Lucerne delivers on day one of World Rowing Cup III
The first day of racing at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland demonstrated why this is one of the favourite places for rowers to race. The water was practically flat, temperatures mild and the sun shining.
Women's Pair (W2-) - Heats
A very good turnout in the women's pair saw three heats racing with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One, bronze medallists from World Rowing Cup II in Varese, New Zealand's Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast led the way. The Under-23 World Champions from 2014, Gowler and Prendergast had a huge lead by the middle of the race with Australia and Poland fighting it out for second. The Australian-Polish battle continued through to the line with both rating 39 strokes per minute. By just 0.33 of a second Poland got there first with New Zealand looking relaxed in the lead and recording the fastest qualifying time.
The World and Olympic Champions, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain were chased hard by Canada's Jennifer Martins and Cristy Nurse for the first half of the race in Heat Two. This enabled these two crews to move clean away from the rest of the field so that for the second half of the race they did not need to push so hard. The British took the boat home at an easy 29 strokes per minute.
Heat Three turned out to be the slower of the heats with Denmark's Hedvig Rasmussen and Anne Andersen leading the way. The Danish duo, who were fifth at the Varese World Cup, remained in the lead with South Africa, at their first international event for 2015, getting ahead of Croatia to take the second qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: NZL, POL, GBR, CAN, DEN, RSA
Men's Pair (M2-) - Heats
Four heats with the top boat only going directly to tomorrow's semifinals was the formula for this boat class. After an opening burst by Germany, South Africa took over in the lead of Heat One. David Hunt and Shaun Keeling of South Africa (bronze medallists from 2014) are at their first international regatta for 2015 and proved that they had retained their speed from last year. This left a battle for second between Spain, Germany and Italy. But with only the top boat qualifying for the semifinals, none of these countries managed to catch Hunt and Keeling.
With the Czech crew pulling out for medical reasons, four crews raced in Heat Two and Great Britain's James Foad and Matt Langridge shook off Australia to finish first. Foad and Langridge missed out on World Rowing Cup II for medical reasons after becoming European Champions in May, but they look very much on form here today.
Not always the fastest starters, New Zealand's World and Olympic Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond led from start to finish in Heat Three. This is the first international regatta for Murray and Bond for the 2015 season and they crossed the line rating 33, looking very comfortable and recording the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Four had winners of the Varese World Rowing Cup, Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman of Netherlands One in the lead. By the middle of the race Braas and Steenman had built up a solid lead over France. Braas and Steenman remained wary of France keeping their stroke rate at 37 in the final sprint.
Qualifiers: RSA, GBR, NZL, NED1
Men's Four (M4-) - Heats
Three heats started in the men's four with the top three boats earning a spot in tomorrow's semifinals. Italy had the edge in Heat One. The Italians finished second at the World Rowing Cup in Varese after a fight for the line with the United States. Today they rated 38 strokes per minute in the final sprint to hold off Germany and Romania. Italy had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Great Britain's new 2015 line up of Sinclair, Durant, Ransley and Reilly-O'Donnell led Heat Two, albeit only just over Spain and Belarus. The British won the European Championships in May but ended outside of the medals at the Varese World Rowing Cup last month. In the final sprint Great Britain, rating 37, managed to just hold off the charging Belarusians and Spain. All three boats will qualify for the semifinals.
Australia, who were fourth at the World Rowing Cup in Varese last month, had a very slight lead in Heat three. By the middle of the race the lead continued to remain slim with the Netherlands and Serbia both very much on the Australian's pace. At the line these three boats had qualified.
Qualifiers: ITA1, GER, ROU, GBR, BLR, ESP, AUS, NED, SRB
Lightweight Men's Pair (LM2-) - Heats
Winners of the World Rowing Cup in Varese, Theophile Onfroy and Augustin Mouterde of France were first out of the blocks in Heat One. Germany chased hard, but Onfroy and Mouterde had just enough of a lead that they were able to counter any attack by the Germans. With one boat only getting a spot in the final from each of the two heats, the French had successfully advanced. All other boats will need to row again in a repechage on Saturday.
