The fastest boat in yesterday’s semifinals was Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta of Italy. They recorded a time faster than the Rio gold medallists, Jeremie Azou and Peirre Houin of France. The first to show were Italy and France from their centre lane positions. Azou and Houin were the first to get to the 500m mark, but Italy was moving with them. Meanwhile the Olympic silver medallists, Gary and Paul O’Donovan of Ireland sat back in the field in a mode that has become their norm – to start off slowly and build as the race progresses.

Azou and Houin then managed to get a boat length lead over Italy with Poland now moving up into second. Italy fought back over Poland’s charge and got back into second. But the French were making it look easy as they continued to push away from the rest of the field. Ireland was now moving and they had Poland and Italy very much in their sights. One of these boats was going to miss out on a medal. The O’Donovans then overtook the Polish and Italy. But Italy did not give up. France crossed the line in the gold medal spot. Ireland took silver and a photo finish for third gave Italy the bronze medal by just 0.16 of a second. Poland had missed out.

Results: FRA, IRL, ITA, POL, GER, GBR

Jeremie Azou (s), France, gold
“We are very happy about the final. We were not present in the first World Cup, but we had a good preparation in France. We are still a young boat and every event is a progression. Next step is Poznan, so see you in Poznan!”

Gary O'Donovan (b), Ireland, silver

“Feeling very sore and tired after that, but it was a really good race. The French were super. We just tried to stay up with the pack. It’s been a great experience so far. We just watched Denise and to have four European medals for Ireland is a great achievement.”

Pietro Ruta (s), Italy, bronze
“It was quite a fight from the first stroke. In the first part of the race, everyone was in a line. Then Ireland attacked us and we attacked France. It was very good end of the race with such a big fight.”

B-final

It was very even at the start between the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Denmark. The times in the semifinal looked like the Czechs may be the ones to beat and by the middle of the race Jiri Simanek and Miroslav Vrastil of the Czech Republic had the leading edge. Once there the duo managed to push away showing they had the stamina to keep the pressure on through the second half of the race.

Results: CZE, GRE, DEN, NED, UKR, ESP