Race Report: Junior talent on display in heats at the Rotterdam World Rowing Champs
The mega World Rowing Championships moved into a day of junior rowing. At the 2016 World Rowing Senior, Under 23 & Junior World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands there were 1900 athletes racing and today saw heats for the best junior rowers in the world.
Under sunny Dutch skies with a small tail wind ripple on the water, the rowers got to appreciate fair rowing conditions and a scenic ride down the Willem-Alexander Baan Rowing Regatta course which included classic Dutch windmills and canals. The junior standards went one step higher in the women’s pair and women’s single sculls with two new junior World Best Times being set. Clara Guerra of Italy broke the former best time in the single by more than three seconds and Kaitlyn Kynast and Kailani Marchak of the United States now hold the junior World Best Time in the pair.
Junior Women’s Four (JW4-) – Heats
The first three boats in each of these three semifinals would get to go directly to the semifinals and Italy was the first to show in Heat One. That was after they had to get ahead of Croatia who opened the race at a 49 stroke rate. But Italy had the higher settling stroke rate to get into the lead. China was rating the lowest, at 33, but their powerful strokes kept them up with the Italians. Then Great Britain began to move up and the three qualifying crews had all but been decided with half the race rowed. A burst in the final sprint gave Great Britain first place.
Germany led the way in Heat One and got out to an open water lead with half the race gone. They raced at a 34 pace in what looked like absolute comfort. This left a close battle for second and third between New Zealand, Poland and Belgium. In the final sprint the lower-rating Belgium managed to hold off Poland to take the final qualifying spot. Germany had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall – just a fraction faster than Great Britain.
The reigning junior World Champions, the United States got out in front in Heat Three. With a new crew for 2016, they were showing their talent. Three of the crew got bronze in 2015 in the junior women’s eight. Hungary followed in second, but they were quite a way off the Americans who now had an open water lead. The United States kept the pressure on through to the end, going to 40 in the final sprint.
Qualifiers: GBR, ITA, CHN, GER, NZL, BEL, USA, HUN, NED
Junior Men’s Coxed Four (JM4+) – Heats
Two heats lined up with the goal of being in a top two spot. This would earn a direct path to the final. Italy got out in front in Heat One with Serbia and South Africa chasing hard. Then, with Italy still in the lead, the United States kicked up the speed and saw them overtake Serbia and close on Italy. The crowd loved this last minute charge. At the line Italy had prevailed and with the fastest qualifying time.
Turkey is getting a reputation for fast starts and they led the way in Heat Two. They were followed by Australia who is coached by World Rowing commentator and Olympian Sarah Cook. This put the reigning junior World Champions, Germany into third. Then Germany began to close on Australia with the Australians having no reply. Germany now went after Turkey. Turkey went to a 38 and then 40 stroke rate to stay ahead of Germany. The lower-rating Germans were able to overtake Turkey.
Qualifiers: ITA, USA, GER, TUR
Junior Women’s Pair (JW2-) – Heats
The two heats in this boat class meant that one crew only would go through to the final. Greece had the fastest start in Heat One with Margarita Georgoudi and Christina Bourmpou then getting overtaken by Kaitlyn Kynast and Kailani Marchak of the United States. Both Kynast and Marchak raced at last year’s World Rowing Junior Championships, but in different boats. Rating 34, the United States stayed in front. Then going to 36 and then 38, the United States led the way into the close of the race. Greece picked up their stroke rate but remained in second. Kynast and Marchak set a new junior World Best Time. They set the standard at 7:16.82.
The junior World Champions, Russia, lined up in Heat Two. The crew of Olesia Zakharova and Ekaterina Glazkova of Russia is the same crew that won in 2015. But they came out at the back of the field and instead it was Italy’s Caterina Di Fonzo and Aisha Rocek in the lead. Italy built up a good lead and they did not need to sprint the finish to take the qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: USA, ITA
Junior Men’s Four (JM4-) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and the top three boats in each heat would get to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One the United States got away the quickest and then going through the middle of the race Italy challenged the Americans for the lead. There was nothing between these two nations coming into the final sprint with France getting the better of Serbia to slot into third. Italy then went to above 40 to try and get ahead of the United States. Their higher stroke rate saw the Italians win. Meanwhile a huge closing sprint by Serbia took them into third ahead of France.
