Make it to the final. Today’s goal at World Rowing Championships
The 2018 World Rowing Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria had rowers racing in the semifinals with their goal being a top three finish to make the final. This saw some incredibly close sprints. Conditions were perfect with flat water and warm temperatures for the Plovdiv regatta course.
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One saw European Champion, Michael Schmid of Switzerland sitting in the centre lane after winning his heat earlier in the week. Sitting next to Schmid was Man Sun of China who raced to a bronze medal at last year’s World Rowing Championships in the lightweight double. At the start it was Peter Galambos of Hungary who had the lead. Galambos came to this semi via the repechage after a rather slow heat. Galambos has caused quite a stir with his newly painted boat especially designed for him. Schmid followed in second with these two boats going through the middle of the race practically side by side. Italy and China were also very much on the pace. Galambos then managed to get a slight edge over Schmid with Sun being challenged for third by Martino Goretti.
In the final sprint Galambos hung on at a 36 stroke rate with Schmid flying at 42. Schmid got to the line first. Sun was able to hold off Goretti who missed out on making the final.
An incredible start by Jason Osborne of Germany put him into the lead at the start of Semifinal Two. Osborne set a new World Best Time in the heats on Sunday and he is putting himself into the position of being the favourite for gold in this boat class. Following in second was Andrew Campbell of the United States. Campbell rowed in the Rio Olympics in the lightweight double and then took a break from international rowing making him a bit of an unknown factor at these championships. This is Campbell’s first international race since Rio. Campbell slotted into second and through the middle of the race Campbell moved up to challenge Osborne. Canada’s Aaron Lattimer was also on the pace and these three scullers were able to pull away from the rest of the field.
Osborne and Campbell continued to fight it out at the head of the field with Osborne able to do just enough to stay ahead of Campbell at the line. Campbell, rating 38, crossed ahead of Lattimer who chose not to sprint the final metres of the race as he was secure in third.
Qualifiers: SUI, HUN, CHN, GER, USA, CAN
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Semifinals
It looked to be shaping up as a great race for Martine Veldhuis of the Netherlands in Semifinal One. Veldhuis had to come to this semi through the repechage so has had an extra race compared to some of the other athletes. She picked up a medal earlier this season at the under-23 championships in the lightweight quad. Veldhuis was then overtaken by Michelle Sechser of the United States. Sechser medalled at last year’s World Rowing Championships in the lightweight double and this is her first international regatta since the world championships. Then Great Britain’s Imogen Grant picked up the pace and overtook a dying Veldhuis and went after Sechser with Canada’s Jill Moffatt in hot pursuit. Grant was at a 34 stroke rate and had overtaken Sechser. Winner of this year’s World Rowing Under 23 Championships, Grant had won the race.
As in the heats on Sunday, Marie-Louise Draeger of Germany took off really quickly in Semifinal Two. Olympian Draeger is the senior statesperson of this boat class at 37 years old and loads of experience. But it was Italy’s Clara Guerra who got to the 500m mark in first. Guerra took bronze at the European Championships and at 19 years old has a lot of rowing ahead of her. Khadija Krimi of Tunisia was holding the pace but then began to slip back with France’s Laura Tarantola moving up to challenge Guerra. Tarantola took silver at the European Championships and had won her heat earlier in the week. In the final sprint Alena Furman of Belarus pushed ahead of Guerra and went after Tarantola. Furman, the European Champion, had timed it perfectly. She overtook Tarantola as the line came into view and rating 33 took the win ahead of Tarantola at 35.
Qualifiers: GBR, USA, CAN, BLR, FRA, ITA
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Semifinals
The World Champions, New Zealand found themselves in the unusual position of being second at the start of Semifinal One. Instead it was Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Canada in the lead. And it was a significant two second lead at the first 500m marker with Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand in the unusual position of playing catch up. China was on the pace in third. Prendergast and Gowler recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats and this is the first time that they have raced the Canadians at this regatta. Filmer and Janssens continued to lead the way with this front tussle seeing Canada and New Zealand move away from Xinyu Lin and Rui Ju of China. Despite Prendergast and Gowler, at 38, doing a big sprint, they were unable to catch Filmer and Janssens who were rating 34. Both boats will meet again in the final along with China.
