The heats are on. World Rowing Cup III begins.
It is not surprising that rowers love the Rotsee regatta course. World Rowing Cup III has begun with a day of heats on Lucerne’s magical Rotsee in Switzerland. The water conditions were ideal with flat water complimented by sunny skies and mild temperatures.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Heats
They are the World Champions and World Best Time holders. They are New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler and they lined up in the first of two heats. The goal was to finish first for a direct path to Sunday’s final, and Gowler and Prendergast made the best of it. They led for the entire race over O’Brien and Mueller of the United States Two. The order didn’t change through to the line with New Zealand increasing their lead as the race progressed.
Canada led the way in Heat Two. Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens of Canada raced at Belgrade for World Rowing Cup I where they medalled. They missed the second World Rowing Cup, going home to train, but are now back and they led the way over Australia and Spain. Filmer and Janssens rated 33 as they headed into the finish line and did not looked pushed at all. They go straight to the final where they will meet New Zealand for the first time.
Qualifiers: NZL, CAN
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats
Lining up in the first of six heats was the new New Zealand line up of Thomas Murray and Michael Brake. They came out in the lead leaving Germany Two of Malte Grossmann and Eric Johannesen to take up chase. Then Poland began to move and pushed into second. They tried to go after Murray and Brake, but the New Zealand duo looked to have too much of a lead. Cruising home at 31 strokes per minute Murray and Brake finished first to be one of four crews to go to this afternoon’s quarterfinals.
Heat Two Jaime Canalejo Pazos and Javier Garcia Ordonez of Spain Two got away quickly and led the field over Matthew Rossiter and Oliver Cook of Great Britain One. The Spanish duo raced at World Rowing Cup I where they finished fifth. Now back and taking on the British, they remained in front until the end looking comfortable at their 33 stroke rate pace coming into the end of the race.
It was Austria in the lead of Heat Three and they held this position through to the middle of the race. But then France One of Valentin and Theophile Onfroy took over in the lead after sitting in second through the middle of the race. Coming through into the second spot was the newly converted lightweight to heavyweight, Mario Gyr of Switzerland with partner Paul Jacquot.
The Czech Republic crew of Lukas Helesic and Jakub Podrazil are having a great season. They finished second at World Rowing Cup I and then first at World Rowing Cup II and are the current World Cup leaders. They got out ahead of the rest of the field in Heat Four and did just enough through to the finish to hold onto first.
Heat Five had Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik of Serbia in the lead. They were followed by Spain Two. Then Germany One of Paul Schroeter and Laurits Follert did a push and moved ahead of Spain. They then closed on Vasic and Bedik, but could not catch the Serbians and had to settle for second.
The sixth and final heat in this very well represented boat class, which began with 28 boats, saw the Olympic Champions from the men’s double, Martin and Valent Sinkovic in the lead. This duo won at World Rowing Cup I in their second season in the pair. Coming through into second were the World Champions from the lightweight men’s pair, Mark O’Donovan and Shane O’Driscoll. At the line Croatia had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall by a handy margin.
Qualifiers: NZL1, POL, DEN1, GER2, ESP1, GBR1, IRL2, CRO2, FRA1, SUI, GBR2, AUT, CZE, NED1, NED2, ARG, SRB, GER1, ESP2, CRO1, IRL1, AUS, BRA
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
Three heats lined up with the top three boats in each heat getting to go directly to Saturday’s semifinals. The Czech team has had a bit of a reshuffle as Olympic Champion from 2012 in the single, Mirka Knapkova hurt her back. This put two doubles into this race from the Czech Republic for Heat One. At the start Lithuania held the lead. But then Roos de Jong and Lisa Scheenaard of the Netherlands showed they had the stamina and took over in the lead. This order did not change with a 34 stroke rate taking them through to the finish.
Ireland took off to a flying start and held the lead through the first quarter of the race in Heat Two. But then Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek of the United States picked up the pace and pushed out in front. O’Leary and Tomek finished second at last year’s World Championships and this is their first international race since then. Once in front O’Leary and Tomek showed their talent and pushed away from the rest of the field. But in the final sprint the rest of the field pushed back, especially Switzerland who rated 41. The Swiss, however, missed out.
