Step one on the way to become 2020 European Champions
The morning session of racing at the 2020 European Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland included heats for most boat classes and a few preliminary races for lanes. Having waited all season to race, there were some great tussles on Poznan’s Lake Malta as crews battled for either direct qualification to Sunday’s finals or tomorrow’s semifinals.
PR1 men’s single sculls (PR1M1x) – Heats
Reigning Paralympic and World champion Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine led the first heat from the start, extending his lead to almost 20 seconds by the 1,000m marker. A battle for the all-important second place followed with Germany’s Marcus Klemp coming in just ahead of Zsolt Peto of Hungary. The second heat was slightly more spread out with 2019 World silver medallist Alexey Chuhashev of Russia stamping his authority and Poland’s Jaroslaw Kailing in a comfortable second position. The heats indicated we should expect an exciting final on Sunday.
Qualifiers: UKR, GER, RUS, POL
Women’s pair (W2-) – Heats
The young Greek pair of Maria Kyridou and Christina Bourmpou, who became World Under-23 Champions in 2019, led the race at the halfway marker but a tussle for the second qualifying place followed behind them between Italy, Ireland and Russia. Despite a final sprint from the Irish pair, it was Italy that took second place to progress directly to the final. Reigning European Champions Spain seemed slightly off the pace in the second heats with Romania taking hold of the race. However, Spain’s Aina Cid and Virginia Diaz Rivas found some energy in the final quarter of the race to take second place.
Qualifiers: GRE, ITA, ROU, ESP
Men’s pair (M2-) – Heats
As perhaps expected, it was reigning European Champions, the Sinkovic brothers of Croatia that led the first heat from the start with the newly-formed pair from the Netherlands who have both recently made the transition to sweep from sculling making an impression to finish second. The second heat was a much closer affair with the lead crews trading places every stroke in the first part of the race. The 2019 European silver medallists took the early lead but crossed the 1,000m line almost level with Italy where they were rating 40 strokes per minute. Meanwhile, Germany and Hungary were fighting for the third qualifying spot. Italy had taken the lead by the finish line but by less than half a second. The 2019 European bronze medallists Spain set a great standard at the front of the third heat, closely followed by France and Poland.
Semifinal Qualifiers: CRO, NED, SRB, ROU, ITA, GER, ESP, FRA, POL
Women’s double sculls (W2x) – Heats
A hugely experienced entry in this category provided close racing. The new combination from Germany were being pushed hard by France and the Netherlands at 1,000m in the first heat with less than half a length separating the three crews. By the 1,500 marker, France had taken the lead with the Netherlands in second. Following a small crab, Germany started to come under pressure from the following crews. It wasn’t a surprise to see World and European silver medallists Romania leading the second heat with Italy being challenged by the young Hungarian crew. Italy moved away in the second half of the race to secure the second qualifying place.
Qualifiers: FRA, NED, ROU, ITA
Men’s double sculls (M2x) - Heats
With one of the largest entries of the Championships, three heats were fiercely contested in the men’s double sculls. The local fans would have been pleased to see it was 2019 World bronze medallists Poland that took the early lead in the first heat. The Netherlands came through in the later stages of the race and Poland managed to hold off a late challenge from Germany in the final stages.
Lithuania came out of the blocks quickest in the second heat but by 1,000m, Ireland had come into their own and taken the lead. They had traded places again at the 1,500m marker and Lithuania then held on to the lead all the way to the line. Switzerland and Romania were matching each other stroke-for-stroke in the first half of the third heat with 0.01 seconds splitting them at 1,000m. The Swiss took their rate up to 45 strokes per minute for the final sprint but Romania managed to hold them off.
Qualifiers: NED, POL, LTU, IRL, ROU, SUI
Lightweight Women’s single sculls (LW1x) – Heats
It was just over a length separating all six crews in the first half of heat one with Norway’s Maia Lund leading at the halfway marker. Lund managed to hold on to the single qualifying place but we should expect a fiercely competitive repechage. Experienced Dutch sculler Martine Veldhuis shot out to the lead of the second heat and was able to control the race throughout.
Qualifiers: NOR, NED
Lightweight Men’s single sculls (LM1x) – Heats
The 2019 World silver medallist Peter Galambos of Hungary led the first heat from the start ahead of the young Czech sculler, Jan Cincibuch. In the second heat, the scullers were in a chevron formation at 1,000m with Norway’s Kristoffer Brun in the lead but the very little between Rajka Hrvat of Slovenia and Thibault Colard of France, who were fighting for the second qualification place. Hrvat sprinted to the line at over 40 strokes per minute but wasn’t able to close the lead held by Brun who maintained his boat speed to take the win.
The young Italian sculler Niels Torre took the early lead in the third heat but came under pressure from Antonios Papakonstantinou of Greece in the third quarter and Ireland’s Fintan McCarthy also made a strong impression.
Semifinal Qualifiers: HUN, CZE, NOR, SLO, ITA.
