Talented semifinals at under-23 rowing champs
Today's semifinals featured a cross-section of rowers from around the world competing to get to the finals of the 2014 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Varese, Italy. The conditions for the rowers on Lake Varese was one of a very slight bobble on the water accompanied by a smidgen of a cross-wind. Skies were overcast with a light drizzle, bringing the summer temperatures down to a comfortable 19 degrees Celsius.
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (BLW1x) – Semifinals
The rain must have been waiting for racing to begin. As the lightweight women's single sculls took to the water this truly became a water sport. But it didn't impact the scullers of Semifinal One, especially Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands. France started out fast, but then Paulis took out the lead and earned a full boat length going through the middle of the race. Paulis was the fastest qualifier from the heats and was showing her style here today.
Surprisingly, New Zealand's Jackie Kiddle, who had to row the repechage to get to this semifinal, was in second and showing that she had the stamina to endure an extra race. Meanwhile, Eveline Peleman of Belguim undertook a huge closing sprint to secure her qualifying spot. Paulis, Peleman and Kiddle had done it. They will meet again in tomorrow's final.
There is no doubt that under-23 World Champion, Aikaterini Nikolaidou of Greece was the favourite in Semifinal Two. Nikolaidou, though, was chased hard by Anna Ioannou of Cyprus with Great Britain's Emily Craig. As Nikolaidou, who is also the current European Champion, continued in front, Craig and Ioannou, Lithuania tried to get into a qualifying spot.
As the rain came down Nikolaidou, crossed the line rating a relaxed looking 31. Ioannou, who sometimes trains and races with Nikolaidou, came through in second and Craig held off Sonata Petrikaite to get the third and final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: NED, BEL, NZL, GRE, CYP, GBR
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Semifinals
Turkey's Enes Kusku had a great quarterfinal yesterday recording the second fastest qualifying time and he was having a great race in Semifinal One. Kusku led at the start over a very tightly packed field. By the middle of the race Kusku had a couple of seconds over Francesco Pegoraro of Italy. These two scullers held on to the leading positions coming into the final sprint. But then Ireland's Paul O'Donovan began to really move.
O'Donovan had one of the slower qualifying times from the quarterfinals, but he must have been holding his sprint for today. At the line Kusku remained in first, while O'Donovan had pushed Pegoraro into third. These were the three qualifiers.
The reigning under-23 World Champion, Andrew Campbell of the United States was a picture of rowing fluidity in Semifinal Two. Campbell has been recording the fastest times through the heats and quarterfinals at this regatta, indicating that he has held the form that made him a World Champion last year. By the middle of the race, Campbell earned a full three second lead and there was no sign of him slowing down. Meanwhile, Hungary's Daniel Matyasoviszki was holding second with Tim Brys slotting into third.
The order did not change and none of these three scullers had to sprint the finish. Still, Campbell's time of 7:07 was the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: TUR, IRL, ITA, USA, HUN, BEL
Men’s Pair (BM2-) – Semifinals
Australia's Jack Hargreaves and Nicholas Wheatley had a very fast heat to win two days ago and they were leading Semifinal One. But Onat Kazakli and Besim Sahinoglu of Turkey were showing no mercy. The Turks were pacing Australia stroke for stroke. Then it was all to change coming into the final sprint. Last year's bronze medallists Serbia's Viktor Pivac and Martin Mackovic were flying. This was going to be a full-on fight to the line.
Pivac and Mackovic rated 39 with Australia and Turkey hanging in there at 36. Less than a second separated these three crews at the line and Serbia had done it. They earned a centre lane in the final.
