Murray and Bond's coxed pair debut
The second day of racing at the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands saw the remainder of the heats being raced. One of the featured races of the day was the men's coxed pair which saw the New Zealand duo of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond race for the second time at this regatta.
The crews today enjoyed flat water with just a tiny fraction of a head wind and cool temperatures.
Men's Coxed Pair (M2+) - Heats
This boat class was last raced at the Olympic Games in 1992 and since then interest has waned. But the entry of the World and Olympic Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand has renewed interest in this boat class. The New Zealand duo raced in the second of two heats. But first up were the winner and silver medallists from the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Germany and Great Britain. Their goal was to be first to get a direct path to the final on Friday. Alan Sinclair and Scott Durant with coxswain Henry Fieldman of Great Britain led the way with Germany pressing them hard. Then Sinclair and Durant managed to get some clear water and power home to an easy win.
In Heat Two, New Zealand's Murray and Bond got out very quickly and they already had a boat length lead after about 40 strokes. Coxed by Under-23 World Champion coxswain, Caleb Shepherd, Murray and Bond moved away to an open water lead going through the middle of the race. Way back in second was Argentina, but the gap that had now formed to the New Zealand looked insurmountable. A 26 stroke rate at the finish for Murray and Bond showed that they had made easy work of this race.
Qualifiers: GBR, NZL
Lightweight Men's Pair (LM2-) - Heats
The goal in this boat class was to finish in a top two spot for a direct path to the semifinals on Thursday. These crews were divided into three heats and opened with France in the lead of Heat One. France's Augustin Mouterde and Thomas Baroukh finished fourth in Lucerne last month and today they looked in control and relatively relaxed as they drove their boat down the 2000m regatta course. Challenging France was Jiri Kopac and Miroslav Vrastil of the Czech Republic. The Czechs remained in touch through the first half of the race but then seemed to decide second was enough. The order did not change with Mouterde and Baroukh remaining in front to the end and recording the fastest qualifying time.
The winners of the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne was Switzerland and they are also the reigning World Champions. But today was not their day in Heat Two. The Swiss got out quickly and had nearly a boat length lead going through the middle of the race. Then Ireland's Mark O'Donovan and Niall Kenny started to really move. Coming through the final 500m O'Donovan and Kenny had got their nose ahead of Switzerland with China also threatening Switzerland's spot. Once in the lead the Irish looked confident and they took their boat home to first. Meanwhile, with 50m left to row the Swiss all but stopped rowing. Had they totally run out of steam? China thus earned the second qualifying spot.
Great Britain led the race from start to finish in Heat Three. The British crew of Jonathan Clegg and Sam Scrimgeour had taken bronze at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and they were showing that the last six weeks of training had paid dividends. By the middle of the race Clegg and Scrimgeour had a three second lead over the Netherlands with Mexico pushing the Dutch along. The order of the two top crews did not change in the final sprint with the British and the Dutch - much to the crowd's delight - taking the two qualifying spots.
Qualifiers: FRA, CZE, IRL, CHN, GBR, NED
Lightweight Men's Quadruples Sculls (LM4x) - Heats
Ten countries lined up in this boat class and they were divided into two heats. The top two boats in each heat would get to go directly to the final on Friday. In Heat One China got off to a fast start and by the middle of the race they were looking pretty good with a two second lead over Germany. Then the Germans, who finished second at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, did a piece that got their bow ball ahead of China. The Chinese, however, were not giving up and these two crews charged for the finish line with Denmark joining in the chase. A 41 stroke rate pace got the Germans to the line ahead of China. Both of these crews qualified for the final.
Greece led Italy in Heat Two and together these two boats moved away at the front. But the Dutch and the United States were not going to let these two leading crews get away making this a great race. Then the higher rating Greeks managed to break away and they were able to hold a nice leading margin right through to the end. The Greeks crossed the finish line to secure a spot in the final with Italy able to join them.