Heat Three opened with a new Canadian crew of Gabrielle Smith and Andrea Proske in front. But then the World Champions, Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe of New Zealand took their black boat into the lead. Donoghue and Loe looked classy as they pushed away from France, who had overtaken Canada. Donoghue and Loe crossed the finish line with the fastest qualifying time overall – they recorded a 6:57.
Qualifiers: NED, LTU, CZE1, USA, IRL, CHN, NZL, FRA, CAN
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
The formula here was to finish in the top three in each of these three heats. In Heat One, the Netherlands crew of Keijser and van Sprang took to the lead. But then in front of their home crowd, Switzerland’s Nico Stahlberg and Roman Roeoesli got out in front. Stahlberg and Roeoesli began the season racing in the single and established themselves as Switzerland’s top two scullers. Together the duo raced as a double in World Rowing Cup II where they finished with bronze. The Swiss held the lead until the finish.
Heat Two saw France jump out into the lead. Then the World Champions, New Zealand’s John Storey and Chris Harris picked up the pace and overtook the French. Storey and Harris did not have a good start to the season. They arrived in Europe in time for World Rowing Cup II and finished fourth at that regatta. But they look back on form and they stayed ahead of France right through to the finish line. The United States came in third to qualify for the semifinals. Storey and Harris had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
Timo Piontek and Lars Hartig of Germany had the lead at the start of Heat Three. Piontek and Hartig finished second at World Rowing Cup II and they were looking great with a small lead over Poland’s Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup. These two boats moved well ahead of the rest of the field. Then Zeitarski and Biskup did a solid push and got ahead of Germany. Rating 35 the Poles stayed in the lead with Germany taking the pressure off and being resigned to second.
Qualifiers: SUI, NED1, ARG, NZL, FRA1, USA, POL, GER, FRA2
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
There were four heats in this boat class with the goal to be in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. A slight tail wind had begun with expectations of fast times growing. In Heat One Belgium’s Ruben Somers was the fastest at the start. The 23-year-old Somers raced at World Rowing Cup I where he finished sixth. China’s Junjie Fan followed in second. Going through the middle of the race there was nothing between Somers and Fan and the duo remained neck-and-neck coming into the final sprint. This battle moved Fan and Somers away from the rest of the field. Somers then went to 37 and moved away from Fan in the closing 100m.
Heat Two opened with Michael Schmid of Switzerland One in the lead. He was being chased hard by Rajko Hrvat of Slovenia. Schmid finished second at World Rowing Cup II last month and he would definitely be in line for a medal at this regatta, especially in front of the home crowd. Hrvat, however, was pacing Schmid along with Hamish Parry of Australia One. These three boats were neck-and-neck coming into the final sprint and with only two boats qualifying this was going to be a sprint to the finish. Hrvat went to 40 strokes per minute, but Schmid and Parry were able to hold him off.
In Heat Three the leader was James Lassche of New Zealand. Lassche raced at the Rio Olympics in the lightweight four where he finished fourth. Then Lassche moved to the men’s eight for 2017. Now back as a lightweight, Lassche was tearing this field apart. Lassche finished fifth at World Rowing Cup II and is back for Lucerne. Great Britain’s Sam Mottram came through from the back of the field to challenge Lassche and with 500m left to row there was just one and a half seconds between these two crews. Mottram then overtook Lassche who had to keep an eye on Fiorin Rueedi of Switzerland Two. Lassche just managed to hold off Rueedi with Mottram, in the lead, getting the fastest qualifying time overall.
Fastest at the start of Heat Four was Sean Murphy of Australia Two. But then Croatia’s Luka Radonic picked up the pace and led through the 1000m mark. Now Lars Wichert of Germany Two closed on Murphy and coming into the final sprint, Wichert had overtaken Murphy. Murphy is at this regatta in preparation for the World Rowing Under 23 Championships and this was a great effort from the young sculler.
Qualifiers: BEL, CHN, SUI1, AUS1, GBR, NZL, CRO, GER2
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats
This boat class had two heats lining up with the top boat only getting to go directly to the final. The Czech Republic led for the majority of Heat One with the Netherlands following very, very closely. But then a better final sprint gave the Dutch the lead at the end and also gained them a spot in tomorrow’s final.
Germany led the way in Heat Two leaving Denmark and Australia to challenge each other. Coming through to the final sprint, Germany had a handy lead and did not really need to sprint the finish. They are now in the A-final.