Semifinal Two looked like it was all about Matteo Lodo and Giuseppe Vicino of Italy. The duo had an open water lead by the half way point, but Greece's Konstantinos Christomanos and Apostolos Lampridis were not letting them get away. Italy, however, had too much pace. The crowd was loving it as the azure blue led the way home. Lodo and Vicino recorded the fastest qualifying time with Greece holding on to second and Romania kept ahead of South Africa to earn the final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: SRB, TUR, AUS, ITA, GRE, ROU
Men’s Double Sculls (BM2x) – Semifinals
From the heats, France's Mickael Marteau and Alberic Cormerais were the favourites and they featured in Semifinal Two. But at the start Spain's Joaquin Montero Gomez and Aleix Marti Roura had the lead. The Spaniards held on through the middle of the race, but only just over France. Then Marteau and Cormerais must have decided enough was enough and did a piece that propelled them into the lead.
Spain tried to hold but were running out of steam. This opened up a chance for Hungary who, rating 36, grabbed it. In the closing strokes of the race a crab put Australia out of contention, although they recovered very quickly as France left the field to fight for second. Hungary got there with Spain using their last bit of energy to hold on to third. France had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Great Britain's Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont had a great race in the heats and they lined up again today in Semifinal Two as the rain let up and the sky began to lighten. At the start of the race, Germany got off very quickly with Lithuania and Russia chasing hard. At half way Lithuania's Aurimas Adomavicius and Rolandas Mascinskas had found the lead. Lithuania won this boat class last year and Adomavicius remains in the boat from that win.
Then, Great Britain started to work their way to the front, overtaking Germany and going after Lithuania. As the rowers raced past the grandstand, Lithuania was a picture of relaxed at a 33 stroke rate, while in contrast Great Britain's at a very high 39 charge. Still, Adomavicius and Mascinskas held off Groom and Beaumont. But the Brits must have been happy to qualify from second. A tired looking Germany qualified from third.
Qualifiers: FRA, HUN, ESP, LTU, GBR, GER
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (BLW2x) – Semifinals
Switzerland went out at a high rating lightening pace in Semifinal One. This gave Frederique Rol and Patricia Merz of Switzerland the lead at the 500m mark. Could they hold this early pace? By the middle of the race Romania's Andreea Asoltanei and Ionela-Livia Lehaci were right on Switzerland's tail. Romania recorded the fastest qualifying time from the heats and were expected to do well today.
With that Romania took the lead as Switzerland found themselves under threat from Greece. It looked like the Swiss had gone out too hard too fast. But the race wasn't over and hearing the cow bells, Merz and Rol took their stroke rate to 37 giving it all to the end. It worked. Romania crossed the line in first, Switzerland was second and Amalia Tsiavou and Maria Pergouli of Greece qualified from third.
New Zealand's Sophie MacKenzie and Zoe McBride were off the line first in Semifinal Two. By the middle of the race they had an absolutely enormous advantage. This left Australia, the United States and Hungary to go after the remaining qualifying spots. MacKenzie won bronze in this boat class last year while McBride comes through from an A-final in the quad at the junior level.
MacKenzie and McBride were able to cruise home at a low 30 stroke rate. This left a big battle to the line between Australia's Georgia Miansarow and Georgia Nesbitt and Devin Norder and Sharvna Sims of the United States. The US rated 39 and Australia rated 42. Australia earned second.
Qualifiers: ROU, SUI, GRE, NZL. AUS, USA
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (BLM2x) – Semifinals
There was no doubt the dominance of Moritz Moos and Jason Osborne of Germany. The Germans went out hard and by the first timing marker they had a good two second lead over Italy in second. The Germans then moved clean away from the field, still keeping their stroke rate high. This left a battle between Italy and the Czech Republic. Martin Slavik and Jiri Simanek of the Czech Republic tried to get closer to Germany, but there was no denying who was leading.
In the final sprint Moos and Osborne proved that they had done all of their hard work early on and were able to cruise home. The Czechs and Italy kept the pressure on each other, but both boats were going to easily qualify from second and third respectively. Germany had scored the fastest qualifying time - but only just.
France's Pierre Houin and Eloi Debourdeau had the edge in Semifinal Two at the start. By the middle of the race, however, the Netherlands (Conno Kuyt and Bart Lukkes) had closed the gap and were matching Houin and Debourdeau stroke for stroke. The French, though, proved that they had the better sprint and coming into the finish, the French duo managed to stay ahead of Kuyt and Lukkes with Hungary coming through in third.
