The calm of Lucerne’s Rotsee for World Rowing Cup III heats
The third and final World Rowing Cup of the 2017 season started off with perfect conditions in Lucerne, Switzerland. Flat water and mild temperatures under slightly cloudy skies greeted the rowers in one of the favourite rowing spots in the world. Croatia’s Martin and Valent Sinkovic made their debut in the men’s pair and showed the change from sculling to sweep was not a problem. Read on for more racing coverage.
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats
A full field of 16 boats were divided into three heats with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. It all began with Heat One and Spain’s Alexander Sigurbjonsson and Pau Vela Maggi leading the way. The Czech’s then picked up the pace and went head-to-head with Spain. The Czech duo of Jakub Podrazil and Lukas Helesic finished third at last month’s World Rowing Cup II and they were the top seeded crew in this race. But then Dirk Uittenbogaard and Bo Wullings of the Netherlands did a push and found the lead. The Czechs seemed satisfied with second and there was no major sprint to the line.
The highly anticipated return of Martin and Valent Sinkovic of Croatia appeared in Heat Two. The Olympic Champions from the men’s double sculls, the Sinkovics have changed disciplines and Lucerne is their first international race as a pair. Showing that the change was not a problem, the Sinkovic brothers dominated from start to finish. They kept the pressure on rating 37 at the end to finish nicely in front and with the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Three had New Zealand’s James Hunter and Thomas Murray leading from start to finish. This saw them beat the Henley Royal Regatta winners, Valentin and Theophile Onfroy who managed second. The Onfroy brothers also won at World Rowing Cup II last month and they were racing Hunter and Murray for the first time this season.
Qualifiers: NED, CZE, CRO, ITA, NZL1, FRA1
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
The three heats in the women’s double sculls had the formula of a first or second place for a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One Olympia Aldersey and Madeline Edmunds of Australia led the way but were pushed hard by France’s Noemie Kober and Marie Le Nepvou for the entire race. The Australian’s, who finished third at last month’s World Rowing Cup, kept ahead of France and move on to the semifinals.
New Zealand’s Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe set a new World Cup Best Time at last month’s World Rowing Cup and also won overall. They were back and leading Heat Two from start to finish. By the middle of the race Donoghue and Loe had an open water lead and they retained that to the finish with Greece’s Aikaterini Nikolaidou and Anneta Kyridou slotting into second.
Heat Three opened with the Netherlands in the lead before they were overtaken by France One crew of Helene Lefebvre and Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino. The French duo were then pushed hard by Olympians Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek for the entire race with the Netherlands and the Czech Republic both very much on the pace in this, the most competitive heat, of the women’s double. France managed to get to the line first and recorded the fastest qualifying time of 6:48.
Qualifiers: AUS, FRA2, NZL, GRE, FRA1, USA
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
The four heats had the first crew only getting to go directly to the semifinals and there were 23 entries lining up aiming to do just that. In Heat One winners of World Rowing Cup II, New Zealand led from the beginning to the end. By the middle of the race John Storey and Christopher Harris of New Zealand had earned a handy lead with Canada’s Matthew Buie and Conlin McCabe slotting into second. This is Canada’s first international race of the 2017 season and they come with a new combination. McCabe is a 2016 Olympian from the men’s four. Storey and Harris kept the pressure on to the line, holding off Canada and recording the fastest qualifying time overall of 6:13.
Heat Two saw Filippo Mondelli and Luca Rambaldi of Italy get away very quickly, earning an open water lead with just 500m rowed. Once out in front the Italians continued to move away from the field. But the race was not over. Switzerland’s Barnabe Delaarze and Roman Roeoesli came storming through in the final 500m and nearly caught the Italians. They ran out of water, though, and Italy gets to go directly to the semifinals.
Germany’s second boat jumped out into the lead at the start of Heat Three with Norway in hot pursuit. Norway’s Kjetil Borch and Olaf Tufte medalled at last year’s Olympic Games and finished with silver at last month’s World Rowing Cup in Poznan. The Norwegians then pushed into the lead with Olympic medallists, Lithuania now in second. Norway proved too strong and they were not pushed in the final 500m.
After a fast start by Germany One in Heat Four, Poland’s Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup took over out in front with Germany trying to hold on. Zietarski and Biskup raced in the men’s quadruple sculls at last month’s World Rowing Cup and they looked very comfortable in the double as they came into the final 500m of the Rotsee regatta course with an open water lead. Keeping the stroke rate up, the Poles secured their place in the semifinals.
