Tough semifinals at Lucerne World Rowing Cup
Day two at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland was marked by some unexpected results as well as changeable weather that ranged from sun to heavy rain – sometimes occurring all in one race. But the water remained flat for the rowers, continuing the positive reputation this rowing course has amongst the rowers.
The semifinals saw success for World Champions, Great Britain in the lightweight men’s four but also saw Australia’s Drew Ginn return finish less than glamorously as the Australian men’s four did not make the final.
Women’s Pair (W2-) – Semifinals
World Champions New Zealand (Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh) were not given an easy run of it in semifinal one. The New Zealanders outrated the rest of the field through the body of the race to maintain their lead. Scown and Haigh arrived in Europe in time for the Hamburg World Rowing Cup where they finished first. Hamburg also introduced the rowing world to Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse of South Africa. This duo came together earlier this season with Smith in her first year of international racing. They were second at Hamburg and used raw aggression to power their boat along. Today Smith and Persse came through from the back of the field to overtake the accomplished Romanians, Camelia Lupascu and Nicoleta Albu, and press New Zealand. Taking their stroke rate into the low 40s, Smith and Persse qualified for the final by finishing second. Romania qualify from third.
The world silver medallists, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain held the control in semifinal two. This duo burst onto the international pairs scene in 2010 as relative unknowns. Now they are the crew to watch. Glover and Stanning won the first World Rowing Cup this season but missed World Cup two. Keeping their rating in the low 30s, Glover and Stanning remained in the lead with two United States boats following. There must be a bit of national team selection going on here with USA’s first boat, Lind and Ritzel hoping to prove to USA’s second boat of Francia and Musnicki that they are the crew to remain in the top spot.
At the line Glover and Stanning were in control, as Lind and Ritzel outsprinted Francia and Musnicki to finish second. These will go to the final, where Glover and Stanning will meet New Zealand for the first time this season.
Qualifiers: NZL, RSA, ROU, GBR, USA1, USA2
Men’s Pair (M2-) – Semifinals
The large field in this event required crews to race through quarterfinals. This meant two races yesterday and today was race number three of this regatta. Leading the charge towards the final was world silver medallists, Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs Hodge of Great Britain. They took off at the head of semifinal one, but Canada would not let them get away. Dave Calder and Scott Frandsen of Canada were silver medallists at the 2008 Olympics but have only come back into this partnership this season and Lucerne is their first international regatta.
Going through the middle of the race Canada stayed right on top of Great Britain and with this moved clear away from the rest of the field. Coming into the final sprint the two leaders were still neck and neck, and as the finish line loomed they both decided their work had been done and both eased off the power. Reed and Triggs Hodge finished first, Canada second and Adrian Juhasz and Bela Simon of Hungary were third.
The World Champions, New Zealand featured in semifinal two. Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand raced at the 2008 Olympics finishing seventh in the four. It was a devastating result for Murray and Bond with both athletes contemplating the end of their rowing career. But the two decided to come back as a pair and right from the beginning they were recording fast times. Since joining up in 2009, the duo have not lost a race. Today they added another win to their total with an easy first.
The Gkountoulas brothers of Greece tried to close on New Zealand but lacked the same power and talent. Greece took second at the line with Italy (Carboncini and Mornati) shaking off Great Britain’s second boat, Under 23s and Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race rivals George Nash and Constantine Louloudis to take the third qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: GBR1, CAN1, HUN, NZL1, GRE, ITA
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Semifinals
At the British team trials earlier this year, Anna Watkins beat Katherine Grainger in the single. Grainger is Great Britain’s most accomplished woman rower ever and she has owned the title of fastest single for years. But Watkins showed that Grainger was beatable. Together they have been the British double since 2010 when they won the World Rowing Championships. Today they are back in the boat after Watkins missed some time recovering from back problems. The duo outclassed the field in semifinal one.
This left a close battle between China, the United States, New Zealand and the Czech Republic. Coming through the third 500 Fiona Paterson and Anna Reymer of New Zealand managed to break away using a high, aggressive stroke rate. Whilst Watkins and Grainger seemed undisturbed by the hurried New Zealanders, it gave Paterson and Reymer a very clear second with Lenka and Jitka Antosova of the Czech Republic back in third.
Perhaps the biggest threat to the British domination is Australia’s Kerry Hore and Kim Crow. Hore and Crow were silver medallists in 2010 and this is their first international regatta since last year’s World Rowing Championships. Today Hore and Crow raced in semifinal two and at the end of the 2000m Rotsee course, Hore and Crow had scored the fastest qualifying time.
