How quads made a crowd gasp
The quadruple sculls is the thinking person’s boat. Each of the four rowers have to coordinate two oars. They also have to slot in perfect synchronicity with their three team mates and the other six oars. Day 3 at the 2011 World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia featured the men’s and women’s quadruple sculls repechage and some of the most gripping races of the day.
Two days ago the women’s quadruple sculls had two countries qualify for the 2012 London Olympic Games – New Zealand and Germany – in the heats. Today, the repechages offered four more Olympic spots and there was little doubt that coaches, in their pre-race pep-talk, would have been stressing the importance of this race. By finishing in the top two these rowers would not only earn a spot in the final but they would also qualify their boat for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Women's Quadruple Sculls (W4x) - Repechages
Repechage one, race 111 of the regatta, saw a close battle between Australia and Ukraine. Ukraine, in the last couple of years, has prioritised this boat and last year finished second at the World Rowing Championships. But recently the quad has been disassembled and reconfigured a number of times so the crew here had a bit of an unknown feel to them. The Australians were wary and, despite Ukraine taking a bit of a lead, Australia’s Ives, Cook, Pratley and Kehoe stuck to them. At the line little more than a second separated the two boats with Australia a fraction in front. Both boats had earned a spot in the 2012 Olympic Games.
Sally Kehoe (AUS)
"It was a very tough race because of the hard conditions, but it was fair. This is repechage racing, there is a lot at stake you need to get in front as anything can happen. We are sure of qualification now and are thrilled."
Tetiana Kolesnikova (UKR)
"We have been switching positions a lot, only two of us competed in the quad in Lucerne, and a week ago 3 of us were taken from the eight into this quad. We are very happy that we qualified for the Olympics, it all worked out."
Then repechage two came down the course. All eyes were peeled on the performance playing out in front of them. Three boats were locked tightly together - World Champions, Great Britain, Olympic Champions, China and the United States. The pace was hot, the intensity audible, one would miss out. Three boats crossed the line together. The results: USA, CHN, GBR. The reigning World Champions were out of the final. The United States and China had qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games. The British team sat, and sat. Then rowed slowly, heads bowed, back to the boat park. They have another chance to qualify for their home town Olympics if they win their b-final on Thursday.
Adrienne Martelly (USA)
"This race was very exciting, with Great Britain, China and us being so close together. We are simply happy now that we made it"
Ziwei Jin (CHN)
"This was not easy, but we did what we came for, so we are satisfied. For now"
Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x) - Repechages
Since 2005 Poland has dominated the men’s quadruple sculls, with only recently Croatia able to challenge the Polish. But this year the status quo seems to have changed. Germany has been improving in leaps and bounds and Russia and Ukraine stepping up. Today Switzerland’s top single sculler, Andre Vonarburg, now stroking the quad led his crew to a semifinal berth and recorded the top qualifying time in the process – just eight seconds outside of the World Best Time. Cuba came through behind Switzerland to also qualify.
Repechage two had all of the drama of an Olympic final. Out of the six boats entered, five boats paced each other out of the start and still remained locked tightly together through the middle of the race. Then Slovenia began to slip back a bit, but there was still very little between Estonia, France, New Zealand and Great Britain. An all out sprint to the line had the crowd gasp.
New Zealand and Great Britain had crossed together. Both had qualified for the semifinals. Right behind them France and Estonia would have to wait until next year to think about 2012 Olympic qualification.