Racing for the top at Lucerne Rowing World Cup
The final Rowing World Cup for 2010 in Lucerne, Switzerland set all kinds of attendance records and today they had narrowed down to the top six in each event.
These competitors gave an insight into what will be seen later this year at the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand as crews raced in perfect flat water conditions and more mild temperatures on Lucerne’s Rotsee.
If these results are a guide of things to come, Great Britain will be facing off against New Zealand more than one setting. Greece could be the big surprise at the World Rowing Championships with Australia and the United States also showing strength. A decidedly tired looking Chinese squad is likely to make a big comeback with Germany also hoping for better results.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Final A
Controlled aggression was the commentator’s description of New Zealand’s Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown at the start of the race. By the end of the race it was absolute domination. Haigh and Scown burst onto the pairs scene at the second Rowing World Cup in Munich and won with such a convincing margin that they became instantly the crew to beat. Today they showed that Munich wasn’t just luck. The duo, which includes two-time Olympian Haigh, were the fastest out at the start and spent the rest of the race moving away from the field holding a 37 stroke rate.
Haigh and Scown took it up to 38 at the end. Behind them the United States (Susan Francia and Meghan Musnicki) held a North American battle with Krista Guloien and Ashley Brzozowicz of Canada. A huge push by reigning World Champion, Francia with new stroke Musnicki, propelled them ahead of Canada and into second.
Coming through in fourth and fifth were two Australian crews with the faster duo of Sarah Tait and Sarah Cook wearing the label of Australia Two. This will give their country’s selectors some food for thought.
Results: NZL, USA2, CAN, AUS2, AUS1, GER1
World Cup Winner: New Zealand (W2-)
Juliette Haigh (NZL) – Gold
“We hadn’t expected to dominate, but it was a really good race, I’m pleased with our performance. I love racing at Lucerne. The water is really fast, great conditions, and fortunately we missed the storm yesterday.”
Rebecca Scown (NZL) – Gold
“We really enjoyed watching Henley Royal Regatta. Unfortunately we didn’t have a chance to race there though. Dorney was really useful training. I’m not sure of the plan between now and the World Championships, only our coach does, but I’m sure it’ll be hard!”
Meghan Musnicki (USA) – Silver
“We are really happy with the second place. We are sorry not to have our friends in the first boat in the final. We arrived a week ago to prepare.”
Krista Guloien (CAN) – Bronze
“We’re really glad to have come – its always exciting to race against New Zealand! We’ve been lucky to have some pretty sweet competition back home, so that’s helped us really push ourselves. We emptied the tanks today, but it was worth it!”
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Final A
It looks like New Zealand is taking control of the pair. After the women’s pair for New Zealand won, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray (NZL) made it a double-header. But perhaps the bigger drama of the race was Great Britain. Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge of Great Britain are the two best sweep rowers in their country, but as coach Juergen Grobler aims only for gold, there is talk if Reed and Hodge can’t beat the New Zealanders, the pair may go back into the four. At the start Reed and Hodge came out of the blocks rather conservatively, but by the middle of the race they had moved into second behind Murray and Bond. The big surprise though was Greece Two.
Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou of Greece were not only well ahead of their Greece One counterparts, they were putting pressure on the Brits. Then in the third quarter New Zealand and Great Britain showed their superior talent and the two boats moved away from the rest of the field. Greece One (Nikolaos and Apostolos Gkountoulas) are the 2009 bronze medallists, but this season they have been under pressure from their own country. As New Zealand powered on going to a 40 stroke rate, Great Britain matched them but still remained slightly behind. This left the two Greek crews some way back. At the line Bond and Murray had won again and put the future of the British pair at jeopardy. Greece Two beat Greece One and put the future of the Gkountoulas brothers into question.
Results: NZL, GBR1, GRE2, GRE1, ITA, GER1
World Cup Winner: New Zealand (24 points)
Hamish Bond (NZL) – Gold
“We knew it was going to be a harder race and that the Brits would be closer to us than they were in Henley. Out there [in Henley], there was a massive headwind, but these conditions were much flatter. These conditions are probably the hottest I’ve rowed in, but it was a bit cooler today.”
Eric Murray (NZL) – Gold
“It’s so hot that I had to take a dip in the lake. We were really lucky to train out at Dorney to test the conditions for London 2012. We also learned a lot in Henley because of the headwind, head current and choppy conditions.”
