Men's double compelling in Semifinals at Bled World Rowing Cup
The race was on to make the final at World Rowing Cup 1 in Bled, Slovenia. This afternoon's racing was a programme of semifinals with the men's double sculls causing much interest around the racing of former single sculler, Marcel Hacker of Germany.
The weather was also being carefully watched as it went sunny skies and a very slight wind dusting, to darkened skies with rain and a tail wind.
Women's Pair (W2-) - Semifinals
After doing well in yesterday's Bled International Regatta, all eyes were on the Netherlands duo of Olivia van Rooijen and Elisabeth Hogerwerf in Semifinal One. They got out quickly but could not shake China3's Linlin Guo and Xiaotong Cui. Guo and Cui finished fourth yesterday and last year they were part of their country's bronze medal eight. The Dutch - Chinese dual moved them clean away from the rest of the field. Despite being in comfortably qualifying spots, these two crews raced all the way to the end. Van Rooijen and Hogerwerf crossed first. China5 qualified from third.
Winners of the Bled International Regatta was China1 (Min Zhang and Tian Miao) and they got out the fastest in Semifinal Two. The duo started out last year in the pair and at the Sydney World Rowing Cup they took silver. Going through the middle of the race, however, Zhang and Miao had been overtaken by China2 of Wenjing Cheng and Dameng Yin. Zhang and Miao did nothing to react back and Cheng and Yin were able to move away to a two length lead with China4 (Liqin Yi and Huan Zhang) now about to overtake China1. At the line it was three Chinese crews with Cheng and Yin way out in the lead.
Qualifiers: NED, CHN3, CHN5, CHN2, CHN4, CHN1
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Semifinals
After winning the Bled International Regatta yesterday and proving to be one of the most experienced single scullers here, there was not much of a surprise to see Lukas Babac of Slovakia in the lead. But it took Babac about 800m to find the lead when Guiying Zhu of China demonstrated a very fast start. As Babac moved away from the field Zhu, who was the silver medallist yesterday, slipped back behind Switzerland's Silvan Zehnder and Croatia's Luka Radonic. Then Zhu must have realised that he was outside of qualifying and it was all on in the final sprint. Zhu, Zehnder and Radonic all crossed the line with just half a second separating them. Radonic was the unlucky one.
The crowd was enjoying Semifinal Two as Rajko Hrvat of Slovenia1 led the way. The 28-year-old has been racing internationally since 2006 and his best result has been an A-final finish at last year's World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. By the second half of the race Hrvat had over a boat length lead over Nedelcho Vasilev of Bulgaria. Petr Cabla of the Czech Republic followed in third and these three leading boats were too far ahead to be challenged by the rest of the field. Hrvat crossed the line in 7:02 giving him the fastest qualifying time for the final.
Qualifiers: SVK, CHN, SUI, SLO, BUL, CZE
Lightweight Men's Double Sculls (LM2x) - Semifinals
Semifinal One featured the fastest qualifier from this morning's heats - Jan and Ondrej Vetesnik of the Czech Republic. The Vetesnik twins were eighth at last year's World Rowing Championships and the duo have spent their rowing career racing together beginning as juniors in 2002. The Vetesniks had the fastest start, but only just over Ailson Silva and Thiago Pereira of Brazil. Silva raced in the single yesterday, but it looks like the move to the double was a good move as they paced the Vetesniks down the course.
Ailva and Pereira then found the lead with Portugal's Pedro Fraga and Nuno Goncalves and Michael Schmid and Daniel Wiederkehr of Switzerland joining in the four-way sprint to the line. The Portuguese sprint had done it. Brazil had missed out. Just 0.34 seconds had separated these four boats.
The Muda twins from the Netherlands won the Bled International Regatta yesterday and they were the leaders in Semifinal Two. Judging by the half way point this was going to be another tight race with Tycho and Vincent Muda being pressed by Turkey with Austria, Poland and Hungary all within striking distance. The Muda's continued to remain strong and they managed to get a very small lead coming into the final sprint with Paul and Bernhard Sieber of Austria the ones that could make the biggest challenge. At the line the Muda's had won by just half a second over Austria with Poland's Artur Mikolajczewski and Milos Jankowski taking the third and final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: POR, CZE1, SUI, NED, AUT, POL
Men's Double Sculls (M2x) - Semifinals
The time between the top qualifiers from this morning's heats was minimal and everything was pointing to some extremely tight semifinal racing. In Semifinal One Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger of Germany1 featured. Krueger broke Hacker's single sculling winning streak at the German small boat nationals a couple of weeks ago and the selectors decided it was time to put these two scullers together. The duo got out to a fast start and by the middle of the race they had a handy lead. The main challenge was coming from Czech Republic's Michal Plocek and David Jirka. But Hacker and Krueger were now completely outclassing their competition. At the line the Germans had four seconds over the Czechs with Spain's Noe Guzman del Castillo and Juan Garcia taking third.
Serbia's Marko Marjanovic and Aleksandar Filipovic just squeaked through with the fastest qualifying time from this morning's heats and this afternoon they led Semifinal Two so that by the middle of the race they had earned a two boat length lead over Hungary in second. Marjanovic and Filipovic finished ninth in this event last year at the World Rowing Championships and they must have high expectations for this season. Germany4 of Patrick Leineweber and Lars Hartig then moved into second with Bulgaria (Georgi Bozhilov and Kristian Vasilev) also closing on Hungary. At the line Serbia remained in front with Leineweber and Hartig in second and Bulgaria just sneaking past Hungary to take third. Hungary had missed out by just 0,08 of a second.
Qualifiers: GER1, CZE, ESP, SRB, GER4, BUL
Women’s Single (W1x) - Semifinals
This morning’s heats saw quite spread fields in the women's single and we expected to see the same in the semifinals. In Semifinal One Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova from the Czech Republic took the early lead and was joined by Magdalena Lobnig from Austria and Weiwei Zhu of China. The trio moved away from the field as they passed the 1000m mark.
Lobnig made the A-final at last year’s World Rowing Championships and she will be looking to prove her speed again this year. Knapkova safely in first, she left Zhu and Lobnig to fight behind her. No question both would qualify for the A-final, but both wanted to go into the race with the upper hand. Lobnig had the better sprint and clipped Zhu at the line.
In Semifinal Two the two Belarussians lined up next to each other. Karsten, reaching 42 years of age went against her compatriot, Kukhta, of just 24 years old. They pushed out ahead of the pack, with Switzerland’s Gmelin and Serbia’s Obradovic fighting it out for that third spot into the A-final.
Karsten was not willing to settle for the second position, she increased her rate to finish ahead of Kukhta and secure her spot in the A-final. Obradovic got her bow out in front of Gmelin and walked away, leaving Gmelin to settle for the B-final.
Qualifiers: CZE, AUT, CHN2, BLR2, BLR1, SRB1