Great Britain and Canada had the fastest start with the British crew managing to be a bit faster through the second quarter of the race to take the lead. Germany then moved on Canada and coming into the final sprint, the Germans had got ahead of the Canadians. The four is the flagship boat for Great Britain and the crew of Davidson, Stocker, Plaut and Lindsay was doing what their senior counterparts do so well – leading. At the line the British had taken first with Germany in second and Greece flying through into third. Great Britain recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
The reigning junior World Champions, Romania had a fast start and by the middle of the race an open water lead over the rest of the field. The Romanian crew was a new line-up from their 2015 winning crew, but they were proving their worth as they dominated this race. South Africa had slotted into second with Belarus and Poland both within striking distance. There was not much sprinting going on in the close of the race with the crews looking a tad tired. Poland missed out.
Qualifiers: ITA, USA, SRB, GBR, GER, GRE, ROU, BLR, RSA
Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls (JW4x) – Heats
This boat class had four heats and the goal for these crews was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One Greece got away very quickly. The Greek crew included 15-year-old bow seat Iaonna Bitzilaiou. She was taking on crews with much older rowers. Behind Greece, Australia and Russia were going head-to-head to try and earn the second qualifying spot. Coming into the final sprint the Russians and Australians were still neck-and-neck. Then Russia caught a crab and Australia was able to comfortably take second.
Heat Two was delayed for an hour as the Chinese crew had to fix a damaged oar. At the start Italy had the lead with Germany and China oh so close. These three boats went neck-and-neck through the body of the race and with 1500m left to row, less than a second separated these three boats. Only two qualifying spots were available. The crowd was on their feet as Italy went to 40. A photo finish. China had won and scored the fastest qualifying time. Their oar well and truly fixed. Italy and Germany finished second and third respectively and a spread of just 0.42 of a second separated the three boats.
Heat Three opened with Great Britain the leading boat and the Czech Republic chasing hard. With two boats to qualify, Great Britain and the Czechs broke away from the rest of the field. Rating higher, the Czech Republic tried to close on Great Britain, but the British were able to counter the move and remained in front. The British took silver at the World Rowing Junior Championships last year and this crew looks to be continuing this legacy.
Romania continued what is turning out to be a great day for their country by leading Heat Four. By the middle of the race Romania remained in front with New Zealand and the United States going neck-and-neck for second. Coming into the final 500m the New Zealand crew went to 36 to try and shake off the Americans. This saw New Zealand close on Romania. Coming into the line there was now nothing between Romania and New Zealand. The crowd support was behind the New Zealanders. Romania, though, was holding on. It took until the final stroke. In a photo finish New Zealand had finished first.
Qualifiers: GRE, AUS, GBR, CZE, NZL, ROU, CHN, GER, ITA
Junior Men’s Quadruple Sculls (JM4x) – Heats
A full field of 25 nations lined up and they were divided into five heats with the top four boats in each heat advancing to the quarterfinals. This meant the goal was not to come last. The Czech Republic set the pace in Heat One with Russia chasing hard. Coming into the final sprint, the Czechs had built up a handy lead with just one and a half seconds separating the remaining four crews. This would be a full-on fight to the line. At the finish Belgium proved to have a great sprint and Canada missed out.
Heat Two featured the reigning junior World Champions, Great Britain. But at the start it was Germany in the lead. Sitting on 35 strokes per minute through the body of the race, Germany looked comfortable and in control. Great Britain had slotted into second and the Netherlands in third. This left Argentina and Estonia to battle it out for the remaining qualifying spot. Then Argentina was able to pull away from Estonia. Germany held the lead through to the finish and recorded the fastest qualifying time.
France looked great at the head of Heat Three. They built up a solid lead over Denmark with Italy back in third. This race turned into a procession with Austria (racing with three rowers due to an illness for one crew member) ahead of Georgia. France continued to pull out a bigger and bigger lead and the order did not change through to the finish line. Austria, in fourth, had qualified for the next round of racing.
Greece struck up a great lead in Heat Four. They used a 39 stroke rate to stay out in front of Hungary. Could the Greeks keep this up? Going through the third 500 Hungary overtook Greece as the Greeks began to slow. Australia now closed on Greece. But the Greeks had another gear and they took their stroke rate above 40. Australia could not hold them and had to accept third place.