Qualifiers: NED, GER
Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
Out in the far lane Russia One was making good work of Heat One. This was the first of three heats with the goal to be in a top three position for a direct path to the semifinals. Russia was being chased hard by France and Germany going through the middle of the race with Spain surprisingly at the back of the field. Then Germany, with a great closing sprint, overtook Russia. Russia did hold off France and these three boats go through to the semfinals.
Great Britain was at the front of the field in Heat Two. But the margin was close with China One and then Austria challenging for the lead. Great Britain has a new crew here of Carnegie, Hurn, Rossiter and Glenister as the nation rebuilds their post-Rio team. In the final sprint Great Britain held the lead with Denmark and Austria now battling it out for second as the low rating China dropped off the pace.
The World Champions, Australia One lined up in Heat Three. They started the 2018 season by winning at World Rowing Cup II. Australia (Hicks, Turrin, Hargreaves and Hill) took the lead at the start and by the middle of the race they had a boat length lead over South Africa who had moved into second. But second was relative as only a second separated the rest of the field who moved with South Africa. The Australians could watch these goings-on from first. Eyes now moved onto the Netherlands who went to 40 and overtook South Africa. With three crews qualifying, this was merely academic. Australia had qualified with the fastest time overall.
Qualifiers: GER, RUS1, FRA, GBR, DEN, AUT, AUS, NED, RSA
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats
The four heats in this boat class had a first place finish needed for a direct path to the semifinals tomorrow. In Heat One Ireland’s Sanita Puspure led the way over Kara Kohler of the United States. These two scullers had moved clean away from the rest of the field by the half way point. But, with only one boat qualifying, their race was far from over. Puspure has much more experience in the single with this season being Kohler’s first year in the single. But Kohler is an Olympic medallist with a bronze medal from 2012 in the women’s quadruple sculls. Then Kohler looked like she backed off with Puspure, at a 33 stroke rate, winning easily and recording the fastest qualifying time overall of 7:26.
What a lead! Heat Two featured the World Champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland way out in the lead. This is Gmelin’s home waters and she is the poster girl for this regatta. By the middle of the race Gmelin had an open water lead over the field with Canada’s Carling Zeeman way back in second. The powerful Gmelin defended her big lead despite Zeeman trying to close the gap. Gmelin did not sprint the finish with her rating at 31 coming into the line.
At the start of Heat Three, Germany One of Annekatrin Thiele in the lead with Magdalena Lobnig of Austria not far back in second. Then Lobnig, who was second at World Rowing Cup II, took over in the lead and once there she absolutely broke the field apart with Thiele doing nothing to challenge. Lobnig did not need to sprint the finish, crossing the line at 27 strokes per minute.
Madeline Edmunds of Australia was in the lead of Heat Four. This is first season in the single and she started it by racing in the final of World Rowing Cup II. Then Olympic medallist from 2012, Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark took over in the lead with Edmunds not giving up and pacing Erichsen. The Dane then upped her stroke rate to 35 and Edmunds decided not to challenge. The race was over.
Qualifiers: IRL, SUI, AUT, DEN
Women’s Four (W4-) – Heats
This boat class had two heats with the goal being to be in a top two position for a direct path to the final on Sunday. Denmark took off in the lead at the start leading over the World Champions from Australia in Heat One. Australia wasn’t giving up though and challenged Denmark for the whole 2000m, In the final sprint Australia went to 42 and only in the close of the race did they manage to overtake the Danes. Both boats qualify with Australia recording the fastest qualifying time overall.
Fastest at the start of Heat Two was the United States Two of Opitz, Doonan, Regan and Eisser. But then China hit the front with USA1 and USA2 right on the pace. Then USA2 got back into the lead. Did they have something to prove at this regatta? Was there selection for the World Championships up for grabs? In the final sprint three boats fought it out for two places. China went to 40 and USA2 was at 37. USA1 held on.
Qualifiers: AUS1, DEN, USA2, CHN
Men’s Single Sculls (M1) – Heats
This boat class was huge with six heats lining up and the goal to be in a top four position to make it to the quarterfinals this afternoon. Leading the Olympic Champion (Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand) in Heat One was Ireland’s Philip Doyle. Drysdale took a year off after the Rio Olympics and is back for this season. He comes to Lucerne having won the single at the Henley Royal Regatta. Then Drysdale overtook Doyle with Sverri Nielson of Denmark moving up on Doyle. This put three boats out in front with Drysdale holding a 35 stroke rate to remain in front and record the fastest qualifying time overall. Drysdale is racing as New Zealand Two and the faster New Zealand sculler is Robbie Manson who will race in a later heat.
