They’re off! World Rowing Junior Champs are racing
The 2019 World Rowing Junior Championships are underway with a morning of heats being raced. At the brand new Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo, Japan, these rowers took to the salt-water, harbour regatta course facing tail-cross wind conditions. The water was very bouncy and required full concentration by the athletes.
Men’s Pair (JM2-) – Heats
This boat class had three heats with the top three boats getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One Romania was late to the start causing a delay. But then the Romanians took off at a huge pace and led the way from start to finish. Florin Arteni-Fintinariu and Alexandru Gherasim of Romania kept their stroke rate high to stay in the lead. Germany chased hard with the United States slotting into third. The US never looked like they would take on the Germans, feeling happy just to hold the qualifying spot. Romania had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
It was all about France in Heat Two. Victor Toston Lamm and Gregoire Charles of France already had nearly a boat length lead with 500m raced. Behind them Mexico and Denmark held a very close battle through the middle of the race. Mexico got the better of it at the half way point before Denmark fought back to take over in second. This battle did not help them to gain on the French who had now moved out to a huge open water lead.
Heat Three saw a close three-way start between Italy, Croatia and Switzerland. Then Achille Benazzo and Alessandro Bonamoneta of Italy got their nose in front. Croatia’s Ivan Vukovic and Karlo Borkovic tried to hold on as Switzerland began to slip back. Belgium was able to overtake Switzerland to get into third and once there they began to sprint. Using a huge closing pace, Henri Steyaert and Florian Chalmet of Belgium not only overtook Croatia, but closed on Italy. It was a bit late, though. Italy remained in front.
Qualifiers: ROU, GER, USA, FRA, DEN, MEX, ITA, BEL, CRO
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (JW4x) – Heats
Three heats in the quadruple sculls meant that the top three in each heat would earn a spot in the semifinals. In Heat One the Netherlands led the way at the start. But it was very close with France, Canada and Switzerland moving with the Dutch. Then Switzerland, the reigning World Champions, upped the pace and took over in the lead. Only Celia Dupre remains from the 2018 winning crew and she was helping to show their speed. Canada held in to the pace with France and the Netherlands battling it out for third. This looked like it would be a four-boat race through to the line. The sprint was on and the margins were tight. France, however, didn’t have the closing speed. Switzerland, Canada and the Netherlands had made it. France will now race in the repechage.
It was very tight between China and the Czech Republic at the start of Heat Two. The Czech’s then managed to get a slight lead. But China was not giving up and these two crews were practically neck-and-neck through the middle of the race. This left Italy back holding on to third. The leading battle remained until the end with the Czech Republic just able to hold on to the upper hand to finish first.
It took until Heat Three for the fastest time to be struck. This was done by New Zealand who finished in a time of 6:36. At the start, however, it was Germany that had the lead. The Germans hold the junior World Best Time that they set last year. By the middle of the race New Zealand had got ahead of Germany and once there moved away. Great Britain sat in third and well within attacking distance of the two leaders. Germany pushed New Zealand through to the end but couldn’t overtake them. In fourth Romania was not far off Great Britain, but a crab 200m out from the finish line stopped their boat momentarily and upset their final sprint.
Qualifiers: SUI, CAN, NED, CZE, CHN, ITA, NZL, GER, GBR
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (JM4x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats with the top two boats from each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. Leading the way in Heat One was New Zealand. They took the edge over Romania and the United States at the start and then proceeded to inch away from these two crews. The United States began to drop off the pace giving Romania the opportunity to sit comfortably in second. Then China did a huge push through the third 500 and came up to challenge Romania’s spot. The push, though, didn’t leave them enough for the sprint and Romania was able to hold on to second.
Russia and Germany had the fastest start in Heat Two and this began a battle that remained the focus for the entire 2000m race. Even though both of theses boats were in qualifying spots, they both decided they wanted first and also Great Britain was within striking distance of catching them. A better sprint by Germany gave them first at the finish.
The Czech Republic is the reigning World Champions in this boat class and they lined up in Heat Three. The Czechs also set the junior World Best Time at last year’s World Rowing Junior Championships but they were boating an entirely new crew this year. At the start Italy took the lead with the Netherlands coming out just ahead of the Czech Republic. The Dutch tried to catch Italy and then found they were losing ground in the second half of the race. This gave the Czech’s a chance to push into second and close on Italy. The Italians were ready and threw down an awesome sprint to hold the lead.