Andy Triggs Hodge (GBR) – Silver
“That was a solid performance, but it’s not gold, so big steps still need to be taken. We’ve got three months to put it right. It’s going to be hard, but I reckon we can get better than we are at the moment. We’re still confident, and still enjoying the pair.”
Peter Reed (GBR) – Silver
“We needed to have the perfect race to beat them. It wasn’t perfect today, but we followed our race plan. We’re thinking hard about how to beat them. However, we needed to have a good race to put Henley behind us. Last season was an embarrassment – we’ve done better this time. We’re still building our race because their training incorporates time to fine tune the boats, unlike ours, which is just a constant build up of power. It felt like a two-horse race, and that’s what it is. However, they are only men – they breathe, sweat and get tired like us. We will beat them.”
Christou Ioannis (GRE2) – Bronze
“We decided to come ten days ago. On Tuesday we arrived in Lucerne. We were very surprised about the warm weather like in Greece. Until the World Rowing Championships everything is open.”
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Final A
Showing that doubling up successfully is possible, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins of Great Britain, who race also in the women’s quad, despite the higher level of competition here, still managed to pull off a win in the women’s double. Rating their signature 34 stroke rate for the body of the race, Grainger and Watkins pushed into the lead by the middle of the race with only Australia’s Kim Crow and Sally Kehoe putting up any major challenge.
Crow and Kehoe only came together after the second Rowing World Cup this season. Originally Kehoe was to be the single sculler for her country, but when Crow’s doubles partner got injured, Kehoe moved into the double.
Kehoe and Crow matched the British stroke rate of 34 through the body of the race and held onto the British. But Grainger and Watkins looked comfortable in the lead, doing just enough to hold off the Australians. Kehoe and crow took the rating up to 36 then 37 as they came into the line, but Grainger and Watkins had more power and remaining at 34, the British looked like they had energy to spare.
Meanwhile, The United States (Stesha Carle and Kathleen Bertko) and the Czech Republic (Lenka and Jitka Antosova) were holding a battle for bronze. The Czechs had the edge coming into the final sprint but Carle and Bertko where charging. At the line Carle and Bertko had the medal. The American, like the British, will also race in the quad later today.
Results: GBR1, AUS, USA1, CZE, USA2, GER
World Cup Winner: Great Britain (24 points)
Kim Crow (AUS) - Silver
“We are happy with our performance. The Brits did a great job. I haven’t been sculling that long. I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but it’s still exciting!”
Sally Kehoe (AUS) - Silver
“I always love racing at Lucerne – it’s a fantastic backdrop and the water is great. I was supposed to be racing in the single here, but Kim’s double partner was injured so I came into the double. There’s a great groups of scullers back in Australia, so I’m not sure what will happen at the World Rowing Championships.”
Stesha Carle (USA1) - Bronze
“We didn’t know if we made third place until we heard the beep. We‘ll give everything for the quad race later on. This third place might help us.”
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Final A
The Olympic Champions, Great Britain and the World Champions, New Zealand met for the first time at last month’s Rowing World Cup and Great Britain were the winners. Today they met for the second time. But it was Canada who had the lead at the start. New Zealand’s Storm Uru and Peter Taylor moved with them and after about 60 strokes the Kiwis had the lead. There was, however, very little in it between the entire field with only two seconds separating the pack. Then coming though to the second half of the race, Uru and Taylor began to break away with Douglas Vandor and Cameron Sylvester of Canada now finding themselves under threat from the Germans, Lars Hartig and Linus Lichtschlag.
Surprisingly the British and Italians were battling it out at the back of the field.
Coming into the final sprint New Zealand took their stroke rate to 39, then 40 with Canada also on 40 as the Germans set an absolute cracking pace down the outside. At the line Lichtschlag and Hartig had overhauled the Canadians, while New Zealand held on to first. A decidedly unwell Hartig showed the effort he had put out when he came to the medals podium.
Results: NZL, GER, CAN, ITA1, GBR, CHN1
World Cup Winner: New Zealand (14 points)
Linus Lichtschlag (GER) - Silver
“Totally surprised to reach the second place. As a double we have been together for two and a half months. We will not row at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships but will be at the European Rowing Championships and the World Rowing Championships.”
Cameron Sylvester (CAN) – Bronze
“That was a good race, but we didn’t know where the Germans were, we only knew we were close, but not enough to respond. All we heard was the finish.”
