Racing begins at 2014 junior championships
The top junior rowers of the world have descended on Hamburg, Germany for the 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships and following a rousing opening ceremony last night, racing has begun with the first day of heats.
A small head-cross wind, but fine flat water rowing conditions with temperatures in the mid-20s degrees Celsius made for good racing as the first round of racing saw boats race down the course with seven minutes between each heat.
Junior Men’s Pair (JM2-) – Heats
This boat class attracted a large field of 26 nations. They were spread over five heats with the top four boats in each heat advancing to Friday's quarterfinals. The 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships opened with Heat One and although Poland was the first to show, Romania then took the lead. Mihaita Iliut and Alexandru-Cosmin Macovei of Romania then moved away from the field and finished with a very healthy leading margin to advance to the quarterfinals.
Heat Two opened with Adrien Decriem and Paul Goetchebeur of France leaving the rest of the field standing. The duo opened up such a big lead that they looked like they were in a race of their own. This left the big battle to go on between Georgia and Kazakhstan for the fourth qualifying spot. Georgia managed it despite a huge sprint by the Kazakh crew.
Germany is the reigning Junior World Champions in this boat class. They featured in Heat Three with a new crew, but a classy-looking one. Jacob Schulte-Bockholt and Laurits Follert of Germany got out with a slight lead and by the middle of the race they had a clear water lead. As the first German crew to race, Schulte-Bockholt and Follert got a good welcome into the finishing quarter of the race and also recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Four had the Czech's, Miroslav Jech and Lukas Helesic take the early lead. Helesic was in the boat that finished fifth last year and he was showing his experience today. The duo will compete at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in two week's time. In the final sprint Jech and Helesic took down their stroke rate as they crossed the line with a comfortable lead.
Great Britain's Oliver Jonas and Arthur Doyle got away the quickest in Heat Five with Switzerland chasing hard. This chase continued through the entire race with both boats blowing off steam at this, their most important regatta of the season. Jonas and Doyle held the lead and crossed the line in first.
Qualifiers: ROU, RSA, CHI, POL. FRA, AUS, BUL, GEO, GER, AUT, DEN, ITA, CZE, GRE, MDA, LTU, GBR, SUI, CAN, USA
Junior Men’s Quadruple Sculls (JM4x) – Heats
The 27 countries that lined up in the men's quadruple sculls were divided into five heats and the aim of these athletes was to finish in a top four position for a direct path to Friday's quarterfinals. In Heat One, the Germans led the way. Germany won this boat class last year and one of the crew, Hannes Redenius remains in the boat. By the middle of the race, Germany had a rather comfortable lead with Poland in second. This order did not change to the line with Germany recording the fastest qualifying time.
Romania finished second at the European Junior Rowing Championships earlier this year and they were leading Heat Two ahead of France. The French tried to hold the pace of Romania, but through the second half of the race, France was no match for the Romanians. For Heat Three it was the British in the lead despite being up against the winners of the 2014 European Junior Championships, Italy. But Italy held on to second. The Italians were fourth at last year's junior championships while Great Britain finished tenth. Great Britain then pushed away from the field and crossed the line comfortably in first.
Heat Four proved to be one of the tightest of the day when all five boats were less than two seconds apart after 700m of racing. Then Croatia and Belgium managed to squeeze away from a virtual line that had formed behind them. Croatia and Belgium crossed the line with just 0.34 of a second separating them - Croatia with a fraction of an advantage.
The final heat, Heat Five, opened with Slovenia in the lead before New Zealand (last year's silver medallists) took over. Slovenia finished third at the European Rowing Junior Championships and they fought back to regain the lead. New Zealand then looked like they were happy to save energy and let the United States and Belarus moved up in the field.
Qualifiers: GER, POL, CHN, JPN, ROU, FRA, CHI, SRB, GBR, NED, ITA, BUL, CRO, BEL, CZE, SWE, SLO, USA, BLR, NZL
Junior Men’s Double Sculls (JM2x) – Heats
The aim here was to earn a top four spot for these scullers. Being in the top four would mean a direct path to Friday's quarterfinals. Poland finished third in this event last year and they got the ball rolling in Heat One. But they were followed incredibly closely by Italy and Greece. A bigger second half push by Ioannis Petrou and Stefanos Ntouskos of Greece, however, got them to the finish line first.
The reigning Junior World Champions are Germany and they put themselves in a good quarterfinal spot by winning Heat Two. Philipp Syring returns to the boat this year to defend his 2013 title and he has been joined by Max Appel. The duo had such a huge leading margin by the half-way point that they did not really press hard in the second half. Heat Three was much closer as Hungary's Kristof Acs and Mate Bacskai got pushed right to the line by Canada. Both boats qualified for the quarterfinals.
But it was Heat Four that really set the standard. Tyron Boorman and Adam Bakker of Australia got out quickly as they were chased hard by both Turkey and Great Britain. Turkey kept the pressure on through the middle of the race before deciding not to sprint the finish. The sprint instead went to China. Boorman and Bakker managed to hold China off, but all crews will now be aware of what Junjie Chen and Sensen Chen of China can do. Australia and China recorded the top two fastest qualifying times.
