Wet World Cup launch in Lucerne
Leaving at five minute intervals, the heats got going at the 2014 World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland. This is the final World Cup of the series of three and it always brings out the best in racing as it is the last chance for international competition before the World Rowing Championships. Intermittent rain set the scene on Lucerne's Rotsee regatta course with cool summer temperatures of about 12 degrees Celsius.
Lightweight Men's Pair (LM2-) - Heats
It was vital to be in the top two of these three heats for crews to get a direct path to tomorrow's semifinals. It was especially vital for these lightweight rowers who spend a lot of time balancing energy output and food input. Jiri Kopac and Miroslav Vrastil of the Czech Republic won the World Cup last month in Aiguebelette and they set themselves up to hold on to the World Cup lead by finishing first in Heat One with the fastest overall qualifying time. Kopac and Vrastil crossed the finish line rating a healthy 35 stroke rate pace. Italy Two came through in second. The British duo of Jonathan Clegg and Sam Scrimgeour led from start to finish in Heat Two. Clegg and Scrimgeour were fourth in Aiguebelette and they will be aiming to step up at this regatta. France came through in second.
Heat Three saw a mighty finish by Greece with a 44 stroke rate. It was enough for them to overtake Austria Two and earn a qualifying spot. In the lead, though, and getting the crowd clapping was Simon Niepmann and Lucas Tramer of Switzerland. Niepmann and Tramer looked long and relaxed at a 33 stroke rate finish.
Qualifiers: CZE, ITA2, GBR, FRA, SUI, GRE
Lightweight Men's Single Sculls (LM1x) - Heats
The aim here was to be first or second for a direct path to the semifinals. Divided into three heats, Australia had the early lead in Heat One, but they didn't have the stamina. Instead it was Damien Piqueras of France One who came through in front. Piqueras was followed by Adam Freeman-Pask of Great Britain. These are the two qualifiers.
Leading from start to finish in Heat Two was Daniel Lawitzke of Germany. Lawitzke got the silver medal at the World Cup in Aiguebelette and, in the absence of China, he must be a hot contender for the top medal here on the Rotsee. Slovenia's Rajko Hrvat used a strong finish to take second.
Heat Three saw the fastest qualifying time with Michael Schmid of Switzerland overtaking a fast-starting Denmark to take the lead and hold it to the finish. Schmid last raced at the European Rowing Championships where he finished third. Greece One took the final qualifying spot.
Qualifiers: FRA1, GBR, GER, SLO, SUI1, GRE1
Lightweight Women's Single Sculls (LW1x) - Heats
The top three crews in each of the three heats would get to go directly to Saturday's semifinals and in the opening Heat One Stefanie Borzacchini of Austria One led the way. Borzacchini is on the Austrian national team for the seventh year and finished ninth in this boat class last month in Aiguebelette. But Aikaterini Nikolaidou of Greece had other ideas and a big finish saw her come through into first. Italy qualified from third.
Julia Edward of New Zealand set the fastest qualifying time in Heat Two and looks to be heading towards another World Cup win. Edward was first in Aiguebelette and coming out of the lightweight double seems to be suiting her well. Behind Edward, Nienke van Hoogenhuijze of the Netherlands Two recorded the second-fastest qualifying time. Olympian Marie-Louise Draeger of Germany Two cruised into third.
The Dutch scored a second qualifier by winning Heat Three. Marie-Anne Frenken of the Netherlands One led from start to finish, crossing the line at a 32 stroke rate pace. Denmark's Christina Pultz came through in second and a very strong finish by Kate Johnstone of South Africa gave her the final qualifying spot and the bonus of not racing in this afternoon's repechage.
Qualifiers: GRE1, AUT1, ITA, NZL, NED2, GRE2, NED1, DEN, RSA
Men's Pair (M2-) - Heats
A very full field of 25 entries lined up in this boat class to be spread over six heats. The top three boats, plus the next fastest time in each heat qualified for this afternoon's quarterfinals with all other boats racing in a lesser final. Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand have dominated this boat class since 2009, but this did not seem to be deterring the competition.
