Twigg on form in Final Olympic Qualification Regatta semifinals
The 2016 FISA European Continental and Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland moved on to semifinals and repechages for day two of racing. Emma Twigg of New Zealand set the tone in her semifinal by leading from start to finish and showing fine form.
The weather saw calm water, cool temperatures and rain on the Rotsee regatta course.
Women's Single Sculls (W1x) - Semifinals
At the end of this regatta four women's single scullers would qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. These scullers were aiming to be in the top three places to go to tomorrow's final. In Semifinal One Emma Twigg of New Zealand used a high rating to get her nose in front with Sanita Puspure of Ireland holding onto her pace. Despite being the 2014 World Champion, Twigg was not shaking Puspure and the two scullers went through the middle of the race neck-and-neck. Then Twigg decided enough was enough, did a piece and left Puspure in the proverbial dust. Twigg came through in first rating a comfortable 33. Meanwhile, Puspure held on to second over Elza Gulbe of Latvia. In fourth place Russia's four-time Olympian, Julia Levina is out of the Olympics.
Denmark's Fie Udby Erichsen was the leading boat in Semifinal Two. Erichsen is the London Olympic silver medallist and then took time off after London to have a baby. She's been working on her form over the last couple of years and slowly building up to get to Rio. Erichsen led Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus through the middle of the race with Nataliya Dovgodko of Ukraine in third. Great Britain, in fourth, would have to put in a big effort to qualify. Erichsen came into the finish rating a comfortable 29 as Dovgodko took on Karsten. Karsten looked confident though and did enough to stay with Dovgodko.
Qualifiers: NZL, IRL, LAT, DEN, BLR, UKR
Men's Single Sculls (M1x) - Semifinals
After success in yesterday's heats it was not surprising to see Hannes Obreno of Belgium out in the lead of Semifinal One. But Obreno's lead was not large and going through the middle of the race Rhys Grant of Australia was keeping up along with Hungary and Russia. These margins remained close with Grant attacking Obreno and Andrey Potapkin of Russia going after Bendeguez Petervari-Molnar of Hungary. In a crazy fast sprint to the line both Grant and Potapkin hit 40 strokes per minute. There was nothing in it as Potapkin and Petervari-Molnar closed on Obreno and Grant. At the line Potapkin had missed out on going to the final by just half a second. His 2016 Olympic hopes had come to an end on the waters of the Rotsee.
On his home waters Markus Kessler of Switzerland gave it his all in Semifinal Two. Kessler was leading at the start before he got pushed into second by Sverri Nielsen of Denmark. Once in front Nielsen tried to push away and in the second half of the race he managed to do so. Going with Nielsen was Robert Ven of Finland and Philipp Syring of Germany. These three scullers formed a group that was able to push away from the rest of the field. Kessler missed his chance. The Swiss sculler rowed slowly back to his coach.
Qualifiers: BEL, HUN, AUS, DEN, FIN, GER
Lightweight Women's Double Sculls (LW2x) - Repechage
This repechage required a top for placing out of five boats to qualify for the final. All of these scullers competed yesterday in the heats and they return to race in these cool and wet Rotsee conditions today. At the start it was Cecilia Lilja and Emma Fredh of Sweden in the lead with Romania chasing hard. But there was nothing in it and at the half way point a mere two seconds separated the entire field. This Semifinal One was going to be decided on who had the second half endurance to hold it to the end. The margins remained close coming into the final sprint. Despite rating 37 Australia was not able to hold the pace of the rest of the crews. The Australians will not be going to the Rio Olympics.
Qualifiers: SWE, ITA, GRE, ROU
Lightweight Men's Double Sculls (LM2x) - Semifinals
Semifinal One opened with Spain in the lead. The Spanish crew of Adria Mitjavila and Rodrigo Conde Romero regularly have a fast start and today they would need that and more to be in the three qualifying spots. Coming into the middle of the race the 2012 Olympic Champions, Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist of Denmark had pushed into the lead. Then 2012 Olympic finalists, Pedro Fraga and Nuno Mendes of Portugal used a high 38 stroke rate to establish themselves in third. Coming through to the end the top three leading crews looked in solid spots. But the Czech Republic and Hungary were desperately trying to get up there. It was to no avail. The leading crews all were rating in the high 30s and had secured their positions.