Douglas Vandor (CAN) – Bronze
“This was the next step towards New Zealand, where we’re going to beat the Germans! (but don’t tell them that :))”
Men’s Four (M4-) – Final A
This event is shaping up to be one of the most difficult to pick of the Olympic events. The reigning World Champions, Great Britain were beaten last month at the second Rowing World Cup with a whole slew of countries showing that they had what it would take to win. Today was no exception. Coming out at the start all six crews remained overlapping with Great Britain’s Partridge, Egington, Gregory and Langridge having a slight margin. Going into the middle of the race margins Great Britain managed to pull away to a slight lead with the two New Zealand crews and France practically on top of each other.
Then the New Zealand - France battle was joined by Australia and four boats moved towards the finish line together, Great Britain now looking comfortably in the lead. There may be calls for New Zealand to form and eight as the two New Zealand boats continued to maintain medal potential. But France wasn’t going to let it go easily. Coming into the finish, four boats were in a line behind Great Britain. France took their rating to 43 and tried to overhaul New Zealand One. But the New Zealander’s, with Olympian for Ireland, Sean O’Neill in the bow, were flying. New Zealand’s mad sprint had given them silver. The World Champions, Great Britain lead again.
Results: GBR, NZL1, FRA, NZL2, AUS, USA1
World Cup Winner: Great Britain (21 points)
Alex Partridge (GBR) - Gold
“We had a really strong race today, we’re really pleased. We got out in front for the first time, and just kept it going – I had the easy job just thinking about what to say to get the three strong guys in front to keep pulling hard to move away. We had a bad race in Munich, just not good enough, so we even missed Henley, which we love, to prepare for it. Fortunately it paid off.”
Jade Uru (NZL) - Silver
“We are content with second place. We arrived three weeks ago for acclimatisation. We felt in good condition today. We’ll go back directly to New Zealand after Lucerne to get prepared again.”
Julien Despres (FRA) – Bronze
“It was a good race, especially given that we have only been together for three weeks. However, we haven’t had much time training, and have spent a lot of our time travelling, which means that we were very tired for this event. Our big problem was a lack of vigour. We were attacking and counterattacking the New Zealanders the whole way through, but in the end they could pull it out longer than we could. It’s been fun though, and once we’ve got it under our belt, we’ll be a much stronger team.”
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Final A
This season was shaping up to be all about the British. But Australia changed that today when Alice McNamara and Hannah Every-Hall came back from a slow start to work their way into the lead. McNamara, 24, has been on the Australian team since 2005 while Every-Hall, 32, returns to the international scene after an eight year hiatus to start a family.
In one of the closest races of the day, at the half way point there was only two seconds between the entire field with McNamara and Every-Hall working through to fifth with Poland, on 35, in the lead. Then going through the third 500 the situation totally changed and the race started to come down to who had paced themselves the best. Leaders to this point, Poland were overtaken by the Australians with Greece (Triantafyllia Kalampoka and Christina Giazitzidou) and Great Britain (Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking) looking ready to overhaul the Poles. Margins were excruciatingly tight coming into the final sprint and this is when pacing played the biggest role. Great Britain had enough juice to up their stroke rate to 40. Greece, at 35, were still very much in the game, with Australia, on 37, desperately trying to hold off the rest of the competition. A big push with 200m to go gave Every-Hall and McNamara what they wanted. The Poles, however, were now at the back of the field with Renc looking decidedly unwell.
Results: AUS, GBR, GRE, BEL, GER1, POL
World Cup Winner: Great Britain (20 points)
Alice McNamara (AUS) - Gold
“We’ve not been in this combination very long and we were coming here to test our speed, so are absolutely delighted to come away with a win. We are going to go back and train hard for the World Rowing Championships. We will be hoping to do well, but there is some good speed in Europe, we were certainly tested over this regatta.”
Hannah Every-Hall (AUS) - Gold
“I’ve come back to sculling after an eight-year break – I was desperate to have a family so now I have two little boys back home and a very supportive husband. My husband and I had agreed that if I wanted to return to rowing because I wanted it really badly then I could – I obviously wanted it pretty badly!”
Sophie Hosking (GBR) – Silver
“That was more the race rowed – everything came down to tactics. We felt that we were part of the pack, and couldn’t really pull clear. This will be the race that will be lurking in the back of our minds in New Zealand.”