Women’s four (W4-) - Heats
With an impressive 12 entries, the Dutch world silver medallists came in as favourites and the power in the boat really showed when they led the first heat. The Irish four also made a strong showing, putting pressure on the Netherlands, and the line-up from Romania, who have made the transition out of the women’s eight, also made an impression.
The second heat was also a close one with three boats almost level at the head of the field in the first half of the race. 2019 World bronze medallists Denmark crossed the 500m marker first but had been pushed into third place at 1,00m where Russia had taken the lead. However, in the second half of the race, it was Italy that moved to the front of the pack and they held on to be the only direct qualifier.
Qualifiers: NED, ITA
Men’s four (M4-) - Heats
Germany were pushed hard by Austria in the first half of heat one with Italy close behind. Germany managed to cling on to the lead but we are likely to see some close racing in the semifinals tomorrow. With four crews fighting for three qualification spots in the second heat, it was the impressive Polish line-up that dominated, ahead of France. Ukraine rowed through Croatia in the second half of the race to take the third qualifying place. Despite having the slowest first quarter, it was 2019 world silver medallists from Romania that worked their way through the pack. The Swiss crew took advantage of Romania missing a few strokes in the closing stages of the race and moved in to the lead.
Semifinal Qualifiers: GER, AUT, ITA, POL, FRA, UKR, SUI, ROU, RUS
Women’s single sculls (W1x) - Heats
Switzerland’s star sculler, Jeannine Gmelin led the first heat comfortably, crossing the line ahead of Dina Dymchenko of Ukraine. In the second heat, reigning world champion Sanita Puspure of Ireland had a confident scull but it was a brave race from the young German sculler Pia Greiten who crossed the line first. The third and final heat had four scullers contesting for three direct qualification places and it was a great battle with positions being swapped throughout the race. We’re all set for an exciting semifinal!
Semifinal Qualifiers: SUI, UKR, LTU, GER, IRL, SRB, AUT, GRE, DEN
Men’s single sculls (M1x) - Heats
It was no real surprise to see 2019 world bronze medallist Kjetil Borch from Norway out in front of the first heat taking the only direct semi-final qualification spot. Kristian Vasilev of Bulgaria held off several challenges from Croatia’s Damir Martin in the second heat to cross the line first. Reigning world champion Oliver Zeidler of Germany was perhaps the favourite in the third heat, but it was Amos Keijser of the Netherlands that showed strong determination to take the top spot. In the fourth and final heat, Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen looked to be confident leading the race throughout.
Semifinal Qualifiers: NOR, BUL, NED, DEN
Lightweight Women’s double sculls (LW2x) - Heats
With just two qualification spots for the semifinals, the photo finish had to be looked at to decide second place in the first heat with Poland finishing just 0.13 seconds ahead of Belarus. A calm and controlled race from the Italians put them in first position of the second heat with Romania in second place at 1,500m. With a final sprint from Romania, they drew level with the Italians, rating 40 strokes per minute in the closing stages. Italy responded and just managed to hold on to the lead but both crews will progress to the semi-final. The third heat also provided close and exciting racing with the Dutch leading throughout but closely followed by Switzerland.
Semifinal Qualifiers: FRA, POL, ITA, ROU, NED, SUI
Lightweight Men’s double sculls (LM2x) - Heats
Crisp sculling from 2019 world silver medallists Italy put them comfortably ahead of the Netherlands in the first half of heat 1. Slovakia worked their way through the field from fifth at 500m to overtake the Netherlands in the closing stages who, in turn, were under pressure from Russia.
In heat two, a rating of 40 strokes per minute allowed France to stay ahead of Switzerland for the first 1,000m. But the Swiss duo had an incredible middle section of the race allowing them to move through to the lead. Meanwhile, Poland also stepped on in the second half of the race to take a semifinal place. Belgium and Germany traded the top two places in the first half of the third heat with Germany holding on to the lead spot across the line ahead of Belgium. Ukraine held of a final charge from Denmark to take the third qualification spot.
Semifinal Qualifiers: ITA, SVK, NED, SUI, POL, FRA, GER, BEL, UKR
Women’s quadruple sculls (W4x) - Heats
After a faulty start initially, the crews reset and the race started cleanly the second time round. Germany had the slightly quicker boat speed off the start to take the lead over the Netherlands and Germany had achieved clear water by the 1,000m marker. The positions were unchanged at the finish with the Netherlands finishing second with clear water ahead of Switzerland. The Polish crew, with three of the 2019 World Championship silver medal winning crew returning, led the second heat holding off a challenge from Ukraine.
Qualifiers: GER, NED, POL, UKR
Men’s quadruple sculls (M4x) - Heats
A new line-up for Italy made an impressive debut maintaining a comfortable lead throughout race and finishing at 38 strokes per minute, they took the single direct qualification place. In the second heat, the Dutch proved that they will be the crews to beat in the final. With an unchanged line-up after winning the European and World Championships last year, the Dutch cruised to victory over eight seconds ahead of Germany.
Qualifiers: ITA, NED
The session of racing finished with race for lanes for the women’s and men’s eights demonstrating that we should expect two cracking finals on Sunday.