Seizing a spot in the final for World Rowing Cup III rowers
The Rotsee regatta course in Lucerne, Switzerland welcomed the world’s top rowers back to race in today’s semifinals. This was the last chance for these rowers to earn a spot in the final and race paces picked up in anticipation.
On this second day of racing, rowers enjoyed beautiful flat water under sunny skies. In the morning temperatures were mild with the forecast looking to move into the low 30’s degrees Celsius as the day went on.
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One was Kirsten McCann of South Africa in the lead at the start. McCann comes out of the 2016 Olympic lightweight double and she recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s heats. But then under-23 World Champion Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands One moved through the second 500 with the fastest pace and overtook McCann. McCann held on and together Keijser and McCann headed through the third 500. Coming into the final sprint France’s Laura Tarantola had slotted into third and was in a position of being able to challenge the two leading scullers. Keijser rated 31 to stay just ahead of McCann at 30 in the close of the race. Both scullers qualified for the final along with a very happy Tarantola who qualified from third.
Switzerland’s Patricia Merz led the way at the start of Semifinal Two. Merz has been having a great season with a gold from World Rowing Cup I, a bronze from World Rowing Cup II and a bronze from the European Rowing Championships. Merz still had the lead coming into the final sprint and was moving her boat at the fastest rate. But then Mary Jones of the United States One , who had tried to hold Merz’s pace through the race, challenged in the final sprint and it was looking very close in the last 50m. Merz got there first and will go to the final along with Jones and Emma Fradh of Sweden.
Qualifiers: NED1, RSA, FRA, SUI, USA1, SWE
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Semifinals
This was the third race of the regatta for these lightweight scullers as they vied stay in contention for a spot in the final. Slovenia’s Rajko Hrvat has been a regular A-finalist over the last couple of years but often has finished just outside of the medals. Today Hrvat was up against Henley Royal Regatta single sculling winner, Matthew Dunham of New Zealand in Semifinal One. But it was Artur Mikolajczewski of Poland who had the lead at the start with Hrvat at the back of the field. As Hrvat worked his way through from a slow start, Mikolajczewski remained in the lead being challenged by Dunham who had slotted into second. In the final sprint Mikolajczewski remained in the lead rating 37 as Hrvat came through rating in the low 40s. Hrvat got himself into a qualifying spot and will join Mikolajczewski and Dunham in tonight’s final.
Semifinal Two opened with Michael Schmid of Switzerland in the lead. Schmid had recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s quarterfinals and he shot out ahead of Rio Olympic medallist from the lightweight double, Kristoffer Brun of Norway. Then Hungary’s Peter Galambos got his nose in front with less than half a second separating the top three boats. In a full-on tussle Brun then got his boat a bit ahead as these three scullers charged for the finish line. There was no one to challenge for the top three qualifying spots and Schmid, Brun and Galambos decided not to sprint the finals. Schmid crossed the line first cruising through at 27 strokes per minute.
Qualifiers: POL, NZL, SLO, SUI1, NOR, HUN
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Semifinals
Semifinal One opened with the Netherlands in the lead. The Dutch crew of Dirk Uittenbogaard and Bo Wullings won their heat yesterday, but today they were up against winner of another heat, New Zealand. After the retirement from rowing of Olympic Champions Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, New Zealand have a new combination. James Hunter comes from the lightweight four and Thomas Murray is from the men’s eight. A piece in the second 500 brought Hunter and Murray’s bow ball a fraction ahead of the Dutch crew. Once in the lead the New Zealanders did not look back and they broke away completely from the field. Uittenbogaard and Wullings had no reply. Spain, in third was having a full on tussle with France Two. This tussle brought Alexander Sigurbjonsson and Pau Vela Maggi up to the leading boats. In the final sprint New Zealand remained in control with Spain breaking free from France. The qualifiers were decided.
