Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Semifinals

Semifinal One featured the fastest qualifier from yesterday's heats, Tim Brys of Belgium. Brys took off in second place behind New Zealand's Adam Ling. By the middle of the race Ling still had a slight lead but Brys. Ling remained in the lead until the line and looked very comfortable cruising home at a 34 stroke rate pace. This result is a great improvement for Ling who raced the C-final at the World Rowing Cup in Varese. Brys qualified from second and Damien Piqueras of France was third. Piqueras was sixth at the Varese World Cup.

There was a delay for Semifinal Two as the race had to be restarted due to an umpire launch stuck on the course. Five boats raced as Germany Two had to withdraw as he will now be racing in the lightweight men's double sculls. Serbia's Milos Stanojevic had a fast start before Lukas Babac of Slovakia took over in the lead. Stanojevic, who got into this race through the repechage, tried to stick with Babac, but by the final sprint it was all but sorted and the top three boats did not need to sprint the finish. Germany's Max Roeger will join Babac and Staojevic in tomorrow's final.

Qualifiers: NZL, BEL, FRA, SVK, SRB, GER1

Women’s Pair (W2-) – Semifinals

Denmark and New Zealand lined up in the middle lanes in Lucerne for Semifinal One. Both crews qualified directly from their heat, with New Zealand having clocked the fastest qualifying time. New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler started out in front. Crossing the 500m mark, Denmark and Australia were level behind New Zealand. At the half-way mark, it was still New Zealand in the lead, with Denmark in second and Canada moving up in third. Canada’s Jennifer Martins and Cristy Nurse were in the Canadian women’s eight that took silver at the World Cup in Varese. With 500m to go the top three boats remained unchanged and clear water separated them from the rest of the field. New Zealand crossed the line one length ahead of Denmark, who finished one length ahead of Canada. All three boats qualify for the A-final.

In Semifinal Two the top crew to look out for was Great Britain. British athletes Helen Glover and Heather Stanning are the reigning Olympic Champions and won gold at this year’s European Rowing Championships as well as at World Rowing Cup II in Varese. Unsurprisingly, they took the lead from the get-go. By the half-way mark, South Africa had moved up into second position. Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse finished sixth at last year’s World Rowing Championships and Lucerne was their first regatta this year. Poland stayed in close contact with the top two boats in third. The two Wierzbowska sisters from Poland made the final at this year’s European Rowing Championships and by crossing the line in third qualify for the second A-final of their senior rowing career.

Qualifiers: NZL, DEN, CAN, GBR, RSA, POL

Men’s Pair (M2-) – Semifinals

The New Zealand pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond has been unbeaten since 2009. Taking lane three, they raced alongside South Africa’s Shaun Keeling and David Hunt in lane four. The South Africans won world bronze in 2014 and Lucerne was their World Rowing regatta this year. As expected, New Zealand took the lead from the start. With 500m to go, the Serbian crew of Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik had moved up the ranks and were level with the Kiwis, providing a strong challenge to the supreme crew and rather closer than expected. South Africa crossed the line in third. These three crews will race in tomorrow’s A-final.

In Semifinal Two it was Great Britain’s James Foad and Matt Langridge in lane four and the Dutch pair of Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman in lane three. The Dutch won gold in Varese and the British took gold at the European Rowing Championships. There was very little between these top two crews at the first quarter mark. Australia, the bronze medallists from World Rowing Cup II in Varese, were level with Spain in third. By the half-way mark, Australia had moved away from the Spanish and began making its way up the field. With 500m to go, the Australians had taken over their competitors, Great Britain had fallen back into second while the Netherlands were back in third. But Great Britain resisted the Aussie challenge, reclaimed the leading position and crossed the line in the first qualifying spot, followed by Australia and the Netherlands.

Qualifiers: NZL, RSA, SRB, GBR, AUS, NED

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) - Semifinals

The Norwegian and British crews were seeded in the top middle lanes in Semifinal One. Norway’s Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli are last year’s world bronze medallists and this year’s European bronze medallists. Today they led the way. The second and third positions swapped in the first half of the race between Italy and Great Britain. Great Britain won bronze at World Rowing Cup II in Varese, while Italy had won silver. The British pair of William Fletcher and Richard Chambers continued to distance themselves from the Italians, Andrea Micheletti and Pietro Ruta to secure their second position. In the final 500, the top three boats were packed ahead of the rest of the field, with Norway qualifying from first, Great Britain from second and Italy from third.

France took an early lead and increased it from the start in Semifinal Two. The French athletes Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre had qualified for their semifinal directly from their heat with the fastest qualifying time. So far this year they won the European Championship title and gold at World Rowing Cup II. The reigning World Champions and World Best Time holders from South Africa, James Thompson and John Smith, followed in second position, unable to close the gap on the leading French. This is South Africa’s first international appearance this season. With 500m to go, the French had a four-second lead, and at the line finished with a two-boat length lead ahead of South Africa. Denmark’s Henrik Stephansen and Jens Nielsen qualify from third.