Great Britain's James Foad and Matt Langridge overtook Marco Di Costanzo and Matteo Castaldo of Italy One to finish first in Heat One. Foad and Langridge come out of their country's men's eight that finished second at the Aiguebelette World Rowing Cup. Italy qualified from second along with Australia Two and Russia.
Alexander Sigurbjonsson Benet and Pau Vela Maggi of Spain are in their fourth season together and already have a World Cup medal from the Lucerne World Cup last year. They finished first in Heat Two ahead of the young combination making up Italy Two. Poland qualified from third. A Serbian battle went on in Heat Three with Serbia Two of Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik finishing first ahead of Veselin Savic and Dusan Bogicevic of Serbia One. Savic and Bogicevic won at the European Rowing Championships and are still at under-23 age. South Africa Two also got through to the quarterfinals.
Recording the fastest qualifying time by a healthy chunk was Bond and Murray in Heat Four. The duo led from start to finish and their 33 stroke rate at the end indicated that they were not being at all pushed. There are many theories on what makes this duo so fast. Definitely their perfect synchronicity helps. Netherlands Two and Hungary were the remaining qualifiers.
Germany's Bastian Bechler and Anton Braun finished second to the New Zealanders at the Aiguebelette World Rowing Cup and they led Heat Five from start to finish. South Africa's Shaun Keeling and Vincent Breet pushed the Germans hard for the full 2000m and both crews were rating in the high 30s at the end. Great Britain Two qualified from third.
The final heat began with Rodrigo Murillo and Martin Lasserre of Argentina in the lead. Greece's Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou then took over. Then Ioannis Tsilis and Dionysios Angelopoulos of Greece Two had the lead. This three way tussle pushed last year's Would Championship medallists, the Netherlands, out of qualifying and into the E-final. Rumour has it that the Dutch are not at full health. Argentina came through at the end in first with a 40 stroke rate sprint.
Qualifiers: GBR1, ITA1, AUS2, RUS, ESP, ITA2, POL, SRB2, SRB1, RSA2, NZL, NED2, HUN, GER, RSA1, GBR2, ARG, GRE2, GRE1
Lightweight Men's Double Sculls (LM2x) - Heats
The pressure was on in this boat class as only the first boat would go directly to the semifinals on Saturday from the four heats. Andrea Micheletti and Pietro Ruta of Italy set the standard in Heat One recording the fastest qualifying time of 6:27. Micheletti and Ruta, who were fourth at last year's World Rowing Championships, raced their own race at the head of the field with no other boat able to match the pace. It looks like this duo has more to give.
Winners of the Aiguebelette World Rowing Cup, Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou of France held off a fast start by Germany One (Steinhuebel and Hartig) to qualify from first. The Germans did not push the finish leaving Delayre and Azou to cruise the finish at a 27 stroke rate. Japan pushed the Czech Republic's Jan and Ondrej Vetesnik through the first half of the race but didn't have the power to finish it off. Then Australia went after the leading Czechs, but had left it too late. The Vetesnik's went directly through to the semifinals.
World Champions, Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway had control of this race from start to finish. Brun and Strandli finished third at Aiguebelette last month and they will be looking to get a better coloured medal on the Rotsee. Brun and Strandli are the qualifiers from Heat Four.
Qualifiers: ITA, FRA, CZE, NOR
Lightweight Women's Double Sculls (LM2x) - Heats
This boat class had three heats with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to tomorrow's semifinals. Last month at Aiguebelette Canada's Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee finished fifth. They have now had a good stretch of training in Europe and in Heat One they beat the World Champions, Laura Milani and Elisabetta Sancassani of Italy. As has become habit, the Italians had a slow start and did not have enough water to catch the Canadians at the end. Both crews qualified for the semifinals.
Like Canada, Sweden look to be stepping up. Cecilia Lilja and Emma Fredh of Sweden had control of Heat Two despite a strong challenge from Olympians, Leonie Pless and Anja Noske of Germany. These two crews earned spots in the semifinals.
