Rowers begin under-23 championship quest
The 2018 World Rowing Under 23 Championships opened today in Poznan, Poland with nearly 900 rowers aiming for under-23 championship success. Poznan’s Malta regatta course, surrounded by parks and recreational areas, looked splendid with a very light breeze that barely rippled the water and temperatures reaching into the high 20s Celsius.
Men’s Coxed Four (BM4+) – Heats
There was a bit of a choppy start for Italy in the first of two heats, but it didn’t seem to slow the under-23 World Champion Italians down. They soon found the lead in Heat One with their goal of being in a top two position for a direct path to the finals. Then Germany, rating 38, got ahead of Italy. Germany and Italy were neck-and-neck going through the middle of the race with New Zealand the nearest challenger. The Italians upped their rating and got back out in front. Germany matched the Italian pace as they could see New Zealand coming. Italy, rating 40, crossed the line in first. New Zealand, in third, will have to return for the repechage.
Ukraine had a small edge over the United States at the start of Heat Two. Then the US, stroked by Peter Arata, stormed through into the lead and stormed clean ahead of the rest of the field. This left Ukraine to be under threat of qualifying by Great Britain. The Americans then extended to a clear water lead as Australia came up, overtaking Ukraine and challenging Great Britain. What a finish. The US dominated and scored the fastest qualifying time with Great Britain just holding on to second.
Qualifiers: ITA, GER, USA, GBR
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (BLM1x) – Heats
This boat class had attracted enough countries to fill five heats and the goal here was to be in a top four spot in each heat to make it through to the quarterfinals. Heat One had Greece’s Ninos Nikolaidis in the lead at the start while the reigning champion, Uncas Batista of Brazil sat at the back of the field. Batista then began to come back and by the middle of the race Batista was in second with his sights set on Nikolaidis. Batista raced at the senior World Cup earlier this season and it must have helped his training as he went on to win this race.
In Heat Two the Dutch sculler of Obbe Durk Tibben was the fastest starter, but he was soon absorbed by Italy’s Dimitri Morselli. Morselli, once in the lead, left the rest of the field completely behind and working up a huge lead. Tibben crossed the line in second at a 35 stroke rate and under no pressure to go higher. Romania pulled out for medical reasons.
South Africa’s Nicholas Oberholzer was the leader at the start of Heat Three. Oberholzer last raced internationally at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in the lightweight double. Now in the single he led over challenges from Finland and the Czech Republic. Oberholzer did not have to sprint the finish as he won convincingly.
Hugo Beurey of France had the edge in Heat Four with Beurey still in the lead at the half way point. Tunisia’s Mohamed Taieb followed in second but did not seem to have to speed to catch Beurey. This is Taieb’s fourth uder-23 competition and he looks to be improving with each year. Beurey continued to dominate as he moved to a clear-water margin. Austria chased to catch Taieb and with a 42 stroke rate finish, Austria piped the Tunisian. Beurey had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Racing at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne earlier this month must have helped Sean Murphy of Australia. Murphy had the fastest start in Heat Five and by the middle of the race the Australian had a boat length lead over Norway’s Ask Jarl Tjoem. Denmark was moving with Tjoem. Murphy looked fantastic out in front and was able to watch the rest of the field with relative ease. The Australians in the crowd waved kangaroos in support as Murphy crossed at a comfortable 28 stroke rate. Portugal went to 39 to get into a qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: BRA, GRE, GER, EST, ITA, NED, BEL, SVK, RSA, FIN, CZE, SWE, FRA, AUT, TUN, SUI, AUS, NOR, POR, JPN
Lightweight Men’s Pair (BLM2-) – Heats
The two heats meant a first place finish was needed for a direct path to the final on Saturday. In Heat One Italy’s Giuseppe Di Mare and Raffaele Serio dominate from the start through to the middle of the race. Then in the third 500 the Greeks began to close on the leaders. The Greeks (Papakonstantinou and Marokos) went to 44 to win the race with Italy giving up.
In Heat Two the Irish showed that they were able to rate high like their senior compatriots and they overtook the early leaders, Germany, to be in front going through the middle of the race. Germany seemed to leave them to it as Shane Mulvaney and David O’Malley of Ireland got to a position where they could look back and watch the rest of the field. The Irish crossed the finish line at a very comfortable 33 stroke rate.