The second and third placed boats from the Varese World Cup - Great Britain and Italy respectively - raced each other in Heat Two. Italy had the lead at the start over Great Britain with Denmark challenging hard. It all changed in the final sprint when Denmark took their rating to 42 in an attempt to get into first. Jonathan Clegg and Sam Scrimgeour of Great Britain reacted appropriately and, at 40 strokes per minute, managed to stay just ahead of the Danes. Meanwhile, Italy opted out of the battle, paddling with ease to the finish. Clegg and Scrimgeour had recorded the fastest qualifying time of 6:30, 15 seconds ahead of France in Heat One.
Qualifiers: FRA, GBR
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Heats
This boat class had three heats with the top two boats from each heat earning a spot in the semifinals. Belgium's Tim Brys got away the quickest with Max Roeger of Germany One in hot pursuit. This battle remained through the entire race with Roeger managing to push into the lead coming into the finals sprint. Brys, however, overrated Roeger and got back in front by the end of the race. Brys and Roeger had earned semifinal places and Brys with the fastest qualifying time.
Germany's number two crew of Konstantin Steinhuebel had a fast start in Heat Two. But margins were close and although Steinhuebel had a small lead, less than two seconds separated the top three boats with France and Serbia right there. Then Serbia ran out of steam leaving Steinhuebel and Damien Piqueras of France to take the two qualifying spots. Piqueras ahead of Steinhuebel.
The successful Lukas Babac of Slovakia absolutely dominated at the start of Heat Three. Babac won the first World Rowing Cup in Bled and then finished with silver at the European Championships and World Rowing Cup II. Coming into the final sprint, Babac remained easily ahead of New Zealand's Adam Ling. The race was now a procession and no one needed to sprint to the finish line.
Qualifiers: BEL, GER1, FRA, GER2, SVK, NZL
Lightweight Men's Double Sculls (LM2x) - Heats
This boat class had attracted the most number of entries with 26 boats spread across six heats, The top three boats in each heat plus the next six fastest times would get to go directly to this afternoon's quarterfinals. Italy's Andrea Micheletti and Pietro Ruta had the edge in Heat One. So much so that by the middle of the race they had an open water lead. Japan and Slovenia was the main battle for third, until Japan got the better of the battle to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Mauritz Moos and Jason Osborn of Germany raced to fifth last month at the Varese World Rowing Cup and today they led Heat Two with a slight margin. The margin crew as the race progressed with the Netherlands and New Zealand carrying out a battle for second. Then Denmark Two joined in making it a four-way sprint to the line. The Netherlands crew of Tycho and Vincent Muda, rating 42, got there first. Germany had missed out by less than half a second.
In their first international race for the 2015 season, the South African World Champions, James Thompson and John Smith led Heat Three. Thompson and Smith warmed up for this regatta by racing in the open men's double sculls at the Henley Royal Regatta. They finished second. With Japan Two just a little off the pace, none of the top three boats had to sprint. Poland and Austria will join South Africa in the quarterfinals.
A blistering start by World Cup leaders, Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre of France earned them open water by the first 500m mark in Heat Four. Azou and Delayre then settled into their rhythm with Hungary slotting into second and Denmark One and Greece fighting it out for third. Azou and Delayre remained in the lead, Hungary in second and Denmark outsprinting Greece to take the final qualifying spot.
Norway's Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli missed the Varese World Rowing Cup for medical reasons, but they were back in full form in Heat Five. A very fast start gave Brun and Strandli the dominating position by a very handy margin so that they had open water over Portugal and Ireland going through the middle of the race. These three countries remained in the three qualifying positions and kept a steady pace through to the finish. Norway had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
In Heat Six, Great Britain's William Fletcher and Richard Chambers were the fastest out of the blocks. The British duo are new together this year and they finished third at the World Rowing Cup in Varese. Fletcher and Chambers continued in the lead with Turkey and Switzerland following in second and third respectively. The race then turned into a procession with the order remaining the same.
