Racing heats up at the World Rowing Under 23 Champs
Very hot temperatures welcomed rowers from around the world on the first day of racing at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Three boat classes - the lightweight men’s pair, the women’s quadruple sculls and the lightweight men’s double kicked off racing on day one.
U23 Lightweight Men’s Pair – Heats
Crews were looking to be top three to secure a direct path to the A/B Semifinals. In Heat 1 a very steady looking Italian pair led the way from start to finish, getting a two second lead over Australia in the first 500 metres. Germany kept pace with Australia in the first half of the race, but seemed to run out of steam. As they dropped back, Canada upped their rate and came powering through the field to finish in second place behind Italy. Australia held on to third to grab a qualifying spot. Italy crossed the line with the fastest qualifying time of 6:56.54.
In Heat 2 it was James Foble and Thomas Marshall of Great Britain who got off the line fastest, but they were leading a tight pack. As the race continued, the pack spread and the USA and Greece started to work their way to the front of the field. The USA led through the 1500 metre mark, but an impressive sprint from Ioannis Petrou and Stefanos Ntouskos of Greece put them first across the line, with the USA and GBR following suit.
Turkey took the lead in Heat 3 and with only four boats, the goal here was not to be last. With Turkey out front, Japan and the Netherlands tried to stay hot on their tails. But as Japan tired and dropped back, Austria slid into the third qualifying spot. Turkey, the Netherlands and Austria all looked calm holding their lead ahead of Japan across the line.
Qualifiers: ITA, CAN, AUS, GRE, USA, GBR, TUR, NED, AUT
U23 Women’s Quadruple Sculls – Heats
Twelve boats contested this category meaning only the top boat secured a direct spot in the A-final. Avoiding a repechage race in the heat could prove to be a great advantage, so all crews were keen to secure that spot.
In Heat 1 the Australians of Saunders, Meredith, Carty and Gotch seemed to have it all locked up. They blasted off the startline to take the early lead and despite challenges from Russia and Poland, they held their lead through to the finish line for the coveted place in the A-final.
Heat 2 proved that Germany has a new generation of impressive female scullers. It was the French crew that were first at the 500 metre mark, but the German team of Christmann, Beenken, Boehlert and Goeldner did their country proud as they made a big push at 750 metres to take the lead. They held this lead through the line and recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: AUS, GER
U23 Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls – Heats
This boat class had the biggest entry, with 28 boats contesting. This meant the first four boats secured a direct spot in the quarterfinals.
Heat 1 saw a very fast crew from the Czech Republic. Martin Slavik and Jiri Simanek finished 6th at last year’s World Rowing Under 23 Championships. As one of the only returning crews from last year’s event, they have the added advantage of experience together. After pushing into an open water lead over the field, they slowed their stroke rate and easily crossed the line in first. An impressive sprint from the Netherlands took them from the back of the field to second, followed by Norway and Poland.
Germany won this boat class last year, but they are back with a new lineup of Philipp Grebner and Jonathan Rommelmann. Proving they have depth in their programme, these two took an early lead in Heat 2 over New Zealand and crossed the line with the fastest qualifying time of 6:41.01. Meanwhile, New Zealand controlled their race from second watching Hungary and Japan fight for their positions at the back of the field.
Heat 3 saw a very speedy Spanish boat of Daniel Gutierrez Garcia and Adria Mitjavila. Once they got the lead, they did not let anyone else touch it. Despite several pushes from the Polish crew, the Spanish remained out in front. Croatia and Estonia got the better of Tunisia and Vietnam and the race finished in a progression of crews across the line with all positions remaining the same.
The Bulgarian home crowd sat up as Heat 4 came down the course. Home favourites from Bulgaria were racing and they certainly wanted to put on a show. After a slow middle thousand, they came sprinting into the last 500 metres to challenge the Swedish lead. But realising they had qualified, they backed off in the last few strokes, leaving Sweden to cross in first. In the wake of the Bulgarian sprint Belarus, Thailand and the USA fought for the last two spots. The USA looked like they ran out of steam, crossing the line in 5th place.
Antonio Vicino competed at the 2014 World Rowing Under 23 Championships, but in the heavyweight men’s double. Switching to the lightweight double for this year he is paired with Lorenzo Galano, who is competing at his first World Rowing event. In Heat 5 this new combination did not have any trouble finding speed. They quickly got out to the lead over the Serbian crew. Dropping their stroke rate, they looked easy crossing the finish line. At the back of the pack Paraguay came through with an impressive sprint to take the fourth place from the Portugese who will now need to pass through the repechage, with Turkey slotting through in third.
Qualifiers: CZE, NED, NOR, RUS, GER, NZL, HUN, JPN, ESP, POL, CRO, EST, SWE, BUL, BLR, THA, ITA, SRB, TUR, PAR