Variety in the heats at Junior Championships
The 2014 World Rowing Junior Championships in Hamburg, Germany continued with the second day of heats and a whole range of racing tactics saw some crews sprint the full 2000m, while others played a more tactical game.
The wind stayed away but a light rain fell on the Elbe River regatta course. This did not deter the rowers who come from around the world, from a variety of seasons and training environments.
Junior Women’s Four (JW4-) – Heats
The aim in the junior women's four was to be in a top three position of the three heats being raced. This would enable a direct track to the semifinals on Saturday. Italy got out to a good pace at the start of Heat One followed closely by China. China, who were sixth last year, then did a big push and got into the lead. Italy had no reaction and China powered home to a comfortable win.
Heat Two opened with the United States in the lead. The US are the defending Junior World Champions, but their crew was a little wobbly. It didn't matter as the United States remained in the lead with Germany following in second. By the final sprint the United States had a handy margin and finished easily in first and also scored the fastest qualifying time.
France was the first to show in Heat Three and by the middle of the race they had a handy lead with Poland in second. The French have showed some solid racing this season in the women's four at both the under-23 and senior level. Today they continued in the lead with the real battle going on behind them between Poland and Great Britain. The British had the better sprint to get ahead of Poland, but not enough to reach France who continued to lead.
Qualifiers: CHN, ITA, BLR, USA, GER, AUS, FRA, GBR, POL
Junior Men’s Coxed Four (JM4+) – Heats
Two heats lined up with the aim being to finish first. This would mean going directly to Sunday's final and missing out on trying to qualify through a repechage. Heat One featured the reigning Junior World Champions, Italy. After an opening lead by Belarus, Italy took over in the lead with Belarus doing their best to hold on. But then in the second half of the race, Italy pushed clean away from the rest of the field and, despite their lead, they continued to sprint to the line finishing in a time of 6:22 - the fastest qualifying time.
New Zealand had the lead in Heat Two with Great Britain the only boat close to challenging. Going through the middle of the race these two boats were head-to-head. Last year the New Zealanders were fourth, while Great Britain finished sixth. Then, timing it with precision, Great Britain pushed into the lead. New Zealand tried to hold on but had no reply. British coxswain Hugo Marsh had timed the race splendidly and his crew will go directly to the final.
Qualifiers: ITA, GBR
Junior Women’s Pair (JW2-) – Heats
This boat class had attracted entries from 12 nations. They were divided into two heats and the top finisher in each heat would go directly to Sunday's final. Heat One featured the United States. This is a boat class that the United States are regularly strong in, but last year they finished outside of the medals in sixth. They looked like they were back in the running today as Meghan Galloway and Liliane Lindsay led the field. Then Canada picked up the pace and took on the United States, stroke for stroke. The Canadians then put their foot down and left the Americans behind. Canada recorded the fastest qualifying time.
Romania were the gold medallists in this event last year and they got out quickly in Heat Two. By the middle of the race Roxana Parascanu and Beatrice-Madalina Parfenie had a reasonable lead over Chile in second. In the Chilean boat are the Abraham sisters who are quadruplets - with their two brothers racing in Hamburg as well. They put the pressure on Romania, but Romania had just enough energy to hold them off and then sprint away to an easy win at the end.
Qualifiers: CAN, ROU
Junior Men’s Four (JM4-) – Heats
The men's four had three heats and the aim for these rowers was to finish first or second. This would guarantee them a direct path into Saturday's semifinal. As the rain stopped, Heat One got underway with the United States the first crew to show. The United States finished sixth in this boat class last year and going through the middle of the race they were neck-and-neck with 2013 silver medallists, Italy. Margins then became really tight, the top four boats were separated by just one second, with Australia and Romania joining the battle. But there were only two positions available, who had the best sprint? Romania did it. From the back of the field they had come through the field to win.
Germany got off to an absolutely flying start in Heat Two. Last year Germany raced in the B-final and it looks like they had a new breath of life for their home course regatta. The fast start meant that Germany had a very handy lead at the half way point with Spain following in second. Spain won the B-final last year and they have made the men's four their priority boat at this regatta. In the final sprint, Greece picked up the pace but then ran out of steam and were unable to get into a qualifying spot. Germany's time of 6:12 gave them the fastest qualifying time.
Heat Three had the Czech Republic in the far lane with Belarus the closest competitors. Then the smooth-looking Czechs pushed away leaving Belarus under pressure for the second qualifying spot with Croatia and Switzerland both challenging. A very solid sprint by Croatia gave them the qualifying position with the Czech Republic remaining in first.
Qualifiers: ROU, ITA, GER, ESP, CZE, CRO
Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls (JW4x) – Heats
Three heats lined up in this boat class with the crews all aiming to be in a top three position to earn a spot in Saturday's semifinal. Romania is the 2014 European Junior Champions, while Germany got the silver this year. They both lined up in Heat One with Germany taking the leading advantage right from the start. By the middle of the race, Germany had a handy lead while Romania and Denmark were going head-to-head for second. The Romanians then managed to break free of Denmark, but did not have the speed to catch the Germans. These were the three qualifying boats.