Winners of the Aiguebelette World Rowing Cup, Imogen Walsh and Katherine Copeland of Great Britain were the top crew in Heat Three. But was Australia's Alice McNamara and Ella Flecker who had the lead at the start. Coming through the middle of the race South Africa, Great Britain and Australia were pushing each other hard. Then in the final sprint Walsh and Copeland grabbed the lead, rating 38 and crossing the line with the fastest qualifying time of 7:05. Australia qualified from second.
Qualifiers: CAN, ITA, SWE, GER, GBR, AUS1
Men's Quadruple Sculls (M4x) - Heats
This is going to be an exciting boat class. At Aiguebelette last month, Great Britain rocked the status quo by beating Olympic Champions, Germany. Today in the three heats less than a couple of seconds separated the top six boats. In each heat, three crews went directly to the semifinals and in Heat One Germany had the edge. The Germans led from start to finish, but did not appear to be dominating, even at their 32 stroke rate finish. Slovenia and the Czech Republic qualified from second and third respectively.
The fastest heat turned out to be Heat Two. Through to the middle of the race all five crews were on top of each other and unrelenting. Then Italy started to slip back leaving Canada, Poland, the United States and Estonia to see who had the best second half stamina. The United States took over coming through the 900m mark before Estonia pushed past. All four crews gave it their all to the line. Canada, who finished third at the Aiguebelette World Rowing Cup, was unlucky. Estonia, United States and Poland qualified. All four crews were visibly quite fatigued after the finish line. They will meet again in tomorrow's semfinals.
Great Britain confronted a new challenger in Heat Three. The British took off with a fast start but were then pushed into second by New Zealand with Australia and Egypt both very much on the pace. The British fought back with New Zealand holding the pace. At the line Great Britain, New Zealand and Australia qualified.
Qualifiers: GER, SLO, CZE, EST, USA, POL, GBR, NZL, AUS
Men's Double Sculls (M2x) - Heats
This boat class was divided into four heats with the top two boats from each heat earning a spot in tomorrow's semifinals. The men's double has been wide open so far this season with a number of crews earning medals.
After missing the second World Rowing Cup, Lithuania was back and competing in Heat One. Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter of Lithuania finished first at the Sydney World Rowing Cup back in March and they also medalled at last year's World Rowing Championships. Mascinskas and Ritter led from start to finish with Germany slotting into second and also earning a qualifying spot.
By the middle of the race, Heat Two had sorted itself out. Great Britain's John Collins and Jonathan Walton had the lead, the Manson brothers from New Zealand were second and no other crew looked up to it to challenge for a qualifying spot. The Brits and the Kiwis became the two qualifying boats - Great Britain at 28 and New Zealand at 31 strokes per minute.
After finishing sixth at the Aiguebelette World Cup, World Champions Kjetil Borch and Nils Jakob Hoff of Norway were not happy. Today, in Heat Three, they recorded a very convincing win - so convincing that they looked like they were rowing a leisurely half slide coming into the finish. Australia's James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff were second.
It took until Heat Four for the fastest qualifying time to be recorded. Winners from Aiguebelette, Martin and Valent Sinkovic of Croatia took the lead at the start and remained in front. But the Sinkovic's didn't have it all their own way. Marko Marjanovic and Aleksandar Filipovic of Serbia pushed hard and kept the Croatian's honest. Croatia and Serbia move to the semifinals.
Qualifiers: LTU, GER, GBR, NZL, NOR, AUS1, CRO1, SRB
Women's Double Sculls (W2x) - Heats
This boat class had three heats with the top two from each heat going directly to the semifinal. Leading the way this season has been Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe of Australia. They have won both World Cups and they led the way in Heat One. Aldersey comes out of Australia's successful under-23 quadruple sculls while the more senior Kehoe won her first international medal as a junior in 2003. Together for the first time this season, Aldersey and Kehoe today stayed ahead of Belarus's Ekaterina Karsten and Yuliya Bichyk. Both boats qualified.