All three winning boats in this boat class finished within two seconds of each other, boding well for a very fast semifinal.
Qualifiers: NZL, ROU, GER, RUS, ITA, CZE
Men’s Double Sculls (JM2x) – Heats
This was about finishing first for the direct path to the semifinals. There were four heats in this, the biggest boat class of this regatta. Heat One was dominated by Australia. By the middle of the race Hamish Henriques and Harrison Fox of Australia had worked their way out to an open water lead, They held this through to the end, winning over Zimbabwe by a huge ten seconds. Australia had recorded the fastest qualifying time overall.
In Heat Two it was Russia that got a small lead at the start with Austria chasing hard. The Austrians raced at the juniors last year and must be one of the more experienced crews here. But Russia’s Dmitrii Domashev and Anton Vasin had the edge and rating 33 strokes per minute, they remained just ahead of Austria. The Austrians, however, weren’t giving up and at a 35 stroke rate, they tried to overtake. Domashev and Vasin remained ahead despite underrating Austria.
Italy took the early lead in Heat Three and managed to squeeze out to a half boat length lead over France in second. The Italian crew of Matteo Sartori and Nicolo Carucci continued to lead the way and also inch away from France. Sartori is the son of Olympic Champion Alessio Sartori. Alessio was still competing on the Italian team in 2016 and it’s likely him and his son must have overlapped in their rowing. Keeping at 35 stroke rate Italy looked on fire. They crossed the line in the qualifying spot.
Spain had the leading edge in Heat Four. But the edge was small with Germany and Brazil right on their tails. Then Germany’s Paul Krueger and Aaron Erfanian put their foot down, did a powerful piece and moved into the lead. Spain had no answer. Krueger is the reigning World Champion in this boat class. Erfanian comes out of the 2018 men’s quad. Germany continued to lead through to the end and looked like they were making it easy at 33 strokes per minute.
Qualifiers: AUS, RUS, ITA, GER
Women’s Double Sculls (JW2x) - Heats
This boat class was about finishing first for a direct path to the semifinals. Four heats lined up as the biggest event of the women’s races with 22 countries involved. In Heat One Spain had the lead at the start. But there were five boats at the same pace. It was still close at the middle of the race with just a second separating Spain, Great Britain, Germany and Greece. Coming through to the final sprint Greece, Spain and Great Britain remained tucked oh so tightly together. It was neck and neck. Greece went to 40 strokes per minute. It paid off for Evangelia Fragkou and Evangelia Anastasiadou of Greece. They got the qualifying spot by just half a second.
China looked to be the most experienced crew of this Heat Two. Peibing Zhang is a junior world champion, while Hairong Zhang has been racing at the senior level this season. By the middle of the race China had more than a boat length lead over Australia in second. They then went to an open water lead at the finish.
At the start of Heat Three it was Belgium’s Caitlin Govaert and Jeanne Lenom that had the fastest pace at the start. South Africa chased hard but they did not have the pace to keep up with Govaert and Lenom. Then the United States took chase and moved into second. Belgium was ready and kept their speed up to not only remain in the lead. Both the United States and South Africa did a huge closing sprint. It was not enough. Belgium took the win.
The Netherlands looked good at the start of Heat Four. TLisa Bruijnincx and Jacobien van Westreemen of the Netherlands came out of last year’s bronze medal quad and by the first 500m mark they had a half boat length lead over Italy in second. The Dutch then moved to an open water lead with Italy now under threat from Ireland. As the Dutch continued to lead the way, they went on to cross the finish line in the fastest qualifying time overall.
Qualifiers: GRE, CHN, BEL, NED
Men’s Single Sculls (JM1x) – Heats
This boat class was about finishing in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. There were four heats to do it in. Last year’s bronze medallist, Tristan Vandenbussche of Belgium led the way in Heat One. Switzerland’s Tim Roth gave it his best to keep up. Stroking 34, Vandenbussche remained in front and managed to get over a boat length lead on Roth. Portugal followed in third. Roth then tried to move away from Portugal to hold on to the second qualifying spot. Roth had enough of a lead in the final sprint to be comfortable. Vandenbussche dropped his stroke rate to 29. He was the comfortable winner.