The United States had the fastest pace in Heat Five and they led New Zealand through the first half of the race. Stroked by 16-year-old Clark Dean, the United States managed to push away from New Zealand who were keeping an eye on Slovenia in third. In the close of the race the United States looked comfortable in first ahead of New Zealand.
Qualifiers: CZE, BEL, RUS, UKR, GER, GBR, NED, ARG, FRA, DEN, ITA, AUT, HUN, GRE, AUS, NOR, USA, NZL, SLO, CRO
Junior Men’s Double Sculls (JM2x) – Heats
One of the biggest entries of this regatta, this double had 30 countries lining up. They were divided into five heats and the goal was to be in a top four position for a direct path to the quarterfinals. In Heat One Spain got away the quickest and did their best to stay ahead of Greece. Then Great Britain’s Rory Harris and George Lawton did a big push and moved through into first. Spain had no reply as Great Britain led the race home with Greece doing a great finishing sprint.
Germany’s Konstantin Nowitzki and Henry Schwinde were the fastest out of the blocks in Heat Two. They got ahead of the fast-starting Turkish crew and kept an eye on Oner and Yenipazarki of Turkey through the body of the race. Germany did not need to sprint the finish as they led a rather spread out field to the line. Heat Three featured the reigning junior World Champions, Italy. But for this regatta, the Italian crew was a new line up and at the start Canada’s Ethan McAlpine and Nicholas Everett had the lead. Canada then pushed out to a solid lead over Hungary with Italy in third. Stroking 35, Canada was overtaken by Hungary, at 38. But Canada pushed back and nearly got into first again.
Ben van Brussel and Tristan Voskuilen of the Netherlands were way, way out in front in Heat Four. You could hear the smile in the voice of the Dutch commentator. China followed way back in second. A good battle went on for third between Estonia and the United States with the US just ahead in the final sprint. Looking relaxed, van Brussel and Voskuilen led the race home. Estonia got the better of the US in the closing metres.
After an initial fast start by South Africa, New Zealand’s Leonard Jenkins and Jack Lopas got out in front and started to move away from the field. Belarus had now pushed into second. Then Ireland took their stroke rate to 38 and wound it up to the line. Belarus pushed back. Ireland and Belarus crossed the line together just behind New Zealand. Jenkins and Lopas had recorded the fastest overall qualifying time.
Qualifiers: GBR, ESP, GRE, LAT, GER, TUR, LTU, DEN, HUN, CAN, ITA, MEX, NED, CHN, EST, USA, NZL, IRL, BLR, RSA
Junior Men’s Pair (JM2-) – Heats
Four heats lined up in this boat class with the top boat only getting to qualify for the semifinals. Chile led at the start of Heat One before Austria’s Rudolph Querfeld and Mattijs Holler took over in front. Chile held on to second with Austria having to work hard to remain in the lead. Then in the close of the race Bulgaria came flying down the outside. From fourth position, Bulgaria nearly caught Austria on the line.
The European Junior Champions from this year, Ioannis Kalandaridis and Ninos Nikolaidis of Greece got away quickly in Heat Two. By the middle of the race Kalandaridis and Nikolaidis were demonstrating pure class and had a huge lead. In the final sprint the Greeks had a nine second lead over Italy in second. Going to 38, Greece well and truly secured the win. The Greek time was just four seconds outside of the junior World Best Time and the fastest qualifying time.
At the European Juniors Germany’s Jan Hennecke and Marcus Elster were the bronze medallists. Germany is also the reigning junior World Champions, but their 2016 line up is new. Hennecke and Elster led the way in Heat Three with South Africa the closest challengers. Coming through to the final 500m Germany did not need to sprint as they had a considerable advantage over South Africa.
The United States got away the quickest in Heat Four. The crew of Joseph Johnson and Christian Tabash had a handy lead with just 40 strokes rowed and they continued to increase their leading margin through the middle of the race. The Netherlands was way back in second and this race was all but decided with 1000m still to row. The US kept the power on right to the end.
