Wet to dry for Lucerne World Rowing Cup Semifinals
The second World Rowing Cup for 2016 in Lucerne, Switzerland moved on to semifinals day with racing beginning under rainy skies before the sun pushed through. A slight tail wind and ever so slightly bobbly water helped athletes race to quick times.
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (LW1x) - Semifinals
Semifinal One featured the reigning European Champion, Anja Noske of Germany. Noske took off at the start with Denmark's Runge Holmegaard. Both boats came out of the start and then settled at a high 35 stroke rate. Holmegaard had the edge before Noske managed to get her bow in front as Michelle Sechser of the United States came storming through. These three scullers headed to the finish line forming a practical line. Sechser, who comes from the US 2015 lightweight double, pushed past to get to the line first.
Poland's Joanna Dorociak had a very fast start in Semifinal Two. But she was up against the World Champion and World Best Time holder, Zoe McBride of New Zealand. By the middle of the race McBride had found the lead and moved to a boat length advantage. This left Canada and Poland fighting it out for second. McBride, from Nelson, New Zealand, then moved to a clear water lead and in the final sprint she stayed steady at a 30 stroke rate. Australia's Sarah Pound pushed ahead of Canada to take second.
Qualifiers: USA, GER, DEN, NZL, AUS, CAN
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Semifinals
Slovenia's Rajko Hrvat had the fastest time coming through the heats yesterday and today he raced at the head of the field in Semifinal One. Hrvat took bronze at the European Rowing Championships earlier this month. But it was Hungary who had the lead at the start. Harvat stuck with Bence Tamas o f Hungary before overtaking him as Tamas began to slow. This gave Luka Radonic of Croatia the chance he was looking for and Radonic got into second with Switzerland's Silvan Zehnder doing a big push to come through into third. Tamas had run out of steam and missed out on qualifying.
Stany Delayre of France was the fastest starter in Semifinal Two. He comes to the single from being World Champion in the lightweight double last year. Delayre won his heat yesterday. Then the European Champion, Lukas Babac of Slovakia got his boat ahead of Delayre's with Delayre now having to contend with Austin Meyer of United States Two with Norway One of Ask Jarl Tjoem. This was going to be a sprint to the line between four boats. Babac remained just ahead as Tjoem took his stroke rate to 42 with Meyer at 38. The American had missed out by less than half a second. Babac, at a time of 7:11, had recorded the fastest qualifying time going into this afternoon's finals.
Qualifiers: SLO, CRO, SUI, SVK, NOR, FRA
Women's Pair (W2-) - Semifinals
When you find yourself in a semifinal with Great Britain's Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, it's not unknown to decide that you are racing for second. But Kate Christowitz and Lee-Ann Persse of South Africa did their best to shake up the status quo in Semifinal One. They came out of the start rating 51 to Great Britain's 44. Still Glover and Stanning got to the 500m mark the first. The British then moved away from South Africa and now the United States One crew of Felice Mueller and Grace Luczak who had pushed into second. This order stayed the same until the end of the race with Glover and Stanning having no need to sprint the finish.
Jumping out quickly at the start was Hedvig Rasmussen and Anne Andersen of Denmark in Semifinal Two and this duo held it through the middle of the race before the United States Two did a push and pulled into the lead with New Zealand One chasing hard. The New Zealand line up of Genevieve Behrent and Rebecca Scown is a new crew from last year and they will also be racing in their nation's women's eight. Meghan Musnicki and Eleanor Logan of USA2 kept at a 36 stroke rate pace to cross the line in first. New Zealand came through in second.
Qualifiers: GBR, USA1, RSA, USA2, NZL, DEN
Women's Single Sculls (W1x) - Semifinals
This really looks to be the season of Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. She became European Champion earlier this month and she won her heat yesterday. Lobnig had the fastest start in Semifinal One leading over Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic and China's Jingli Duan who took bronze at last year's World Rowing Championships. Lobnig had a very small margin at the half way point with just two seconds separating the top three boats. Knapkova then moved on Lobnig as these boats came into the final sprint. Knapkova took her stroke rate to 31 and pulled ahead of Lobnig and Duan who were rating higher. These are the qualifiers.
