Junior Championships taste Eton rain
In a complete contrast to the first day of racing, the 2011 World Rowing Junior Championships in Eton, Great Britain endured a mixture of driving rain to an easing shower. Today saw 10 heats being contested in cross head-wind conditions, resulting in relatively slow times.
There was no doubt, however, that these are the best under-19 rowers in the world as technique and power prevailed and the best crews advanced to the next round of racing.
Junior Women’s Four (JW4-) – Heats
The two heats in this event required crews to race for first if they wanted a direct path to the final. Heat one turned into a down-under tussle with New Zealand and Australia fighting it out at the front of the field. These two Pacific nations love to race each other and love to beat each other. New Zealand is the reigning World Champions in this event while Australia finished third in 2010. However, getting in on the Pacific battle was Great Britain.
In a big sprint to the line Australia were swallowed up by the British, but Great Britain did not have enough to catch the New Zealanders. New Zealand get to go directly to the final.
The United States got their regatta off to a great start by leading for the whole race in the second heat. The crew is made up of three returning juniors including Lucy Grinalds who is at her fourth junior champs. The fourth crew member, Mia Croonquist is just 14 years old – the youngest female rower at these championships and already 6 ft tall. The United States go directly to the final with a win of five seconds ahead of Germany.
Junior Men’s Coxed Four (JM4+) – Heats
Like the women’s four, the men’s coxed four had two heats but this time, because of total crew numbers, the top two boats in each heat would get to advance to the final on Saturday. Heat one featured last year’s silver and bronze medallists – Italy and Australia. These heats are not seeded as often the crews are made up of completely different athletes from the previous year, but it was Australia and Italy that were the top two boats in this heat. Australia worked its way to a huge advantage through the middle of the race. Italy, however, wanted to win. They took their stroke rate to 40 and charged to the finish line. Australia had no answer, but it was merely academic. Both boats go directly to the final.
Heat two recorded the fastest qualifying time when New Zealand held off Germany to finish in a time of 6:46. Gregory Brand, Louis Van Velthooven, Adam Smith, Andrew Potter and coxswain Caleb Shepherd of New Zealand will go to the final with the psychological advantage. The 2010 New Zealand crew finished sixth so this start looks like a step up for them. Germany held on to second and these two crews get to go directly to the final.
Junior Women’s Pair (JW2-) – Heats
These two heats headed off just as the rain picked up but with just the top spot in each heat going directly to the final, these athletes had to stay completely focused. France got off to a flying start before falling right back to the rear of the field in the first heat. This let Italy’s sisters, Serena and Giorgia Lo Bue to take over in the lead. The Lo Bue’s looked long and smooth and they appeared to move effortlessly away from the rest of the field. The United States moved into second, but did not have the power to catch the Italians. The Lo Bue sisters earn a spot in the final and record the fastest qualifying time.
Last year Greece was second and this year’s crew looked to be on track to defend this position in heat two. Vasiliki Ntalamagka and Eleni Diamanti of Greece were third at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and today their talent was evident as they powered ahead in the lead in absolutely dominating style. Norway came through from the back of the field to take second, but never got into the spot of denying the Greeks of first. Greece earn a spot in the final on Saturday.
Junior Men’s Pair (JM2-) – Heats
This event had three heats which meant a semifinal would be necessary. The top two in each heat would go to the semifinal while all other crews would need to race in tomorrow’s repechage. Germany led the way in heat one and built up a five second lead coming into the final sprint. This meant that if Serbia, in second, wanted to take line honours then they would have to do something pretty special. And Serbia did. Coming into the final sprint Serbia charged moving closer and closer to the Germans with every stroke. But Nikola Simovic and Vuk Matovic of Serbia had left their dash just a bit too late. Germany finish first by just under a second and Serbia take second. Both boats get to go to the semifinals.
Heat two was completely dominated by Romania. Vlad-Dragos Aicoboae and Toader-Andrei Gontaru of Romania already had an open water lead with just 500m rowed. The duo then dropped their rate to a modest 29 strokes per minute and proceeded to move even further away from the rest of the field. At the finish Romania were eight seconds in the clear. Bulgaria, in second, qualify along with Romania for the semifinals.
Greece won this event last year and they look like they are ready to defend this position at Dorney Lake. After overtaking a fast starting South Africa, Konstantinos Christomanos and Alexandros Louloudis of Greece took the lead and never let go in heat three. Settling into a solid 32 stroke rate pace, Christomanos and Louloudis still had the lead coming into the finish when both South Africa and the United States took up their stroke rate and aimed to take over. The Greek’s, however, were in control. Greece and South Africa advance to the semifinals.
Junior Women’s Double Sculls (JW2X) – Heats
This race had attracted 19 countries and they were divided into four heats; the top two boats in each heat progressing directly to the semifinals on Saturday. The reigning World Champions, France featured in heat one. Daphne Socha remains in the boat that won gold last year and she is now partnered up with Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino. However, it was not France that had the lead at the start of this race. Instead it was Germany, with Brazil following in second. The Germans were bronze medallists in 2010 and they looked to be stamping their mark on this heat.
