Speed redefined during heats of Samsung World Rowing Cup

25/05/2012 - 11:46:00

The first day heats at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland took on a new level of importance as some crews met for the first time this season. The importance of this regatta in the lead up to the 2012 London Olympic Games was obvious as crews sized up their competition on the Rotsee regatta course.

The first day heats at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland took racing to a new level with World Best Times being set in six events.

World Best Times are usually set in tail-wind conditions and this was the case today at the Rotsee regatta course. In warm, sunny conditions, the tail-wind increased as racing progressed with the start being described as ‘really windy’.

The first World Best Time fell in the men’s four when Great Britain’s flagship boat broke the record by an astounding four seconds. Russia’s men’s quadruple sculls also had a mighty race setting a new World Best Time by two seconds just after Croatia had set the new time in the previous heat.

World Best Times were also set in the men’s eight (Canada), lightweight women’s double sculls (New Zealand), women’s eight (United States) and women’s quadruple sculls (Germany).

Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
The top two crews in each of the three heats would get to go directly to the semifinals and thus miss having to race again in the repechage. Adam Freeman-Pask set the pace in Heat One. Using a single scull with a bow-mounted rigger, which has grown in popularity in recent years, Freeman-Pask kept the pressure on right to the end, finishing on a 34 stroke rate. Frederic Hanselmann of Switzerland, a regular in this event in recent years, came through in second to also qualify.

Heat Two featured France’s Frederic Dufour who is debuting his 2012 season here in Lucerne. Dufour was the most experienced in this heat and he showed his talent by leading the field at the start. Florian Berg of Austria pushed Dufour and took the lead through the middle of the race. In the final metres Norway’s Kristoffer Brun added to a three-boat sprint. However, 30m before the finish line Dufour took the pressure right off letting Berg and Brun take the two semifinal spots, with Berg recording the fastest qualifying time.
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All the hard work was done early in the piece in Heat Three. China’s Chongkui Wu and Jonathan Koch of Germany held a very close tussle and in the process broke away from the rest of the field. Koch and Wu had a comfortable margin coming into the final sprint and, thus, were happy just to paddle home. Koch and Wu are the two boats to go directly to the semifinal.

Women’s Pair (W2-) – Heats
Three heats in the women’s pair required crews to be in the top three for a direct path to the semifinals on Saturday. Heat One featured two-time World silver medallists, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain and the duo showed their style by leading the entire race. China’s Yage Zhang and Yulan Gao slotted into second with Argentina’s Maria Laura Abalo and Gabriela Best following in third. Abalo and Best became Olympic qualifiers earlier this week when they raced at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta and they continue their Olympic preparation today on the Rotsee. Great Britain, in the lead, were able to take the stroke rate down coming to the line in first, while China and Argentina pushed it to the end finishing second and third respectively.

Heat Two was sorted out very early on in the race. Only one boat wouldn’t qualify for the semifinal and when China dropped off the pace early on, the leading three boats got to row a rather relaxed race to the finish line. The United States (Erin Cafaro and Eleanor Logan) crossed the line in first with world bronze medallists, Sarah Tait and Kate Hornsey of Australia following in second. Great Britain’s second crew of Jo Cook and Olivia Carnegie-Brown came through, with much crowd support, in third.
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World Champions, Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown of New Zealand led the way in Heat Three. They showed their class by breaking away from the field after about 50 strokes. Meanwhile Claudia Wurzel and Sara Bertolasi of Italy and Germany’s Lisa Kemmerer and Anne-Sophie Agarius held a battle with Belarus for the second spot. Italy, who qualified for the Olympics last year, won the battle and finished in second behind the New Zealanders. Germany, a different crew to the one that qualified for the Olympics earlier this week, took third.

Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats
This event required a top three finish for a direct path to the semifinal and in Heat One World Champions since 2009, New Zealand (Hamish Bond and Eric Murray) met Canada’s Scott Frandsen and Dave Calder. Calder and Frandsen medalled at the Beijing Olympics and united again in 2011 to challenge for gold in London. Frandsen and Calder stuck with the Kiwis at the start and still were right with them through the middle of the race, even getting their nose in front for a while.

