats are now in the quarterfinals. Peru’s Renzo Leon Garcia did a fine job in Repechage One leading the race from start to finish over Thijs Obreno of Belgium who also qualified. Repechage Three got a third South American nation into the quarterfinals when Juan Kronawetter Crovato of Paraguay stayed close enough to leader Joris Pijs (NED) to qualify.