Kim Brennan of Australia got away the quickest in Semifinal Two with Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland One also having a very good start. By the middle of the race Brennan had a two-second lead which is less than the commanding leads Brennan often pulls off. It was now Genevra Stone of the United States who was the closest to the Australian. Then Brennan managed to pull away with Canada's Carling Zeeman getting ahead of Gmelin and into a qualifying spot. Zeeman went to 37 strokes per minute going through the third 500 and made Stone move to 38 strokes per minute. They closed on Brennan, but did not catch her. Brennan's time of 7:31 was the fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: CZE, CHN, AUT, AUS, USA, CAN
Men's Single Sculls (W1x) - Semifinals
In Semifinal One World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic had a quick start, but it was not enough for him to break away from the field. There was just one and a half seconds separating the top five boats which, in single sculling, is nothing. Then Synek was able to pull away slightly with only Alan Campbell of Great Britain and also Cuba's Angel Fournier Rodriguez still within striking distance. Fournier, who medalled at the World Rowing Championships two years ago, now moved through Campbell and went after Synek. Synek rated 32 to stay in front, Fournier was on 33 in second and Campbell at 39 was under threat from Stanislau Shcharbachenia of Belarus. Shcharbachenia missed out by just 0.26 of a second.
Thibaut Verhoeven of France took off very quickly in Semifinal Two. Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand followed in second. This is normal for Drysdale who likes to build as the race progresses. Going through the middle of the race Verhoeven and Drysdale were neck-and-neck at the head of the field with last year's bronze medallist, Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania One holding the leaders pace in third. Then Verhoeven ran out of steam and Stefan Broenink of the Netherlands moved into third with Griskonis now in second. Broenink then took his stroke rate to 35 and closed on Drysdale. The line came too soon. Drysdale remained in front.
Qualifiers: CZE, CUB, GBR, NZL, LTU, NED
Lightweight Women's Double Sculls (LW2x) - Semifinals
Semifinal One featured the World Champions, Sophie MacKenzie and Julia Edward of New Zealand. In the first 500m all of the boats got away quickly with most crews dropping to 35. Just New Zealand held their rating up longer, holding 38 as they came towards the 500m mark. But it was China One of Wenyi Huang and Feihong Pan who got to the 500m mark first. MacKenzie and Edward followed very closely in second. These two crews went through the middle of the race neck-and-neck with South Africa's Kirsten McCann and Usurla Grobler holding the pace of the leaders in third. New Zealand then got their nose in front of China with South Africa also getting the better of Huang and Pan. Rating 35, McCann and Grobler then challenged MacKenzie and Edward for the lead. The New Zealanders rated 39 to stay ahead of South Africa.
Canada's Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee finished seventh at the London Olympics and they've stayed together to aim for a Rio medal. Today they raced at the head of the field in Semifinal Two. The Canadians got away very quickly with only China able to match their pace. Then Jennerich and Obee got out to a boat length lead through the middle of the race with Denmark nearly equal to China Two's Miao Wang and Dandan Pan. It started to close in the final sprint with Ireland, Denmark and China all within half a metre of each other. Denmark's 38 stroke rate earned them second with China denying Ireland of a spot by just 0.43 of a second. Canada's time of 6:58 was the fastest qualifying time of the two semifinals.
Qualifiers: NZL, RSA, CHN1, CAN, DEN, CHN2
Lightweight Men's Double Sculls (LM2x) - Semifinals
The United States and France got away the quickest in Semifinal One. But the margins were tight going through the first 500m mark with less than half a second separating the top four boats. Then Andrew Campbell and Joshua Konieczny of the United States took an ever so slight lead. France's Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou fought back with the 2014 World Champions, South Africa moving into second. In the final sprint Houin and Azou took their rating to 39 and moved away from James Thompson and John Smith of South Africa and the Americans. These were the qualifying boats.
The quickest at the start were Will Fletcher and Richard Chambers of Great Britain. This is their first international regatta of the season and it must have been a test on how their off season training had gone. Norway's Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli followed in second. Norway finished third at last year's World Rowing Championships and also third at this month's European Rowing Championships. Fletcher and Chambers remained in front through the middle of the race, with a small margin over Norway. The European Champions, Ireland's Gary and Paul O'Donovan followed in third.
In the final sprint Strandli and Brun went to 35 to try and catch the British. They did. Fletcher and Chambers qualified from second and the O'Donovan brothers took the third and final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: FRA, RSA, USA, NOR, GBR, IRL