Qualifiers: NZL, ITA, NOR, POL
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Heats
Following some last minute withdrawals, this boat class moved from four to three heats with the idea here being for a top two finish in each heat. This would allow for a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One South Africa’s Kirsten McCann got out quickly at the start. But it wasn’t quick enough. By the middle of the race Switzerland’s Patricia Merz had pushed out in front. Olympian McCann fought back and refound the lead. McCann, in her first international regatta of the 2017 season, held it to the end and qualified along with local hero Merz.
World Rowing Cup II finalist from last month, Mary Jones of United States One had the fastest start in Heat Two and by the middle of the race Jones had a very handy lead. Denmark Two of Juliane Rasmussen was the closest challenger but the gap through the middle of the race was rather large. Then in the final sprint Olympian from the lightweight double, Rasmussen picked up the pace and closed in on the United States. But it was Emma Fredh of Sweden that came storming through to take first. Fredh had won, Rasmussen was second and Jones had missed out in a direct path to the semifinals. Jones will now have to contest a repechage.
Heat Three opened with Poland in the lead and she remained there until the middle of the race. But then Marieke Keijser of the Netherlands One showed superior and pushed through into the lead with Olympian, Kenia Lechuga Alanis of Mexico conducting a very well paced race. Keijser is the under-23 World Champion and she also finished second earlier this season at the European Rowing Champions and she was the first to cross the finish line. Lechuga qualified from second.
This boat class is shaping up to be very exciting as just one second separates the three winning times today. McCann only just has the fastest time.
Qualifiers: RSA, SUI, SWE, DEN2, NED1, MEX
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
This boat class had attracted 26 boats with the top three to four boats in each of the six heats getting to go directly to the quarterfinals (depending on numbers in the race). In Heat One five boats lined up and most of the order was sorted out early in with Lukas Babac of Slovakia taking the lead. Babac has a long career in rowing and is regularly on the medals podium. He looked to make easy work of Heat One leading over Japan and Portugal.
Heat Two was all about Michael Schmid of Switzerland One. Schmid is the 2017 European Champion in this boat class and also a 2016 Olympian from the lightweight double. Schmid was followed by Hugh McAdam of the United States with Serbia’s Milos Stanojevic in third. Italy tried to come through at the end, but there was not much sprinting going on in the closing 100m of the race.
Artur Mikolajczewski of Poland got away quickly in Heat Three and by the middle of the race he had a handy lead over Switzerland Two of Fiorin Rueedi. Mikolajczewski won this boat class at World Rowing Cup II on Poznan last month and must be the favourite coming into this race. Mikolajczewski kept a good pace on which gave him and open water lead through the second half of the race. There was on sprint needed at the finish.
Peter Chambers of Great Britain is a two-time Olympian including an Olympic silver medal from the 2012 Olympics in the lightweight four. His career continued through Rio in the lightweight double and now in the single Chambers led Heat Four after overtaking the fast-starting Mattias Johansson of Sweden. Peter Galambos of Hungary also overtook Johansson. Chambers, Galambos and Johansson had made it through to the quarterfinals.
Rajko Hrvat of Slovenia was out in front at the start of Heat Five, leading the way over challenger Matthew O’Leary of the United States. But then in the second half of the race Matthew Dunham of New Zealand really came into his own and took the lead. Dunham won the open men’s single last weekend at the Henley Royal Regatta and he showed his superior timing to get out in front and hold it to the end. O’Leary overtook Slovenia who looked like he really did not want to sprint the finish. Dunham recorded the fastest qualifying time overall – just a fraction ahead of Babac from heat one.
Heat Six had Olympic medallist from the lightweight double, Kristoffer Brun of Norway featuring. Brun is also a World Champion from the lightweight double, but is without a doubles partner at present so has taken to the single. But it was Matteo Pinca of Italy Two that had the opening lead. Then Brun pushed through to the front with Uncas Batista of Brazil also overtaking Pinca. None of these three boats were challenged in the final sprint and the order did not change to the line with no finishing sprint happening.