The reigning Junior World Champions, Italy lined up in Heat Two. But it was Great Britain in the lead at the start with the United States following in second. Italy held on to third before being eaten up by China and thus being pushed out of a qualifying spot. China then decided to attack. Stroke for stroke they overtook the United States and then closed on Great Britain. Kuang, Zhao, Chen and Zhao had judged the race perfectly and they crossed the line ahead of Great Britain in first and with the fastest qualifying time overall.
New Zealand had a great start in Heat Three to take a handy boat length margin with Russia, Japan and the Netherlands absolutely neck-and-neck. Last year New Zealand finished fifth in this boat class and it looks like they stepped up a notch for 2014. But then the Netherlands, who were fourth in 2013 and took bronze at the European Junior Championships, started to put the pressure on New Zealand. Coming through the 1500m mark, the Dutch overtook New Zealand who had no answer. The Netherlands then powered home to an easy win.
Qualifiers: GER, ROU, DEN, CHN, GBR, USA, NED, NZL, BLR
Junior Women’s Double Sculls (JW2x) – Heats
This boat class attracted 22 countries and they were divided into four heats with the top boat only in each heat getting to go directly to the Semifinals. This race was won by Romania last year and they have brought their same winning crew to Hamburg. Elena Logofatu and Nicoleta Pascanu of Romania lined up in Heat One and after coming out behind Germany, they took the lead by the 900m mark. Once in the lead Logofatu and Pascanu smoothly moved away from the rest of the field. Germany, in second had no reply and Romania became the sole qualifying crew and also the fastest qualifiers overall.
Greece's Aikaterini Zerva and Athina-Maria Angelopoulou became the clear leader in Heat Two. Greece finished fourth in this boat class, with this same duo last year making them the highest ranking country in this heat. Zerva and Angelopoulou justified their ranking by moving clear away from the rest of the field. They pushed through to an easy win with the United States in second, but too far back to threaten the Greek lead.
Heat Three began with Australia in the lead, but it was not long before Hungary went right through Australia and started to move away. Hungary did not feature in this event last year and the duo is racing at their first international race, while Australia earned the silver medal. By the end of the race Vivien Preil and Zoltana Gadanyi of Hungary had a very comfortable winning margin to earn the one spot available from this heat in the semifinals.
In Heat Four, South Africa got away the fastest with New Zealand chasing hard. By the middle of the race Talya-May Bentley and Amy Mattushek of South Africa had managed to establish a boat length lead. Both Bentley and Mattushek are racing at their first international event and they were looking a bit more fluid than New Zealand. But then it looked like South Africa was beginning to tire. New Zealand was able to close on South Africa, but Bentley and Mattushek got to the line first.
Qualifiers: ROU, GRE, HUN, RSA
Junior Women’s Eight (JW8+) – Heats
The two heats in this boat class had the rowers aiming to be in the top position. This would mean that they could go directly to the final on Sunday. Australia and Russia left the starting blocks the quickest in Heat One with Australia getting a slight edge. Then Russia's coxswain Anastasia Bazhenova started to call some pieces and they inched into the lead. Once in the lead Russia looked in total control, leaving Australia to find themselves under threat from the United States. The United States then closed on Russia, but Russia had too much of a lead to be caught.
Heat Two featured the gold, silver and bronze medallists from 2013 with Romania the reigning Junior World Champions. But at the start it was Germany in the lead, albeit very small, over Romania. Together these two crews went stroke-for-stroke through the middle of the race before it looked like Germany had worn Romania down. Germany received a very warm welcome from the home crowd in the final sprint as they crossed the line in first and in the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: RUS, GER
Junior Men’s Eight (JM8+) – Heats
The men's eight attracted 10 countries and they were divided into two heats with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the finals. Italy had the fastest start in Heat One. The Italians finished with the silver last year and Serbia took bronze. But by the middle of the race, last year's eighth-place finishers, the Netherlands pushed into the lead. The Dutch have a brother combination in their boat of Just Ponsen in the coxswain seat and Max Ponsen one of the rowers. The Dutch then started to push away from Italy. But the Italians had not given up. Although they didn't catch the Netherlands, they kept the pressure on right to the line.
In the last heat of the day, Heat Two of the men's eight, the German Junior World Champions got a chance to strut their stuff. The German boat has three remaining members from the 2013 winning crew and they helped take their boat into the lead with just 500m rowed. Spain followed in second with the United States looking like they were winding up to attack Spain.
Germany remained out in front and as the race progressed, they managed to pull away from the rest of the field leaving the real race to go on for the second qualifying spot. In the race was Spain, the United States and Russia. All three crews started to sprint with Spain starting it the earliest. As Germany crossed the line in first, Spain came through in second to take the final qualification spot. Germany's finishing time was just a fraction of a second faster than the Netherlands in heat one.
Qualifiers: NED, ITA, GER, ESP