Coming through the third 500, the French showed their stamina and moved up ahead of Brazil, closing the gap on Germany. In a fight to the line between France and Germany, the French managed to get there just ahead. Both boats advance to the semifinals.
A full-on tussle between Romania and Spain went on in heat two. It opened with Uxia Saborido Santiago and Aina Cidi of Spain in the lead by a fraction over Andreea-Mihaela Tataru and Ionela-Minodora Popescu of Romania. The Romanian’s then pushed into the lead, but with only a fraction advantage the Romanian’s could not be complacent. Spain attacked back and from about the 1250m mark until the finish Spain just held on to the lead. Spain and Romania earn spots in the semifinals.
South Africa’s Jenienne Curr and Kayleigh Scheepers will go into the semifinals feeling very positive. The duo led heat three from start to finish and their time of 7:46 makes them the second fastest qualifying boat. Behind Curr and Scheepers the Netherlands came through to challenge the South Africans pushing them through to the finish. Curr and Scheepers were forced to sprint and still managed to hold on to their lead. Both South Africa and the Netherlands earn spots in the semifinals.
As the heavy rain eased a little, heat four took to the water and at the end, the fastest qualifying time had been recorded. Milda Valciukaite and Ieva Adomaviciute of Lithuania grabbed the bull by the horns and controlled this race from start to finish. The duo’s fast start meant that they had a boat length’s lead already at the 500m mark. Belarus were in second and the United States had third. As Lithuania continued in first, the United States were putting in a top effort to push past Belarus. By the third 500 the USA had done it; Lithuania and the United States are the two qualifying boats.
Junior Men’s Quadruple Sculls (JM4X) – Heats
The rain continued to ease as the four heats in the quadruple sculls took to the water. These crews needed to finish first if they wanted to go directly to the semifinals on Saturday whilst all other crews would have to race in Friday’s repechage. The Italians finished second last year in this event and today they raced in heat one. Yet, at the start it was Romania with the lead. The Italians, however, did not let this state of affairs remain for very long. By the half-way point Italy took over the lead, as Romania tried very hard to hold on. Italy remained just in front and despite Romania’s continuing challenges, Italy held on to the qualifying spot and earn the fastest qualifying time of 6.20.
The Netherlands absolutely dominated heat two. Job Heidweiller, Amos Keijser, Nicolas van Sprang and Abe Wiersma of the Netherlands already had over a boat length lead after just 40 strokes and then went on to build an open water lead. The Dutch used a strong, even rhythm to set the pace and leave to rest of the field to contemplate their repechage race. The Dutch go directly to the semifinals.
Last year New Zealand finished third in this event. This year they set themselves up in a very good position to medal again by leading for the entire race in heat three. The New Zealand crew of Lewis Hollows, Mitchell Horner, Stephen Jones and Scott Green shot out at the start and never looked back. This crew has arrived at Eton directly from their Southern Hemisphere winter and the cool summer temperatures and rain today must be suiting their cause. New Zealand finished the race easily in front despite a concerted challenge from the Australians. New Zealand advance to the semifinals amidst loud cheers from the crowd.
In Racice at the 2010 World Rowing Junior Championships, Germany won this event. Today they raced in heat four with a slight leading margin at the start. The German lead, however, did not last very long and by the half-way point Great Britain had the lead. The British, who were fourth in 2010, diligently held on to their position and at the finish the crew looked absolutely delighted to take first. Great Britain go to the semifinals.
Junior Women’s Single Sculls (JW1X) – Heats
The first two in each of the four heats would get to go directly to Saturday’s semifinals. All other scullers would get a second chance to advance in Friday’s repechage. Heat one was all about Japan. Haruna Sakakibara is at her first junior championships and she shot out at the start setting a very fast pace. This left the real battle to go on for the second place and the second qualifying spot. Chile’s Natalia Sanchez Rojas got herself into second and tried to hold on. Sanchez is at her third junior championships despite being only 15 years old and she had Italy, the Czech Republic and Greece all in a close line with her. But Sanchez managed to show her stamina and shake off her competition in the second half of the race. Sakakibara and Sanchez qualify for the semifinals.
The Irish got to celebrate following heat two. Holly Nixon of Ireland made the best of the conditions and led from start to finish. The tall Nixon used long strokes to hold onto the lead and extend it out so that no one could get close to her. Switzerland’s Juliette Jeannet tried her best to move up on Nixon, but the Irish lead was too great. Nixon and Jeannet go directly to the semifinals.