Qualifiers: SVK, POR1, JPN, GER, SUI1, USA1, SRB, ITA1, POL, SUI2, AUT1, GBR, HUN, SWE, NZL, USA2, SLO, NOR, BRA, ITA2,
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Heats
Two heats lined up in this boat class with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the final on Sunday. In Heat One winners of World Rowing Cup II featured. Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler of New Zealand One set a new World Best Time last month in Poznan at the World Cup and then went on to win last weekend at the Henley Royal Regatta. Today they were led at the start by Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser of United States One. But Gowler and Prendergast then got into the lead and held it to the end despite Kalmoe and Eisser doing a big closing sprint. Kalmoe and Eisser showed the strain at the finish as the New Zealanders paddled away. Both will go directly to the final with New Zealand recording the fastest qualifying time overall.
Heat Two had Great Britain’s Holly Norton and Karen Bennett in the lead at the start. This duo finished third at the 2017 European Rowing Championships but they were unable to race at last month’s World Rowing Cup II. Australia’s Katrina Werry and Lucy Stephan challenged Norton and Bennett through the first half of the race but then ran out of steam. This is when Denmark really found their pace moving into second and closing on the British. Hedvig Rasmussen and Christina Johansen of Denmark then got out in front and moved away from the British to win the race.
Qualifiers: NZL1, USA1, DEN, GBR1
Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
The men’s four had attracted boats filling up three heats with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One Germany jumped out to the lead at the start and held it through the middle of the race. But it was very close and South Africa then took over in the lead with Spain also very much on the pace of the leading crews. Coming into the final 500m less than a second separated the top three boats with Spain proving to have the best sprint. Spain and South Africa had earned a spot in the semifinals.
Great Britain One shot out very quickly in Heat Two and they held 41 and then 40 to take the lead. Great Britain finished second at World Rowing Cup II last month with Australia winning the race This Australian boat has had to pull out of Lucerne for medical reasons which must have given the British hope. At the half way point Great Britain, stroked by Olympic Champion from the eight William Satch, still had the lead. The Netherlands had slotted into second, just ahead of Denmark. The order did not change to the line despite Denmark doing a big closing sprint.
Olympic medallists Italy led the way in Heat Three. The Italians have retained two athletes from the 2016 Olympic boat and they were looking good as they remained in front through the middle of the race. France followed in second just a bit ahead of Great Britain Two in third. Then the British did a push in the third 500m that earned them second with Italy remaining in front. The Italians, stroked by Domenico Montrone, were still in front but in the last 500m there were three boats 0 Great Britain Two, France and Italy – in the hunt for two qualifying spots. The sprint was on. At the line the British had missed out. Italy held on to first and recorded the fastest qualifying time overall and France got through in second.
Qualifiers: ESP, RSA, GBR1, NED1, ITA, FRA
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats
A full field of six heats lined up for the women’s single with the top three to four boats getting to go directly to the quarterfinals. In Heat One, after an opening fast start by Austria Two, Denmark’s Olympian Fie Udby Erichsen took over in the lead. Erichsen medalled at the London Olympics but was unable to repeat that performance in Rio. She is back for another season and was still in the lead with 500m left to row. Canadian Olympian, at her first international regatta since Rio, Carling Zeeman followed in second. Zeeman picked up the pace in the final sprint and Erichsen let her take over the lead. With Zeeman now in front, no boats sprinted in the remaining 250m. Zeeman recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
The fastest pace in Heat Two came from rowing stalwart Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus. Karsten had the lead at the start over Julia Levina of Russia. Both of these rowers have a long history in rowing with Karsten once rowing for the Soviet Union back before Belarus became a separate country. Karsten and Levina are both in their 40’s. At the line Karsten finished first with Ukraine’s Diana Dymchenko coming through in second.
The gold medallist from last month’s World Rowing Cup, Magdelena Lobnig of Austria One got out the fastest in Heat Three and moved away from Ireland’s number two boat, Monika Dukarska through the body of the race. Dukarska has competed internationally sporadically in recent years and she remained in second through the body of the race. There was no finishing sprint in this procession down the course.
Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland led the entire race in Heat Four. Olympic finalist Gmelin was in the lead at the start and had moved to open water with half the race done. Felice Mueller of the United States One followed in second and the order did not change through to the race. Gmelin had made easy work of the race.
Heat Five saw European Champion, Victoria Thornley in the lead from start to finish with Ireland’s Olympian Sanita Puspure slotting into second. The field then became quite spread out with no one challenging these two leaders. Both scullers along with Eeva Karppinen of Finland will go directly to the quarterfinals. The sixth and final heat, Heat Six had Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele in the lead. Thiele won at the Henley Royal Regatta last weekend when she raced Victoria Thornley in the final. Thiele is also the Olympic Champion from the women’s quadruple sculls. By the half way point Thiele still had the lead with only Hannah Osborne of New Zealand, ten years her junior, in second. There was no change to the line.