At the start Hore and Crow were pushed by Magdalena Fularczyk and Julia Michalska of Poland. But the Poles didn’t quite have the same stamina and in the second half of the race Australia and Ukraine had gotten away from them. Ukraine’s Yana Dementieva and Anastasiia Kozhenkova were silver medallists in the quad last year and started this season off in the quad. But they took silver at the Hamburg World Cup and second was enough for their coach to look at different options. Now in the double they finished second behind Australia to qualify for the final. Poland finished third.
Qualifiers: GBR, NZL, CZE, AUS, UKR1, POL
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals
The large number of entries in this event meant that these lightweight scullers had to race twice yesterday to make it through to today’s semifinal. Stamina to maintain the three days of intense racing would definitely play a part for these rowers. In semifinal one France’s Jeremie Azou and Frederic Dufour were the leaders. But their margin was small with Germany and New Zealand the closest threats. As has been the case in many of these races, the third 500 was the place where crew orders would really get sorted out. This was the case for semifinal one when Storm Uru and Peter Taylor of New Zealand took the lead in that third 500. France had no answer. As the final sprint came into view the biggest surprise was Portugal. Normally Fraga and Mendes pull out a huge sprint and come through at the end. Today Fraga and Mendes had no sprint falling back to fifth. Instead, the qualifying boats were New Zealand, France and Germany.
Canada’s Douglas Vandor and Cameron Sylvester led semifinal two with reasonable ease. The duo have been rowing together since2008 when they went to the Olympic Games. But illness kept them out of racing and so they set their mind on making amends at the London Olympics. They have been showing positive results lately and today was no exception as they finished ahead of last years silver medallists, Lorenzo Bertini and Elia Luini of Italy and Olympic medallists Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist. These three crews are in the final tomorrow.
Qualifiers: NZL, FRA, GER, CAN, DEN, ITA
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Semifinals
This has been a season of the return of 2008 Olympic rowers. In semifinal one Australia arrived with the return of their Olympic Champion duo of David Crawshay and Scott Brennan. Crawshay and Brennan started training together earlier this season and this is their first international race since Beijing. Today they found themselves out of the final after finishing fifth. Instead semifinal one was a race between Great Britain (Matthew Wells and Marcus Bateman) and New Zealand (Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan). These two boats were first and second at last year’s World Rowing Championships and the rivalry has continued this season.
Cohen and Sullivan held the edge through the body of the race with Wells and Bateman, in second, happy to take the pressure off coming into the finish. New Zealand qualify from first with the fastest qualifying time. Meanwhile, coming through into third, 2000 Olympic Champions, Luka Spik and Iztok Cop are back in the boat together.
Semifinal two witnessed Germany’s Hans Gruhne and Stephan Krueger leading from start to finish. This lead is rather impressive as Gruhne is just filling in for Krueger’s partner Eric Knittle. Meanwhile behind Germany Estonia’s Allar Raja and Kaspar Taimsoo battled it out with Cedric Berrest and Julien Bahain of France. A better sprint by Estonia earned them the second place spot.
Qualifiers: NZL, GBR, SLO, GER1, EST, FRA1
Men’s Four (M4-) – Semifinals
The comeback to international rowing by three-time Olympic Champion, Drew Ginn of Australia didn’t end so well today. Ginn took time out from rowing after winning the pair at the Beijing Olympics, had a back operation and did a lot of cycling. Then, deciding to come back to rowing, Ginn said he wanted Australia to, again, have a top four. Ginn raced in the bow of Australia’s four in semifinal one. This race, however, was mainly about Greece and Great Britain who were neck and neck at the head of the field. Great Britain had a slight advantage and held it through to the finish with neither Greece nor Great Britain seeing any reason to really sprint the finish.
Behind Great Britain and Greece a full-on race to the line was going on between Australia and the United States. Australia had led the USA for the entire race, but a huge sprint by the United States caught out Australia. Lanzone, Newlin, Cole and Gault of the United States came through to take the third qualifying spot by just nudging out Australia.
The second semifinal opened with five boats practically on top of each other, only United States' second boat was slightly off the pace. By the half way point it still remained tight between four crews; Serbia, Spain, New Zealand and Germany. With only three spots available for advancement, all of these crews would have to race to the line. Germany’s new reshuffled line up of Kaeufer, Adamski, Seifert and Schmidt then pulled off a huge sprint that propelled them to the head of the field. Germany takes the first qualifying spot. Serbia stuck with Germany and for that took second. New Zealand held off the United States' second boat to qualify from third position.
