Para PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (PR3 Mix4+) – Heats

Two heats lined up with the goal of finishing first for a direct path to the final. Heat One featured the Paralympic Champions, Great Britain. This crew has rebuilt since the 2016 Games and now includes Ellen Buttrick, Grace Clough, Oliver Stanhope, Daniel Brown with Erin Wysocki-Jones. Brown is the sole remaining athlete from the Paralympic boat. The British got away quickly with France in hot pursuit. Going through the middle of the race the British boat still had the lead with France and Australia very much on the pace. Then the British showed their superiority and moved away from the field. Great Britain qualified directly for the final and recorded the fastest overall qualifying time.

In Heat Two the United States had the edge. The US took silver at the 2016 Paralympic Games and they have two returning members from that crew. Ukraine and Canada were the closest challengers, but by the middle of the race Alexandra Reilly, Michael Varro, Charley Nordin, Danielle Hansen and coxswain Jennifer Sichel had a very handy leading edge. The US looked smooth and relaxed as the crossed the line in first to qualify for the final.

Qualifiers: GBR, USA

Para PR2 Men’s Single Sculls (PR2 M1x) – Heats

This is a brand new boat class racing for the first time at the World Rowing Championships and it was an absolute open slate. Eleven countries lined up and they were divided into two heats with the first boat in each heat getting to go directly to the final. Heat One had Italy and Great Britain jump out at the start with Canada in hot pursuit. Laurence Whiteley of Great Britain then managed to get a slight edge. But Daniele Stefanini of Italy fought back. These athletes are on fixed seats and have use of their arms and bodies. At the line Whiteley won in a time of 8:43.71 which makes it the first time finish for this boat class and thus a World Best Time. Would it be broken in the second heat? Whiteley goes directly to the final.

The very accomplished Corne de Koning of the Netherlands featured in Heat Two. De Koning comes out of the PR2 mixed double sculls and is the reigning World Champion in this boat class. De Koning will race in the double later in the week. Right from the start de Koning looked like the superior athlete and he spent the race moving further away from his competition. Poland’s Michal Gadowski was the closest challenger and he followed in second with Germany in third. Dominating until the end de Koning finished in a time of 8:35.44 making it a new World Best Time. De Koning gets to go directly to the final.

Qualifiers: GBR, NED

Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) – Heats

Two heats lined up with the goal of finishing first for a direct path to the final. In Heat One the Italian World Champions took the lead at the start. There is one remaining rower from the 2017 winning boat, Paola Piazzolla sat in two seat. Italy had a handy lead with just 500m rowed. Germany followed in second with Denmark pacing Germany in third. Germany and Denmark remained neck-and-neck through the middle of the race with Italy holding the lead. I last minute push by Denmark brought them into second but they were not close enough to Italy to take the win.

It was China that took a flying start in Heat Two and by the middle of the race they had broken away to an open water lead. This left the United States, in second, to try and stay ahead of Great Britain. China was first at World Rowing Cup III with Great Britain finishing out of the medals at that regatta. The United States and Great Britain went through the middle of the race neck-and-neck and this battle saw them close on China. But China looked ready and were prepared to let the other two crews focus on each other. China crossed the line with the fastest overall qualifying time and they get to go directly to the final.

Qualifiers: ITA, CHN

Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats

This boat class had two heats and the aim was to finish first for a direct path to the final. Heat One opened with a fast-starting Germany. They managed to get a slight lead over Turkey in second. Then Denmark picked up the pace and got into second. Denmark held 40 stroke per minute through the third 500 as they went after Germany. Denmark, however, couldn’t hold the pace and Turkey came back into second. Denmark then found themselves being challenged by Hungary. Meanwhile Germany remained in the lead and they crossed the line in first for a direct path to the final.

The Italians were the first to show in Heat Two with Norway in hot pursuit. Italy won at the European Championships and they were fourth at last year’s World Rowing Championships. By the middle of the race Italy had nearly a boat length lead over Norway with the Norwegians having to deal with Ireland and the Czech Republic. The Czechs were doing great through the third 500 and they pulled into second with the Irish also about to overtake Norway. Italy remained in front rating 38 in the final sprint with the Czech Republic at 42 and Ireland at 41. The Czechs got to the line in second, a fraction ahead of Ireland. These boats will return for the repechage. Italy’s win had also given them the fastest overall qualifying time.

Qualifiers: GER, ITA

Women’s Four (W4-) – Heats

There were three heats lining up for the women’s four with the goal of being in a top three position. This would give a direct path to the semifinals. The World Champions, Australia lined up in Heat One and right from the start they had the lead. This is exactly the same crew that raced in 2017 and they have had a great season so far this year. By the middle of the race Australia had built up a boat length lead over Germany in second and Poland and Canada very close behind. As Australia crossed the line in first with Poland overtaking Germany and moving into second. Germany held off Canada to grab the remaining qualifying spot.

