Taming the Lake Karapiro waters
All kinds of water conditions were thrown at crews racing on Lake Karapiro at the 2010 World Rowing Championships in Karapiro, New Zealand.
There was some choppiness, a head wind and a bit of a side wind for these top athletes to contend with. This made for all the more excitement as a strong component of strategy and technique came into play. With crowds of 10,000-plus filling the grandstand and shores of the rowing course, the racing demonstrated why this is the highlight of the rowing year.
Lightweight Men’s Pair (LM2-) – final
There is no denying the pedigree of Jean-Christophe Bette of France. He is currently in the top 10 of best active rowers. He started winning international medals back in 1998. He is an Olympic Champion and he is the reigning World Champion in this event. But that didn’t stop New Zealand’s new crew of Graham Oberlin-Brown and James Lassche beating Bette and partner Fabien Tilliet in the heats earlier this week. Today New Zealand and France battled neck-and-neck at the head of the field.
In nail-biting tightness these two crews swapped the lead several times through the centre of the race. The crowd was on their feet. Both crews responded. Meanwhile Italy and Canada had their own battle going on behind the two leading crews. As the final sprint began France started to lift their rating. New Zealand followed suit. Canada and Italy held on. Just two strokes from the finish New Zealand caught a crab. Canada closed. Lassche and Oberlin-Brown recovered. Bette and Tilliet retain their champion status.
Results: FRA, NZL, CAN, ITA, GER, GBR
Jean-Christophe Bette (FRA) – Gold
“We are happy of course, but it was not easy. Our tactic before the race was to be in front of the other crews quickly with a big margin and that wasn’t the case, because the Kiwi crew was very strong. We knew they were very strong. The conditions were very difficult at the beginning of the race, but we knew it would be flatter water at the end of the race. And those are better conditions for us.”
We knew we could come back in the second part of the race when we saw that we were level with the Kiwis. It’s the end of a two year challenge with Fabien. We will try to come back in the lightweight men’s four for next year’s World Championships and the Olympic Games. ”
Fabien Tillet (FRA) – Gold
“To be World Champion once is already difficult, but it is even more difficult to defend a title. At the middle of the race when the Kiwi crew rowed out in front of us we thought of the heat and we knew that we are very strong and knew how to manage the second half of the race.”
Graham Oberlin-Brown (NZL) – Silver
"The crowd was fantastic. We made the call at the 400m to do it for the crowd. The boat just jumped up, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to beat the French."
Rares Crisan (CAN) – Bronze
“We stayed as relaxed as we could and tried to handle the elements as best as we could. Rowing is so widely received here. The grandstand is packed and everyone knows who we are and what we are doing. We wish we could take this back to Canada.”
Matt Jansen (CAN) – Bronze
“We had our heads down and did our race.”
Women’s Four (W4-) – final
This event is not raced at the Olympic Games, but it is very popular for the development of eights. Today four countries lined up to have a shot at a World Champion title. Australia set the pace at the start, edging out ahead of the United States with the Netherlands tracking ahead of New Zealand. Australia remained in the lead going through the middle of the race. The Australians had struggled at the start when their boat was not straight, but anger and adrenalin had helped their boat speed and their lead was proof of this. Then the difficulties of these choppy waters reared their head when the United States caught a crab in the third 500. The US recovered well with the Dutch now showing that they could handle the waters of Lake Karapiro the best.
Coming into the final sprint the United States were flying. The Dutch and Australia held on. A very happy Netherlands crew crosses the line in first.
Results: NED, AUS, USA, NZL
Nienke Kingma (NED) – Gold
“It was a very good race. We did it last year and we were hoping to do it again this year and we did. It was very exciting to come out here today, when we didn’t know what we could do. The race was a bit different because we only had a race for lanes beforehand. Our main race is the eight, but we all love racing the four!”
Chantal Achterberg (NED) – Gold
“We didn’t get into our rhythm until the last 500m. The first 1500m was just about surviving, because of the quite windy conditions.”
Sarah Cook (AUS) – Silver
"We had a rough start, as our bow ball was pointing into the lane of the Kiwis when the start went off and we pretty much went straight into that lane. But our anger and adrenalin kept us going. Through the middle of the race it was everybody’s call. Nothing we can do about it now."
Alison Cox (USA) – Bronze
“I’m very proud of my boat. We came together in a short time. We had a great race and came together, even in challenging circumstances. We are looking forward to next year. ”
Mara Allen (USA) – Bronze
“A great race! We had a bit of trouble half way, but we recovered really well. It was really fun, even with the conditions.”
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – final
Coming into this race, reigning World Champions, Christina Giazitzidou and Alexandra Tsiavou of Greece had been beaten. So had Rowing World Cup gold medallists Alice McNamara and Hannah Every-Hall of Australia. Great Britain’s Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking seemed to be the most consistent. They have a World Cup win under their belt and they looked the best coming through their win in the heats. The betting world also saw them as favourites. Today, in these windy conditions, all bets were off with the crew that could handle Lake Karapiro the best winning.