Qualifiers: ITA, CZE, JPN, NED, DEN, NZL, RSA, POL, AUT, FRA, HUN, DEN2, NOR, IRL, POR, INA, SUI, JPN2, GRE, GER, SLO, FIN, TUR, DEN1
Lightweight Women's Double Sculls (LW2x) - Heats
Four heats lined up with these athletes getting a direct path to the semifinals by winning their heat. Heat One had three dominating boats at the start - South Africa, Denmark and Ireland. These three countries remained in a battle for the lead through the middle of the race before Denmark started to drop off the pace. South Africa's Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler then managed to pull away and earn the qualifying spot. McCann and Grobler recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Two had Varese World Cup silver medallists and World Champions, New Zealand's Sophie MacKenzie and Julia Edward as the crew to beat. But it was the Netherlands in the lead at the start. Then MacKenzie and Edward got ahead of early leaders, the Dutch, and remained there until the finish line.
In Heat Three had Fini Sturm and Marie-Louise Draeger of Germany dominating their competition. Sturm and Draeger already have this season a silver medal from the European Rowing Championships and a bronze medal from the World Rowing Cup in Varese. Today they made easy work of their race which meant they did not need to sprint at the finish in their qualification for the semifinals.
Heat Four saw Poland battle against World Cup II winners, Charlotte Taylor and Katherine Copeland of Great Britain. The battle remained through the middle of the race with Joanna Dorociak and Weronika Deresz of Poland continuing to push. But then Taylor and Copeland showed their power and moved clean away from Poland. The British easily qualified with a big lead at the line.
Qualifiers: RSA, NZL, GER, GBR
Men's Double Sculls (M2x) - Heats
Four heats lined up in the men's double sculls with the top two boats in each heat gaining a direct path to tomorrow's semifinals. Heat One was no surprise to see the World Champions, Valent and Martin Sinkovic of Croatia in the lead. The Sinkovics came together as a double last year after their World Champion quadruple sculls boat disbanded due to an injury of one of the crew members. The brothers have proved their worth in the double and this year they have already won World Rowing Cup II in Varese. By the middle of the race the Sinkovics were ahead with Norway not far back in second. These two boats then realised that their positions would not be challenged and there was no sprint to the line.
Winners of the first World Rowing Cup in Bled and the European Champions, Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger of Germany raced in Heat Two. Hacker missed racing at the World Cup in Varese for medical reasons and he was back in the boat today and together with Krueger, they led their heat. France followed in second, but were not able to catch the German boat which cruised to the line at a comfortable 29 stroke rate pace. No one challenged Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias of France and they also earned a qualifying spot.
Heat Three was very tight at the start and four boats crossed the first 500m mark in a virtual line. Then New Zealand's Robert Manson and Chris Harris got their boat into a small lead. This is Manson and Harris's first international race for the 2015 season after medical reasons kept them from racing at the Varese World Rowing Cup. The New Zealanders must have wanted to blow off some cobwebs as they moved further and further into the lead. Silver medallists from the Varese World Cup, Australia, James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff qualified from second. Manson and Harris had recorded the fastest qualifying time and rating 35 at the end.
Heat Four opened with Romano Battisti and Francesco Fossi of Italy holding a slight edge. By the middle of the race they still had the edge, but only just over John Collins and Jonathan Walton of Great Britain. These two boats were now well clear of the rest of the field and with no challenges coming their way, the leaders did not need to sprint in the last quarter of the race, Battisti and Fossi rating an easy 30.