At the start of Heat Two it was the United States who looked like they had the best speed but so far it was pretty tight racing. Coming through the first 500 it was only New Zealand that didn’t look like they were on the pace. But there was 1500m of racing to go and anything could happen. The United States crew of Wanamaker, Boxberger, Bruggeman and Reelick continued to lead with China following in second. The US had a handy lead as they came into the final sprint and New Zealand was now surging and had overtaken Great Britain and was closing on China. Rating 36 the US stayed just a fraction ahead of China with New Zealand grabbing the final qualifying spot.

Heat Three featured the European Champions, Russia and they opened the race in third place. At the front of the field was Denmark with Italy the closest challenger. Going through the middle of the race Denmark remained in front with Russia now getting the better of Italy and pulling into second. Denmark was at 35 coming into the final sprint and it looked like they had enough of a lead to remain in front. But Russia and Italy was giving it their all. Denmark held them off to take the win and in the fastest overall qualifying time. Russia and the Netherlands also qualified.

Qualifiers: AUS, POL, GER, USA, CHN, NZL, DEN, RUS, ITA

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats

This boat class had three heats and in each heat the aim was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. Heat One had Great Britain take a flying start. The crew of Anna Thornton and Charlotte Hodgkins-Byrne are the 2018 under-23 champions in this boat class and they are definitely a crew to watch. Then a practical line followed the British between France, the United States, Greece and the Czech Republic. This was turning into quite a race. The United States crew of Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek then pushed into second. This duo medalled at last year’s World Rowing Championships and also finished sixth at the Rio Olympics and they looked to be closing on Great Britain. Meanwhile Greece and the Czech Republic were neck-and-neck in third.

Great Britain continued to lead with the US looking safe in second. Then France tried to overtake O’Leary and Tomek but did not get there in time.

At the opening of Heat Two the German crew of Carina Baer and Michaela Staelberg had a fast start before Canada and Ireland started to show themselves. Canada finished second at World Rowing Cup III and the crew of Gabrielle Smith and Andrea Proske were definitely ones to watch. Baer and Staelberg got to the first 500m mark in the lead. Baer is the Olympic Champion from the quad and she has a long pedigree in rowing. Canada now closed on Germany and coming through the third 500 Smith and Proske got ahead of Germany. The Netherlands was now pressuring Baer and Staelberg who then took the pace right off. Canada won with the Dutch taking second.

Heat Three had the World Champions New Zealand sitting in lane five. But it was Valentina Iseppi and Kiri Tontodonati of Italy who had the fastest start. Then Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe of New Zealand stepped into their stride and pulled into the lead. Donoghue and Loe then pulled clean away from the rest of the field leaving the rest of the boats to battle for second. It was Lithuania’s Milda Valciukaite and Ieva Adomaviciute who made the best of it. New Zealand crossed the line in 6:52 giving them the fastest overall qualifying time. Lithuania grabbed the second qualifying spot.

Qualifiers: GBR, USA, CAN, NED, NZL, LTU

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats

Four heats featured in this boat class and the goal for these single scullers was to finish first for a direct path to the semifinals. It was Ireland’s Sanita Puspure who really showed herself early on in Heat One. Puspure has picked up two silver medals this season through the World Cup season and she is looking to be the sculler that may be the one to challenge the reigning World Champion, Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland. By the middle of the race Puspure had open water over Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark with Lovisa Claesson of Sweden in third. Erichsen then broke away from Claesson and the race turned into a procession. There was no sprinting going on in this finish.

It was a fast start for Magdalena Lobnig of Austria in Heat Two. Lobnig picked up a bronze and silver from the World Cup season and also medalled at the European Championships. But Kara Kohler of the United States was not going to make it easy for Lobnig and going through the middle of the race Kohler pulled into the lead. This is Kohler’s first season in the single and she has a long pedigree in rowing including a medal in the quad from the 2012 Olympic Games. Kohler then broke away from Lobnig. Ukraine, in third, was way back and not able to challenge for the lead. Kohler had qualified for the semifinals.

Annekatrin Thiele of Germany got away very quickly in Heat Three and she had nearly a boat length lead over Canada’s Carling Zeeman in second. Thiele took gold at the Rio Olympics in the women’s quad before moving into the single. Coming into the middle of the race Thiele took the pressure off and looked like she was going to do just enough to stay in front. This gave Zeeman a chance to close on Thiele. Zeeman has a mighty sprint and Thiele would definitely need to keep an eye on the Canadian. There were now two boats going for it at the head of the field. Zeeman took bronze at World Rowing Cup III in July and Zeeman had gone to 35 stroke rate and taken the lead. The race was all but over as Zeeman moved to an open water lead and win the race.

The World Champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland featured in Heat Four. Gmelin comes to these World Championships unbeaten in the 2018 season. But it was Australia’s Madeleine Edmunds who had the lead. Gmelin slotted into second with New Zealand’s Hannah Osborne also very much on the pace. Gmelin then showed her power and got her bow ball ahead of Edmunds. Using a long and strong stroke and not rating incredibly high, Gmelin started to move away from the field. There was no sprinting going on at the end of this race with Gmelin taking an easy win.

Qualifiers: IRL, USA, CAN, SUI