Germany is always strong at the junior and under 23 level in the single and they hold the World Champion title in this event. In heat three Germany’s new sculler, Anne Beenken did her best to continue this dominance. But it was Latvia’s Elza Gulbe who led easily for most of the race. Gulbe, however, seemed unprepared for Beenken who gave it her all in the final sprint. Beenken pulled out a huge piece to get into the lead, before catching a crab 300m before the line. Unphased, Beenken regained her rhythm and won the race. Both Beenken and Gulbe move on to the semifinals.
Bulgaria’s Rosita Boncheva had the best start in heat four. Boncheva took the lead with Denmark’s Emma Kiehn the closest threat. Despite the tall, rangy, long strokes of Kiehn, Boncheva remained in the lead. Yet Kiehn did not give up and in a last ditch sprint Kiehn finally managed to take the lead. This position however, was purely academic; both Kiehn and Boncheva, in second, earn spots in the semifinals.
Junior Men’s Single Sculls (JM1X) – Heats
The men’s single topped the regatta as event with the most entries. Today 27 countries lined up to aim for Sunday’s final six spots. The 27 countries were divided into six heats with the top three or four boats in each heat advancing to Friday’s quarterfinals. The racing started with Ukraine’s Andrii Mykhailov leading the way in heat one. Mykhailov raced last year in Racice in the quad, finishing seventh. This race was showing his ability in the single. Switzerland’s Augustin Maillefer pressed Mykhailov hard with these two boats moving away from the rest of the field. Mykhailov, Maillefer and a distance back, Riordan Morrell of New Zealand and Merab Chermashentsev of Russia qualify for the quarterfinals.
The Greeks may have a new top single sculler in the form of Alexandros Dafnis. Greece was second in 2010 and Dafnis did his country proud in heat two. At the start Argentina’s Axel Haack had to lead before Boris Yotov of Azerbaijan took over. Then in the sprint to the line Dafnis found the front. With four boats qualifying Dafnis will be joined in the quarterfinals by Yotov, Haack and Estonia’s Juri-Mikk.
Heat three also had four boats qualifying for the quarterfinals with Coupe de la Jeunesse racer, Paul O’Donovan of Ireland doing it the best. O’Donovan did not lead at the start or in the middle of the race. It was not until the final sprint that O’Donovan showed what he was truly made of. O’Donovan finished first in a solid time of 7:55 giving him the third fastest qualifying time. Latvia’s Gints Zunde also worked his way up through the field and even had the lead before O’Donovan pushed him into second at the end. Qualifying along with O’Donovan and Zunde was Jahor Matsukov of Belarus who led much of the first half of the race and Tunisia’s Mohamed Aouiti who held on to fourth.
When you line up against Germany in the single, you know that you’ve got tough competition. The reigning World Champions, Germany, had a spot in heat four. Their 2011 sculler is Stephan Riemekasten proved his worth and led this heat from start to finish by a large margin. Zimbabwe’s James Fraser-MacKenzie held second with Japan’s Shinji Miyazaki earning the third and final qualifying spot. Riemekasten’s time of 7:53 gives him the fastest qualifying time.
Heat five had three boats progressing to the quarterfinals and it began with the United States’ Ryan Allan and Boris Gardijan of Croatia going head to head. Getting into their rhythm, Allan used a higher 31 stroke rate to keep ahead with Gardijan rating 29. Gardijan then pushed ahead with Kazakhstan’s Vladislav Yakovlev, at a low 24, closing the gap on Allen. Yakovlev has been hosted by the prestigious Leander Club on London’s River Thames in the lead up to the junior championships and it looked like his time on the Thames had been useful. Despite his low rating Yakovlev came through from the back of the field and into second by the end of the race. At the line Gardijan, Yakovlev and Allen qualify for the quarterfinals.
Last year the Czech Republic was fifth in this event. Today, Czech Republic’s Michal Plocek worked his way into first in heat six and won by a large margin. Plocek looked delighted at the finish. He had qualified for the quarterfinal with the second fastest time. James Johnston of South Africa came through in second to also qualify while Lithuania’s Aurimas Adomavicius led early on but could only manage third at the other end of the 2000m Dorney Lake course. Third place, still, was enough to qualify.
Junior Men’s Eight (JM8+) – Heats
This event had two heats and the top boat in each heat would earn a direct path to Sunday’s final. In heat one the local crowd got to see a treat of fine rowing as the British men’s eight led the field. This highly tuned crew looked smooth and in control with no real pressure from the rest of the field. This is a big step up for Great Britain who finished fifth last year. Meanwhile reigning World Champions, the United States looked rushed, rowing without any real flow. They will have to go through the repechage after finishing third. Spain came through to take second while Great Britain go directly to the final from first.
Heat two had Germany leading the way for the majority of the race before the Italians picked it up to a 39 stroke rate and did a big push for the finish. The Germans, who were second in 2010, could do nothing about the Italian challenge and once they had found the lead, Italy took off. At the finish Italy had a five second lead over Germany to go directly to the final. Italy’s time of 6:05 was the fastest qualifying time.