Qualifiers: CAN, DEN1, AUT2, CZE, BLR, UKR, RUS, AUT1, IRL2, LAT, SUI, USA1, NED, GBR, IRL1, FIN, GER, NZL, DEN2
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Heats
The 32 scullers in this boat class were divided into six heats with the top four boats in each heat getting to go to the quarterfinals. Heat One had Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk out in front at the start. Then Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin of Croatia took over in the lead. But Martin did not hold it for long. In the third 500, Sverri Nielsen of Denmark One pushed into the lead and held it to the line.
Olympic bronze medallist Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic led the way in Heat Two. Synek is this year’s European Champion and he then went on to win at Amsterdam’s Holland Beker before coming here to Lucerne. Following closely behind Synek was Dani Fridman of Israel with Russia’s Vladislav Ryabcev very much on the pace. Comin into the final sprint five boats were on the pace and with four spots available the sprint was on. Synek remained in front looking relaxed while four boats charged. Greece had missed out. Synek had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Paraguay had a fast start in Heat Three before Thomas Barras of Great Britain picked up speed and got out in front. Juan Carlos Cabrera of Mexico was in hot pursuit and going through the middle of the race this heat was far from being decided. Then Barras and Cabrera managed to break away and in the final sprint these two scullers, along with Finland’s Robert Ven, did not really need to sprint.
There was little surprise to see World Best Time holder, Robert Manson of New Zealand in the lead at the start of Heat Four. Manson won last month’s World Rowing Cup II and then was going to race at the Henley Royal Regatta but missed out due to a rib sprain. He is back and by the middle of the race Manson had a huge clear water lead. Canada’s Trevor Jones followed way back in second. Manson kept the speed on and remained in front, doing just enough to hold the lead in the close of the race. Jones held on to second with Olympian Stanislau Shcharbachenia of Belarus in third.
Heat Five had Olympian and World Rowing Cup II silver medallist Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba leading the way from start to finish. This heat saw no challenges throughout the race and the final sprint did not happen with the leaders rating in the low 20s to get to the finish line. Heat Six had winner of World Rowing Cup I (in May), Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland in the lead. Stahlberg, the fourth fastest single sculler in Switzerland, remained in the lead with Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan slotting into second. There were no challenges in the closing 500m with the leaders cruising to the finish line apart from Germany who did a closing sprint but remained in third.
Qualifiers: DEN1, CRO, JPN2, POL, CZE, RUS, ISR, FIN2, GBR, MEX, FIN1, PAR, NZL, CAN, BLR, SWE, CUB, DEN2, LTU1, ITA1, SUI, AZE, GER, HUN
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Heats
Three heats lined up with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One it was the Olympic and European and World Champions out in front – Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou of France. After an initial push by Russia, Great Britain’s Samuel Mottram and Jamie Copus pushed through into second, closing on the French in the process. But Azou and Houin kept the pressure on and remained out in front and although underrating the British, France remained in front.
It was Greece’s Ninos Nikolaidis and Eleftherios Konsolas in the lead of Heat Two ahead of the Czech Republic. Greece remained ahead of Jiri Simanek and Miroslav Vrastil of the Czech Republic through the middle of the race as the Olympic silver medallists, Gary and Paul O’Donovan of Ireland remained in third and out of qualification. Coming into the final 500m Greece kept the pace on as Ireland began to sprint. But the O’Donovan’s had left it too late. Greece and the Czech’s had qualified while Ireland will have to go through the repechage.
Heat Three saw Stefano Oppo and Pietro Ruta of Italy having the fastest start. Oppo and Ruta finished third at the European Rowing Championships and they are back racing and looking strong. By the middle of the race Italy remained just ahead of Tim Brys and Niels van Zandweghe of Belgium. But then Poland put the pressure on and coming into the final sprint the Poles of Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski had the lead. Italy fought back and so did Belgium. Poland would have to go through the repechage.