Qualifiers: CRO, NOR, GER, FRA, NZL, AUS
Women's Double Sculls (W2x) - Heats
Three heats lined up with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to tomorrow's semifinals. Germany's Julia Lier and Mareike Adams had a slight margin at the start of Heat One. They still had the lead going through the middle of the race with Australia's Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe chasing hard. Denmark pushed hard at the end, but they could not get into the two qualifying positions. Germany had earned the fastest qualifying time.
There may have been a crew change in the World Champion New Zealand boat, but the new duo of Eve MacFarlane and Zoe Stevenson was proving their worth. They won at the Varese World Rowing Cup and today led Heat Two. Greece's Aikaterini Nikolaidou and the young Sofia Asoumanaki had a great race to qualify from second.
Belarus and Great Britain came flying out of the start together in Heat Three. Great Britain included Olympic Champion Katherine Grainger and Belarus included six-time Olympian Ekaterina Karsten. The two boats remained neck and neck through the middle of the race with Victoria Thornley doing her best with Grainger and Yuliya Bichyk giving it her all for Karsten. In the final sprint Karsten and Bichyk went to 35 with Grainger and Thornley hitting 39. Belarus got there first. Both qualified.
Qualifiers: GER, AUS, NZL, GRE, BLR, GBR
Lightweight Men's Four (LM4-) - Heats
Enjoying their home waters, Switzerland led from start to finish in the first of four heats. The top two boats would qualify for the semifinals and Switzerland remained easily ahead of Spain. Switzerland are the current European Champions, but then finished second to New Zealand at the World Rowing Cup in Varese. No other crews challenged these two boats.
France had a good start in Heat Two. The French were third at the Varese World Cup and it looks like they are having a very solid season. By the middle of the race France had a three second lead over Germany in second with the Netherlands very much on the pace. These three boats closed on each other coming into the final sprint. The Netherlands were at 42, Germany at 44 and France at 37. Two stroke before the line Germany took the pressure off. France and the Netherlands had qualified.
Italy flew out of the start in Heat Three with winners of the second World Cup, New Zealand in second. Then a piece by the New Zealand team propelled them into the lead with Italy holding on. Once in the lead New Zealand was able to move away and, rating 36 in the final sprint, they held the lead.
After an initial lead by Great Britain, World Champions Denmark moved out ahead. There has been one change in the Danish crew and they continued to lead Great Britain who were fourth at the Varese World Rowing Cup. At the line Denmark had rated 38 and recorded the fastest qualifying time by a huge five seconds.
Qualifiers: SUI, ESP, FRA, NED, NZL, ITA, DEN, GBR
Men's Single Sculls (M1x) - Heats
Four heats in the men's single sculls required the scullers to finish first for a direct path to the semifinals. Heat One had Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania in the lead from start to finish and with enough of a lead that he did not have to sprint the finish. Heat Two had the 2008 Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway in the lead. Then 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, Alan Campbell of Great Britain did a very solid middle 1000 to get into the lead. Tufte tried to hold on but then decided not to sprint and all crews virtually paddled to the finish.
Both Lars Hartig of Germany and Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand had a fast start in Heat Three. Then Olympic Champion, Drysdale pushed away into a handy lead. Finland's Robert Ven challenged Hartig, but neither of these scullers had the speed of Drysdale. There was no sprint to the finish.
World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic showed his superiority in Heat Four. None of the other competitors had the credentials of Synek and he made easy work of his race leaving him relatively fresh for tomorrow's semifinal.
Qualifiers: LTU, GBR, NZL, CZE
Women's Single Sculls (W1x) - Heats
The women's single sculls had four heats lining up with the top boat only in each heat getting to have a direct path to the semifinals. Heat One opened with absolutely no surprises. World silver medallist, Kim Crow of Australia was in the lead. Crow won World Rowing Cup II last month by a huge margin. Today Crow had an easy time of it and crossed the finish line rating a comfortable 26 strokes per minute.