Triantafyllia Kalampoka (GRE) - Bronze
“It was a very hard race. We hoped to get the first place, but we are content with bronze. We’ve rowed together as a double four four years. After this race, we will row at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships. After that, we will look how it will go on. “
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – A Final
World Champions, Germany never really fired in this event, but many other crews did and in today’s final the French really fired. France’s Cedric Berest and Julien Bahain beat the Rowing World Cup leaders, Matthew Wells and Marcus Bateman last week at the Henley Royal Regatta and it must have given them a huge boost. France and Great Britain met again today in the two middle lanes. Wells and Bateman like to race from the front and they jumped out at the start. But so did everyone else. With a quarter of the race rowed all boats remained overlapping. All boats were on the pace. This situation had barely changed with half the race gone with less than two seconds separating the entire six crews.
Berrest and Bahain had now worked their way into a tiny lead over Wells and Bateman with last year’s bronze medallists, Estonia overlapping with Great Britain. Then everything changed. Bahain, in stroke, took the rating up and got their boat a whole boat length ahead of Great Britain. The French looked unstoppable. But the British were not conceding and coming into the final sprint Wells and Bateman fought back. The French now were just holding on with Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan of New Zealand now charging down the outside. Estonia, meanwhile had found the pace too hot and the race was turning into a clear three-boat race. At the line France had the better of Great Britain, despite Wells and Bateman’s beautiful sprint.
Results: FRA, GBR, NZL, EST1, SUI, CZE
World Cup Winner: France (22 points)
Cedric Berrest (FRA) – Gold
We had a really good hard race. Winning at Henley definitely helped our psychology and we have also recently changed the set-up in the boat, which has helped a lot. This is the first time we have won a World Cup, we have been trying for three years and we’ve always finished second, so this feels great. We’ve been racing every weekend for a month, so we are going to have a week off after this.”
Julien Bahain (FRA) – Gold
“Very happy with that! It was an incredible race and we pushed hard but pulled through. We changed our strategy for this race compared with our others recently. Rather than going for a high stroke rate (which we found had us constantly digging in and not slowing down), we went for a low stroke rate and really pushed with each stroke, which meant that we could speed up if necessary to counter any British offensive – it clearly worked! They didn’t come close!”
Matthew Wells (GBR) – Silver
We’ve had seven big races in two weeks – that’s hard on anyone. We dug a little too deep in the qualifiers as well, which meant that we had nothing left over for this race. However, overall I’m pleased with how the season’s gone so far – we aimed to win medals in all the World Cups, and we’ve done that.”
Nathan Cohen (NZL) – Bronze
“I am very happy with the result. The French team took of very fast. We started well but it was a very hard race. The next steps are yet to be decided but first we are enjoying the bronze medal. The organisation here in Lucerne is very good. We have been here in 2009 before.”
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) - Final A
It took until the final stroke to decide the winner of this race and it did not look anything like the first half of the race. In typical lightweight men’s four fashion, this was an incredibly close race. At the start the Danes, who hold the World Best Time in this event (Lucerne 1999), took off in the lead. This is not typical of Denmark to be in front at the start as they are better known for their devastating final sprint. But the lead for Denmark did not last long. By the middle of the race Denmark had dropped to third with Switzerland and Italy now setting the pace. There was, however, only one second separating the top five crews so it was still anyone’s race.
Then Great Britain, who had been on the pace throughout turned out a very powerful third 500 piece and moved into a smidgen of a lead now over Italy and Switzerland. This would have to be a full-on sprint to the line and everyone in this field knew about the Danish sprint. With 200m left to row Denmark changed gear. With 100m left to row Denmark turned up the turbo. But they had left it too late. In a photo finish Great Britain’s Chambers, Mattick, Williams and Bartley had won. Denmark take second and Italy earn third. Much to the disappointment of the crowd, Switzerland was unlucky to finish in fourth and out of the medals despite leading for some of the race and still being within gold medal sights in the final sprint.
Results: GBR, DEN1, ITA, SUI, SRB, NED
World Cup Winner: Great Britain (22 points)
Richard Chambers (GBR) – Gold
“That was a seriously hard race. The charge from the Danes at the end was impressive, they just came so quickly. I just kept making the calls from the bow, that’s my role.”