Heat Two opened with Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania in the lead. But then Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk took over in the lead followed closely by Israel. Griskonis then decided that he wasn’t doing enough and doing a huge piece, Griskonis got the lead back and started to move away from the field. It was all over in the last 200m as the top three boats did not need to push it to qualify. The ratings dropped right down to the low 20s.
Fastest at the start of Heat Three was New Zealand One of Robbie Manson. Manson raced at World Rowing Cup II where he picked up gold. He is looking in fine form as he led the way over Belgium Two of Pierre de Loof. Manson moved further away from the field as the race progressed. He will be going to the quarterfinals this afternoon. This is an important regatta for Manson as it doubles as a qualifying race between him and Mahe Drysdale to be the New Zealand single sculler at this year’s World Rowing Championships. Now Barnabe Delarze of Switzerland One slotted into second, but a long way back from Manson. Manson cruised home at a 24 stroke rate to win the race.
Germany’s Tim Ole Naske led the way in Heat Four. Naske of Germany One medalled at World Rowing Cup II and this regatta is also about national team selection as Germany Two of Oliver Zeidler is also vieing for his country’s selection. Australia One of Campbell Watts paced Naske down the course. Then Campbell got the better of Naske. Naske fought back with Brazil (Batista) joining in the sprint to the line. Naske had won.
The World Champion, Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic was in the lead of Heat Five. Perhaps not surprisingly. As commentator Martin Cross said, no one does race management better than Synek as Synek was doing just enough for what was needed for the race. Robert Ven of Finland then overtook the cool Synek who knew he didn’t need a win in this race. Synek rated 28 through the body of the race with Ryuta Arakawa of Japan One right with him. Synek then went to 30 to hold off Japan. Thre was no sprint going on today.
Taking off the fastest in Heat Six was France’s Thibaut Verhoeven with Germany Two’s Oliver Zeidler following in second. Zeidler was not at full pressure through the middle of the race with Verhoeven keeping the pressure one. Zeidler was definitely racing tactically and doing just enough to hold on to Verhoeven. In the close of the race Zeidler got himself into first, but with not a huge effort.
Qualifiers: NZL2, DEN, IRL, AUS2, LTU, POL, ISR, HUN, NZL1, SUI1, ARG, BEL2, GER1, AUS1, BRA1, FIN, CZE, JPN, GER2, FRA, CHN
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Heats
This boat class had two heats lining up with the aim to be first for a direct path to Sunday’s final. In Heat One Poland’s Weronika Deresz and Joanna Dorociak led the way. They still had the lead at the half way point with Poland having a very nice advantage over France who were in second. Then Switzerland did a push and moved into second. But they looked to be too far back to catch Poland. Going to 38 Rol and Merz tried to close the gap on Deresz and Dorociak. The Poles reacted and remained in front.
Out in front of Heat Two was Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle of New Zealand. They are the world silver medallists but they finished fifth at last month’s World Rowing Cup II. Today they looked back on pace as they moved clean away from the entire field. At the half way point they had an open water lead with South Africa following in second and Canada One in third. Jennifer Casson in the Canadian boat has just set the World Record on the indoor rowing machine for lightweight women with a 6:53. Rating 36, McBride and Kiddle crossed the line in first. Their time of 6:55 was just eight seconds outside of the World Best Time.
Qualifiers: POL, NZL
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Heats
Three heats lined up with the aim to be a top two position for a direct path to tomorrow’s semifinals. Heat One opened with Olympic silver medallists Gary and Paul O’Donovan of Ireland in the lead. Last week the O’Donovan brothers raced in the open double at the Henley Royal Regatta and finished second. Today they were still in the lead at the half way point in a very tight race as Poland was moving with them. Poland’s Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski then got into the lead. The O’Donovan bothers fought back as Austria was coming flying down the outside. Coming up to the line Ireland had done it with Austria just sneaking through in second. Less than half a second separated the top three boats. Poland had missed out. Ireland had clocked the fastest qualifying time overall.
Leading at the start of Heat Two was Argentina. But there was nothing in it with less than a second separating the whole field. Then France One of Pierre Houin and Thomas Baroukh got into the lead as all boats went through the middle of the race with less then two seconds separating the top five boats. Only Argentina couldn’t hold the pace. In the final sprint four boats were racing for two spots. The sprint was on. Canada went to 42. France and Switzerland at 38. Germany at 39. A photo finish had Germany and France qualifying.