Bond and Murray then broke away, remaining in first until the line and keeping their pressure on with a 38 stroke rate finish. Canada took second rating 34 and staying ahead of Great Britain2, who were comfortably in third. Murray and Bond recorded the fastest qualifying time of all the heats by a large margin.
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Heat Two saw the first showdown of the season between Italy and Greece. At last year’s World Rowing Championships Niccolo Mornati and Lorenzo Carboncini of Italy were third with Nikolaos and Apostolos Gkountoulas of Greece finishing fourth. Today the Gkountoulas twins led for the first half of the race before being overtaken by the Italians coming through the third 500. Was this strategy? The Netherlands (Nanne Sluis and Meindert Klem) followed way back in third. The order did not change with Italy, Greece and Netherlands comfortably qualifying for the semifinal.
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In Heat Three a big sprint by James Marburg and Brodie Buckland of Australia gave them the lead with just 20m of water left. Marburg and Buckland worked their way through the field overtaking leaders, George Nash and William Satch at the very end. Winners of 2012’s first World Rowing Cup, Anton Braun and Felix Drahotta of Germany, seemed very content to qualify from third, paddling home at a 25 stroke rate, way behind the second placed British crew.

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Heats
Three heats in this event required crews to finish in a top three position to advance directly to the semifinal. Heat One featured Greece’s Eleftherios Konsolas and Panagiotis Magdanis who surprised everyone with their medal performance earlier this month at the first World Rowing Cup. Today the Greek’s made a good start leading over Linus Lichtschlag and Lars Hartig of Germany. But the Germans wanted to be first and coming through the third 500 Lichtschlag and Hartig had the lead. Konsolas and Magdanis held on to second while Svein Urban Ringstad and Are Strandli of Norway had a huge sprint against Cuba to get the third qualifying spot.

Heat Two scored the fastest qualifying time of the three heats when three boats, Denmark, Canada and New Zealand held a tight battle for the majority of the race. Canada’s Douglas Vandor and Morgan Jarvis took the lead at the start before Denmark’s Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist got their nose in front with New Zealand’s Storm Uru and Peter Taylor pushing hard.
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This is the first time these three crews have raced since last year’s World Rowing Championships where New Zealand were second, Denmark were fifth and Canada finished eleventh. Today New Zealand, rating 38 strokes per minute, took first at the finish with Denmark and Canada following in second and third respectively, and not sprinting quite so hard, to qualify for the semifinal.

Heat Three was led from start to finish by Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre of France. This is a new combination for France and the first time they have rowed together internationally. Behind the French, World Champions Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter of Great Britain followed in second with China’s Fangbing Zhang and Jie Sun easily in third. Zhang and Sun were the only crew that really sprinted the finish and in the process they nearly caught up to Great Britain. France, Great Britain and China go through to the semifinal.

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
This event had three heats and, thus, the goal of these crews was to finish in a top three position for a direct path to the semifinal on Saturday. Germany’s Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger set the pace in Heat One. Knittel had an injury-ridden season last year, but back in the boat at the first World Rowing Cup earlier this month he had finished first with Krueger. Slovenia’s Luka Spik and Iztok Cop pushed the German’s hard but Germany seemed able to react to all of Slovenia’s moves. Germany, Slovenia and early leaders, Saulius Ritter and Rolandas Mascinskas of Lithuania are the three qualifying boats.
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Heat Two was all about Cederic Berrest and Julien Bahain of France. Berrest and Bahain finished third last year and they are one of the best medal chances for France at 2012 Olympic Games in London. Behind Berrest and Bahain, Argentina’s Ariel Suarez and Cristian Rosso kept the French honest by pressing hard. Suarez and Rosso qualified for the London Olympics by finishing ninth last year.
Surprisingly, two-time World Champions Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen of New Zealand were way back in third. Cohen and Sullivan did a big 37 stroke rate sprint, but looked a little short through the water as they remained behind France and Argentina. Still, New Zealand qualified directly for the semifinal along with France and Argentina.

The fastest heat turned out to be Heat Three with Australia's Olympic Champions David Crawshay and Scott Brennan opening their 2012 season in style. At the start of this race the Netherlands had a slight lead before Norway’s Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch got in front through the middle of the race. A solid closing sprint by Crawshay and Brennan got them into the lead at the end with Norway holding on to second and Great Britain’s Bill Luca and Sam Townsend finishing third. Only a second separated these three qualifying crews in a tight finish.

Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Heats
Each of the three heats in the lightweight men’s four required a top three finish to guarantee a direct path to tomorrow’s semifinal and the opportunity to miss this afternoon’s repechage. In Heat One China set the standard by not only winning but recording the fastest qualifying time of the three heats. China finished third earlier this month at the Belgrade World Rowing Cup and look to be improving as the season continued. They were pushed hard by Great Britain.

