Rowers race in Plovdiv World Rowing Cup I semifinals
World Rowing Cup I in Plovdiv, Bulgaria moved on to a morning of semifinals to help decide the remaining boats for tomorrow’s finals. A warm day with a bit of a tail wind breeze causing some bumps in the water was the conditions for these rowers.
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Semifinals
Poland 1 of Dominik Czaja and Adam Wicenciak recorded a very quick time yesterday in the heats, finishing in 6:19. Today they lined up in Semifinal One against winners of yesterday's second heat, Stanislau Shcharbachenia and Dzianis Mihal of Belarus. But it was Poland 2 that had the fastest start and they got to the first 500m in the lead. Czaja and Wicenciak were rating slightly higher than Maciej Zawojski and Szymon Posnik of Poland 2, but Poland 2 managed to remain just in front. Belarus sat in third. Zimbabwe was still on the pace. The Zimbabwean crew had come to this semi-final through the repechage so they had to race twice yesterday.
Zawokski and Posnik then managed to push away a bit from Poland 1 who was having to keep a keen eye on Belarus. Zawokski and Posnik both raced in the men’s quadruple sculls at last year’s World Rowing Championships where they finished sixth. The duo held first until the finish line with Poland 1 in second and Belarus recovering from a bad stroke to stay ahead of Spain and take third.
Three Chinese boats raced in Semifinal Two. At the start China 3 of Dang Liu and Quan Zhang got away very quickly, but it was Liang Zhang and Zhiyu Liu that got to the 500m mark in the lead. But only just. China 1 had recorded the fastest qualifying time yesterday in the heats and they now pulled slightly ahead of China 3. These two Chinese boats rowed together in a quad at the 2015 World Rowing Championships where they medalled. Hungary 2 was very much on the pace of the leading Chinese crews and it looked like they had a chance to overtake China 3. But coming into the final sprint China 2 got ahead of Hungary 2 giving China the top three spots. This was going to have to be a sprint finish.
Hungary 2 began to sprint. China 2 followed suit. Both were at 40 strokes per minute and came through to the finish stroke for stroke. China 1 finished first with 6:14 and China 3 came second ahead of Hungary 2.
Qualifiers: POL2, POL1, BLR, CHN1, CHN3, HUN2
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals
Belgium’s Pierre de Loof recorded the second fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s heats and he earned lane 6 for this effort in Semifinal One. But De Loof was at the very back of the field at the start of this race. Instead it was Japan 1 of Ryuta Arakawa out in front. By the middle of the race Arakawa retained the lead with two seconds over Robert Ven of Finland 1. Arakawa has been racing internationally in the single since 2017 while Ven is into his second decade of international rowing. Then Ven started to push with de Loof pulling out an awesome finishing sprint along with Pilip Pavukou of Belarus. De Loof and Pavukou were in lanes next to each other and they must have been sprinting each other. This sprint took them from the back of the field and into qualifying positions.
Semifinal Two included Rio Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin of Belarus. Martin was the fastest qualifier in yesterday’s heats and by the middle of the race Martin had pushed into the lead ahead of Olympian Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan. Moving through the 1000m mark Martin had built up a clear water lead. Martin was really showing his pedigree as he dominated this semi-final.
Joel Naukkarinen of Finland 3 held on to second over Serbia 2. Then Bulgaria’s Kristian Vasilev decided to go for it and sprinted for the line. Aleksandrov, in one lane over, followed suit. Bulgaria and Azerbaijan had qualified for the final. Martin had recorded a time of 6:54 to be the favourite for tomorrow’s final.
Qualifiers: FIN1, BLR, BEL, CRO, BUL, AZE