Heat Two had Julia Richter of Germany One in the lead at the start. Richter is part of the very powerful German women's sculling squad and in 2012 she raced at the Olympic Games in the silver medal women's quadruple sculls. But Richter could not hold her early pace and coming through the third 500m Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic had the lead. Knapkova comes to Lucerne after last weekend's win at the Henley Royal Regatta in the single. Knapkova had earned a spot in the semifinals.
Five boats moved away in a virtual line in Heat Three with Tatsiana Kukhta of Belarus having a very small edge. Then Olympian Genevra Stone of the United States got her boat in front and started to divide the field up. Stone, who medalled at the Varese World Rowing Cup, did not need to sprint the finish as she led the field home at a 27 stroke rate pace. Heat Four had Varese bronze medallist, Magdalena Lobnig of Austria in the lead with Zimbabwe in second. As the race progressed Lobnig was able to move further away from the field with Zimbabwe's Micheen Thornycroft unable to challenge. Lobnig had earned a qualifying spot in tomorrow's semifinals.
Qualifiers: AUS, CZE, USA, AUT
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (LW1x) - Heats
Imogen Walsh of Great Britain led the way from start to finish in Heat One. Walsh raced in her country's number two lightweight double at last month's World Rowing Cup and now back in the single she made easy work of her race. Walsh is the current European Champion and she will go directly to the final with her win and also own the fastest qualifying time.
Two boats from New Zealand battled it out in Heat Two before Zoe McBride showed her superiority and took off to an open water lead. McBride won at the Varese World Rowing Cup and also set a new World Best Time there. She will go directly to the final.
Qualifiers: GBR, NZL1
Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x) - Heats
Australia and Estonia tussled at the head of the field in Heat One. Australia opened their 2015 season at the Varese World Rowing Cup last month where they finished fifth. Back for another World Cup, Australia grabbed the lead from Estonia coming through the third 500. Australia remained in the lead until the finish with both boats qualifying for the final on Sunday.
The Varese silver medallists, Germany were in the lead at the start of Heat Two with Poland the closest challengers. Then New Zealand, from the back of the field, began to move up. Rating 42 in the final sprint, New Zealand closed on Germany. The Germans, at 36, held them off to remain in first. Both boats qualified for the final.
Qualifiers: AUS, EST, GER, NZL
Women's Eight (W8+) - Heats
With one boat only getting to go directly to the final, the Netherlands took off in the lead of Heat One. But margins were close and going through the middle of the race New Zealand remained within striking distance. Then the New Zealand crew did a big push and got their nose in front of the Dutch with Romania taking chase. Once in front the Kiwi crew looked to be relishing their position and they remained there until the line. This is the first time a New Zealand women's eight has ever won a heat at Lucerne. They had qualified directly for the final and with the fastest qualifying time.
Great Britain had a very fast start in Heat Two. Going through the middle of the race the British were neck and neck with world silver medallists, Canada. The Canadians then got into the lead and started to move away from the British. Great Britain, encouraged by coxswain Zoe De Toledo held on. But they couldn't get back up to the Canadians. Canada had qualified for the final.
Qualifiers: NZL, CAN
Men's Eight (M8+) - Heats
It was World Champions, Great Britain in the lead of the first of two heats. Great Britain come to Lucerne after winning at the Henley Royal Regatta last weekend against the Olympic Champions, Germany. By the middle of the race the British had a nice lead over Poland in second with France chasing hard. The Order did not change with Great Britain qualifying directly for Sunday's final.
Germany raced in Heat Two and got away with a slight lead at the start with New Zealand and Australia chasing hard. Germany had finished second behind Great Britain at the Varese World Rowing Cup with New Zealand taking fourth. These three boats went through the middle of the race separated by two seconds. Then Germany managed to gain an edge leaving New Zealand and Australia in a tight battle for second. Australia, who had not made the A-final in Varese, had a 37 stroke rate pace at the end to finish second with Germany qualifying from first. Australia and New Zealand will meet again in the repechage tomorrow.
Qualifiers: GBR, GER