Qualifiers: FRA, GBR1, GRE, CZE, ITA, BEL
Women’s Four (W4-) – Heats
This boat class had two heats with the winner of each heat getting to go directly to the final on Sunday. In Heat One Canada, in their season debut, got away the quickest with Australia and Great Britain in hot pursuit. There was very in it between the entire field as Australia picked up the pace. At World Rowing Cup II last month, Australia won and they headed that way today with a win in this first heat. Australia had earned the fastest qualifying time overall. Heat Two was close – oh so close – for the entire 2000m with three boats going neck-and-neck for one qualifying spot. Russia had the edge at the start and then lost it to the Netherlands with Poland right with them. Russia regained the lead in the final sprint to take the qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: AUS, RUS
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats
The two heats in this boat class required a first place finish to make it directly to Saturday’s final and in Heat One the Czech Republic had the best race leading from start to finish. Italy kept the pressure on for the entire 2000m, but the Czech’s had the better sprint. Heat Two saw France get away quickly but the margins remained really tight and going through the middle of the race only a couple of seconds separated the entire field. France remained just a fraction ahead as all five boats sprinted for the finish line. The French, however, looked long through the water and in control and they will go directly to the final with the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: CZE, FRA
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Heats
This boat class had two heats lining up with the top two boats from each heat earning a spot in Sunday’s final. In Heat One Great Britain had the fastest start with Russia in hot pursuit, but the British had a slightly better pace. Great Britain’s Katherine Copeland and Emily Craig finished fourth at last month’s World Rowing Cup II and they are back and looking strong. Copeland and Craig remained ahead of Russia through to the line. Heat Two had Germany’s Fini Sturm and Leonie Pless out in front at the start. But this did not last long as New Zealand’s Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle pushed into the lead. This is McBride and Kiddle’s first international race this season as McBride could not race at the last World Rowing Cup leaving Kiddle to race and win the lightweight single. In the final sprint McBride and Kiddle had a nice margin and did not need to sprint the finish. Poland’s Weronika Deresz and Martyna Mikolajczak came through to qualify from second. New Zealand had recorded the fastest qualifying time of 7:06.
Qualifiers: GBR, RUS, NZL, POL
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Heats
Two heats lined up with the top boat only in each heat getting a direct path to the final on Sunday. In Heat One Poland was the quickest out of the blocks, but they could not hold that position with the Netherlands managing to get their nose in front. Once in front the Dutch managed to get a bit of a lead with Poland not giving up. The Netherlands had finished second at the European Championships behind Germany, while Poland had won World Rowing Cup II last month. Poland kept the pressure on, but the Dutch countered all of their moves and qualified for the final and with the fastest qualifying time overall.
Heat Two saw two Australian entries and Olympic Champions Germany race for first. Australia One finished second at last month’s World Rowing Cup and today they tried to hold off Germany. In a big sprint to the line Germany went to 38 strokes per minute, but Australia was able to hold them off to earn the one qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: NED, AUS1
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
Two heats lined up in this boat class with the first crew across the line only making it directly to the Sunday final. Heat One had Great Britain in the lead at the start. The British won World Rowing Cup II and they look like the crew to beat coming into this regatta. But they did not have an easy time of it as the Netherlands and Poland challenged had for the full 2000m. The British, however, still got to the line first and will be happy not to have to race in a repechage.
Italy got away the quickest in Heat Two but there was very little in it at the 500m mark with just two seconds separating the entire field. Then France did a piece that got them into a slight lead with France and Italy now moving away from the rest of the field. European Champions Lithuania then really started to move and by the 1500m mark they had pulled into the lead. Once there the Lithuanian’s went for total domination and not only won with clear water, but also recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: GBR, LTU
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Heats
There were two heats in this boat class with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to Sunday’s final. Lining up in Heat One was the winner of World Rowing Cup II, Germany. The Germans had also set a new World Cup and World Best Time last month. Germany took the lead at the start with Great Britain the closest challenger. By the middle of the race Germany had a two second lead. But it was only half way and there was a lot of racing still to come. Italy and Great Britain were closing on Germany in the final sprint. Ratings began to rise and margins were tight. The Germans had got to the line first with Great Britain getting the better of Italy to get the second qualifying spot at the line.
Heat Two saw a very fast start by Australia and Romania with the Australians earning a slight lead. Australia held it through the middle of the race, but only just over Romania. In the final sprint the margins tightened up as three boats were in contention for two spots. Australia only just held on to first over a flying Dutch crew that came through in the last 50m to finish second. Italy had been denied a direct path to the final and Australia had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: GER, GBR, AUS, NED1