Racing commences for the best of under-23 rowers
The 2012 World Rowing Under 23 Championships started today in Trakai, Lithuania with the first round of heats.
This event has grown considerably over the last number of years and thus, now starts a day earlier with today’s events including the men’s and women’s four, men’s and women’s quadruple sculls, women’s pair, men’s coxed four and lightweight men’s pair.
In great rowing conditions that had temperatures in the low 20’s degrees Celsius and a very, very slight head wind on almost flat water, rowers got to start their bid towards the A-finals in fine fashion. The under-23 championships attracts a whole range of rowers from those racing internationally for the first time through to those who have already competed at the senior level internationally.
Women’s Four (BW4-) – Heats
There were two heats in this event with the top two getting to go directly to Saturday’s final. All other crews would need to return for tomorrow’s repechage. In Heat One, reigning under-23 Champions Germany featured, but in the first stretch of the race it was Russia that had the best showing with Germany at the back end of the field. The higher rating Romania were in second. Russia settled into a 33 stroke rate pace and remained in front. The Russian boat included the identical twins, Elizeveta and Anastasia Tikhanova who were part of the crew that tried to qualify earlier this year for the Olympic Games.
Russia crossed the line in first followed by second qualifier, Romania.
After a restart, due to Canada having a false start, Heat Two got away with Australia rating the highest. But by the first 500m it was Canada that had the lead over the Australians. Last year Australia finished fourth and they kept the pressure on Canada which had two Under-23 Champions from the eight on board. Coming into the final sprint Canada and Australia comfortably had the top two spots and thus looked safely through to the final. Nothing changed before the end with Canada scoring the fastest qualifying time of all of the boats.
Men’s Coxed Four (BM4+) – Heats
With two heats lining up the top two boats in each would get to advance directly to the final. In Heat One New Zealand raced at the head of the field, but only just. The United States moved with the New Zealanders. Last year New Zealand were fourth and the United States sixth, but this year was a clean slate and from lanes four and five the battle was on. The race was made more intense by France, who remained well within striking distance of a qualifying spot.
In a big sprint to the line, the United States managed to just get in front of New Zealand finishing first by about ¼ of a second. New Zealand held on to second and France would have to return for the repechage. The United States recorded what was to be the fastest qualifying time.
The reigning Under-23 Champions, Serbia, raced in Heat Two. Their crew was just one athlete different from last year’s crew and expectations must have been high. But it was Belarus that had the lead at the start. This did not last long as Serbia hauled them in and took over in the lead. Serbia remained in front until the end with Australia pushing ahead of Belarus in the third 500m to earn the second qualifying spot.
Lightweight Men’s Pair (BLM2-) – Heats
This popular event had three heats with the top three boats in each heat earning a spot in Friday’s semifinals. At the start of Heat One Argentina took the lead. But going through the half-way point there was very little between Argentina, Hong Kong and Belarus. A big push around the 1200m mark gave 2011 bronze medal finishers Chiu Mang Tang and Ki Cheong Kwan of Hong Kong the lead. This duo raced at the senior level this year and made the A-final at the first Samsung World Rowing Cup. They remained in the lead until the end with the real battle going on for the remaining two spots. A three-way sprint to the line saw Belarus hold on to second with Argentina just holding on to third by the skin of their teeth over Ireland.
Heat Two had the Czech Republic only just ahead of Germany at the start. By the half-way point Germany’s Can Temel and Tobias Franzmann had squeezed into the lead. This is Temel’s first ever under-23 event with Franzmann racing in another boat last year. The Czech’s then began to slip and Germany were able to build up an open-water lead. Still Jan Hajek and Matous Lorenc of the Czech Republic had done enough early on to remain comfortably in second. No sprint was necessary for Germany and the Czech Republic. However, Lithuania in third were charging for the line to hold off the United States. The United States had left it too late and Lithuania became the third qualifier.
Heat three featured last year’s Under-23 World Champions Great Britain, but with a new crew of Matthew Bedford and Wilf Kimberley. At the start, however, it was last year’s fifth-placed France who had the lead. Crossing the half-way point three boats were practically on top of each other with Bedford and Kimberley now in the lead, France in second and Italy in third. Bedford and Kimberley then did a huge push and moved away from France. The French, however, continued to hold on as did Italy. With Switzerland way back in fourth the race of the top three crews must have been more about pride as they were all easily in qualifying spots.
Rating 34 strokes-per-minute, both Great Britain and Augustin Mouterde and Edouard Jonville of France charged for the line. Bedford and Kimberley got there first in the fastest qualifying time. Italy took second and France buttoned off but still got third.
Women’s Pair (BW2-) – Heats
This event had two heats with the top two boats in each heat progressing directly to the finals on Saturday. New Zealand leapt out at the start of Heat One and blew the rest of the field away with just 40 strokes rowed. Kayla Pratt and Kelsey Bevan of New Zealand rowed to silver last year in the eight and this year in the pair they were completely dominating. With Pratt and Bevan forming a clear-water lead, Latvia and Norway went head-to-head for second. Both Norway and Latvia had steering problems but Norway managed to sort it out and Trude Meyer and Hanna Inntjore of Norway moved into second.
New Zealand kept their stroke rate high making a bigger and bigger gap to cross the line in first. Norway took second to also qualify for the final.