Germany’s Daniela Reimer and Anja Noske jumped out at the start and tried to hold their boat as steady as possible. Canada’s Lindsay Jennerich and Tracy Cameron also hit the ground running. With that Germany and Canada moved away. But Giazitzidou and Tsiavou are not World Champions for nothing. They wanted in on the action and coming into the final sprint Greece, Germany and Canada were scrapping it out for the lead. In a flying close Canada gave it their all. Cameron, in stroke, took their rate to a 43 and absolutely flew, a crab earlier in the race having served as a motivator. Germany held on. An extremely happy Canada could not stop yelling their delight after the finish. Germany’s Reimer wins her first medal since 2005.
Results: CAN, GER, GRE, AUS, GBR, NZL
Lindsay Jennerich, (CAN) – Gold
“At the 750m I felt very confident and determined to stay in front. I knew we were rating at a good pace, but also knew we could lift it up. But I’ve seen the Greeks sprint across the finish line before. It’s not done until you cross the line.”
Tracy Cameron (CAN) – Gold
“That was an unbelievable and amazing race and I’m sitting here with Gold.”
Daniela Reimer (GER) – Silver
“I still can’t believe it. This is great. The last time I won a medal was back in 2005. This double has been awesome and we worked really well together. We hope we might be able to continue this. No celebrations just yet as we still have the quad tomorrow and the plan is to sit here again then.”
Anja Noske (GER) – Silver
"It went really well. It’s great to be vice world champion. We worked very hard for this and with this medal all the hard work was worth it. 2010 has just been a great season, cool partner, cool racing, just awesome! We’ve had a great time here and it’s been amazing what the New Zealanders have organised, it’s been a fantastic event! “
Christina Giazitzidou (GRE) – Bronze
“We had a very bad start, because we kept loosing direction and we tried to correct that quickly. That made us very tired. We tried to focus just on our style without looking at the others. We are happy with a medal and it’s good for the future. We are still learning. ”
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – final
On the semifinal Olympic Champions Great Britain (Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter) took on reigning World Champions New Zealand (Storm Uru and Peter Taylor). Purchase and Hunter got the better of that battle and thus the psychological edge coming into this final. But every race is a new story and today definitely was as the conditions may have been the biggest challenge. Purchase and Hunter did not let the water faze them, jumping off the line in first. New Zealand and Italy’s Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini went with them. The Italians have been pressing for gold ever since their heydays in 2002 and 2003 when Luini won this event with his former partner. Now with the very experienced Bertini (Olympic bronze medallist in the lightweight four), Luini is pressing again.
By the middle of the race Great Britain and Italy had pushed away from the rest of the field and then through the third 500 moved out to an open water lead. Where were the World Champion kiwis? Uru and Taylor meanwhile had been overtaken by Canada and it looked like they would be off the medals podium. Then the New Zealanders heard the roar of the crowd. Canada went with them. As Great Britain and Italy remained in gold and silver spots, the New Zealanders and Canadians crossed the line together. Everyone waited for the verdict. Uru and Taylor had made it to the podium.
At the medals ceremony the black ribbon worn by Purchase and Hunter signified the recent death of two-time Olympic Champion Andy Holmes.
Results: GBR, ITA, NZL, CAN, CHN, POR
Zac Purchase (GB) – Gold
“The first 1500m we were just surviving. We were able to start sculling over the last 250m. We are just glad we got to the line first and we were keeping an eye out on the Italians.”
Mark Hunter (GB) – Gold
“We’ve got all three now. We got Olympic, World Cup and World Champs gold. Now we want two of everything.”
Elia Luini (ITA) – Silver
"There were just too many waves. Today it was not so much about who’s the strongest, but who got most strokes into the water. But I’m still very, very happy and we knew the British would be very strong, so the result is fine. I expected New Zealand to do a bit better as this is their home course, so honestly we probably were expecting to come third, so silver is fantastic."
Storm Uru (NZL) – Bronze
“It was a tough race. Britain and Italy were just faster than us today. Unfortunately they beat us.”
Men’s Four (M4-) – final
This race started as expected, but finished unexpectedly in one of the biggest upsets of the day. Rowing World Cup winners, Great Britain came out in the lead with the aim of doing what they always do, leading from start to finish. The formula worked through the middle of the race. But then France stepped on the gas. I would like to introduce you to the French men’s four – Jean-Baptiste Macquet, Germain Chardin, Julien Despres and Dorian Mortelette. At the 2008 Olympic Games this crew, without Macquet, were bronze medallists. Macquet is no newcomer to international racing, he was busy in the double at that stage.