Lithuania is getting quite a reputation for their prowess in the double sculls at all levels of competition and today their juniors, Dovydas Nemeravicius and Armandas Kelmelis did their country proud by racing at the head of the field in Heat Five. The Lithuanian's pretty much had the whole race going their way although they had to watch it in the final sprint as the three crews behind them - Ukraine, Belarus and Mexico - kept the heat on until the line.
Qualifiers: GRE, POL, ITA, DEN, GER, ESP, NZL, ISR, HUN, CAN, JPN, ARM, AUS, CHN, TUR, GBR, LTU, BLR, MEX, UKR
Junior Men’s Single Sculls (JM1x) – Heats
The largest field of the men's boat classes, the men's single sculls had attracted 33 nations. They were divided into six heats with the top three crews only from each heat earning a direct path to Friday's quarterfinals. In Heat One, Taieb Mohamed of Tunisia had the fastest race. This is Mohamed's second junior championships and he also raced at the senior World Rowing Cup earlier this season. Mohamed held a handy lead over Belgium right to the line.
Benjamin Davison of the United States conducted a very close battle with Maxime Ducret of France for the entire 2000m race in Heat Two. Davison comes to Hamburg after competing in the World Rowing Under 23 Championships last month. Davison admits that he found the under-23 racing speeds quite formidable, but he looks well placed at these junior championships.
An underweight boat in Heat Three pushed Zimbabwe into the repechage, but it still left five boats to go for the qualifying spots. Tim Ole Naske of Germany made the most of it and led from start to finish - comfortably. Ole Naske is a Junior World Champion in the double and he recorded the fastest qualifying time today going 7:24 in these flat, but head-cross wind conditions.
Bulgaria pushed South Africa early on in Heat Four, but Daniel Watkins of South Africa proved to be the faster sculler and remained out in front. Watkins comes to the single after racing in his nation's quadruple sculls at last year's World Rowing Junior Championships. Heat Five featured the 203cm tall Thomas Schramko of Australia. Schramko used his height to his best advantage and not only led the entire race, but he simply dominated. Lithuania, in second, could not get anywhere close to Schramko.
Switzerland had a very fast start in Heat Six and held the lead through to the middle of the race. Then Daniel De Groot of Canada, who had been chasing hard, took over in the lead. Switzerland's Jacob Blankenberger did not react back and De Groot was able to row home to an open water lead.
Qualifiers: TUN, BEL, DEN, USA, FRA, EST. GER, RUS, CZE, RSA, BUL, SLO, AUS, LTU, LAT, CAN, BRA, SUI
Junior Women’s Single Sculls (JW1x) – Heats
A full field of 33 nations made it record entries in this boat class. They were divided into six heats. The FISA progression system meant that the top three boats from each heat would get to advance to the quarterfinals and thus, not have to race in tomorrow's repechage. Heat One saw the power of German junior rowing. Melanie Goeldner of Germany had a huge open water lead by the middle of the race and she extended it out even further by the finish. This is Goeldner's first junior world championships and she set herself up for a good regatta with this win.
In Heat Two, Ilianny Roman Olivera of Cuba led from start to finish. The 17-year-old is at her first international event and she rowed with confidence despite regular challenges for the lead by Elisabeth Sharis of the United States. Sharis did a solid closing sprint that saw her nearly overtake Olivera at the finish line, but the Cuban got there just 0.39 of a second sooner.
Heat Three was all about Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands. Keijser was in her country's junior quadruple sculls last year and, now in the single, Keijser looks to be a sculler to watch out for. By the middle of the race Keijser had an open water lead with Bulgaria in second. Bulgaria's Desislava Georgieva finished eighth in this boat class last year and will be looking to step up in 2014.
Kateryna Dudchenko of Ukraine led from start to finish in Heat Four. Dudchenko is part of a crew of Ukrainians who have been funded to come to these junior championships with the assistance of the German Rowing Federation. Dudchenko made sure the trip was worth it by earning a spot in the quarterfinal ahead of Hungary.
As the sun began to set, the head wind dropped a little and Heat Five raced down the course. Aliaksandra Uholnik of Belarus was the race leader. Uholnik was chased by Greece for the entire 2000m, but managed to hold off every attack from the Greek. Uholnik raced in the junior double last year where she finished tenth overall. Today, Uholnik's time of 8:19 was the second fastest qualifying time of the boat class.
Heat Six had France's Camille Juillet finish in a time of 8:16 - the fastest time of all of the heats. Juillet was in the junior double last year where she was placed 14th overall. The single looks to be suiting her well. China followed in second but did not seem to be able to dent Juillet's lead.
Qualifiers: GER, RUS, SRB, CUB, USA, AUS, NED, BUL, CRO, UKR, HUN, SUI,BLR, GRE, PAR, FRA, CHN, ITA