Qualifiers: GRE, IRL
Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) – Heats
This boat class had two heats and the goal was a top place finish to make for a direct path to the finals. Italy are the reigning World Champions and they had the lead in Heat One. Rating 37 the Italians looked supreme with two members of the crew remaining from the 2017 champion boat. Italy remained at 37 going into the second half of the race and Germany, in second, did not look like they could close the gap. Italy went to the line in the lead at a 34 stroke rate and they crossed with the fastest qualifying time overall.
The Netherlands had the lead in this three-boat heat. This Heat Two still had the Dutch out in front at the half way point and they looked to be moving further away from France as the race progressed. Coming into the final sprint the Netherlands, stroked by Martine Veldhuis, rated a rather sedate 33 stroke rate. All of the hard work had been done earlier in the race.
Qualifiers: ITA, NED
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats
Two heats lined up for the men’s quad with Heat One all about Ireland at the start of the race. By the middle of the race the United States had closed on the Irish and the two boats went head-to-head. The goal here was to finish first for a direct path to the final and it looked like the Americans really wanted it. The US took the lead leaving Ireland and France to fight it out for second. The US crossed the line at a strong 35 stroke rate pace and with the fastest qualifying time overall.
Spain looked the best at the start of Heat Two. This Spanish crew is a rebuild on their a-final 2017 boat and they had the lead at the half way point with Denmark now right on their tails. Then the Danes, stroked by Frederik Taulbjerg, took the lead with Spain looking to have no reply. Denmark did a 35 stroke rate sprint to win the race with an open water lead.
Qualifiers: USA, DEN
Men’s Single Sculls (BM1x) – Heats
This boat class had attracted enough scullers for five heats and each heat the goal was to finish in a top four position to be able to get to the quarterfinals. Heat One opened with Austria’s Lukas Reim in the lead. Reim still had the lead at the half way point but Switzerland’s Valentin Huehn was gaining on the leader. Reim held him off and was rating a very low 27 when he crossed the finish line.
Heat Two featured Boris Yotov of Bulgaria. Yotov rowed for a number of years for Azerbaijan and is now back in Bulgaria and has really been growing in his rowing. Yotov had the lead at the start but was chased hard through the middle of the race by Brazil’s Lucas Ferreira. Yotov pushed away and looked like he was in control as he crossed the finish line in first.
Benjamin Davison of the United States has been on the international scene for a number of years now and he led the way in Heat Three. Davison raced in the men’s quad last year and gained a bronze medal. By the middle of the race Davison still had the lead but was not dominating with Andrey Potapkin of Russia within striking distance. Potapkin then decided not to push it and the race turned into a procession to the line.
The reigning World Champion, Trevor Jones of Canada featured in Heat Four and it must have been daunting for everyone else in this heat to be up against Jones. The Canadian took off in the lead and by the middle of the race Jones had a very comfortable lead. Italy’s Emanuele Giarri followed in second with Lithuania’s Artur Muravjov not far behind. Jones got a round of applause as he eased through to the finish line at a long and controlled 26 stroke rate walk in the park.
Right out the front in Heat Five was Ireland’s Ronan Byrne. With just 500m rowed, Byrne had a hand lead and he continued to build on it coming into the middle of the race. This left a virtual line between the rest of the field who had a very small spread of just two seconds between them all. One boat was going to miss out and so far no-one wanted to be it. France then looked to give up and the qualifying positions were all but decided. Byrne only had to rate 24 as all his hard work had been done earlier in the race. Byrne had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: AUT, SUI, URU, BAH, BUL, BRA, NOR, SWE, USA, RUS, NED, DEN, CAN, ITA, EGY, LTU, IRL, GER, AUS, LAT
Women’s Pair (BW2-) – Heats
This boat class had three heats lining up and the goal here was a top three finish for a direct path to the semifinals on Friday. A technical problem caused a false start in Heat One which then started three minutes later with a perfect beginning. Chile’s Melita and Antonia Abraham are the reigning under-23 Champions and they had the best speed at the start. The Abraham sisters are quadruplets with two brothers, one of them also rowing at this regatta. Australia’s Giorgia Patten and Bronwyn Cox then overtook the Chileans. Patten and Cox rated 38 to get to the 1000m mark in the lead. The Abraham sisters stuck with the Australians as Greece moved up to attack the two leading crews. It was so close between the top three crews coming into the final sprint. Who had the best stamina? Australia did and also recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Romania stormed into the lead at the start of Heat Two. But it wasn’t enough. Belarus’s Dzina Haluts and Kseniya Ramanouskaya took over in the lead and looked to be the fastest boat moving into the second half of the race. Margins were close though and Italy now looked to be the crew that may catch Belarus with Romania challenging as well. Italy charged, but then looked like they had run out of push. Belarus crossed the line in first.