Qualifiers: NOR, GBR, ITA, FRA, RSA, DEN2 

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Semifinals

The South Africans qualified for the semifinals with the fastest qualifying time in this boat class. Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler raced for the first time internationally this year here at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Seeded in the other middle lane, lane four, was Germany. Fini Sturm and Marie-Louise Draeger medalled twice so far this season, winning silver at the Europeans and bronze at the World Cup in Varese. The South Africans flew off from the start in Semifinal One, securing the first qualifying spot and increasing their lead throughout the race. Germany followed in second, but was unable to keep the pace, slowly falling behind. The USA’s Devery Karz and Michelle Sechser moved up the ranks to take second by the half-way mark while the Netherlands’ Ilse Paulis and Maaike Head were in third. In the final 250m, Germany, determined not to let their qualification spot slip away, made a big move to overtake the Netherlands. The USA inched their way up closer to South Africa to take the second qualification spot.

The 2014 World Champions, Sophie Mackenzie and Julia Edward from New Zealand lined up in Semifinal Two, with the Olympic Champions and World Best Time holders Great Britain following the Kiwis in second. With half of the race left to go it was New Zealand in first, Great Britain in second and Australia in third. Australians Alice McNamara and Ella Flecker were the fifth-place finishers at last year’s World Rowing Championships. Throughout the race, the Kiwi’s leading position remained untouchable, while three boats behind them charged for the line in the last 250m to grab the last two qualifying spots. Despite a bad stroke by Great Britain, they had enough to give to keep in second. Denmark missed out to Australia by four hundredths of a second.

Qualifiers: RSA, USA, GER, NZL, GBR, AUS 

Men’s Four (M4-) – Semifinals

In Semifinal One of the men’s four, it was the Netherlands starting out in front and holding on to the lead throughout. The silver medallists from World Rowing Cup II, Italy, followed in second. Great Britain are the World Champions in this event. The British also claimed this year’s European Championship title, but in Varese, at World Rowing Cup II, they finished fifth. In this semifinal, the British were back in third for half of the race, with Spain gradually moving up the ranks. With 250m to go, the Spaniards gained momentum. Great Britain were unable to resist their challenge. At the line, Spain pipped the British with a lead of three tenths of a second. It will be a B-final for the British crew.

In Semifinal Two, the Serbian crew in lane one decided they would be the ones to beat. Leading the way for three-quarters of the race, they were followed by Australia in lane three. The Australians were finalists at last year’s World Rowing Championships as well as at World Rowing Cup II. With 500m left to row, Romania made a surprise move. Making their way up into third the Romanians continued to increase their lead to cross the line in first, ahead of Serbia and Australia.

Qualifiers: NED, ITA, ESP, ROU, SRB, AUS

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) - Semifinals

The Croatian Sinkovic brothers lined up in middle lane four in Semifinal One of the men’s double sculls. They are the World Champions and set the World Best Time by being the first crew to go under six minutes in this boat class last year in Amsterdam. At their first regatta this year, at World Rowing Cup II in Varese, the Sinkovics won gold. Lining up alongside the Croatians in lane three was New Zealand with Robert Manson and Chris Harris. The Kiwis had qualified with the fastest qualifying time for the semifinals. Croatia jumped out of the starting blocks with New Zealand following in second. The Croatians increased their lead over the rest of the field throughout the race, with New Zealand holding on behind. In third, it was Denmark in lane one fighting to make their way into the A-final, keeping the British behind in fourth throughout most of the race. With the line coming into view, Croatia was stroking 33 at the head of the field, with New Zealand finishing one length behind in second and Great Britain managing to move up the ranks to take the final qualifying spot.

Germany’s top single scullers formed a partnership this year in the men’s double sculls. Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger took gold at World Rowing Cup I and at the European Rowing Championships. Illness forced Hacker to withdraw from Varese but he is now back in full form. In Semifinal Two, the Germans took ownership of the leading spot. The Italians of Romano Battisti and Francesco Fossi (bronze medallists at World Rowing Cup II in Varese) and the Australians of James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff (world bronze medallists last year in Amsterdam) swapped between second and third. With 250m to go, the 2013 World Champions from Norway made a push to try and grab the final qualifying spot, but the Italians managed to keep them at bay.

