Under 23 glory in the Blue Riband finals
Under relentless pouring rain and a tricky cross-tailwind, the Blue Riband events of the World Rowing Under 23 Championships got underway. Strong single scullers battled their way down the course, Germany's Hubert Trzybinski recording yet another World Best Time, whilst Canada, New Zealand and the United States of America went head to head for the women's eight title. The final race of the day, the men's eight, gave the crowd the usual drama, but it was the United States of America who prevailed over the field.
Women’s Eight (BW8+) – Final
A year ago the finishing order was the United States followed by New Zealand and then Canada. This race was shaping up to look rather similar to a year ago. Coming out of the start the United States grabbed the lead, New Zealand followed in second and Canada slotted into third. But only one second separated the entire five crews and there was still 1500m of racing to go.
It took until the middle of the race for the field to spread out a bit. Canada had now moved into first through the 700m mark and New Zealand were hot on their tails whilst the United States were just half a second down. The Canadian’s then showed their endurance and started to move away from New Zealand. The race was still excruciatingly close as the crews began to move into the final sprint.
New Zealand, who had won the race for lanes a couple of days ago, was rating the highest at 40, while Canada remained around 36. The United States then really started to wind it up. Could the New Zealanders hold them off? At the line Canada had not only won but they had set a new World Best Time of 6.03.23. Canada had moved from fourth in 2009 to third in 2010 to first in 2011. New Zealand earned another silver and a very disappointed United States had to settle for bronze.
The new World Best Time for Canada of 6:03.23 was an improvement on the time set by United States by three seconds. On the medals podium the crews hugged each other in joy, but also in an attempt to keep warm in these rainy conditions.
Results: CAN, NZL, USA, GER, GBR
Zoe Stevenson (NZL) -Silver
"We did our best and that's all you can do. After Juniors and last year's Under 23 Championships this is my third silver in a row, but we did a great job."
Leigh Carroll (USA) -Bronze
"I was freezing cold but I managed to keep talking. We are happy, though this race didn’t exactly go according to plan."
Men’s Single Sculls (BM1x) – Final
After coming through the heats and semifinals so well, it was a surprise to see Stergios Papachristos of Greece at the back of the field. Instead, the race was turning into a tussle between Bulgaria’s Georgi Bozhilov and Hubert Trzybinski of Germany. Trzybinski has two Junior World Champion titles and he moved to the Under 23 ranks last year. Bozhilov was fourth in this event last year in Brest.
As Papachristos tried to work his way up through the field, Youth Olympic Games gold medallist, Lithuania’s Rolandas Mascinskas tried to hold on to third and also try to work through to the two leading crews. Mascinskas, however, was not quite close enough. But who would pull off a gold between Trzybinski and Bozhilov?
At the line, Trzybinski had done it and also pulled off a new World Best time, albeit by less than half a second. The new time standard becomes: 6:46.61.
Results: GER, BUL, LTU, GRE, BEL, AUT
Hubert Trzybinski (GER) –Gold
"It was a really hard race and I was very nervous. This is an amazing feeling."
Georgi Bozhilov (BUL) -Silver
"I am very happy with my result. The weather was bad like everyonbe has said, but I had a good race."
Rolandas Mascinkas (LTU) -Bronze
"When I woke up, I felt very good, and I knew anything would be possible. Next year, I will win in my country."
Former Junior World Champion and last year’s under-23 silver medallist, Aleksandar Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan was handed a yellow card after arriving late to the start, but it seemed to have little influence on how he raced. Aleksandrov did not like yesterday’s conditions and failed to make it through to the A-final, but he made the most of the B-final by getting out in front and remaining there. Great Britain’s Jonathan Walton did his best to close on Aleksandrov but he did not have the same boat speed.
Results: AZE, GBR, ITA, HUN, USA, SLO
Women’s Single Sculls (BW1x) – Final
Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania came into this event as the reigning under-23 World Champion. But with some new competition and the conditions on the Bosbaan today, there would be no certainties until the finish line. With that Germany’s statuesque Carina Baer took off in the lead. Baer has a Junior World Champion title in this event and also bronze from 2009 in the single at the under 23 level.
Through the body of the race Baer held the lead whilst Vistartaite lay just behind in second and Estonia’s Kaisa Pajusalu was right on Vistartaite’s tail in third. This order remained right through to the final sprint when Vistartaite decided enough was enough, and pushed her stroke rate up to 35 to push past Baer. Baer appeared to have no reply. Neither did last year’s silver medallist, Pajusalu.
Vistartaite retained her under-23 World Champion title, but finished just a second outside of the World Best Time. Vistartaite now goes on to try and qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. Behind Vistartaite, Baer took silver and Pajusalu earned bronze.
Results: LTU, GER, EST, SRB, NED, AZE
Donata Vistartaite (LTU) –Gold
"I train a lot in windy conditions, so I was fine this race. My real goal is Olympic qualification, but this was a very good final test."
Carina Baer (GER) -Silver
"I came here for the gold and I hoped the wind would go down. This was not a good race for me: I am disappointed with my race and for ending second, although Lithuania did race well."
Kaisa Pajusalu (EST) -Bronze
"Normally I am better rowing with a head wind, since I am very strong, but I felt very comfortable today. I have been to Amsterdam many times as a tourist, so it was nice to now come as an athlete. I am happy with the bronze: it was the only colour I didn’t have."
Australia had the lead at the start before Aikaterini Nikolaidou of Greece pushed through. As Australia began to tire, Nikolaidou managed to get her nose in front of the fleet as Nataliya Dovgodko of Ukraine moved into second, becoming the greatest threat to Nikolaidou. Nikolaidou finished first, making her seventh overall. This is a nice step up for the first year Under-23 rower who was third as a Junior last year.
Results: GRE, UKR, AUS, IRL, HUN, DEN
Men’s Eight (BM8+) – Final
Out in front at the start was the Czech Republic. The Czech’s finished fifth last year and they had every intention of getting into the medals in five and-a-bit minutes time. But the United States, who regularly medal in this event and were silver medallists last year, had different ideas. With half the race rowed the United States had moved in front of the Czechs.
The reigning Under-23 World Champions, Germany sat back in third trying to deal with the British crew and also trying to close on the leaders. As the United States continued in first, the Czechs fought back furiously to regain the lead. This front-row tussle took the US and the Czechs further away from the rest of the field. Then the Czechs began to sprint. Taking their stroke rate to 42, they tried to close on the Americans. The United States were ready and held their position.
Meanwhile, Great Britain had moved up on Germany and were trying to overtake. The Germans could not hold them off. The United States cross the line first, the Czechs took second and Great Britain got the better of Germany to earn bronze.
A new World Best Time goes to the United States. Their time of 5:24.31 was seven seconds better than the former World Best Time that was owned by Germany.
Petr Melichar (CZE) -Silver
"We were third at the World Rowing Cup in Munich with this team, so we expected a good result here. We will try to qualify for the Olympics in Bled, but that will be very hard. Silver here is great."
Max Gander (GBR) - Bronze
"We are a top two crew, so we are not that happy with the bronze."
Two boats went head to head in this B-final and Australia pulled off the win in these tailwind conditions. Both boats contain a majority of young crew members, many who raced as juniors last year. At the line Australia was a good open water length in front of Italy.
Results: AUS, ITA