Qualifiers: GER, CZE, ITA, FRA, NED, HUN
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BM4x) – Semifinals
As commentator, Marco Callai said, this was going to be a bloodbath - and that is exactly what Semifinal One was. New Zealand had the second fastest qualifying time from the heats, but it was the Netherlands who were the first to show with Italy and New Zealand moving with them. But there was oh so little in it and at the half way point there was only a second and a half separating the top five boats.
Going stroke for stroke the crews were having to race at high intensity for the full 500 metres as the crews remained unrelenting. The Dutch held on to a sliver of a lead, but it was hard to tell. The tightness remained into the final sprint with boats rating in the high 30s for the aim of getting to the line in a top three position. The crowd was on their feet. Italy had done it. Romania and the Netherlands qualified as well.
The reigning under-23 Champions, Switzerland featured in Semifinal Two. They also had the fastest qualifying time coming through from the heats and, as expected, they got into the lead at the start. Tollardo, Maillefer, Roeoesli and Delarze remained in the lead through the middle of the race, but they were not dominating. That was all to change. In the second half of the race, Switzerland was able to exert their power and pull away from the field leaving Ukraine, Germany and Poland to fight it out for the remaining two spots. The Poles were the unlucky ones. Switzerland, rating 39 at the finish, had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: ITA, ROU, NED, SUI, UKR, GER
Men's Single Sculls (M1x) - Semifinals
Zygimantas Galisanskis of Lithuania had recorded the fastest qualifying time in the quarterfinals and he was raring to go in Semifinal One. So much so that Galisanskis caused a false start. Getting away cleaner the second time it was Serbia's Aleksandar Filipovic in the lead.
Going through the middle of the race Filipovic had a bit of a lead with Galisanskis and Pavil Sorin of Russia the closest challengers. Then Dionysios Angelopoulos of Greece pushed ahead of Lithuania and into the third qualifying spot. Lithuania then came back to push Russia into fourth. The tussles then ceased and in the final sprint it looked like the whole field had made a gentlemen's agreement not to race the last 300m. The pressure went right off with all crews cruising to the line.
The former junior World Champion, Michal Plocek of the Czech Republic, led the way at the start and still had it through the middle of the race with Ruben Steinhardt of Germany and Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk of Poland following closely. The orders all changed in the third 500. The single is a race where just a handful of strokes can make the difference between first and third and coming into the final sprint Plocek was in third.
At the line Wegrzycki-Szymczyk had the lead with Steinhardt in second. Plocek pushed back and got ahead of Steinhardt, but he could not reel in Wegrzycki-Szymczyk.
Qualifiers: SRB, GRE, LTU, POL, CZE, GER
Women’s Single Sculls (BW1x) – Semifinals
Great Britain's 2013 junior World Champion, Jessica Leyden had a very good race to win her heat earlier in the week. But it was Serbia's Jovana Arsic that had the lead at the start. Leyden chased hard and going through the middle of the race she had closed on Arsic with Hungary and Latvia battling it out for third.
Leyden then pushed into the lead as Arsic slipped back. Meanwhile, Elza Gulbe of Latvia was working her way through the field. She overtook Serbia and was going after Leyden. At the line Gulbe was in first place with Leyden looking content with second and Arsic just sneaking through to the final qualifying spot.
Fastest qualifier from the heats was Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania. Valciukaite is the current senior World Champion in the double and there must be big expectations on her. Valciukaite leapt out at the start and within 40 strokes she had moved into the lead with Anne Beenken of Germany the closest challenger.
Through the middle of the race Beenken stuck with Valciukaite with Italy and the Netherlands having their own battle. This made the audience sit up and take notice as Italy's Sara Magnaghi gave it her best. At the line Valciukaite had enough of a margin to cruise home with Beenken coming through to second and Magnaghi holding off the Netherlands to qualify from third.
Qualifiers: LAT, GBR, SRB, LTU, GER, ITA