Qualifiers: CRO, NZL, GBR, GER, AUS, ITA 

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Semifinals

Belarus’s Ekaterina Karsten is a legend in the world of rowing, having won multiple Olympic and World Championship medals in the women’s single sculls. After the London 2012 Olympic Games she retired from the single to move into team boats. At the start of Semifinal One, she and partner Yuliya Bichyk took the lead. But Germany’s Julia Lier and Mareike Adams did not leave the Belarusians in peace. The two crews swapped back and forth between first and second for three quarters of the race, with Greece’s Aikaterini Nikolaidou and Sofia Asoumanaki in third. With 500m left to row, Belarus had moved back up in front. Stroking at a rate of 34, Karsten and Bichyk maintained the lead, with Germany crossing the line in second and Greece in third.

Great Britain’s most medalled female rower, Katherine Grainger, came back to rowing this year after a post-London break. Grainger and partner Thornley took bronze at the European Rowing Championships and at the World Rowing Cup in Varese. But just out of the start in Semifinal Two they caught a crab which put them at the back of the field in sixth. At the half-way mark it was Australia, the World Best Time holders of Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe, in first position, followed by France. New Zealand holds the World Championship title from 2014 and at this point they were in third. But with 500m left to row, New Zealand had moved up to take the lead, with Australia following in second and France in third. Great Britain was still in fifth and with 250m left to row, they tried to make a move to make up for lost time, but it came too late.

Qualifiers: BLR, GER, GRE, NZL, AUS, FRA

Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) - Semifinals

The local favourites, Switzerland, have had a successful season so far, winning two gold medals and one silver this year. Although France initially took the lead in Semifinal One, the Swiss caught up by the half-way mark. With 250m left to row, the Italians made a push, attempting to take over the French. The Swiss held on to their advantage, crossing the line in first, followed by France and Italy.

The lightweight men’s four is historically the gem of Danish rowing. The World Best Time holders and reigning World Champions, Denmark, raced in lane three, alongside the gold medallists from the World Rowing Cup in Varese, New Zealand, in lane four. At the start of Semifinal One, it was New Zealand in front, with Denmark following. By the half-way mark, the positions had swapped, with the Netherlands in third. But Spain was about to surprise the field with a last-minute push. In the final quarter, they powered up the ranks from fourth, just nearly overtaking the Netherlands. Spain misses out on the final by seven hundredths of a second. Denmark sprinted to the line at 37 strokes per minute, keeping the lead.

Qualifiers: SUI, FRA, ITA, DEN, NZL, NED

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals

Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis qualified directly for the semifinals from Heat One with the fastest qualifying time. At the start of Semifinal One, Griskonis jumped out of the starting blocks in front. Great Britain’s Olympic medallist Alan Campbell followed in second. Campbell had a down season in 2014 but seems back on form this season. In third was Germany’s Lars Hartig who moved into the open single this year after winning world silver in the lightweight single last year. In the final quarter of the race, Hartig was unable to keep the pace and it was Italy’s Francesco Cardaioli who took over the third qualifying spot. Griskonis charged for the line, at 40 strokes per minute, with open water separating him from Campbell. In the final strokes, he stopped rowing, gliding slowly across the line, still in first.

In Semifinal Two New Zealand’s Olympic Champion and World Best Time holder Mahe Drysdale lined up in lane four alongside reigning World Champion Ondrej Synek from the Czech Republic in lane three. Synek started out in front with Belgium’s Hannes Obreno following in second. Obreno finished fifth at this year’s European Rowing Championships. By the half-way mark, Drysdale had moved up into the leading spot, with Synek falling back into third. With one quarter left to race, the positions remained unchanged: Obreno was in second ahead of Synek and Drysdale was still leading. In the final strokes, Synek made a final push to overtake Belgium and cross the line in second.

Qualifiers: LTU, GBR, ITA, NZL, CZE, BEL 

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals

In Semifinal One of the women’s single sculls, it was Australia’s Kim Crow, last year’s world silver medallist and the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, out in front. Following in second was Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen. Erichsen won Olympic silver at London 2012 and took a break from rowing after the Games to have a baby. She is now back in hope of qualifying for Rio. The United States Genevra Stone stayed in close contact with the top two and with 500m left to row, Stone moved up on Erichsen to take second. That is when New Zealand’s Fiona Bourke, in lane six, decided to make her move. Powering up, Bourke overtook Denmark in the final stretch of the race to take the third qualifying spot. In her first season in the single, Bourke had made her first A-final.

In Semifinal Two, Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova raced in lane three, alongside Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig.  Knapkova started in the lead, followed by Lobnig. In lane one was Belarus’s Tatsiana Kukhta in third position. With one quarter of the race left to row, the positions remained unchanged. But in the last 250m, Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin made a big push to try and move up from fourth to take the third qualifying spot. The push was insufficient however as Kukhta upped her stroke rate to keep the final qualifying spot.

Qualifiers: AUS, USA, NZL, CZE, AUT, BLR