Para-rowing heats feature 16 nations
Under early evening light the World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy opened with para-rowing heats. Coming from 16 countries, these athletes raced over 1000m with the aim of making it through to the next round of racing. They faced water conditions on Lake Varese that bordered on ideal as the only waves on the water was caused by the rowers themselves.
AS Women's Single Sculls (ASW1x) - Heats
In the first of two heats the highest ranked sculler was Israel's Moran Samuel who is the 2014 World Championship silver medallist. Samuel, 33, got off to a quick start and it was not long before she worked her way to a decent lead. The first two crews would make it directly through to the finals and Samuel was working hard to confirm a spot. Then Claudia Santos of Brazil (2007 World Champion) pushed into second with Great Britain's Rachel Morris right on her heals. At the line it was Samuel and Santos that had the qualifying spots. Samuel had recorded the fastest qualifying time of the two heats.
Heat Two had World Champion Birgit Skarstein of Norway in the lead and striding away from the rest of the field. Skarstein used the sweeping motion at a stroke rate of 31 strokes per minute. Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus followed in second with a decent margin over Italy in third. Vauchok finished with bronze at last year's World Rowing Championships and her second place guaranteed that the final would be made up of the top three crews from 2014.
Qualifiers: ISR, BRA, NOR, BLR
AS Men's Single Sculls (ASM1x) - Heats
In the first of three heats, an incredibly tight race played out between the entire field. Russia's 2014 bronze medallist, Alexey Chuvashev of Russia had a good edge with the remainder of the field separated by just two seconds. The goal was to be in a top two position and at the half way point it was 51 year old newcomer, Johannes Schmidt of Germany. Schmidt held his position until the end to earn a spot in the semifinal.
The 2014 silver medallist, Tom Aggar of Great Britain had the fastest start. Aggar is the Paralympic Champion from 2008 and has had an up and down career since that gold medal. At the half way point, though it was newcomer Rene Pereira of Brazil that had the lead. Using a 37 stroke per minute pace, Pereira remained ahead of Aggar who rated 35. At the line Aggar had got back into the lead to qualify along with Pereira and Italy's Fabrizio Caselli in third.
World Champion Erik Horrie had the lead in Heat Three earning a handy margin by the half way point. He was followed by Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine with the Netherlands' Alexander van Holk in third. This order remained the same through to the finish with Horrie recording the fastest time overall.
Qualifiers: RUS, GER, POL, GBR, BRA, ITA, AUS, UKR, NED
TA Mixed Double Sculls (TAMix2x) - Heats
The current World Champions, Australia's Gavin Bellis and Kathryn Ross had the lead in Heat One. With two heats lined up the goal was to finish first or second for a direct path to Saturday's final. A clear water advantage to the Australians by the half way point showed that Ross and Bellis had not lost any pace over the off season. Josiane Lima and Michel Gomes Pessanha of Brazil was just a bit back in second. Lima and Gomes took bronze in 2014 and looked determined as they tried to hold off the Netherlands to claim the second qualifying spot. Australia, at the line, had the fastest qualifying time.
The first to show was Ivanov and Kyrychenko of Ukraine and by the middle of the race they had an open length lead over 2014 silver medallists, Perle Bouge and Stephane Tardieu of France. Bouge and Tardieu then did their best to move up on the Ukrainians. They got very, very close but not close enough. Both boats had earned spots in the finals on Saturday.
Qualifiers: AUS, BRA UKR, FRA
LTA Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+) - Heats
A good start by Italy had coxswain Giuseppe Di Capua get away to a fast start. But they were challenged hard by Ukraine who got their boat in front coming into the half way point. This is how Heat One started out in a race where the crews had to finish first if they wanted a direct path to the final on Saturday. A hard fought race saw Italy get their boat in front with just five strokes left to row. Italy will go directly to the final.
The last four years has seen Great Britain dominate this event and they continued in this mould today as they lead Heat Two with a huge margin. This left Brazil and Israel to use the race like a practice row. Keeping the pace going, Great Britain rated 37 strokes per minute to cross the line in an easy first and with the fastest qualifying time overall and a new World Best Time of 3:15.47.
Qualifiers: ITA, GBR