Hot start at World Rowing Under 23 Championships
The 2017 World Rowing Under 23 Championships has begun in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Racing started in the late afternoon for the first day of heats with athletes from 53 countries enjoying absolutely flat water, barely any wind and temperatures reaching to 30 degrees Celsius.
Women’s Four (BW4-) – Heats
The three heats meant that a top three position was needed for a direct path to the semifinals on Friday. This boat class is growing in strength as it was recently announced as a new Olympic event. Coming out quickly at the start of Heat One was Germany. They were paced by Romania but managed to keep ahead. Behind them a big tussle went on for the third qualifying spot with Denmark and the United States neck-and-neck. Denmark went to a 40 stroke rate to get ahead of the US and challenge Germany with Romania now getting their nose ahead of the Germans. Romania was the first to the line.
After an initial lead by New Zealand, the Italians got ahead in Heat Two and started to move clean away from the field. Then Great Britain did a push in the third 500 and moved ahead of a fading New Zealand. Meanwhile the Italians just kept on going, building up an incredible lead over the rest of the field. The crowd was behind Great Britain, but the Italians were unstoppable. New Zealand came back at the end to challenge the British, but remained to qualify from third.
The Dutch got off very strongly in Heat Three. Three of these rowers had medalled at this year’s European Rowing Championships and they came into this heat as the favourites. By the middle of the race the Netherlands had a huge lead over the rest of the field with Belarus back in second and the Czech Republic in third. The race had now turned into a procession as they headed through the final 500m of this 2000m rowing course. Nothing changed through to the finish line as the Dutch, rating 37, took a comfortable first.
Qualifiers: ROU, GER, DEN, ITA, GBR, NZL, NED, BLR, CZE
Men’s Coxed Four (BM4+) – Heats
The two heats in this boat class demanded a first place finish for a direct path to the final on Saturday. In Heat One the United States dominated from start to finish with Australia and Romania fighting it out for second. This fight saw the two countries move up on the United States. But the US could see them coming and did enough to remain in front.
It was a flying start for Italy in Heat Two. The Italian crew remained in front with a punishing pace of 39 strokes per minute through the body of the race. Germany and France tried to close, but Italy had the stamina and remained out in front for the entire race finishing with the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: USA, ITA
Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (BLW4x) – Heats
The top two boats in each of these two heats would get to go directly to the final on Saturday and in Heat One the bronze medallists from last year, Germany were the quickest away. Going through the middle of the race, Germany remained in front with the real battle going on behind them between Switzerland, Great Britain and the United States. The Americans then looked to run out of steam with Great Britain pulling into second and closing on Germany. These became the two qualifying crews with Germany recording the fastest qualifying time overall.
Heat Two had Italy get into the lead at the start and hold it despite rating a comparatively low 33 strokes per minute through the body of the race. The Netherlands overrated the Italians, but Italy still was able to hold them off. These two boats moved away from the rest of the field and looked like they were comfortably in the two qualifying spots. Then with 250m left to row Australia tried to get into a qualifying spot. Rating 36 the Australians did close somewhat, but they had left their push way too late.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR, ITA, NED
Lightweight Men’s Pair (BLM2-) – Heats
A first place finish was needed for a direct path to Saturday’s final and in Heat One Italy romped away at the start. But Ireland was not having any of it and challenged the Italians. Italy answered by rating in the high 30s through the body of the race and then moving to a 40 stroke rate pace in the close of the race. The lower-rating Irish could not catch them as Italy qualified for the final with the fastest overall time.
Great Britain had the upper hand in Heat Two. Germany followed in second, but did not have the same pace and Great Britain’s Dom Jackson and Christopher Tebb was able to build on it. By the middle of the race Jackson and Tebb looked to be untouchable with Germany now under threat from both Denmark and Mexico. A 34 stroke rate kept Great Britain in the lead as Mexico did a huge push to pull into second. It was a great race by Mexico, but they will have to now race a repechage.
Qualifiers: ITA, GBR
Women’s Pair (BW2-) – Heats
The formula here was to finish first for a direct path to the final and leading the way in Heat One was Chile. Melita and Antonia Abraham of Chile are part of rowing quadruplets with their two brothers also rowing at this regatta. The Abraham’s still had the lead at the half way point with the United States closing on them. In the US boat was the very experienced Kendall Brewer who is on her fourth trip as part of the US rowing team. With partner Brooke Pierson, the United States then got into the lead and once there moved easily away from the entire field and qualify with the fastest overall time. Chile will have to race in the repechage.
