Para-rowers race the heats at World Champs
Raced over 1000m, Para-rowing opened day two at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. As the para distance is half of the standard 2000m distance that is normally raced there was a floating pontoon set up at the 1000m mark for the para-rowers to start from.
Today's water was flat with no wind and cool conditions making it perfect for these top para-rowers in the world.
AS Women's Single Sculls (ASW1x) - Heats
Two heats lined up with the top two scullers getting to go directly to the finals on Thursday. Birgit Skarstein of Norway showed the way in Heat One. Skarstein used a long, reaching style to keep her boat out in front and settled into a 33 stroke rate for the majority of the race. The Norwegian finished second at last year's World Rowing Championships and as this is her first international race for 2014 it will be interesting to see where she is positioned. Israel qualified from second.
Rachel Morris of Great Britain transitioned from hand-cycling to para-rowing last year and has instantly found success. She raced at the head of the field in Heat Two against current Paralympic Champion Alla Lysenko of Ukraine and London Paralympic bronze medallist, Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus. Morris, rating 37, stayed ahead of entire field to qualify directly for the final.
Qualifiers: NOR, ISR, GBR, BLR
AS Men's Single Sculls (ASM1x) - Heats
This boat class had attracted 12 nations and they were divided into two heats with the top boat only in each heat getting to go directly to the final. In Heat One current World Champion, Erik Horrie of Australia proved that he had maintained his boat speed and led the way. Not only that, Horrie dominated the entire field and was able to take his stroke rate right down through the second half of the race. Horrie has spinal problems from a car accident and he began para-sports in wheelchair basketball. Rowing has proved to be his forte as he set himself up to defend his 2013 title.
The fastest qualifying time was in Heat Two when Tom Aggar of Great Britain led from start to finish. Aggar has been in para-rowing for several years and at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games he became the Paralympic Champion. At the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette, Aggar finished first and he looks to be heading towards challenging Horrie this year as he qualified directly for the final.
Qualifiers: AUS, GBR
TA Mixed Double Sculls (TAMix2x) - Heats
Two heats lined up with the top two boats only getting to go directly to Thursday's final. Heat One had Perle Bouge and Stephane Tardieu of France leading the way. Bouge and Tardieu are the 2013 silver medallists in this boat class and at the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette in June they finished first. Together today they kept their stroke rate at a quick 35 pace to come home in the lead. Also qualifying from heat one was Iryna Kyrychenko and Dmytro Ivanov of Ukraine.
Australia's Gavin Bellis and Kathryn Ross had Heat Two wrapped up reasonably early on in the race. They used a 38 stroke rate pace to stay ahead of Esther van der Loos and Corne de Koning of the Netherlands. At the finish of the race Ross and Bellis recorded the fastest qualifying time - but it was just one second ahead of heat one, indicating that the final in this boat class will be close.
Qualifiers: FRA, UKR, AUS, NED
LTA Mixed Double Sculls (LTAMix2x) - Heats
This is just the second year of the LTA mixed double sculls and for Amsterdam there were two heats with the top boat only from each heat getting to go directly to the final on Thursday. Heat One featured reigning World Champions, Kateryna Morozova and Dmytro Aleksieiev of Ukraine. They showed their expertise by getting out in front and letting the rest of the field play catch up. The rest of the field was not able to and Morozova and Aleksieviev were able to drop their stroke rate to 28 and still stay easily in front.
The winners of the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette earlier this season, France found themselves behind a new Australian crew of Jeremy McGrath and Kathleen Murdoch in Heat Two. But France's Guylaine Marchand and Antoine Jesel were not giving up and they spent the second half of the race closing on the leading Australians with every stroke. But, despite rating 41 at the end, Marchand and Jesel ran out of water and had to settle for a close second. Australia qualified directly to the final and with the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: UKR, AUS
LTA Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+) - Heats
The two heats in this boat class had the goal of finishing first if they wanted a direct path to the final on Thursday. Jumping out into the lead of Heat One was the United States. This was a gutsy move by the Americans as they were up against the reigning World Champions, Great Britain. The United States held the lead through the first half of the race before Great Britain was able to demonstrate their champion status and move into the lead. Great Britain qualified in a time of 3:26.
Heat Two had Italy take the lead over South Africa, but margins were tight and this looked like it would be a race until the end. The Italians finished second at the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette and also medalled at last year's World Rowing Championships. At the line Italy managed to hold off South Africa to be the sole qualifying crew from this heat.
Qualifiers: GBR, ITA