Great Britain’s Heidi Long and Hannah Scott had the best form in Heat Three at the start of the race. This form got them into the middle of the race in the lead. But the United States looked to be wanting the lead and Long and Scott would really have to push it against the more experienced Regina Salmons and Alina Hagstrom of the United States. These two boats now had a huge margin over the rest of the field. Salmons and Hagstrom now had the lead and took their boat to the finish line at a 35 stroke rate.
Qualifiers: AUS, CHI, GRE, BLR, ROU, ITA, USA, GBR, IRL
Men’s Pair (BM2-) – Heats
Four heats made up this boat class with the aim to be in a top two position to get a direct path to the semifinals. At the start of Heat One Romania had the lead over last year’s silver medallists, France. Romania’s Ciobica and Lehaci still had the lead at the half way point as Bulgaria did a huge piece and closed on the Romanians. Ciobica and Lehaci looked ready. They took their stroke rate up and held off Bulgaria. Then the Turlan brothers of France really picked up the pace and a better sprint gave them the win.
The home crowd was ready for Heat Two. Out in front at the start was Lucasz Posylajka and Bartosz Modrzynski of Poland and they were taking this race by storm. This left the rest of the field to chase Germany who sat in second. Turkey was the crew to attack and they got ahead of Germany. But it was close with Ukraine joining in the final 250m sprint. Turkey went to 43 with Poland at 39 remaining in the lead.
South Africa’s Charles Brittain and James Mitchell led the way in Heat Three and with just 500m gone they had a huge five second lead. This crew made the final at World Rowing Cup I at the start of the season. By the middle of the race Brittain and Mitchell had an enormous lead leaving the rest of the field to battle for second. Lithuania was making the best of it and this race turned into a procession. South Africa did not sprint the finish with Lithuania able to close down the lead.
Heat Four opened with Australia in the lead. Andrew Judge and Joseph O’Brien of Australia remained in front going through the middle of the race with a very nice lead being built up. Then Italy decided to sprint. They went to 40 strokes per minute. Australia had to react back. Australia got to the line first and recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: FRA, ROU, POL, TUR, RSA, LTU, AUS, ITA
Men’s Four (BM4-) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and the aim was to be in a top three position to move directly to the semifinals. In Heat One Great Britain got away very quickly with New Zealand in hot pursuit. Going through the middle of the race these two countries were still neck-and-neck with New Zealand, stroked by Thomas Russel, taking a slight lead. Great Britain held on and these two boats charged to the finish line with the Kiwis at 42 and the British at 36. New Zealand took the win and recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Heat Two had Romania, the under-23 Champions, in the lead at the start. They stated their dominance early on and left the rest of the field to fight for the remaining two qualifying spots. Denmark looked to be the next best with Lithuania looking to challenge. Denmark and Lithuania were now neck-and-neck, but still could not catch the Romanians. Romania looked comfortable in their win as Denmark, rating 37, took second over Lithuania.
At the start of Heat Three it was the United States out in front. But their margin was small and Italy was keeping their stroke rate high with Germany well within striking distance. These three boats went through the middle of the race way ahead of the rest of the field. The United States, stroked by Alexander Wallis, remained just in front as Germany upped their stroke rate and got in front. The US went to a 40 stroke rate but they could not come back on Germany at 39.
Qualifiers: NZL, GBR, CAN, ROU, DEN, LTU, GER, USA, ITA
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (BW4x) – Heats
This last boat class of the day had two heats and the goal was to be first for a direct path to the final on Saturday. Great Britain decided right from the start that they wanted it in Heat One. Canada tried to attack at the start but then dropped back behind the Netherlands. In stroke for Great Britain, Lucy Glover kept the stroke rate high as they saw that the Dutch may challenge for the lead. The British remained solid and won the only qualifying spot.
Germany opened in the lead of Heat Two. The Germans have a long tradition in this boat class and are the current Olympic Champions. Would this be the senior German quad of the future? Romania was the closest boat to Germany who had Melanie Goeldner in stroke seat. And Romania was doing great with the Germans and the Romanians going through the middle of the race neck-and-neck. This moved these two boats clean away from the rest of the field. In the final sprint neither country was giving an inch. Germany took their stroke rate to 37, but Romania went to 40 then 42. There was nothing in it. Romania had won and with the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: GBR, ROU