Heat Three opened with Jamie Copus and Zak Lee-Green of Great Britain out in front. It didn’t last as Emil Espensen and Alexander Modest of Denmark took over in the lead and looked to be pushing away from the field. But there was still 1000m to go and Belgium then pushed out into the front. Three boats went for two spots in the final sprint. Belgium rated 39 and held the lead with Great Britain giving up and Denmark getting second.
Qualifiers: IRL, AUT, GER, FRA1, BEL, DEN
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Heats
Divided into two heats, the goal here was to be first for a direct path to Sunday’s final. Heat One had four boats which included two German crews. Germany is the Olympic Champions in this boat class and they are rebuilding their boat as they head towards the 2018 World Rowing Championships. Germany One and Germany Two fought it out at the head of the field with Germany One, stroked by Frieda Haemmerling, just in the lead. But then Germany Two ran out of steam and Poland and the Netherlands overtook Germany Two. Germany One had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
A three-boat race had China out in front. The Chinese raced at World Rowing Cup II last month and they must have been doing great training in-between as they comfortably led this Heat Two. Through the race China grew their lead. Australia did a big push, rating 41, at the end. But China held on to hold the green and golds off.
Qualifiers: GER1, CHN
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
Two heats lined up and the rule here was a top two finish for a direct path to Sunday’s final. In Heat One Poland had the lead at the start. Australia followed closely and at the 1000m mark only second separated Poland, Lithuania and Australia One. Poland’s Posnik, Zawojski, Czaja and Chabel held onto the lead and in the final sprint the managed to just stay ahead and secure their spot in the final despite Australia’s 45 stroke rate sprint to the line. Poland had recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Germany took the lead at the start of Heat Two. Coming into the middle of the race, Germany (Krueger, Gruhne, Syring and Steinhardt) remained in front with New Zealand and the Netherlands neck-and-neck for second. The Dutch vs Kiwi battle saw the Netherlands close on Germany and challenge the leaders. New Zealand was trying to hold on with Great Britain now threatening for three. It now became a four-way finish. Germany went to 40 and got to the line first. A photo finish saw the Dutch take the second spot.
Qualifiers: POL, LTU, GER, NED
Women’s Eight (W8+) – Heats
Two heats lined up with the goal a first place finish for a direct path to the final on Sunday. In Heat One Canada led the way at the start with Australia One slotting into second. Then the Olympic Champions, the United States came up to challenge the Australians. Half of the US boat raced earlier today in the women’s four and they were up against boats with ‘fresh legs’. The United States then caught up to Australia, but Canada was meanwhile building up a big lead that the United States would have a huge job to close on. In the final sprint Canada went to 41 as the United States came charging through at 37. The United States would have to do the repechage. Canada had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
The higher stroking New Zealanders took the lead in Heat Two with the Netherlands slotting into second. At the half way point the Kiwis had a clean water lead over the field of three. There was nothing the rest of the field could do. New Zealand easily won.
Qualifiers: CAN, NZL
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Heats
The day of heats concluded with two heats in the men’s eight. The goal here was to be first or second for a direct path to the final on Sunday. In Heat One the Netherlands One had a blistering pace and the ratings stayed high as most boats kept 40 strokes per minute. The United States followed in second. This is an under-23 crew and this was very impressive for them to be in second. The Netherlands Two followed in third. This race was tight. At the half way point about one and a half seconds separated the top four boats. In the final sprint the Dutch went to 41 with the Kiwis at 43. The United states hung in there at 43 and held off New Zealand. New Zealand will have to race the repechage.
The World Champions Germany led the way in Heat Two. Australia One followed in second and these two countries started to move away from the rest of the field. Germany got to the 1000m mark first. The crew was wearing black ribbons in honour of Olympic medallist Roland Baar who recently died. Germany and Australia continued to lead the way and Australia was definitely keeping the World Champions honest. A new rule meant that the gender of the coxswain doesn’t matter and Australia’s coxswain Kendall Brodie is the second woman to cox a men’s eight internationally (the Dutch men's eight in 2017 being the first). At the line Germany had won a quarter of a length ahead of Australia One.
Qualifiers: NED1, USA, GER, AUS1