Qualifiers: GBR, GRE, USA1, GER1, SRB, NZL
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Semifinals
As the rain began to place drops on the Rotsee, the lightweight women lined up ready to do battle in the semifinals. Semifinal one began with a private nation battle between two United States crews. USA's first boat, Kristin Hedstrom and Julie Nichols won their country’s trials and earned the chance to race here, but USA's second entry, Abelyn Broughton and Ursula Grobler, have come here to challenge for the national team spot. USA's second boat led for the first half of the race before USA's first entry pushed in the third 500 and grabbed the lead. This must have undermined Broughton and Grobler’s confidence and they started to slip as Italy's second entry and Greece sprinted for the line.
A pressure sprint by Triantafyllia Kalampoka and Christina Giazitzidou of Greece put them into second behind USA's first boat to qualify with Laura Milani and Enrica Marasca of Italy's second boat taking out the final spot. At the back of the field Germany looked to be struggling down the course with stroke Anja Noske receiving medical help at the end.
The Canadian World Champions, Lindsay Jennerich and Tracy Cameron set the pace in semifinal two. They took a slight lead over first World Cup winners, Great Britain and held on. Great Britain’s Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking, however, pressed hard, never letting the Canadian’s get away. This battle moved Canada and Great Britain away from the rest of the field and left everyone else one qualifying spot to try for.
The Netherlands held on to the third qualifying spot for the majority of the race, but it took just one wonky stroke for the Dutch to miss their rhythm and Australia’s Alice McNamara and Hannah Every-Hall made the most of it moving into third.
Qualifiers: USA1, GRE, ITA2, CAN, GBR, AUS
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Semifinals
Wow, once again the lightweight men’s four supplied tight, exciting racing that had to be decided after boats crossed the finish line. Semifinal one turned out to be the much faster of the two semis as four boats fought it out for the entire 2000m, with only three qualifying spots available. World Champions, Great Britain held the advantage for most of the race but they were pressed hard by three other crews. Great Britain has one change to the crew. Peter Chambers has been added and he sits in two seat in front of his older brother Richard. Pressing hard was Australia, Serbia and South Africa.
Sprinting to the line as the rain fell, Great Britain managed to hold on to first with Australia in second and South Africa, doing a massive piece, finished just ahead of Serbia. Serbia misses out on the final.
In the slower of the two semis, semifinal two saw the lead change several times and also witnessed Denmark lose the dominating position that they have held ever since Eskild Ebbesen returned to the boat at the start of the season. The Czech Republic held first early on before Denmark took over through the middle of the race. Then, in the sprint to the line Italy took over, the Italians (Danesin, Caianiello, Miani and Goretti) finish first, Switzerland takes second and Denmark just holds on to take third. There were huge cheers as Switzerland realised they'd qualified from the home support filling the grandstands.
Qualifiers: GBR, AUS, RSA, ITA, SUI, DEN
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Semifinals
Is this going to be the season of Xiuyun Zhang of China? Zhang raced in semifinal one and despite the amazing Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus leading for the majority of the race, Zhang was able to push past Karsten in the final sprint. Zhang is an Olympic medallist from 1996 and since then has had mixed results. She moved on to coaching last year but discovered she was faster than her athletes so decided to come back to competitive rowing. Karsten is an Olympic Champion and World Champion and a professional, career rower. Karsten held on to second just ahead of reigning World Champion, Frida Svensson of Sweden. This result spells out a very interesting final tomorrow.
In semifinal two New Zealand’s Emma Twigg led for the majority of the race with Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic the closest challenger. Both Twigg and Knapkova have been in the single for the majority of their rowing careers, both are 181cm tall and both raced each other many times. Coming into the finish of the race Twigg shortened up and was unable to hold off Knapkova. Still both boats qualify for the final with Nataliya Mustafayeva of Azerbaijan taking third.
Qualifiers: CHN, BLR, SWE, CZE, NZL1, AZE
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Semifinals
These scullers raced twice yesterday as the number of entries meant that a quarterfinal was necessary. Former World Champion, Mahe Drysdale felt the pressure and ended up third in his quarterfinal. But he looked to be back to full strength today staying on the pace in semifinal one. Drysdale started off at the back of the field and slowly powered his way toward the leader – reigning World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Behind Drysdale, Sweden’s Lassi Karonen followed the same strategy.
Despite early speed by Croatia and China, Drysdale and Karonen were able to power through to qualify along with semifinal leader Synek.
Medallist from the Hamburg World Cup, Kenneth Jurkowski of the United States held a battle with Canada’s Malcolm Howard in semifinal two. Howard comes to the single after taking gold at the Beijing Olympics in the men’s eight. Jurkowski has also had time in the eight, but the single is his boat of choice for this mainly self-coached athlete.
As the finish line approached, Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway did enough to get into a qualifying spot while Howard looked happy to leave the high rating Jurkowski to take line honours.
Qualifiers: CZE, NZL, SWE, USA, CAN, NOR