Kasper Winther (DEN) – Silver
“That was an okay race. We’ve changed our tactics for today to try and get ahead and stay ahead from the beginning. Everything went well until the 1000m mark, when we got surrounded. We lost a bit of water, and had to make that up at the finish. Fortunately we have a very strong sprint, but I feel that the race could have gone better. We need to improve our starts and our middle section”
Martino Goretti (ITA) – Bronze
“We are very happy with how the race turned out. Not only because of winning bronze but also because we were able to stick to our race plans. There is no special mental training for close races like this one, we just give it our all for every stroke of the race. The heat has affected us in the heats but it was better today.”
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Final A
The British double have done it again. At the first Rowing World Cup this year, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins of Great Britain took out gold medals in both the double and quad. At the second Rowing World Cup they managed gold and silver when Germany beat them in the quad. Today Grainger and Watkins were back on top as double gold medallists. Also doubling up in this race, but not quite as successfully, was the United States.
Today Great Britain with Grainger, Watkins, Rodford and Vernon got out to an early lead over last year’s World Champions, Ukraine with Germany back in third. There is just one change in the quad that finished first last month. Julia Richter comes into stroke seat. Great Britain then looked to be just holding on to the lead with Ukraine right on their tails. Ukraine then put it all on the line in the final sprint. Great Britain held on. Germany wavered just slightly. Great Britain had won. Yana Dementieva, stroke for Ukraine had to get help for exhaustion at the finish.
Results: GBR, UKR, GER, CHN1, USA, NZL
World Cup Winner: Great Britain (22 points)
Annie Vernon (GBR) – Gold
"That was such a hard race, but it’s the kind of race you dream about. At about 700m to go I made a call to kill them off as we were rowing very defensively, which seemed to be very effective. “Control the race” – that was our plan – I’ve got it written on my hand.”
Katherine Grainger (GBR) – Gold
“The results speak for themselves, that was absolutely fantastic. They were two very high standard races. The focus has been on the double, so we have spent most of the season preparing in that boat. It was useful to race Henley Royal Regatta in the quad as that gave us a bit more time to focus on putting our race plan together. I am not sure what will happen when we get back to the UK – there are a lot of scullers coming back into the squad, so there may be new combinations.”
Kateryna Tarasenko (UKR) – Silver
“That was a good race, but it is far too hot here! Back in the Ukraine we have been training in 15 Celsius – so we were all boiling before the race even began.”
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Final A
The Croatians can definitely stamp their domination on this race after today’s performance. All of these crews had to race this morning in a delayed semi-final and they returned again to the Rotsee this afternoon to race for the gold medal. Germany got off to a good start. They come to this event having finished second at the Munich Rowing World Cup last month. Russia, who are usual fast starters, followed in second with Great Britain and Croatia both very much on the pace. The German quad is a reasonably young grouping built around 21 year old Tim Grohmann who is the only member of the bronze medal 2009 crew. Through the middle of the race Germany remained in the lead and had worked their way to more than a boat length over Russia and the negative-splitting Croatians.
Croatia rarely leads at the start, but they have built the confidence to race from behind and they were doing just that, and quite successfully, today. Could Germany hold them off. Coming into the final sprint Germany took their stroke rate to 40 and then 41 to try and stay ahead of the Croatians who were winding it up to an incredibly effective 43 stroke rate. Charging to the line at a remarkable pace, Croatia took advantage of Germany who looked to be running out of steam with 50m left. Croatia takes out another win for the season. Number three of three.
Results: CRO, GER, GBR, RUS, AUS, UKR
Cup Winner: Croatia (24 points)
Martin Sinkovic (CRO) – Gold
“This race was really tough, the toughest of my career. We had some problems on the start because our three-seat threw up, we were very close to cancelling the race. We thought we would just do the best we can, so to win is unbelievable.”
Valent Sinkovic (CRO) – Gold
“Everyone in Croatia talk about how amazing Lucerne is, and it’s true. This is the best racing course in the world!”
Mathias Rocher (GER) - Silver
“Apart from the last one hundred meters we are very happy with how the race went. We were able to row exactly how we planned it but the sprint of the Croatians was just unbelievable. We will have some holidays before we get back together to prepare for the World Rowing Championships in New Zealand. Our goal is to win a medal.”
Sam Townsend (GBR) – Bronze
“We’ve only just got the quad back together again after injuries, so it was surprising for us to come here and win a medal. Compared to the double, the quad is much fiercer, much more front-loaded, so to speak. In the double you have a lot more of a say in the boat speed, whereas in the quad it is more of a team boat – you have to work together a lot more. We’ve got a bit of time between now and the World Rowing Championships to get ourselves together and improve, but I’m looking forward to it very much.”