Race Report: Smooth under-23 semifinals in Rotterdam
On the perfectly flat waters of the Willem-Alexander Baan Rowing Regatta course, the best under-23 rowers in the world moved into the semifinal rounds. At the combined 2016 World Rowing Senior, Under 23 & Junior World Rowing Championships in Rotterdam, the Netherlands today’s under-23 rowers took racing to exciting finishes with some World Champions missing out and photo finishes showing the calibre of talent.
Under-23 Women's Double Sculls (BW2x) – Semifinals
The fastest qualifiers from the heats were Great Britain's Mathilda Hodgkins-Byrne and Jess Leyden and in Semifinal One they led the reigning World Champions, Viviana-Iuliana Bejinariu and Ioana Vrinceanu of Romania. Going through the middle of the race there was nothing between these two boats. But then Great Britain used their power to open up a gap over the Romanians. Once the gap had been formed Hodgkins-Byrne and Leyden felt comfortable enough to drop their stroke rate to 32 and still remained in front. They recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Belarus was the fastest starting boat in Semifinal Two. The duo of Tatsiana Klimovich and Krystina Staraselets of Belarus had already built up a boat length lead as they went through the first 500m mark. Keeping their stroke rate at 36, Belarus remained in front. Klimovich and Staraselets raced in the final at last year’s under-23 championships and they had the advantage of being the most established crew in this race. Following in second were the Kallfelz sisters from the United States. In the final sprint. Emily and Eliza Kallfelz closed on Belarus, but Belarus had enough of an advantage to hold them off.
Qualifiers: GBR, ROU, DEN, BLR, USA, GER
Under-23 Men's Double Sculls (BM2x) – Semifinals
The Netherlands crew of Amos Keijser and Abe Weirsma were the quickest away in Semifinal One and they held this position through to the middle of the race. Then Norway’s Martin Helseth and Erik Solbakken started to push and the gap on the Dutch crew began to close. Norway kept on pushing taking the race through to a photo finish. Only 0.03 of a second separated these two crews at the line with the Dutch just in front. They will go to the final along with Norway and South Africa who came through in third. The Netherlands recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Germany hold the title of reigning under-23 World Champions and the new 2016 line-up of Max Appel and Philipp Syring raced in Semifinal Two. They were followed very closely by Canada’s Cody Bailey and Trevor Jones. Syring and Appel then managed to get a bit of an edge. The order remained the same right to the line with Belgium sitting solidly in third.
Qualifiers: NED, NOR, RSA, GER, CAN, BEL
Under-23 Lightweight Men’s Pair (BLM2-) – Semifinals
Semifinal One saw Greece’s Stefanos Ntouskos and Ioannis Petrou take a very good start and by the middle of the race the world bronze medallists still had a lead over Fiorin Rueedi and Joel Schuerch of Switzerland. This is how the order remained until the line with the two leading crews keeping each other honest. China came through to take the third qualifying spot which denied the reigning under-23 World Champions, Italy of a spot in the final. Greece recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Turkey’s Mert Kaan Kartal and Faith Unsal had a great heat a couple of days ago earning the fastest qualifying time. They are the silver medallists from 2015 and the duo had the lead at the start. But at the 1000m mark Ireland’s Shane Mulvaney and David O’Malley pushed their way into the lead. Coming through the 1500m mark the United States did a big push which denied Canada of third. Rating 37, John Gleim and Kyle James of the United States then went to 39 to stay ahead of Canada. Meanwhile Ireland remained strong and ahead of Turkey. The United States held on to third.
Qualifiers: GRE, SUI, CHN, IRL, TUR, USA
Under-23 Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (BLM2x) – Semifinals
From start to finish Spain’s Aria Mitjavila and Rodrigo Conde Romero led Semifinal One. Spain had recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats and today they proved that it was not a one-off. France’s Benjamin David and Adrien Constantini followed in second with Denmark getting the better of Serbia in the final sprint to snatch the remaining qualifying spot.
Semifinal Two had Italy and South Africa shoot out at the start together. Antonio Vicino and Lorenzo Galano of Italy took bronze in 2015 and they got their nose into the lead as it looked as though South Africa was slipping a little. Slovakia’s Peter Zelinka and Richard Vanco had moved up into second and were challenging the Italians. Rating 36 Zelinka and Vanco closed on Italy. Could they maintain the pace through to the end? Slovakia had won their heat two days ago and it must have given them confidence.
Then Vicino and Galano took up their stroke rate and gave it their all. They crossed the line in first with South Africa’s Vaughn Botes and Nicholas Oberholzer coming back to take second. Slovakia held on to third despite a huge effort from Germany. The Germans are the reigning under-23 World Champions, but this year they will race in the B-final.
