Racing begins at 2014 university championships
The 2014 World University Rowing Championships got off to a great start today in Gravelines, France. Under sunny blue skies and with temperatures nearing 20 degrees Celsius, university rowers from around the world took part in the heats.
There are 13 boat classes raced at the World University Rowing Championships and first up were the four lightweight sculling categories. Today’s heats determined the first rowers to move to the semifinals and finals to be raced this weekend.
The men’s single sculls boasted the largest number of entries, 18, meaning that these scullers were aiming to be the first two across the line to qualify directly for Saturday’s semifinal. The fastest from the three heats was Germany’s Konstantin Steinhubel. He will be joined by Jamie Copus of Great Britain who posted the second-fastest qualifying time as well as scullers from Russia, Hungary, Poland and Spain.
The women’s single sculls saw the highest number of entries in the women’s events and with 12 competitors. This meant coming through in first for a direct spot to the A-final. These athletes had little room for error and in Heat One Germany’s Marie-Catherine Arnold got out in the lead and held it through to the end ahead of the Netherlands. She will be joined by the Czech Republic’s Lenka Antosova, who cruised through the finish line ahead of a field that seemed to have backed off to conserve their energy for the repechage.
The women’s four produced one of the closest races of the day in the first heat. In front of home crowds, France was aiming to make their mark in this event. They got their bow out first and moved away from the rest of the field. But the fight going on behind them between Italy and Poland saw these two crews push up on the fading French crew. France managed to hold their lead, with Italy having the better sprint over Poland to qualify directly to the A-final. Qualifying from Heat Two was Great Britain and the Czech Republic, who finished several seconds ahead of third placed, Germany.
The last heats of the day were the in the men’s eight. It was hard to look away from the French eight as they came powering down the 2,000 metre course in Heat One. They took a four second lead in the first 500 metres. However, Canada would not let them away that easily. The crew picked up their rate and sprinted through to the line, cutting the French lead to only one second. Both crews will go through to the A-final. From Heat Two, Great Britain and the Netherlands qualified. The finishing order of this race was set from the 500 metre mark when Great Britain and the Netherlands took the lead and held off moves by Switzerland and Russia.