The British have had to change one member of their crew that finished second in Belgrade due to injury and they remained in second after having a slight lead at the very start. France followed in third but was quite a distance back. China, Great Britain and France qualify for the semifinal.
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Winners of the Belgrade World Rowing Cup, Denmark found themselves behind Germany at the start of Heat Two. But instead of taking over in the lead it was South Africa that got in front. James Thompson, Matthew Brittain, John Smith and Lawrence Ndlovu are a different line up by one crew member to the one that qualified for the Olympic last year, but they have come together nicely. Despite Denmark pulling out a huge 43 stroke rate sprint, South Africa confidently held them off rating in the mid 30s. A strong finishing sprint by Switzerland brought them ahead of Germany and into third. Germany took their stroke down 30m before the line to save themselves for this afternoon’s repechage. South Africa, Denmark and Switzerland qualify for the semifinals tomorrow.  
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Heat Three saw a very confident, smooth display of rowing by Australia. Anthony Edwards, Todd Skipworth, Benjamin Cureton and Samuel Beltz of Australia are the reigning World Champions and they looked comfortable in the lead. The Czech Republic slotted into second with Japan a bit back in third. The order did not change into the final sprint with Australia choosing not to sprint the finish. Japan put on a good push at the end which forced the Czech Republic to take it up just before the end. Australia, the Czech Republic and Japan qualify for the semifinal.

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats
This event had three heats with the top three boats in each heat going directly to the semifinal. Winner of the Belgrade World Rowing Cup, Xiuyun Zhang of China featured in Heat One. Zhang got out in front at the start but through the middle of the race she was challenged by a late entry from Russia, Julia Levina. Levina and Zhang went head to head through the middle of the race with Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania also very much on the leaders pace.

In the final sprint, Vistartaite chose to take it down while Zhang rated 37 through the last 100m to get the lead back from Levina. Zhang, Levina and Vistartaite advance to the semifinal.

Heat Two saw Australia’s Kim Crow continue her winning ways. Crow raced earlier this week in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta where she won the single and, thus, qualified for the London Olympics in this event. Back in the single today Crow led the race from start to finish over 2011 World Rowing Championships medallists, Emma Twigg of New Zealand and Nataliya Mustafeyeve of Azerbaijan. Crow normally competes in the double but has been forced into the single as her doubles partner is injured.

Coming into the finish none of the leading crews chose to sprint with Crow crossing the line in first on a 28 stroke rate. Twigg followed in second rating 29 and Mustafayeva takes the final qualifying spot by finishing third.
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World Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic showed her winning style in Heat Three. Knapkova led from start to finish under absolutely no pressure from the rest of the field. Despite not being challenged, Knapkova still recorded the fastest qualifying time of all three heats. Sweden’s Frida Svensson followed far back in second with New Zealand3 (Sarah Gray) even further back in third. Knapkova, Svensson and Gray qualify for the semifinal.

Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Heats
This event had two heats lining up which meant the top boat in each heat would get to go directly to the final on Saturday evening. All other crews would have to race in a repechage this afternoon. Heat One opened with Leonie Pless of Germany in the lead. This did not last long as Austria’s very experienced Michaela Taupe-Traer not only pushed into the lead but moved out to an open water lead by the middle of the race. Taupe-Traer, 37, has been racing for more than two decades but has never made it to the Olympics. She tried to qualify for London last year in the lightweight double but was unable to and thus moved back into the single for this season. Taupe-Traer is currently the World Cup leader in this event.

Taupe-Traer easily crossed the line in first as the sole qualifier for the final in a speedy time of 7:36.

In Heat Two a gutsy effort by Cecilia Lilja of Sweden saw her in the lead for the majority of the race including a huge four second lead by the half-way point. This, however, all changed coming through to the finish as Lilja ran out of steam, leaving the qualifying spot to Kathryn Twyman of Great Britain. Twyman finished in second behind Taupe-Traer at Belgrade and becomes the sole qualifier for the final from Heat Two.

Lightweight Men’s Pair (LM2-) – Heats
The lightweight men’s pair had two heats with the top two boats from each heat earning a direct track to the final on Saturday evening. This meant that they would miss having to race in a repechage this afternoon – a favourable position to be in.