Qualifiers: GER, CHN, GRE, ITA
Lightweight Women's Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) - Heats
Two heats lined up in this boat class with the top two boats in each race getting to go directly to Friday's final. This meant missing a repechage which not only means not having to do another race, but also not having to weigh in for that extra race. At the start of Heat One, Germany had a slight lead. But the margins were tight with Italy moving with the Germans. By the middle of the race Germany and Italy looked to have secured the top two qualifying spots and only the United States looked to have a chance at catching them. In the second half of the race the pace was a bit too much for the Americans leaving Germany and Italy to take the two qualifying spots.
By far the fastest heat was Heat Two with the Netherlands setting the pace. Australia moved with the Dutch and away from the rest of the field. This race received the most crowd interest helped by the Dutch leading the way. The order did not change to the line with the Netherlands crossing at a 34 stroke rate to Australia's 36.
Qualifiers: GER, CHN, NED, AUS
Men's Double Sculls (W2x) - Heats
A big field of 23 countries entered in this race and they were divided into four heats with the top boat only in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals that are due to be raced on Friday. The heats opened with the top boat of the season, Croatia, featured. Croatia's duo of Martin and Valent Sinkovic came out of their country's World Champion men's quadruple sculls and took this boat class by storm. Today the Sinkovic's got the lead at the start and by the middle of the race they had a huge lead over Serbia in second. This lead remained with the real excitement happening in the final 100m of the race when Bulgaria decided to conduct the sprint of their life. Bulgaria upped their rate and went after Serbia. The Serbians reacted back and these two boats charged for the line. It was, however, academic as only the winning crew would go directly to the semifinals. That was Croatia.
Germany have had a mixture of a season. Hans Gruhne and Stephan Krueger of Germany finished fifth at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, but have often been in the World Cup medals. They raced in Heat Two and got out just ahead of Hungary at the start. By the middle of the race Great Britain moved up to challenge the leading Germans and these two crews looked like they were practically moving together. In the final sprint there was nothing in it as both crews rated in the low 40s in their fight to win the race. By just 0.04 of a second Germany got there first.
Heat Three opened with Italy's Romano Battisti and Francesco Fossi in the lead. The Italians finished with bronze last year but they have not featured much this season. Today they looked back on form as they led the field with a handy margin. In the second half of the race Australia tried to challenge, but Italy remained in control and took their boat through to the qualifying position.
The silver medallist from 2013, Lithuania got out quickly in Heat Four with New Zealand taking up chase. This turned into a battle at the head of the field as these two crews moved away from everyone else. At the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne last month, Lithuania finished third and New Zealand was sixth. But with just 500m left to row the Manson brothers from New Zealand had the lead. Lithuania, however, had not given up and these two crews paced each other. Then the Manson brothers got enough of an edge that Lithuania must have decided enough was enough. New Zealand earned a spot in the semifinal.
This is shaping up to be one of the hottest races of this regatta as the margins between today's winners were very, very slim.
Qualifiers: CRO, GER, ITA, NZL
Women's Double Sculls (W2x) - Semifinals
Divided into four heats, the women's double sculls attracted 22 nations and the goal for these 22 boats was to finish first for a direct path to the semifinals on Friday. Heat One opened with Lithuania in the lead. The Lithuanian duo of Milda Valciukaite and Donata Vistartaite are the reigning World Champions, but they have been beaten this season showing an element of vulnerability. Today, however. they had a great race and by the 1000m mark Valciukaite and Vistartaite had the leading edge. They maintained this until the end to qualify directly to the semifinals.
Heat Two opened with Germany in the lead but by the middle of the race Weiwei Zhu and Yuwei Wang of China took over in front. Zhu finished fourth in this boat class at the London Olympic Games while Wang comes back into international competition after racing as a junior in 2009. China remained in front for the rest of the race holding off a big finishing challenge by last year's silver medallists, New Zealand. China had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
The Australian duo of Olympica Aldersey and Sally Kehoe came together for the first time this season and at the World Rowing Cup in Sydney they won. Today Aldersey and Kehoe had the lead from start to finish in Heat Three. The United States did try to catch them, but the Australians fast start made it difficult for the US to catch them. Australia looked so comfortable coming into the finish that their 33 stroke rate was a picture of relaxation.