Qualifiers: ESP, FRA, DEN, ITA, RSA, SVK
Under-23 Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BM4x) – Semifinals
Poland had the edge in Semifinal One but margins were very tight with just two seconds separating the top five boats in the first quarter of the race. Then Poland managed to get a bit of an edge with Italy slotting into second as Canada and Germany went head-to-head for third. Poland, stroked by Jakub Dominiczak, continued to lead as Canada and Germany moved up to challenge Italy. Italy, Canada and Germany formed a virtual line behind Poland in the final sprint. One crew was going to miss out. The Canadians are the reigning under-23 World Champions and they retained three scullers in this 2016 boat. In a day of upsets Canada missed out. They will return to race in the B-final. Poland had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Australia had the fastest qualifying time when they raced in the heats and they led Semifinal Two right from the start. New Zealand followed in second with Great Britain in third. This order did not change and a stroke rate of 38 seemed to be the stroke rate of choice in the final sprint.
Qualifiers: POL, ITA, GER, AUS, NZL, GBR
Under-23 Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BLM4x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One was incredibly tight at the start. The race included last year’s under-23 World Champions, France and the silver medallists, Great Britain. The British had recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats. But it was Italy that got away the quickest. At the half way point Italy still had the lead with France following in second. Germany and Australia were neck-and-neck in third with Canada very much on the pace. Then coming into the final sprint Italy managed to squeeze away to a bit of a lead. There was nothing between the next three crews. Ratings went into the low 40s. Then disaster in the French boat. A crab by Gael Chocheyras with 20m left to row put the French out of the running. Canada and Germany claimed the crucial qualifying spots.
Great Britain got away quickly in Semifinal Two and they moved away to a rather handy lead. Behind them a fierce battle went on between Sweden, Ireland, New Zealand and Austria. At the half-way point only a second separated these four nations. Could this fight close the gap on Great Britain? In the final sprint the British remained in control as Sweden slotted into second with Ireland now in third. New Zealand took their stroke rate up, so did Ireland who got to 43 strokes per minute. Great Britain recorded the fastest qualifying time. Ireland earned second and Sweden got away from New Zealand to take third.
Qualifiers: ITA, CAN, GER, GBR, IRL, SWE
Under-23 Men’s Four (BM4-) – Semifinals
Austria recorded a very fast time in the heats two days ago and today they faced the might of Germany in Semifinal One. The Germans got away the quickest, but Austria was ready and by the middle of the race the Austrians had got their boat ahead of Germany. New Zealand now started to put Germany under threat. In the final sprint the New Zealanders pushed ahead of Germany and went after Austria. Germany came back and Germany and New Zealand came into the line together, just behind Austria. At the line New Zealand was just a fraction ahead of Germany.
At the start of Semifinal Two it was the United States in the lead. They were ahead of the reigning under-23 World Champions, Romania. Going into the middle of the race the United States had managed to build up a handy lead as Great Britain and Romania went neck-and-neck behind them. This battle brought Great Britain closer to the United States as the boats all went through the 1500m mark. Matching at a 37 stroke rate, Great Britain had caught the United States and overtaken them. They showed no sign of slowing with US looking rather unreactive. Romania was in third and held off Argentina. Great Britain recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: AUT, NZL, GER, GBR, USA, ROU
Under-23 Lightweight Men’s Four (BLM4-) – Semifinals
Germany looked like they had their boat above the water as they led the way in Semifinal One. This flying style of rowing kept the Germans in the lead going through the middle of the race with Poland and the United States holding a contest for second behind the Germans. Switzerland was still on the pace but would have to perform a great second 1000m to get into a qualifying spot. In the final sprint Germany remained ahead with Poland getting away from a fading United States. Switzerland had moved into third with France giving it their all to try and get ahead of Switzerland. The French had left it too late and will be in the B-final. Germany recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Spain had a very good start in Semifinal Two despite being up against the under-23 World Champions, Italy. But Spain could not maintain their fast start and by the middle of the race they had slipped to the back of the field with Great Britain taking over in the lead. Japan got into second as Italy started to put the pressure on. Great Britain went to 37, then 38 to stay ahead of Italy as Japan came under threat from Denmark. Italy, at 38, then got ahead of Great Britain. Italy was at 43 and Great Britain at 42. A valent charge by Japan had them hold off Denmark.
Qualifiers: GER, POL, SUI, ITA, GBR, JPN
Under-23 Men’s Eight (BM8+) – Semifinals
The Netherlands had the fastest qualifying time a couple of days ago and they raced today in Semifinal One. The Dutch led the way over the under-23 World Champions, Germany. Then Romania did a big push and got ahead of Germany. This was an amazing move by Romania who had to come through the repechage to get to this semifinal. With 500m left to row the Dutch still had the lead and Romania was challenging them from second. Holding a 35 stroke rate, the Netherlands was able to stay ahead of Romania with Germany settling for third.
Semifinal Two was delayed half an hour and it got away without any problem with all crews powering away evenly. Then Great Britain got a small advantage. The British took the senior title in this boat class earlier this month at the Rio Olympics and their under-23 crew was looking good. Rating 37, Great Britain got themselves into a solid lead with Ukraine, Italy, Russia and the United States practically level for second. Only Australia was off the pace. Ukraine then managed to get a bit of an advantage over the pack. Great Britain continued to open up a lead with Ukraine solidly in second as Italy, at 40, tried to close on Ukraine. Ukraine went to 40 and went level at the line with Italy. Great Britain had recorded the fastest qualifying time with Ukraine just a fraction ahead of Italy.
Qualifiers: NED, ROU, GER, GBR, UKR, ITA