New boat classes tested at para-rowing international regatta
Hundreds of boats descended on Lago di Varese in Gavriate, Italy last weekend for the Para-rowing International Regatta. The regatta took place over three days, with two sets of heats and finals, giving athletes the opportunity to race in different line-ups and try different race plans.
The first set of heats and finals saw 115 athletes race in 62 boats, while the second set had 127 athletes in 64 boats. Racing was over 2000m – as the standard became a year ago.
The heats of the first event got underway Friday (11 May) in the afternoon. The temperature rose throughout the day and eventually resulted in thunderstorm conditions. Athletes racing the Friday heats were caught in wind and pouring rain. However, most of the races were able to take place and the rowers successfully progressed to the finals. Conditions improved greatly on Saturday morning for the final races which saw medals won by ten countries.
France topped the medal table winning gold in the para PR3 mixed coxed four and the new para-rowing category, the PR2 women’s single sculls. Ukraine picked up five medals, one gold, two silver and two bronze. The gold came from reigning Paralympic Champion and silver medalist at the 2017 World Championships, Roman Polianskyi.
Many teams used the opportunity to try the new para-rowing boat classes that have been added for 2018. Paralympic and World Champion Perle Bouge from France raced in the new category, the PR2 women’s singles sculls. Reigning World Champion from the PR2 mixed double sculls, Annika van der Meer (NED) and her partner Corné de Koning raced in the PR2 mixed double sculls in the first set of races, but both raced the PR2 single sculls in the second set.
“By allowing the single you can develop more athletes and then more athletes can eventually go into the double,” says van der Meer. “For us, the single is an extra challenge. It is good to take on new challenges because you have to keep working. It’s one thing to go to the top, but it’s a whole other thing to stay on top.”
The second set of races went on Saturday afternoon, with heats on Saturday and finals taking place on Sunday morning. The conditions remained hot with thunderstorms threatening, but they held off until racing finished.
Ukraine topped the medals table by winning two gold and two bronze medals. Polianskyi retained his title in the PR1 men’s single sculls ahead of Great Britain and Italy. In the PR3 mixed double sculls Ukraine also took gold finishing ahead of Mexico and Germany. France gained two gold medals by winning the PR3 mixed coxed four and then Perle Bouge picked up another medal, winning the PR2 women’s single sculls.
The closest race of the day was in the PR3 men’s pair, a new category in para-rowing. Canada put forward a line-up of Andrew Todd, Paralympic bronze medalist in the PR3 mixed coxed four and his new partner Kyle Fredrickson. Canada crossed the line just three seconds ahead of Great Britain, who were just 0.25 of a second ahead of France.
Eleven nations won medals on the final day of racing.
Full results from the event can be found here.