In Semifinal Two the very popular crew from Turkey, Huseyin Kandemir and Enes Kusku took an early lead ahead of Greece. Kandemir and Kusku still had the lead as they went through the half way point with Belgium and Greece going neck-and-neck and stroke-for-stroke. New Zealand and Ukraine were also on the pace, while Bulgaria was now too far back to attack. Margins closed as these boats pushed through the rain to get to the finish line as quick as possible. Turkey still had a slight lead with Belgium's Tim Brys and Niels Van Zandweghe attacking. Then New Zealand started to really open it up and they took their stroke rate to 41 to overtake Greece. Ukraine also went to 41 to attack the Kiwis. The New Zealanders were the stronger duo and took third while Belgium crossed just ahead of Turkey.
Qualifiers: DEN, ESP, POR, BEL, TUR, NZL
Women's Pair (W2-) - Repechages
Five boats lined up and two boats would go through to the final in each of the two repechages. Wits were on the line and a false start by Ivana Filipovic and Jovana Arsic of Serbia meant a delay in racing as all of the boats went back to line up again in Repechage One. As the rain got heavier the race took off for a second time with Poland's Anna and Maria Wierzbowska in the lead. Russia followed most closely with a virtual line forming between Chile, Serbia and Ukraine. Then the Wierzbowska sisters managed to get a slight edge. Had they gone out too hard? Could they maintain it? Rating 33-34 it looked like they could. Going through the middle of the race the positions looked all but decided with Poland and the Russian duo of Ekaterina Potapova and Maria Krasilnikova now pushing away from the rest of the crews.
Despite a last minute attempt by Serbia, Poland and Russia had enough of a gap to take the two qualifying spots.
Repechage Two got away quickly to try and make up the delayed time with Italy 's Alessandra Patelli and Sara Bertolasi taking the lead. The Italians held it right to the end with a clear water lead at the finish. Argentina's Maria Abalo and Zoe Fleischmann were in second for the entire race with Norway, in third, unable to catch them.
Qualifiers: POL, RUS, ITA, ARG
Men's Pair (M2-) - Semifinals
Semifinal One opened with Argentina's Rodrigo Murillo and Martin Lasserre in the lead, albeit only just over Germany and Russia. Then Georgij Efremenko and Ivan Podshivalov of Russia got their boat ahead of Argentina with Germany solidly in third. But now the European Champions, Hungary were coming fast. Adrian Juhasz and Bela Simon of Hungary had gotten off to a very slow start and were giving it their all to get into a qualifying position. Rating 43 Hungary was gaining with every stroke. Argentina hit 47 in a desperate attempt to hang in there with Russia looking a lot more relaxed on 35. Hungary finished first. The smiles on their faces were large. Surprisingly regulars in the pair, Germany missed out on moving on to the finals.
Jakub Podrazil and Lukas Helesic of the Czech Republic got away the quickest in Semifinal Two with Poland right on the pace. Then going through the half way point margins between the boats had closed up with less than three seconds separating the top four boats. Podrazil and Helesic continued to hold a small lead as Belarus moved into second and Poland held on to third. In the sprint to the line the Czechs remained in front and rating 38 as they had for most of the course. Poland came through right behind them at a 35 stroke rate pace and Belarus held on to third. Disappointment for Croatia with Olympic medallist, David Sain missing out on qualification.
Qualifiers: HUN, ARG, RUS, CZE, POL, BLR
Women's Double Sculls (W2x) - Repechage
The top two boats would get to go to the final meaning that three boats missed out. The Netherlands had the upper hand at the start with Lisa Scheenaard and Karien Robbers leading the way through to the half way point. Did they have the stamina to hold it to the end? Russia and Ukraine were following very closely. This is a great result so far for the Netherlands as they have had to substitute Robbers into the boat. In the last 300m the Dutch still had the lead. But then it all changed. Ukraine and Russia were flying and had closed the gap on the Netherlands.