Fabien Tilliet and Jean-Christophe Bette of France led the way in Heat One. The duo are World Champions from 2010 but last year raced to fourth in the lightweight eight. They started off this season by finishing third at the Belgrade World Rowing Championships. Today Tilliet and Bette found themselves having to keep a wary eye on Lei Li and Zhongwei Li of China who kept the pressure on the French throughout the race. Bette and Tilliet remained in the lead crossing the line at a comfortable 29 stroke rate. China qualified for the final from second at a 37 stroke rate pace to hold off Hungary who were sprinting through in third. Hungary will have to return for the repechage.

Heat Two had the fastest qualifying time, partly due to the tail-wind on the Rotsee and partly due to Arnoud Greidanus and Joris Pijs of the Netherlands putting in a very solid performance. Greidanus and Pijs took the lead at the start and held it for the entire race increasing their lead over Denmark as the race continued. Denmark’s Christian Pedersen and Jens Vilhelmsen held tightly onto second with the order not changing through to the line. The Netherlands and Denmark go directly to the final on Saturday.

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
This event required a top two finish in the two heats for a direct path to Sunday’s final. Heat One featured the unbeaten duo of Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins of Great Britain. Grainger and Watkins did what they love to do – lead from start to finish. The British duo got out of the start at a cracking pace and maintained a swift pace through to the middle of the race. If Grainger and Watkins had kept their pace up they would have set a new World Best Time. The British, however, were not really being pushed. Germany’s Britta Oppelt and Annekatrin Thiele sat in second but did not seem to be able to get up on the British.

Bringing their boats through to the finish line neither Great Britain, nor Germany were really sprinting, satisfied to remain in the same order and qualify for the final from first and second.
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Heat Two ended up being a much faster race than heat one with former World Champions, Poland pushing it to the line. Magdalena Fularzcyk and Julia Michalska of Poland got out in front at the start and kept the pressure on right to the end despite being under very little threat from the rest of the field. Fularzcyk and Michalska rated a swift 37 stroke rate into the finish to cross the line just two seconds outside of the World Best Time. Behind the Poles, New Zealand held firmly onto second. Fiona Paterson and Anna Reymer of New Zealand finished third in 2011 and this is their first race of the 2012 season. Poland and New Zealand are the two qualifying boats. They will meet again in Sunday’s final.

Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
The two heats in this event meant that crews had to finish in the top two for a direct path to the final. Heat One became the race of the day when reigning World Champions Great Britain set a new World Best Time. The new 2012 British line up got out of the start just a fraction slower than Germany’s second crew. By the half-way point Great Britain (Gregory, Reed, James and Triggs Hodge) had found the lead with New Zealand now closest to their pace.

Despite now getting an open-water lead the British continued to push on. Coming into the final sprint Great Britain rated a very strong 38 stroke rate pace, taking it up to 40 as they came into the line. Did they know a World Best Time was up for grabs? Their time of 5:37.86 had broken the old record, set by Germany in 2002, by a full four seconds. Great Britain qualify for the final along with New Zealand who came through in second with a very solid race and high rating 41 stroke rate pace at the finish.
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Would the World Best Time be broken in Heat Two? With the Australia’s flagship boat racing, expectations were high. Australia’s Joshua Dunkley-Smith, Drew Ginn, James Chapman and William Lockwood  got out quickly at the start and established themselves in the lead. They retained this lead through the middle of the race crossing the 1000m mark in a time of 2:48.29, more than a second faster than Great Britain’s time in the previous race. Germany sat in second with Greece following in third.
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Australia then decided that they did not really have to race the second half, comfortable just to hold on to the lead. Germany and Greece also looked like they were not pushing it as these boats came into the final sprint. Australia and Germany qualify directly for the final, but with no new World Best Time.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Heats
The rule here was for crews to be in the top spot if they wanted a direct path to the final on Sunday. Heat One started with Jing Liu and Feihong Pan of China2 in the lead. But this lead did not last long against the onslaught from New Zealand’s new 2012 line up Louise Ayling and Julia Edward. This is Ayling and Edward’s first international race together after Edward won a spot in this Olympic boat by being the fastest lightweight single sculler in the country.

Coming through the third 500, Ayling and Edward had broken away from the pack with Great Britain and the United States not far back. Ayling and Edward continued to push on to the line. Sophie Hosking and Katherine Copeland of Great Britain tried desperately to catch the Kiwis, but couldn’t. Ayling and Edward debut with a new World Best Time of 6:49.43, breaking China’s 2006 World Best Time by 34/100th of a second. They also get to go directly to the final on Sunday.   
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World Champions, Greece lined up in Heat Two. Surely they would set a new World Best Time. Chirstina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou of Greece started off their 2012 season well by winning at the Belgrade World Rowing Cup earlier this month. Today they overtook a fast-starting China1 to get into the lead by the half-way point. Dongxian Xu and Wenyi Huang of China held on tight, but Greece were in a good position to counter any move by the Chinese.