In Heat Two Australia’s Annabelle McIntyre and Bronwyn Cox had a flying start and by the first 500m mark McIntyre and Cox already had an open water lead over the field. Serbia followed in second, but the gap looked too wide to close on Australia. The boatspeed remained high in the Australian boat and the duo only had to rate 34 and then 32 to stay in front in the final sprint. Serbia and Mexico had a closing battle, but it was merely academic as Australia had this race wrapped up.
Qualifiers: USA, AUS
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BLM4x) – Heats
Three heats lined up in this boat class with the aim to be in a top three position to earn a spot in the semifinals. In Heat One Ireland took a small early lead with Denmark the closest challengers. This order remained the same through the middle of the race with Great Britain now starting to wind it up and challenge the Danes. The British (last year’s under-23 World Champions) did get the better of Denmark, but they could not catch Ireland. Meanwhile Spain was able to also get the better of Denmark and grab the final qualifying spot.
After an initial fast start by France, Austria managed to push into the lead and hold their speed in Heat Two. France tried to hold on, but Austria (Kabas, Brabec, Kepplinger and Schoeberl) remained in control. France crossed the line in second with Germany grabbing the final qualifying spot in third. In Heat Three Japan had the fastest start, but Switzerland was soon able to overtake and get to the first 500m mark in the lead. The Swiss (Mueller, Fernandez, Struzina and Ryser) remained in the lead through the middle of the race with Japan holding on to second and Italy looking strong in third. Three of the Swiss crew raced in last year’s under-23 final of the lightweight four and they looked like the crew to beat. Italy pulled through to second and Japan held on to third.
The three winning crews finished within two seconds of each other which bodes for very intense semifinals on Friday.
Qualifiers: IRL, GBR, ESP, AUT, FRA, GER, SUI, ITA, JPN
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (BW4x) – Heats
There were two heats in this boat class and the aim here was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the final on Saturday. In Heat One Great Britain featured in the lead at the start. This was after a delay as Great Britain caused a false start. But they were up against Australia which contained three members of the bronze medal crew from World Rowing Cup III earlier this month. The British (Thornton, Edwards, Budgett and Glover), was still easily in front at the half way point with Only Australia looking like they could challenge. Then Australia looked to settle for second, but Great Britain was running out of steam and Australia managed to get an overlap on the British boat. It was too late with Great Britain crossing the line in first.
France left the blocks at 42 strokes per minute in Heat Two. But Germany was still able to reel them in and with just 500m rowed, Germany had the lead. The Germans were silver medallists in 2016, but apart from Michaela Staelberg, Germany had a new crew this year. Germany looked comfortable as they crossed the line in first with Romania following in second. But with 30m left to row two-seat in the Romanian boat stopped rowing and looked to have problems with her seat. The rest of the crew kept going and managed to cross the line and qualify before the United States could catch them.
Qualifiers: GBR, AUS, GER, ROU
Men’s Four (BM4-) – Heats
Three heats made up this boat class and the rule here was to finish in a top three position for a direct path to the semifinals. At the start of Heat One Australia had the lead with Spain slipping into second. This order remained the same through the middle of the race before Switzerland did a big push and managed to get ahead of Spain. Australia, meanwhile, remained way, way out in front and they crossed the line rating a rather comfortable 33.
Heat Two saw Great Britain leave the blocks rating 44 which secured them the head of the field. But they were up against last year’s under-24 World Champion, Austria. But Austria was currently in second and they did not seem to be able to overtake Great Britain. The Austrians hung on and in the final sprint Austria went to 36. Great Britain reacted back and held the lead with Lithuania flying through at the finish to overtake Germany and snatch the final qualifying spot. Great Britain had recorded the fastest qualifying time by a big four seconds.
The Netherlands had the fastest start in Heat Three and they got to the first 500m marker in the lead. Following the closest was the United States and Serbia. The Dutch (Rienks, van de Kerkhof, Dijkstra and Rienks) then managed to pull away to a very slight leading edge with the United States and Serbia neck-and-neck for second. It was a clear win for the Netherlands with Serbia getting the better of the United States by rating 40 in the final sprint.
Qualifiers: AUS, SUI, ESP, GBR, AUT, LTU, NED, SRB, USA
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (BLM1x) – Heats
This boat class had the most entries of the regatta and they were divided into six heats with the top three in each heat getting to move in to the quarterfinals. In Heat One France’s Leo Grandsire was the first to lead. But this didn’t last long as Austria’s Jakob Zwoelfer pushed into the lead followed closely by the 2016 junior World Champion in the men’s pair, Ninos Nikolaidis of Greece. A big push by Nikolaidis gave him a leading edge with Zwoelfer holding on to second.