Qualifiers: AUT, GRE, GER, USA
Junior Women’s Double Sculls (JW2x) – Heats
This boat class had four heats and the top boat only would get to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One France got away very quickly, but they soon lost the lead to Caroline Sharis and Emily Delleman of the United States. Once in front Sharis and Delleman were able to find their comfort spot and push away from the rest of the field. The United States recorded the overall fastest qualifying time, just five seconds outside of the junior World Best Time.
What a start for Denmark in Heat Two. The Danish duo were 10th last year and at the European Junior Championships this year, they won. Denmark’s Anne Larsen and Marta Kempf worked their way to an open water lead by the middle of the race leaving Poland back in second. Heat Three saw Greece’s Anastasia Vontzou and Anneta Kyridou get away quickly and then move out to a clear water lead. Italy followed in second but would have to put in a big effort to catch the Greeks. Vontzou and Kyridou finished second at the European Junior Championships and they now had to watch out for Germany and Italy who were neck-and-neck coming into the final sprint. Greece remained comfortably in front.
Heat Four saw Annika Hoffmann and Lily Alton-Triggs of Australia out in front and in a solid lead by the middle of the race. Lithuania settled into second and would have to do a big effort to catch the leaders. In the final sprint Australia was able to drop their stroke rate and cruise home to qualify for the semifinals.
Qualifiers: USA, DEN, GRE, AUS
Junior Women’s Eight (JW8+) – Heats
Two heats raced in this boat class and the goal was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the final. In Heat One the reigning junior World Champions led the way with Italy in second. Going through the middle of the race Germany and Italy was neck-and-neck and these two crews had to up their pace in the final sprint as Romania was flying down the outside. At the line both Germany and Italy celebrated. They had qualified.
Heat Two was delayed slightly as the boats took a bit longer to line up. Once in line they got away cleanly with France the first to show. The French got to the first 500m mark in first, but the margins were very close and not much more than a second and a half separated the entire field. Now the Czech Republic did a push and got their bow ahead. Belarus, the winners of the European Junior Championships, followed in second. The Czechs then pulled clean away and left the rest of the field to play catch up in the final sprint. The Czechs had done it. Belarus qualified from second. But what a great race from South Africa. Perhaps the first time entered in this boat class, they had held the pace of the best eights in the world.
Qualifiers: GER, ITA, CZE, BLR
Junior Women’s Single Sculls (JW1x) – Heats
A full field of 24 countries were split between four heats and the goal here was to finish first for a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One Veranika Kaminskaya of Belarus led from start to finish and closed the race holding a big lead. Sweden, in second, could not close on Kaminskaya. At the beginning of Heat Two Clara Guerra of Italy was in the lead at the start. But the crowd was behind Karolien Florijn of the Netherlands who followed in second. Florijn pushed Guerra right through to the line, but had to accept second and a row in the repechage. Hats off to Guerra. She set a new junior World Best Time by a huge three seconds. The 2009 time of 7:37.50 is now 7:34.58.
After an initial lead by Australia, Heat Three saw Germany’s Alicia Bohn take over in the lead. Bohn then pulled away from Australia and felt no need to sprint the finish. In Heat Four the United States sculler of Eliza Kallfelz was the fastest out of the blocks and she led the way to the first 500m mark over Moldova. Going through the middle of the race, Kallfelz had established a huge lead. Kallfelz finished tenth in this boat class at last year’s World Rowing Junior Championships and the extra year experience looked like it was paying dividends. Kallfelz comfortably led the field home. The American is also rowing in the under-23 double at this regatta.
Qualifiers: BLR, ITA, GER, USA
Junior Men’s Eight (JM8+) – Heats
This field had 12 countries entered and they were split into two heats with the aim of finishing first for a direct path to the final. In Heat One Great Britain got away the quickest with Italy chasing hard. The early lead paid dividends for Great Britain as they were able to lead the field home and counter any attack that came their way. Italy tried their hardest, rating 40 in the final sprint, but the British were able to hold them off.
The junior World Champions, the Netherlands sat in the starting blocks of Heat Two. The first few strokes showed that the United States had the best speed and they got away ahead of Germany who followed closely. Then the United States pushed away and the field began to spread out. Germany, still in second, could not catch the flying Americans who rated 40 in the final sprint. The time of 5:39 was less than four seconds outside of the junior World Best Time.
Qualifiers: GBR, USA