It was Anna Boada Peiro and Aina Cid of Spain that had the fastest start in Semifinal Two. But then Great Britain’s Rowan McKellar and Harriet Taylor took over in front. The British won their heat on Sunday and in their first season together, they look to be improving with every race. Spain followed in second with Italy’s Alessandra Patelli and Sara Bertolasi very much on the pace in third. The Italians finished with bronze at the European Championships while Great Britain took fifth. Then Patelli and Bertolasi did a second 500 push and moved into the lead. Spain began to slip back with the United States coming up to challenge for third.
The all-important third 500 saw a close battle between the United States, Spain, Great Britain and Italy. A big sprint was going to be needed for a top three finish. Then Ireland came charging up making it a 5-way sprint. What an incredible sprint! Aifric Keogh and Emily Hegarty of Ireland, at a 38 stroke rate, was moving into the lead. Italy and Spain gave it their all. Great Britain and the United States had missed out.
Qualifiers: CAN, NZL, CHN, IRL, ITA, ESP
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One had the United States crew of Emily Schmieg and Mary Jones out in front. This crew came together at the start of the season and spent the summer in Europe doing the World Cup series. They made the final once of the three regattas. Following closely were the reigning World Champions Ionela-Livia Cozmiuc and Gianina-Elena Beleaga of Romania with Switzerland’s Particia Merz and Frederique Rol in third. Jones and Schmeig continued to lead but Romania was moving with them. Building into the sprint finish the United States still had the lead with Switzerland under thread for their third spot by South Africa and Canada. Five boats were in it for three spots. What a finish! Romania, at a 41 stroke rate, had taken first. The US, rating 38, held on to second with Switzerland, rating 41, crossed the line just 0.39 of a second ahead of Canada. The Swiss were definitely the happiest crew at the line.
At the opening of Semifinal Two it was Valentina Rodini and Federica Cesarini of Italy were the first to show themselves with Poland following closely in second. Then from the back of the field Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle of New Zealand began to really move. They overtook the Netherlands, Poland and Japan and pressed for Italy. Meanwhile Great Britain closed on Italy. At the half way point margins were tight with just two seconds separating the entire field. Who had the best stamina to finish this race off? In a third 500 push Kiddle and McBride got the lead. Italy was slipping back as World Cup winners Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands really motoring. The final sprint New Zealand and the Netherlands went to a 39 stroke rate. Great Britain’s Eleanor Piggott and Emily Craig held on at 35. The qualifiers had been decided with the Dutch squeezing through to first just before the line.
Qualifiers: ROU, USA, SUI, NED, NZL, GBR
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) - Semifinals
Great Britain went off at 50 stroke per minute in Semifinal One, but it was Olympic medallists, Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway who got to the first 500m mark in first. Brun and Strandli became World Champions back in 2013 and look like they may be on track to repeat that feat this year. They led the way over Patricio Rojas Aznar and Rodrigo Conde Romero of Spain and Julian Schoeberl and Paul Sieber of Austria.
At the half way point Japan and Great Britain looked to be off the pace, but then the British started to charge. This was going to be a five-boat sprint for the finish. Brun and Strandli, rating 36, looked in control and beautifully smooth. New Zealand’s Ben van Dalen and Matthew Dunham rated 41 and had overtaken Spain. The Spaniard’s were fighting back at a 38 stroke rate with Great Britain at 41. The British had just missed out with Norway in first, New Zealand in second and Spain in third.
Semifinal Two opened with a tense, quietness that makes up the start line. Italy was the quickest off the line. Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta of Italy took bronze at the European Championships and they had the edge over Belgium’s Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe who have been regular a-finallists this season. Then the Olympic medallists, Ireland began to move up. The duo of Paul and Gary O’Donovan from Ireland took silver at the European Championships and they had overtaken Poland and moved into third. Italy held on to first and at a 41 stroke rate, they led this race right to the finish line. Ireland, rating 36 and keeping their strokes long, finished in third with Belgium just piping Ireland at the line to take second.
Qualifiers: NOR, NZL, ESP, ITA, BEL, IRL
Women’s Four (W4-) – Semifinals
The Australian World Champions lined up in Semifinal One but came out at the start at the back of the field. Instead it was the United States in the lead with European Champions, Russia chasing hard. This Russian crew has kept just one member of the European Champ crew and they were maybe a bit of an unknown factor. The United States crew of Wanamaker, Boxberger, Bruggeman and Reelick continued to lead and they managed to take nearly a boat length over Russia. Meanwhile Russia was under threat from Australia with the Netherlands also very much on the pace. Through the third 500 the American gap was being eaten up and Russia had closed with the Dutch and Australians within two seconds of the leader.