Heat Two was led from start to finish by Ales Jalen of Slovenia. Jalen was able to increase his lead through the 2000m race and Germany’s Elias Dreismickenbecker could do nothing more than hold on to second over Chile’s Marcelo Medina Bonilla who came flying through at the end to take third. Thailand’s Jaruwat Saensuk had the lead at the start of Heat Three with Mexico’s Alexis Lopez Garcia following closely in second. Lopez was last year’s bronze medallist in this boat class and a second half push by Lopez gave him the lead. Once there Lopez looked rather comfortable and he did not seem to need to sprint the finish. Saensuk held on to second and Italy’s Lorenzo Galano grabbed third.
At the start of Heat Four it was Enes Yenipazarli of Turkey in the lead with Mohamed Taieb of Tunisia following very closely in second. Taieb was tenth in this boat class last year and he raced in the first World Rowing Cup this season. Taieb then got his nose ahead of Yenipazarli and managed to gain a bit of a lead. Behind them a late sprint by South Africa and Ukraine saw Serhil Siabro of Ukraine grab the third and final qualifying spot in a photo finish.
Bulgaria’s Ivan Kolev had the lead at the start of Heat Five and built up a small margin. But then Slovakia’s Peter Zelinka took over in the lead with Ruben Somers of Belgium now picking up the pace. Zelinka then started to look rather comfortable with Somers looking good in second as New Zealand’s Benjamin Van Dalen pushed through to take the final qualifying spot. The final heat, Heat Six had Brazil’s Uncas Batista in the lead at the start. Jan Cincibuch of the Czech Republic followed closely in second. Batista warmed up for this world championships by racing at two of the World Rowing Cups this season and it must have served him well. Alexandros Zisimidis of Cyprus was now in third. Batista did not need to sprint the finish as this race became rather spread out. Batista had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall by a huge five seconds.
Qualifiers: GRE, AUT, SWE, SLO, GER, CHI, MEX, THA, ITA, TUN, TUR, UKR, SVK, BEL, NZL, BRA, CZE, CYP
Men’s Single Sculls (BM1x) – Heats
This boat class had five heats with the plan being to finish in a top four spot to secure a position in the quarterfinals to be raced on Friday. Romania’s Marian-Florian Enache had the lead at the start of Heat One. Kyle Schoonbee of South Africa followed closely in second. These two scullers then moved away from the rest of the field leaving a tight battle between Denmark and Austria. The tall Romanian crossed the line first. Schoonbee took second and Denmark’s Nick Larsen was third with Austria qualifying from fourth.
In Heat Two Josh Armstrong of Great Britain was the first out of the blocks. But then a big push by Trevor Jones of Canada propelled Jones from fourth and into first position. Once in front Jones was able to pull clean away from the rest of the field. Jones raced last year in the under-23 double and finished fifth. Coming into the final sprint Australia had pushed up into a qualifying spot as Bulgaria’s Boris Yotov came sprinting through to qualify along with Australia and Great Britain.
Heat Three had Tom De Borger of Belgium in the lead at the start. Then Greece’s Ioannis Kalandaridis found his rhythm and pulled out in front. Kalandaridis took gold on the junior men’s pair last year and he may well be the one to beat in this boat class. But Germany’s Marc Weber was showing his stamina and was now in front. Then in the last 250m the whole field closed up. Germany held on to first, Greece on to second and a photo finish for third and fourth saw De Borger grab third and Lucas Ferreira of Brazil taking fourth.
Sweden’s Emil Freudenthal led the way in Heat Four and used a very fast start to gain a handy lead. Italy’s Salvatore Monfrecola then closed on Freudenthal and overtook the Swede. Once in front Monfrecola left the rest of the field behind with Russia and Lithuania also in qualifying spots. The final race of the day, Heat Five opened with Norway’s Jan Helvig in the lead. Then last year’s silver medallist, Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk of Poland took over in the lead. Wegrzykci-Szymczyk raced at the Rio Olympics and he’s back for another shot to go after under-23 gold. The Pole led through to the finish with Helvig holding on to second and Kyle Mabry of the United States in third. None of them had to sprint the finish. Hungary took fourth.
Qualifiers: ROU, RSA, DEN, AUT, CAN, BUL, AUS, GBR, GER, GRE, BEL, BRA, ITA, RUS, SWE, LTU, POL, NOR, USA, HUN