Heat Two set out with Great Britain’s Caragh McMurtry and Olivia Carnegie-Brown clearly in the lead. Although not as dominating as New Zealand in the previous heat, McMurtry and Carnegie-Brown still had a very nice advantage as they moved through half-way point with Germany’s Lisa Kemmerer and Anne-Sophie Agarius in second. Carnegie-Brown raced in her country’s senior eight this season and she sits of the cusp of breaking into the senior squad.
The order did not change as a procession proceeded to the line. Great Britain and Germany earned the two qualifying spots with Great Britain recording the fastest qualifying time, one second faster than New Zealand’s time.
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BLM4x) – Heats
A total of 11 countries divided into two heats lined up in this event with only the top boat getting to advance directly to Saturday’s final. Germany, who were second in this event last year, featured in the lead of Heat One. However the Germans (Etzkorn, Lange, Acht and Mertens), were being challenged hard by Italy. This is a favourite event for the Italians and they regularly win it at senior level. They were rating 36 to keep up with the Germans and, coming into the final sprint, Provenzano, Pegoraro, Barbaro and Mulas remained unrelenting. Germany went to 38 and Italy hit a 39 stroke rate. Italy got the lead with just a few strokes remaining. They had crossed the line just 39/100th of a second ahead of Germany. The Italians had qualified for the final while Germany would have to return for tomorrow’s repechage.
Heat Two featured last year’s Under-23 Champions, Denmark. There is just one change in the boat from last year with Thorbjoern Patscheider joining the crew of Mathias Larsen, Andrej Bendtsen and Jens Nielsen. But it was the 2011 fourth-placed France that had the lead at the start with Denmark surprisingly at the back of the field. The French (Gaborieau, Piqueras, Lecomte and Jaunet) remained in front with Austria now in second. Meanwhile Denmark was working their way through the field. At the line France had held on to first and earned the one qualifying spot. All other crews would have to race again in the repechage on Thursday.
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (BW4x) - Heats
This event had attracted entries from 12 countries. Divided into two heats, the first boat only would move directly to Saturday’s final with all other crews having to return for a second chance, repechage.
Heat One featured the reigning Under-23 Champions, Germany, and they made sure to dominate by jumping out into the lead right from the start. Settling into a 34 stroke rate pace, the German crew of Ulrike Toerpsch, Judith Sievers, Marie-Catherine Arnold and Mareike Adams remained in the lead, getting two seconds ahead of Australia in second. Coming through the second half of the race Australia were under-rating Germany by two to three strokes per minute but were closing the gap. In the last 300m Germany still had the lead with Australia looking like they couldn’t get their stroke rate above 33. Finally Australia sprinted to a 37 stroke rate, but they were too late. Germany crossed the line in first and became the sole A-final qualifier, recording the fastest qualifying time. Australia, who come to this event after success earlier this month at Henley Royal Regatta in Great Britain, will get another race in Thursday’s repechage.
Heat Two opened with Poland (Borkowska, Springwald, Ciaciuch and Kobus) out in front, but only just, over Ukraine. The Polish then pulled out a strong piece and crossed the half-way point with more than a boat-length lead. Ukraine remained in second with Romania not far behind. Poland, who finished sixth in this event last year, continued to move their boat away from the rest of the field.
No one could catch the Poles and they grabbed the only qualifying spot from this heat.
Men’s Four (BM4-) – Heats
A total of 13 nations had entered in the men’s four and they were divided into three heats with the top three boats in each heat getting to progress directly to Friday’s semifinal. The reigning Under-23 Champions, Germany featured in Heat One. The German boat had a completely new line up and they were proving their worth as they took on Spain at the front of the field.
As the field moved into the second half of the race Germany, who have three of their 2011 silver medal coxed four on board, managed to squeeze out to a three second lead over the higher rating Spain who remained in second. As the final sprint came into view a charging Irish crew pushed the pace. Germany, however, had enough of a lead to remain in first, followed by Spain with Croatia just holding off Ireland to take the third and final qualifying spot. Ireland will have to race in Thursday’s repechage.
Heat Two had the United States jump out to an early lead, albeit only just over Great Britain. The British kept the pressure on and crossed the half-way point just behind the United States. The crew of Theodore Baumgardner, Alexander Karwoski, William Gillis and Justin Jones continued to fend off the British challenge with the United States managing to do it by rating one pip lower than Great Britain. New Zealand followed back quite a bit in third.
Coming into the final sprint Great Britain decided to do some damage and they took the rate up to try to find the necessary speed to take the lead. The United States reacted and both boats took their stroke rate to 40. At the line Great Britain had done it crossing the line in first and recording a time of 6:06.10. United States and New Zealand also qualify for the semifinal from second and third respectively.
The Australian’s had the edge at the start of Heat Three with the Czech Republic hot on their tail. The Czech Republic foursome have raced at the senior level this year and last raced at the final World Rowing Cup last month, whilst the Australian crew had a recent win at Henley Royal Regatta before coming to Trakai so both crews have high hopes for this regatta. Coming through the second half of the race Australia's Owen Symington, Joshua Hicks, Louis Snelson and Timothy Masters remained just in front, but the Czech’s were still right there. Both crews looked confident in the final sprint and crossed the line, Australia still in first, the Czech Republic in second and Canada taking the third and final qualifying spot. Australia’s finishing time of 6:06.08 gave them the fastest qualifying time but only by a fraction over Great Britain in heat two.