The Croatian crew of Valent and Martin Sinkovic featured in Semifinal Two. This is the second international race for this duo in the pair – the first being in yesterday’s heats where they recorded the fastest qualifying time. The Sinkovic’s are the Olympic Champions in the double and have made a successful change to the pair. The Sinkovic’s got away the quickest followed closely by Valentin and Theophile Onfroy of France. The Onfroy brothers are having a great season with a win at last month’s World Rowing Cup and a silver medal from the 2017 European Rowing Championships. These two crews went head to head through the middle of the race. But then the Croatian’s put on the pressure in the third 500 and broke clean away. In the final sprint Croatia held off the charge by rating 37 with France at 45 and Romania One putting the pressure on at a 45 stroke rate. Romania’s finish got them ahead of Great Britain and into a qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: NZL1, NED, ESP, CRO, FRA1, ROU1
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Semifinals
Australia’s Olympia Aldersey and Madeleine Edmunds were the first to show in Semifinal One. But with 500m rowed margins remained tight and the United States Olympic combination of Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek were chasing hard. Then the winners of World Rowing Cup II, Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe began to push forward and they overtook the Americans to close on Australia. In the third 500 Loe and Donoghue had got into the lead with Australia trying to hold on. As the finish line came into view New Zealand went to 38 to stay in the lead, while United States at 38 overtook a fading Australia rating 34. These became the qualifying boats.
In Semifinal Two France One of Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino had the lead at the start. This duo recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s heats and they must have been the favourites in this semifinal. Lefebvre and Ravera-Scaramozzino raced in the quad at the 2017 European Rowing Championships and the rest of that crew was in one lane over coming third. In second was Lithuania which included Rio Olympic medallist Milda Valciukaite who has a new partner this year in Ieva Adomaviciute. They were pacing France Two of Noemie Kober and Marie Le Nepvou into the final sprint. Lefebvre and Ravera-Scaramozzino remained in front as the Netherlands joined in the sprint to the line. It was very, very close for second and third and fourth. France One had held on to first. Lithuania had scored second and France Two had held off the Netherlands to take the third and final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: NZL, USA, AUS, FRA1, LTU, FRA2
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Semifinals
John Storey and Christopher Harris of New Zealand recorded the fastest qualifying time in yesterday’s heats and they led the way at the start of Semifinal One. Holding 40 strokes per minute for as long as possible, Storey and Harris managed to completely break away from the field leaving a full on tussle to go on behind them between Belarus, Norway, Argentina and Canada. Only Lithuania was off the pace. Storey and Harris won last month at World Rowing Cup II and they continued to move away from the field as they strode through the third 500. Meanwhile behind them, Argentina had earned a small edge over Belarus and Norway with Canada slipping back. The sprint was on and with boats moving into the mid-40s per minute, the gap closed on the New Zealanders. Storey and Harris crossed the line first, a very, very happy Belarus crossed in second and Argentina got the better of Norway to take the third and final qualifying spot. Norway’s Olaf Tuft would have to row in the B-final.
Semifinal Two had Filippo Mondelli and Luca Rambaldi of Italy in the lead at the start. They were followed closely by Poland as the boats moved through to the middle of the race. Italy had won their heat yesterday and in a very quick time. Mondelli and Rambaldi then moved into a piece to try and shake Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup of Poland. But the Poles held on with local heroes Switzerland trying to close the gap. But it was Romania that was really surging through the third 500 as boats began to move into the final sprint. Poland then really got going and overtook Italy by rating 39. Italy held on to second with Switzerland going to 41 in a desperate attempt to qualify. With the help of the crowd Switzerland just pipped Romania at the line to earn the final qualifying spot. Poland had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: NZL, BLR, ARG, POL, ITA, SUI
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One say winner of the single at the Henley Royal Regatta, Annekatrin Thiele of Germany get away the quickest. Thiele had beaten Great Britain’s Victoria Thornley in the Henley final and today they raced again against each other. With Thiele in the lead, winner of World Rowing Cup II, Magdalena Lobnig slotted into second as Thornley worked her way through in third. Then Lobnig did a piece that propelled her into first. Lobnig had set a new World Cup Best Time last month at World Rowing Cup II and she has been having a great season. Thiele tried to hold in to Lobnig’s pace with both Thornley and Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus very much in striking distance. Thornley then got the better of Thiele as the final 500m came into view. But then Olympian Sanita Puspure of Ireland really started to move. It was four boats fighting for three spots. Puspure was at 38 with Thiele at 35 and Thornley winding it up into the mid-30s. Puspure had only just missed out.