Heat Four featured this year's European Champions, Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj of Poland. The duo took off at the head of the field and by the middle of the race, Fularczyk and Madaj had a very comfortable leading margin. There were bursts of speed that came from the rest of the field, but none of the crews could get close to the Poles. Poland earned a spot in the semifinals.
Qualifiers: LTU, CHN, AUS, POL
Lightweight Men's Four (LM4-) - Heats
Three heats lined up in the lightweight men's four with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals on Friday. France had a wonderful start in Heat One taking off ahead of reigning World Champions, Denmark. This showed a big step up for France who usually come out behind the Danes. Through the middle of the race Denmark managed to overtake France, but the French were not giving up. Coming into the finals sprint Denmark remained in front and crossed the line in the fastest qualifying time of 6:08. France, in second, also qualified for the semifinals.
At the start of Heat Two New Zealand had the lead. The New Zealanders won at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne last month and by a large margin. But going through the 900m mark Australia pushed ahead of the New Zealanders. With every stroke Australia managed to move further and further away from New Zealand. Still, New Zealand remained in the second qualifying spot and even managed to close a little on the Australians. But last month's winning crew looked tired. Australia moves on to the semifinals from the leading position.
Heat Three had Great Britain leading from start to finish. The British finished second in this boat class at the London Olympic Games and they have three of those silver medallists back in the boat this season. Through the first half of the race the Netherlands and the United States pushed Great Britain but then the second half was a different story. The US looked to have run out of steam leaving the qualifying spot to the Dutch. Although being close, the Dutch could not get in front of Great Britain and they remained in second.
Qualifiers: DEN, FRA, AUS, NZL, GBR, NED
Women's Four (W4-) - Heats
This World Rowing Championships has attracted one of the biggest fields in recent years in this boat class. Ten countries entered and they were divided into two heats with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the final on Friday. In Heat One New Zealand led the way from start to finish and they had such a healthy lead by the middle of the race that they did not have to push it towards the finish. This New Zealand boat included Kerri Gowler and Grace Predergast that recently took gold at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in the women's pair. Gowler and Prendergast also finished second at the senior level when they raced at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne last month. Behind New Zealand, winners of the women's four at Lucerne, France finished second to also qualify for the final.
Heat Two recorded the fastest qualifying time when the United States took exception to the Chinese taking off at the head of the field. China held the lead through to the second 500 before the Americans got the better of China and overtook them. China, however, did not give up and they stayed within attacking distance of the United States. Rating 37 at the finish, the United States remained in front. Both of these boats qualified directly for the final.
Qualifiers: NZL, FRA, USA, CHN
Men's Eight (M8+) - Heats
A full field of 12 countries lined up in today's first round of racing in the men's eight. This adds up to a total of 108 athletes and coxswains divided into two heats. The goal for these crews was the be in first place for a direct path to the final on Sunday - the very last race of the regatta.
The Olympic Champions, Germany took off at the head of Heat One. Germany finished silver last year at the World Rowing Championships, but they look to be back on top form with this race as they came through ahead of last year's World Champions, Great Britain. The Germans did most of their hard work in the first half of the race building up such a solid margin that they just had to keep an eye on the charging Great Britain in the final sprint. Germany made it directly through to Sunday's final and with the fastest qualifying time.
Poland set out how they meant to finish in Heat Two - in the lead. The Polish have been plugging away in the eight for the last few years earning a mixture of results that include regularly racing in the A-final. Today's win put them in the favourable position for the final. It also saw them finish ahead of winners of the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne last month, Russia. Today Russia could only manage third behind the United States and will thus have to return to race the repechage.
Qualifiers: GER, POL