Para PR1 Men’s Single Sculls (PR1 M1x) – Semifinals

The crowd was behind American Blake Haxton in Semifinal One. Haxton was the first to show, leading the Paralympic Champion, Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine out of the starting blocks. But Paralympian Haxton was then overhauled by Polianskyi with Russia’s Alexey Chuvashev following in second. Chuvashev missed the Paralympic Games as part of the Russian doping issues, but he came back to take silver at World Rowing Cup II behind Polianskyi. The Ukrainian then broke away from the field with Chuvashev now looking clear in second. Haxton, rating 36, held on comfortably to the final qualifying spot. Despite now being way out in front, Polianskyi continued to power on to the finish at a 37 stroke rate. Polianskyi had recorded a new World Championship best time of 9:59.54.

Erik Horrie of Australia is the most experienced para-rower in this boat class and he led the way in Semifinal Two. Horrie is a veteran of two Paralympic Games and owns two Paralympic silver medals. Great Britain’s Andrew Houghton put the pressure on Horrie through the first half of the race, but the more experienced Horrie was then able to push away. Brazil’s Rene Periera followed in third and in the final qualifying spot. The order remained the same through to the finish.

Qualifiers: UKR, RUS, USA, AUS, GBR, BRA

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Semifinals

Italy’s Filippo Mondelli and Luca Rambaldi got out ahead of Poland in Semifinal One. Poland’s Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup had the fastest qualifying time from the heats and together with Italy these two boats pushed away at the head of the field. Then Norway’s Kjetil Borch and Olaf Tufte did a big push and closed on Poland. Borch and Tufte had to get to this semifinal through the repechage and they were making it their race. Switzerland joined in the charge to the finish with Norway at 38, Poland at 39, Italy at 36 and Switzerland storming through at 46. The three leaders managed to hold off the Swiss with Poland having the best sprint.

Leading out at the start of Semifinal Two was New Zealand. John Storey and Christopher Harris of New Zealand won World Rowing Cup III in July in Switzerland and then went back to New Zealand to prepare for these World Rowing Championships. They were being chased hard by Matthieu Androdias and Hugo Boucheron of France with Great Britain also very much on the pace. The surprise was to see Olympic silver medallists, Lithuania at the back of the field. But the back was still within striking distance as the field remained tight. Coming into the third 500 Androdias and Boucheron moved into a piece and got their bow just ahead of Harris and Storey. The Kiwis held on with Great Britain and Lithuania now neck-and-neck for third. In the last 100m the French at 39 remained ahead of New Zealand rating 42. Lithuania, also at 42, stormed through to grab third place. Androdias and Boucheron had recorded the fastest qualifying time.

Qualifiers: POL, NOR, ITA, FRA, NZL, LTU

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Semifinals

Olympians Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek of the United States had the fastest qualifying time coming into this semifinal and they took up the centre lane in Semifinal One. All boats took off together and with 400m gone there was very little in it. With 500m gone it was practically equal between Germany, Lithuania, United States and France. Tomek and O’Leary then did a push and it propelled them into the lead. Olympic medallist Milda Valciukaite and her new partner Ieva Adomaviciute of Lithuania had got themselves into second and moved with the US. This left a battle between France’s Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzi and Germany. The Germans then began to fade. The United States held the leading edge and with that pushed away from Lithuania. The crowd was loving this as Tomek and O’Leary led the field home.

After a slight delay for technical issue with one of the Dutch oars Semifinal Two took off. In the centre lane was World Rowing Cup III winner, New Zealand with new crew, Fei Wang and Yang Lyu of China sitting in one lane over. But it was Australia’s Olympia Aldersey and Madeleine Edmunds that had the fastest start. They shot out to get to the 500m mark in first and then continued to push away. The Czech Republic, who had to get to this semi through the repechage, followed in second. Then Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe of New Zealand did a push and got into second. Could they catch the Australians?