As the finish line came into view, China seemed resigned to finishing second with Greece looking comfortable on a 35 stroke rate pace crossing the line in first. Tsiavou and Giazitzidou finish just 3/100th of a second outside of the newly-established World Best Time.

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Heats
The women’s quad had two heats with the top two boats from each heat getting to go directly to the final. All other crews, thus, would have to return for the repechage this afternoon. At the end of Heat One a World Best Time that has stood for 16 years would fall. This is how it happened.

China are the reigning Olympic Champions and they have been slowly building up over the last three years to recreate their 2008 result when they go to London. Today China took off in the lead ahead of Germany. The Germans finished second at the Belgrade World Rowing Cup and they are the reigning World Champions.

Coming into the third 500 Germany (Julia Richter, Carina Baer, Tina Manker and Stephanie Schiller) pushed the pace and nearly got ahead of China with the United States now upping the pace. China desperately tried to hold on, but they seemed to have run out of gas. Germany, at a 37 stroke rate, crossed the line in first with the United States sprinting through to second.
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Germany had broken a World Best Time set in 1996 by a former German crew. The new time of 6:09.38 is nearly 1½ seconds faster than the old time.

Heat Two turned out to be slower, with Ukraine leading from start to finish. Ukraine finished first at the World Rowing Cup in Belgrade but they have made one change to the crew coming into this second World Rowing Cup. Nataliya Dovgodko has come into the boat after racing the double at Belgrade. Behind Ukraine a close race was going on between the rest of the field – Germany2, United States2 and New Zealand. A solid second half by New Zealand earned them second spot despite Germany2 performing a very fast finish. Ukraine crossed the finish line rating an easy 32 strokes per minute. Ukraine and New Zealand go directly to the final.

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
There were two heats to be raced with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the final. Expectations were high after some very exciting racing went on earlier this month at the Belgrade World Rowing Cup. In Belgrade Croatia and they featured in Heat One today.

Croatia must have heard that these were the conditions for getting World Best Times and they took off at a cracking pace being chased hard by last year’s silver medallists, Germany. Through the first half of the race Germany stuck to Croatia like glue. A piece by David Sain, Damir Martin and the Sinkovic brothers of Croatia in the third 500 enabled them to break free from the Germans. Germany didn’t seem to have a reply.

Croatia continued to sprint for the line letting out a cheer as they crossed the line just over one second faster than the current World Best Time. Croatia had finished in 5:35.10.
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But this World Best Time would set a record for being the most short-lived World Best Time. About seven minutes later the Russians would deny Croatia.

Heat Two had an on-fire Russia perform a storming race at the head of the field. The Russian crew contained two members of the 2004 Olympic Champion crew with Sergey Fedorovtsev and Alexey Svirin aiming to go after another Olympic title in London.  
Behind the leading Russians, New Zealand chased hard. This is New Zealand’s debut race for the 2012 season after arriving in Lucerne from their home country earlier this week. Coming into the line Russia remained in the lead with New Zealand now trying to hold off a last-minute sprint by reigning World Champions, Australia. At the line Russia and New Zealand had qualified for the final.

A jubilant Vladislav Ryabcev, Nikita Morgachev, Svirin and Fedorovtsev had become new World Best Time holder. Their time of 5:33.15 was three seconds faster than the time set in 2008 by Australia and two seconds faster than the time set seven minutes ago by Croatia.

Women’s Eight (W8+) – Heats
This event had two heats with the top boat only in each heat getting to go directly to the final on Sunday. All other boats would have to race in the repechage this afternoon.

Heat One featured 2011 silver medallists, Canada. This is the first race of the 2012 season for Canada and they made good use of it by leading throughout the entire race. Meanwhile winners of the Belgrade World Rowing Cup, the Netherlands were having to push past Germany to try and get up with Canada.

Despite putting on a big finishing sprint by rating 38, the Netherlands could not catch Canada who were rating 39. Canada crossed the line first and go directly to the final. Their finishing time was just 19/100th of a second outside of the World Best Time.