Heat Two had Italy out in front at the start. Gennaro di Mauro of Italy was an a-finalist at last year’s World Rowing Junior Championships. He was ahead of Rares-Andrei Nechita of Cyprus who raced last year in the double sculls. These two countries then looked to put themselves comfortably into the two qualifying spots. But only half the race had gone by. What would happen in the second half? Then Uzbekistan came charging. With 400m to go, Makhrojbek Mamatkulov of Uzbekistan put his foot down and put Nechita under threat. Nechita was ready and moved away from Mamathkulov using 35 strokes per minute. Mamatkulov gave up the chase.
In Heat Three it was the Netherlands with the fastest start. Joost Schwarz of the Netherlands, however, was being pursued by Thailand’s Siripong Chaiwichitchonkul. Schwarz remained in front, but Chaiwichitchonkul was holding on and that gave him a handy margin over the United States in third. Coming through to the final sprint, Nicholas Aronow of the United States moved up on Thailand and managed to get his nose in front. Aronow then put Schwarz’s lead under threat. At the line. Underrating Schwarz by four pips, Aronow was gaining on the Dutch sculler. Schwarz, however, got there first.
At the start of Heat Four it was Emil Neykov of Bulgaria leading the way. Neykov is the son of the Olympic Champion, Rumyana Neykova. No pressure! But at the half way point Ivan Brynza of Blearus had taken the lead. Brynza finished second at the European Rowing Junior Championships earlier this season and he’s also a silver medallist from the 2018 YOG. Brynza then pushed away from the field with Neykov comfortably in second and under very little threat from Germany in third. Brynza crossed the line with the fastest qualifying time overall of 7:01.
Qualifiers: BEL, SUI, ITA, CYP, NED, USA, BLR, BUL
Women’s Single Sculls (JW1x) – Heats
This boat class had four heats and the goal in each heat was to finish in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. Mexico’s Sofia Aguirre Vital showed that she meant business as she took the lead at the start of Heat One. Going through the middle of the race Mexico had to keep an eye on Switzerland’s Alina Berset who was tracking Aguirre with every stroke. Zimbabwe was back in third and would have to do a lot to get into a qualifying spot. In the final sprint Berset went to 34 to do an incredible closing sprint and take on Aguirre. There was no real response from the young Mexican who looked content to take second.
Heat Two began with Algeria’s Nihed Benchadli in the top spot. Then Russia’s Anastasiia Liubich did a strong push and moved out in front. Poland and Ukraine remained in striking distance of a qualifying spot. Liubich continued to push on was able to build up to an open water lead. Ukraine’s Daria Stavynoga took gold at the European Rowing Junior Championships earlier this year but she was back in fourth with Benchadli remaining in second. Then Stavynoga and the third-placed Poland both wound it up for the finish. Russia took the win with Wiktoria Kalinowska of Poland taking second.
The third heat was the penultimate race of the day and it opened with Isabel van Opzeeland of the Netherlands out in front. China slotted into second with Uzbekistan and Hungary neck-and-neck for third. Van Opzeeland then moved to an open water lead with Hungary’s Bettina Siska closing on China’s Ziyi Cui. As Cui began to fade, Siska moved into second with van Opzeeland continuing to open her lead. She raced in the single in 2017 and then swapped boats for 2018. Back in the single, this boat looked to be suiting her. Van Opzeeland easily crossed the line in the lead. Siska took second. Van Opzeeland had recorded the fastest overall time.
It was Germany in the lead of Heat Four. But this did not last long as Katelin Gildersleeve of the United States took the lead. This is the first time for Gildersleeve on the national team and she was looking very confident at the head of the field. Germany’s Alexandra Foester chased hard to try and gain back the leading position. But then there was a capsize. Violeta Levinoka of Latvia had been at the back of the field and had flipped the boat. The safety boat was there to help her in no time. Gildersleeve remained out in front with Foester hot on her heels. These two boats were easily ahead of the rest of the field. Foester under-rated Gildersleeve by using a 29 stroke rate but still held her position. The order didn’t change at the line.
Qualifiers: SUI, MEX, RUS, POL, NED, HUN, USA, GER