In the final sprint Australia went to 45 to challenge for the lead. The US, at a 39 stroke rate, managed to hold them off. While a tired looking Russia, at 36 squeaked home ahead of the Netherlands.
Denmark recorded the fastest qualifying time during the heats and they looked to be the crew to beat in Semifinal Two. The Danes got out to a lead at the start with a line forming behind them between the rest of the field. Denmark took a silver medal at World Rowing Cup II and at the half way point they still had the lead. But Oland was closing with China taking chase. It now looked like three crews were establishing themselves in the three qualifying spots. But there was still 1000m left to race. Then Poland did a big piece and moved up level to Denmark. These two crews formed a gap ahead of the rest of the field. In the final sprint the gap closed as China went to a 38 stroke race. Italy tried to catch China, but had left it too late. Denmark held on to first and at a 35 stroke rate held off Poland in second.
Qualifiers: USA, AUS, RUS, DEN, POL, CHN
Men’s Four (M4-) – Semifinals
The Australia World Champions raced in Semifinal One and faced the European Champions, Romania for the first time at this regatta. The young Romanian crew also won the World Rowing Under 23 Championships this season and they came through the first 500m in second behind Australia. Hicks, Hill, Hargreaves and Turrin of Australia have not lost a race since becoming World Champions and they started to show their dominance coming into the middle of the race. They went to a 41 stroke rate and opened up a gap on the rest of the field. Poland was now moving up and challenging Romania for second with Switzerland and the Netherlands still within striking distance.
The Dutch and Poland had now pushed Romania into fourth as the final sprint came into view. Australia was at 43, but it was the Dutch, at 41, who were flying. In one of the closest finishes against Australia, the Netherlands crossed the line just a second behind Australia with Romania holding on to third over a quickly fading Poland.
The fastest at the start of Semifinal Two was Italy and they managed to get to the first 500m mark in the lead. But the pack remained tightly bunched with less than two seconds separating the entire field. Italy took silver at last year’s World Rowing Championships and have had some changes to their crew leading up to these World Championships. The Czech Republic and Germany followed closely. Italy’s Castaldo, Rosetti, Lodo and Di Costanzo then managed to get a slight margin and then got out enough to be able to watch a following line of boats made up of Germany, Great Britain, South Africa and the Czech Republic.
Great Britain then pulled into second and managed to close on Italy with Germany in third and moving away from the Czechs and South Africa. South Africa started to sprint and moved up again to challenge for a qualifying spot. Italy, at a 40 stroke rate, held on to first with Great Britain, at 40, taking second and Germany holding off the South Africans to take third.
Qualifiers: AUS, NED, ROU, ITA, GBR, GER
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Semifinals
It was quite a line-up in Semifinal One. In the centre was the Olympic Champions, Germany with the European Champions, Poland on one side and the World Champions the Netherlands on the other. Fastest at the start was Poland and they got to the first 500m mark in the lead. Ukraine, featuring World Record holder on the erg, Olena Buryak followed in second with Germany in third. These three boats had already managed to break free of the remaining three boats. But then the Netherlands started to claw their way back into the leading bunch. With the Dutch on the move, Ukraine was under threat of their third-place spot.
In the third 500 Poland did a push with the Netherlands managing to overtake Ukraine who had dropped their stroke rate to 34. Poland pushed away from Germany as the final sprint came into view. Ukraine was coming back. The Netherlands lifted their rating to hold them off as Poland continued to lead the way home.
Coming through the heats China had recorded the fastest qualifying time and they sat in lane four of Semifinal Two. China’s Zhang, Wang, Lyu and Cui were the fastest at the start. They have been racing the World Cup season this year and made the final three times with one silver medal scored. Romania had now slotted into second with the United States, Great Britain and Australia challenging hard.
China did a push that got them through the middle of the race with a boat length lead over the US in second as Great Britain moved ahead of Romania to take third. The British then did a big push and got ahead of the US and moved up on China. In the final sprint Australia was doing a huge comeback. A four-way fight to the line had begun. And incredibly sprint by Australia got them close to the US, but not close enough. China won, the British were second and the US held on to third.
Qualifiers: POL, GER, NED, CHN, GBR, USA