The word around the boat park at Lucerne was definitely out; World Best Times could be had. In Heat Two reigning World and Olympic Champions United States decided to go after that time. This US crew is phenomenal. They set the World Best Time in 2006 and are currently on a winning streak that goes back to this 2006 World Rowing Championships race. Today the United States got out into the lead and raced their own race at the head of the field. Great Britain and Belarus were being completely outclassed.
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Coming into the line the United States was rating a 38 stroke rate and powering it home. They crossed the line waiting for their time to be confirmed. Two-seat Susan Francia punched the air. The crew had set a new World Best Time by nearly one and a half seconds. The new time is now 5:54.17.

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Heats
No doubt about it, the men’s single sculls was by far the largest event of this regatta. 26 scullers lined up, spread over six heats. The rule here was a top three finish would get you through to the quarterfinal. All other crews would go to the E-final. With two races ahead of them tomorrow, all of these scullers looked to do what they needed to do to get through to the next round. No one was prepared to expend the energy required to get a World Best Time.

In these seeded races Great Britain’s Alan Campbell was the highest seed in Heat One. Campbell reasserted his position by leading from start to finish over Mathias Rocher of Germany3. The order got sorted out reasonably early in the race with no sprinting necessary at the end. Campbell, Rocher, Olaf Tufte of Norway and Jan Spik of Slovenia2 qualify for tomorrow’s quarterfinal.

Germany’s Marcel Hacker made his 2012 racing debut in Heat Two. He did it by outclassing the rest of the field. Hacker had missed the Belgrade World Rowing Cup due to injury and despite still being named as Germany’s top sculler, he had to perform here as there were two other German entries nipping at his heels. One of them was Karsten Brodowski of Germany2. Brodowski sat firmly in second behind Hacker for the entire race. Moving onto the quarterfinal will be Hacker, Brodowski, Oscar Vasquez Ochoa of Chile and Roberto Lopez of El Salvador. Despite Hacker under no pressure coming to the line, he still managed to record the fastest qualifying time of all of the heats.
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Heat Three had Lithuania’s Mindaugas Griskonis out in front with a real tussle going on behind him between China’s Liang Zhang and Dimitri Weitnauer of Switzerland2. Zhang got the better of the tussle. Griskonis, Zhang and Weitnauer advance to the quarterfinal.

Lassi Karonen of Sweden led the way in Heat Four. Behind Karonen, bronze medallist from the Belgrade World Rowing Cup, Angel Fournier Rodriguez seemed content to cruise. In a rather pedestrian heat, Karonen barely hit 26 strokes per minute through the close of the race. Rodriguez took second and Lithuania2, Mykolas Masilonis took the final qualifying spot.

The reigning World Champion, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand made easy work of Heat Five. Drysdale seemed to be doing just enough to stay in front as he raced in a heat that contained none of the current heavyweights of men’s single sculling. Drysdale goes to the quarterfinal along with Peter Lambert of South Africa and Patrick Loliger Salas of Mexico.
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Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic made a race of it up to the half-way point in Heat Six. Synek is the 2010 World Champion and the silver medallist from 2011. He is one of the favourites to win gold at the 2012 Olympic Games. Through the second half of the race Synek remained ahead of Kenneth Jurkowski of the United States with Argentina and Slovenia1 also qualifying for the quarterfinal.

Men’s Eight (M8+) – Heats
Two heats in the men’s eight meant that the top boat only would get to go directly to the final on Sunday. In Heat One last year’s bronze medallists, Canada made their 2012 debut by racing against 2011 silver medallists, Great Britain.

Canada got out to a fast start and by the first 500 they had managed to get half a boat length up on the field. Behind them a virtual line had formed between Ukraine, Great Britain and Poland. As the race progressed Canada continued to inch away from the rest of the field with Ukraine now slipping back. Coming into the final 500m a big challenge was going on between Great Britain and Poland as the Canadians continued to lead.

A big sprint by Poland, rating 41, brought them into second, but it was Canada that not only managed to earn the one qualifying spot by also set a new World Best Time. This was despite Canada looking like they were not doing a full-out sprint. Canada had knocked half a second off the former World Best Times which was set in 2004 by the United States. The new time is 5:19.35.

Heat Two had Germany leading throughout the race, but despite being the unbeaten crew since 2009, Germany did not dominate. Like a feisty puppy-dog Australia snapped at the heels of Germany for the entire race. This is Australia’s first international race of the season and they come into it with six of the crew that raced to fourth at last year’s World Rowing Championships.

Coming into the line Germany rated 37, dropping down to 35 as Australia charged at a 40 stroke rate pace. Germany crossed the line first to gain the one qualifying spot while Australia will need to now race in tomorrow’s repechage.

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