Donoghue and Loe were underrating Australia but catching up with every stroke as China moved into third. With 400m left to row Donoghue and Loe got their bow ball into the lead. Australia tried to hold on. New Zealand, rating 38, crossed the line first. Aldersey and Edmunds held on to second at 36 and China, at 37, was third. Donoghue and Loe had recorded the fastest qualifying time by less than a second.

Qualifiers: USA, LTU, FRA, NZL, AUS, CHN

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals

Switzerland’s Nico Stahlberg shot out and into the lead at the start of Semifinal One. But he was up against Olympic medallist Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic and World Best Time holder Robbie Manson of New Zealand. But Stahlberg has had a great season this year and knew he could front up well with the big players. Then Synek pushed into first with Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez getting into second. Olympian Fournier has international medals and is Cuba’s most successful rower. The tall Fournier then got ahead of Synek with Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk holding onto third over Manson who was rating 40. Fournier and Synek were now neck and neck at the head of the field as Manson came flying down the outside. Manson finished third in his quarterfinal earlier in the week and was not happy with that result. Could Manson maintain this pace?

Now at 41 Manson took the lead. Synek came back with Fournier realising he better keep up the pace as Wegrzycki-Szymczyk was not giving up. Synek, at 35, got to the line first with Fournier holding second and Manson taking third. Manson’s high rating race must go into the record books.

Germany’s Time Ole Naske won his quarterfinal earlier in the week by rating high and holding a blistering pace. He got out the quickest in Semifinal Two. One lane over was Vladislav Ryabcev of Russia who also won his quarterfinal. At the 5600m mark only half a second separated five boats with Ryabcev in sixth and a little of the pace. Then Great Britain’s Thomas Barras managed to push away with Olympic silver medallist, Damir Martin of Croatia  going with him. Martin now had the lead. Barras held on and Naske sat in third with Marko Marjanovic of Serbia challenging Naske. Martin and Barras were now neck-and-neck at the head of the field. Both Martin and Barras rated 35 into the final sprint with Barras maintaining it for longer and finishing first and recording the fastest qualifying time.

Qualifiers: CZE, CUB, NZL, GBR, CRO, GER

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals

Denmark and Great Britain sat in the two centre lanes in Semifinal One. They had both won their heats in practically identical times. European Champion, Victoria Thornley of Great Britain took off at 46 strokes per minute to take the lead. Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands followed in second. Scheenaard has raced in both the quad and double this season. The 2012 Olympic medallist, Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichen then got ahead of Thornley with half the race gone. These three scullers had now broken away from the rest of the field. But then Canada’s Carling Zeeman started to close the gap in her goal of making it into a qualifying spot.

In the final sprint Thornley pushed ahead of Erichsen as the Dane really looked like she’d run out of steam. Zeeman was flying down the outside at 38 with Scheenaard at 35 and holding on. Erichsen had missed out.

The fastest qualifier Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland lined up in Semifinal Two next to Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. Gmelin, along with Lobnig and Thornley have been the best single scullers so far this season. The first to show was Germany’s Olympic Champion (from the quad) Annekatrin Thiele. Thiele had to race through the repechage to get to this semifinal and she continued to lead over Felice Mueller of the United States with Gmelin in third. This is Mueller’s first season in the single after coming out of the Olympic women’s pair. Gmelin then pushed into first with Mueller following closely. Gmelin finished fifth at last year’s Olympics and come to these World Championships having won World Rowing Cup III. But Mueller was holding her own against Gmelin and these two scullers were practically level in the final sprint.

Ireland’s Olympiand SAnita Puspure was now burning down the outside at 37 and had taken second and was moving up on Gmelin. Four boats charged to a photo finish with Lobnig in the mix. Gmelin had won. Puspure was second with Lobnig just ahead of Mueller in third. Mueller would now race in the B-final. Gmelin had recorded the fastest qualifying time.

Qualifiers: GBR, NED, CAN, SUI, IRL, AUT