As France pushed past Great Britain, a separate struggle was going on between Greece and New Zealand and it was propelling them closer and closer to Great Britain. Three crews charged for the line. Great Britain looked like they could not react. The crowd gasped as margins got tighter and tighter. Macquet had proved himself as a sweep rower, Chardin stood up and saluted the world from two seat, Despres and Mortelette couldn’t hide their absolute joy. The Greeks joined in on France’s celebration. New Zealand, in third, were also ecstatic – and so was the crowd.
Results: FRA, GRE, NZL, GBR, USA, ITA
Julien Despres (FRA) – Gold
"We had a strong start, a few mistakes in the first part of the race. I didn’t really see the other boats, but I heard from my teammate Germain [Chardin] that we were in third position. We continued to row at a high pace and at the start of the last 500m we saw that we were in a strong first position. At this moment we gave everything we had left in our body. We heard the crowd and it was fantastic."
Germain Chardin (FRA) – Gold
"Our coach Samuel Barathay told us before the race to be focused on our race only. When we were in first position, every stroke we thought about our families, our girlfriends and knew that no one could beat us. We had a hard training camp in Soustons before coming here with difficult water conditions like here and that helped us to win."
Ioannis Tsilis (GRE) – Silver
"We had a very good race. Not such a good start, but we tried to keep up with the others and tried to push ourselves. We thought that the world was shouting for us."
Nikolaos Gkountoulas (GRE) – Silver
"It was lovely, very difficult and one of the most stressful races we’ve had, but we had very good preparation and we were very determined."
Apostolos Gkountoulas (GRE) – Silver
"We had a very good race and if you know about Athens, you know that we know about the waves."
Hamish Burson (NZL) – Bronze
"The conditions were very pretty rough. I have the greatest respect for France getting through. We could hear the crowd at 300m and we knew they were yelling for us."
Jade Uru (NZL) - Bronze
"I was calling the race plan, kept yelling at the boys, half length, quarter length, canvas, everyone did what they had to."
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – final
Stakes were on Great Britain, who came into this race as favourites with Germany and Ukraine right behind. These are the countries that have been the main contenders in recent years with Ukraine the current World Champions, Germany the regular medallists and Great Britain strong since 2000. For Ukraine this is the priority boat and they wanted to win. With that Ukraine jumped out at the start holding the lead over a close-following Great Britain. The British have been revamping their crew throughout this season and the latest edition of Flood, Rodford, Houghton and Vernon include three of the members that won silver at the 2008 Olympic Games.
Going through the middle of the race Ukraine and Great Britain were neck and neck with the British looking more alive, in control and powerful. Ukraine had moved to survival mode and were now under threat from Germany. In a last minute charge the Germans closed the gap. Ukraine held on. Great Britain remained confident. The bookies were correct.
Results: GBR, UKR, GER, AUS, USA, NZL
Frances Houghton (GBR) – Gold
"Absolutely fantastic race! That’s why I row, to row a race like this!"
Annabel Vernon (GBR) – Gold
"It was so rough, so we thought we had to use our power, but we were so calm and relaxed throughout the race. It’s my second gold, but this one will definitely be special."
Beth Rodford (GBR) – Gold
"The conditions were really tricky and the wind was swirling and we couldn’t tell from the warm-up what it was going to be like on the race track."
Britta Oppelt (GER) – Bronze
"It was a battle of survival out there, the conditions were really rough. But all four of us tried to make the best of it and I think our crew handled this difficult race as well as we could."
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – final
The Croatians have only lost one race this season. That occurred at the European Rowing Championships when reigning World Champions, Poland pulled out all stops to win. With Poland not at Karapiro, Croatia are the stand-out favourites. With that Sain, Martin and the Sinkovic brothers took off in first with Italy following closely behind. By the middle of the race the Italians had moved into first and were looking to cause a big upset. But the powerful Croatians pushed on. Italy’s star crew of Agamennoni, Venier, Stefanini and Raineri remained on the pace. Both crews used the crowd support to propel them to the line.
Croatia, the reigning under-23 champions, had capped off a fine season with their first senior World Champion title. The crew also set history by being the first Croatia crew ever to win an Olympic class event at the World Championships.
Results: CRO, ITA, AUS, GER, GBR, RUS
Valent Sinkovic (CRO) – Gold
"It’s so crazy. I’m so happy and I don’t know what to say. It’s our first gold medal at this level and it’s the best feeling ever. The conditions were very bad, but we pulled it through."
Simone Rainieri (ITA) – Silver
"We are very happy. We had a good start and handled the waves quite well. The conditions were difficult, but every now and then you just need a bit of luck as well."
Karsten Forsterling (AUS) – Bronze
"We took on a lot of water on the way up, so had to bail our boat at the start line and started off with cold legs. We wanted to control the race, but the Croatians and Italians did that. We had a good tussle with the Germans, but came out on top."