In her first international regatta since the Rio Olympics, Carling Zeeman of Canada got her way through to today’s Semifinal Two and at the start she was in the lead. Denmark One of Fie Udby Erichsen followed in second and Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin was in third. A second 500 piece by Gmelin brought her into the lead with Felice Mueller of the United States pushing into third behind Zeeman.
Olympic finalist Gmelin kept her speed up and remained in front through the third 500, but Zeeman and Mueller remained very much within striking distance. Mueller raced at the Rio Olympics in the pair where she finished fourth. These three crews were now well ahead of the rest of the field and they did not need to sprint the finish with Gmelin still securing the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: AUT1, GER, GBR, SUI, USA1, CAN
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One opened with Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez in the lead. Fournier took silver at last month’s World Rowing Cup and he has stayed training in Europe leading up to this regatta. Fournier remained in the lead through the middle of the race moving out to a clear water lead. Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen followed in second with Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania in third. Stanislau Shcharbachenia of Belarus then did a push and got ahead of Griskonis who had dropped off completely and was now paddling down the course. In the close of the race Fournier remained in front with Nielsen holding on to second and Shcharbachenia qualifying from third.
Winner of the European Rowing Championships and Olympic medallist Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic led the way in Semifinal Two. Synek was the most experienced of this field but he was facing for the first time New Zealand’s Robert Manson. Manson won World Rowing Cup II last month and set a new World Best Time in the process and he was sitting in third behind Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland. Manson then pushed into second with Stahlberg still on the pace. These three scullers had now broken away from the field with Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin of Croatia taking his stroke rate down to fall to the back of the field. Manson then put the pressure on moving into the third 500 and overtook Synek. Synek did not react back and Manson moved clean away from the entire field. The race now turned into a procession as the three leading boats chose not to sprint the finish. Manson still finished the race with the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: CUB, DEN1, BLR, NZL, CZE, SUI
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals
The Olympic and European Champions, Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou of France raced in Semifinal One and they got away very quickly to take the lead over the fastest qualifiers from the heats, Greece. Houin and Azou are known for their love of leading for the entire race and they continued to keep the speed on coming into the middle of the race with Greece and Belgium vying it out for second. Poland’s Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski were also very much on the pace. The French had now moved to an open water lead with Greece (Nikolaidis and Konsolas) and Belgium (Brys and van Zandweghe) managing to shake off Poland. The finish line was now in view and Greece and Belgium were rating 35 with Belgium gaining a margin. France did a final 39 stroke rate push to cross the line cleanly in first.
Italy’s Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta moved away the quickest in Semifinal Two keeping their stroke rate at a blistering 40 strokes per minute for the first 500m. It was not surprise then that Oppo and Ruta were first to the 500m mark with the Czech Republic in second and Russia in third. But it was practically a line behind Italy between the rest of the field and the Czech’s and Russia would have to keep sprinting to hold their spots.
With Italy still in the lead the Czech Republic of Jiri Simanek and Miroslav Vrastil managed to break away a little from Russia who was now being challenged by the Olympic silver medallists, Paul and Gary O’Donovan. Russia had run out of steam and Ireland moved into third with the Czech’s holding on to second. In the final sprint Italy was at 37 to hold the lead, the Czech’s used 38 to hold second and the Irish were on 35 and remained in third. The winning times of France and Italy was almost identical. This will be a great final on Sunday.
Qualifiers: FRA, BEL, GRE, ITA, CZE, IRL