Stephansen in action at Italian Sculling Challenge
The fog rose and a beautiful, cool, calm day was turned on for the Memorial Don Angelo Villa – the Italian Sculling Challenge.
This year is the eighth edition of the Italian Sculling Challenge which sees a mass start of single sculls. The race is 6000m long with a turnaround at the half way point around a buoy.
The race was delayed for about 30 minutes as organisers waited for the fog to rise. But once underway it was Denmark’s Henrik Stephansen that got out in front from early on in the race. The World Record holder on the indoor rowing machine for lightweights, Stephansen headed off Michael Schmid of Switzerland over the 6000m distance on the beautiful Lake Orta in the Bagnera region. Then following in third was regular contender, Elia Luini of Italy. Luini took second place in this event last year and was first in 2011.
Luini commented after the race, “As for the result I was hoping for a podium (placing finish). It is the first race of the season so there was no way to know at what level the others were. So I'm happy with how it went. I think it was a positive result considering my level of preparation.”
Stephansen was chased hard by Schmid who finished sixth in the lightweight men’s single sculls at last year’s World Rowing Championships. At the end of the Challenge, Schmid’s final time was just seven seconds behind Stephansen with Luini another ten seconds back in third. .
The women’s section was won by Femke Dekker of the Netherlands. Dekker’s time of 27’48” made her 22nd overall and 17 seconds ahead of Sophie Hosking of Great Britain. Hosking is the London Olympic Champion from the lightweight women’s double sculls. Dekker had a relatively quiet 2012 season. She raced just once internationally – in a women’s quadruple sculls at the European Championships.
In third for the women was Jenny van Dobben de Bruiyn of the Netherlands. Van Dobben de Bruiyn finished 40 seconds behind Hosking.
The race is named after Don Angelo Villa who was a strong part of Italian rowing. He died in 2004 and the sculling challenge, set up in his memory, was first raced in 2006. The new president of the Italian Rowing Federation, Giuseppe Abbagnale was present to hand out medals and pay his respects to Don Angelo Villa.
The event also had racing for junior through to masters age groups.