Ratings were going up and up. The Dutch hit 41, Ukraine was on 39 and Russia on 37. By just 0.12 of a second Russia missed out on the final. Their 2016 Olympic dream ended today.
Qualifiers: UKR, NED
Men's Double Sculls (M2x) - Repechages
Two boats would get to go to the final in each of these two repechages. At the start of repechage one all boats got away together with the fast starting Spanish having a slight lead. Then Poland's Dawid Grabowski and Dominik Czaja got out in front to take the lead. They then moved right away from the rest of the field with the Czech Republic overtaking Spain to move into the second qualifying spot. These two crews were not challenged and neither had to sprint the finish.
Argentina had the lead at the start of Repechage Two. But margins were slight with the entire field remaining within striking distance. Argentina's Ariel Suarez and Cristian Rosso were still in the lead at the half way point with the United States' Stephen Whelpley and William Cowles now moving into second. But it was not over yet and Ukraine remained very much within striking distance. Argentina continued to lead. Rosso finished fourth in this boat class at the London Olympics and he kept his 2016 Olympic chances alive. Rating 39 Argentina crossed the line in first. United States, rating 40, held off Ukraine to also qualify.
Qualifiers: POL, CZE, ARG, USA
Men's Four (M4-) - Repechage
The top four boats would qualify for the final. One boat would miss out. At the start New Zealand had the lead with Spain then taking over after a piece at the 750m mark. The boat looking outside of qualification was the Czech Republic. Could they do something special to get into a qualifying spot? Serbia then did a push and got ahead of New Zealand. The Czech Republic had moved up. All five boats were in with a chance. As Spain got themselves back in the lead rating 39, the four remaining boats formed a line. This was going to be a photo finish. Two strokes before the line Argentina crabbed. Scrambling, they managed to get across the line. Serbia missed out by just over half a second.
Qualifiers: ESP, NZL, ARG, CZE
Lightweight Men's Four (LM4-) - Repechages
The two repechages required a top two finish to make it through to the final. In Repechage One Russia had the best start and they still had the lead going through the middle of the race. Russia then moved out to an open water lead with Poland in second but under threat from Serbia and Hungary. With Russia remaining in the lead in the final sprint a line of three boats formed behind them. Rating 42 a strong finish by Hungary gave them the qualifying spot. Serbia and Poland had missed out on qualifying.
Spain and Japan are both known as fast starters and these two crews led the way in Repechage Two. They remained in the qualifying spots going through the middle of the race with Austria and Indonesia still within striking distance. Coming through to the end these crews pushed through the rain with Indonesia remaining with a chance. Spain rated 36 coming through to the finish. Japan rated 38 and Indonesia gave it their all at 42. The Indonesians held it all together and still looked strong at the finish, but they had left the final sprint just a little too late.
Qualifiers: RUS, POL, ESP, JPN
Women's Quadruple Sculls (W4x) - Repechage
The top four boats would go through to the final and one boat would miss out. France was at the back of the field with 500m rowed with Romania at the front. But the margins were still tight and only two seconds separated the field. Then the Olympic Champions, Ukraine took the lead with Romania holding on to second. The pace of France now meant that barring disaster the top four boats had all but been decided. France at the half way point was down on fourth by open water. The top four crews kept the pressure on but did not have to go full out so they could save themselves for the finals.
But then France did the comeback of their lives. From four seconds down, France closed on Russia in fourth and these two boats had to sprint for the line. Russia got there first with France missing out on qualifying by one second.
Qualifiers: UKR, GBR, ROU, RUS
Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x) - Repechage
Four of these five boats would qualify for the final. The United States only just missed out on qualifying yesterday in the heats by less than a second. Today they got out the fastest and remained at the head of the field through the middle of the race. But margins were minimal and less than three seconds separated the field. Coming into the final sprint Norway was in fifth but still was within striking distance of qualifying. Norway, however, did not have enough left to sprint. Instead it was a line between the top four crews. Italy, China and the United States were on 40 strokes per minute. Canada was with them on 39. Just half a second separated all of them at the line. The finishing order is below.
Qualifiers: CHN, USA, ITA, CAN