United States pair close in on World Best Time
It would be easy to mistake these races as finals as the standard of racing stepped up a notch in the A/B semifinals at the 2011 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Racing with an occasionally gusty tailwind and under overcast skies, Grace Luczak and Felice Mueller of the United States were just 0.9 seconds outside of the World Best Time in the women’s pair semifinal.
Lightweight Men’s Pair (BLM2-) – Semifinals
Italy came through from the heats with the fastest qualifying time and had high expectations as they faced Peter Chambers and Kieren Emery of Great Britain in semifinal one. Chambers comes into this race with an impeccable rowing pedigree; he was a part of the gold medal men’s four at the senior World Rowing Cup earlier this month. Chambers has also rowed at the senior World Championships, finishing sixth in the lightweight single last year. Despite Italy’s cracking stroke rate, in the high 30s for the majority of the race, Chambers and Emery remained in the lead from start to finish. The British chose a more sedate 33 stroke rate and still pulled away from Francesco Schisano and Vincenzo Serpico of Italy.
Coming into the final sprint the United States, who were sitting in third, caught a crab. This helped Hungary slip into the third and final qualifying position. Great Britain, Italy and Hungary make the final.
Semifinal two featured last year’s silver medallists, France. Guillaume Cas and Ludovic Seureau of France took the lead at the start, and New Zealand and Hong Kong China followed closely behind them. By the half-way point, New Zealand and Hong Kong remained tucked in closely behind France. Rowing through the third 500m, Curtis Rapley and Armin Svoboda of New Zealand went for a big push. Rapley raced at the under-23 level last year, while Svoboda is rowing internationally for the first time. The push had the desired effect and Rapley and Svoboda took the lead. France then found themselves under threat from Hong Kong and with a strong finish, Hong Kong moved into second to qualify for the final.
Qualifiers: GBR, ITA, HUN, NZL, HKG, FRA
Women’s Pair (BW2-) – Semifinals
A year ago the United States women’s pair was the only crew at the under-23 championships to set a new World Best Time. Felice Mueller has remained in the boat now with new partner Grace Luczak and together they set the fastest time in the qualifying heats two days ago. Today, in the first semifinal Mueller and Luczak grabbed the lead and inched away from their competition. By the half-way point they had a couple of boat lengths lead over Australia, now in second. Australia’s Olympia Aldersey and Renee Chatterton continued to chase the United States which moved them further away from Bulgaria in third. The order did not change and Mueller and Luczak look good for Sunday’s final. They were also the boat closest to breaking the World Best Time today on the Bosbaan.
Romania raced a very much controlled semifinal two. Cristina Grigoras and Andreea Boghian of Romania are a new combination from the Romanian crew that took silver at last year’s under-23 championships. Both Grigoras and Boghian have years of international rowing experience including racing in their country’s senior eight. The Netherlands (Inge Janssen and Elisabeth Hogerwerf) followed in second but never looked in striking distance of taking the lead from the Romanians. Coming into the final sprint South Africa’s Claire-Louise Bode and Kate Christowitz, who had been sitting in third, made an attack on the Dutch position. The Netherlands saw it coming and reacted. The order did not change. Romania, the Dutch and South Africa qualify for the final.
Qualifiers: USA, AUS, BUL, ROU, NED, RSA
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (BLM4x) – Semifinals
Germany recorded the fastest qualifying time during the heats and they raced again in semifinal one today. The crew has a 2010 World Champion title to defend and they brought that defence one step closer to reality by taking off in the lead. France followed very closely behind with Italy also very much on the pace. Going through the middle of the race, less than two seconds separated these top three boats. A piece in the third 500m gave Germany a bit of breathing space. France fought back and in the process moved away from Italy who remained in third. At the line Germany, France and Italy had qualified.
Denmark came through the heats just behind Germany and in the process recorded the second fastest qualifying time. This gave them a middle lane in semifinal two. But it was Switzerland that had a very slight lead at the start over the Danes. By the half-way point, Larsen, Bendtsen, Noerlem and Nielsen rowing for Denmark had pushed ahead of Switzerland. Yet the Swiss, coached by British Olympic Champion Tim Foster, were not taking second lightly and fought back. The Danes, rating 36, remained ahead of Switzerland.
Meanwhile the Swiss found themselves under threat from Poland in the sprint to the line. Switzerland held off Poland with both boats qualifying for the final along with Denmark.
Qualifiers: GER, FRA, ITA, DEN, SUI, POL
Men’s Four (BM4-) – Semifinals
On Wednesday the first heat recorded the top three fastest qualifying times with Italy, Germany and Canada looking to be the crews to beat. Today, top qualifier Italy, fresh from setting the World Best Time, lined up in semifinal one aiming to continue on with their quest to defend their 2010 World Champion title. Mario Paonessa is the only rower remaining from the 2010 winning crew and he has been joined by Marco Di Costanzo, Simone Ponti and Giuseppe Vicino. Italy took the lead as the United States slotted into second and Spain pushed through to take third. The United States did not make the final last year whilst Spain gained a fifth place finish.
Coming into the final 500m of the race, Italy looked comfortable at a 34 stroke rate pace while Spain, still in third, had the threat of France bearing down on them. France, however, were struggling with their steering and could not quite get up to the Spanish. At the line Italy had qualified and will be joined in the final by the United States and Spain. Both the US and Spain looked very happy at the finish, Spain throwing their hands in the air in joy.
Right from the start of semifinal two, Germany had the lead and sent out a message to the rest of the boats to try and match them. Last year Germany finished at the back of the final and they have every reason to improve on this at the Bosbaan. As Germany remained in the lead, Croatia, Greece and Canada remained almost level for the majority of the race. This three-way fight was aggressive enough that, as the boats came into the final sprint, Greece had overtaken Germany and Canada and Croatia not far behind. Germany, however, fought back and in the sprint to the line the Germans gained their leading advantage back. Greece came through in second and Croatia and Canada needed a photo finish to separate them as they came over the line. The decision went to Canada – they qualify for the final.
Qualifiers: ITA, USA, ESP, GER, GRE, CAN