At the head of the field in Heat Two was Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania. The duo battled with Poland's Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj for the first half of the race before the Poles decided being second was alright. Lithuania is the current World Champions and Poland have the European Championship title. These two crews move to the semifinals.
Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson of New Zealand came through to record the fastest qualifying time in Heat Three. Bourke and Stevenson medalled at last year's World Rowing Championships but ended up in the B-final at the Aiguebelette World Cup. It must have given them a shake-up as they overtook Aiguebelette silver medallists, Meghan O'Leary and Ellen Tomek of the United States to finish first. O'Leary and Tomek also go directly to the semifinals with the second fastest qualifying time.
Qualifiers: AUS, BLR1, LTU, POL, NZL, USA
Lightweight Men's Four (LM4-) - Heats
Three heats lined up with the top three boats from each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. The heats opened with New Zealand in the lead. New Zealand finished second in 2013 and came storming back this season with a convincing gold at the Aiguebelette World Rowing Cup over Denmark. By the middle of the race the New Zealanders had a boat length lead over Germany and looked happy just to sit in this position and exert enough energy to hold the lead. Germany and Italy One got the better of the Netherlands and took second and third respectively to also qualify. New Zealand's time of 6:05 was the fastest qualifying time overall.
World Champions Denmark got off to a fast start with Spain and Australia pushing hard in Heat Two. These three crews remained locked together through the middle of the race before Spain began to slip back. Denmark rated a 36, but still pushed hard to finish first while Australia and Spain looked satisfied to hold on to second and third respectively.
A huge battle went on between France and Great Britain in Heat Three. Both of these crews raced in the final at the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette with Great Britain taking third and France ending in fifth. Today these two crews exchanged the lead as they gave it their all for the full 2000m. Very closely matched, both boats crossed the finish line at a 42 stroke rate pace with Great Britain just in front. Italy Two joins the British and French in qualifying for the semifinals.
Qualifiers: NZL, GER, ITA1, DEN, AUS, ESP, GBR, FRA, ITA2
Men's Single Sculls (M1x) - Heats
The biggest boat class of the regatta, the men's single sculls had 31 boats lining up. These were spread over six heats with the top four boats from each heat advancing to this afternoon's quarterfinals. Winner of the Holland Beker Regatta, Roel Braas of the Netherlands, opened the racing by leading from start to finish in Heat One. Braas was ahead of 2008 Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway who came through in second. Tufte is on the comeback trail and after a year away from competitive rowing he is looking towards Rio 2016. There was no sprinting at the finish in this heat with Australia One and Belgium joining the leaders in the quarterfinal.
Great Britain's Alan Campbell medalled at the London Olympics, but has been a bit off the pace since then. Today, Campbell made Heat Two look easy has he led over Dani Fridman of Israel One. They will be joined in the quarterfinal by Belarus and Korea. In Heat Three Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania overtook Julien Bahain of Canada to finish first. Griskonis comes to Lucerne after last racing at the European Rowing Championships where he was third. Italy One and Switzerland One also made it through this round.
Winner of the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette, Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand is definitely back on form after 2013 turned out to be an off year for the Olympic Champion. Drysdale had the fastest first 500m of all of the six heats and easily led the way in Heat Four. Kristian Vasilev of Bulgaria Two slotted in behind Drysdale to qualify from second and Australia Two and Egypt Two also qualified.
Heat Five had Robert Ven of Finland in the lead. Ven first raced internationally as a junior back in 2008 and has been mixing it up between the double and single in elite racing. This lead was rather surprising as sitting behind Ven was current World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Coming into the finish Synek rated 28 and kept a careful eye out of his boat and on his competition. Also qualifying was the United States and Croatia One.
Germany's Marcel Hacker set the standard in Heat Six by recording the fastest qualifying time. This was despite Hacker not really being pressed at the finish. Hacker will head for the quarterfinals along with Bulgaria One, Romania and Switzerland Two.
Qualifiers: NED, NOR, AUS1, BEL, GBR, ISR1, BLR, KOR, LTU, CAN, ITA1, SUI1, NZL, BUL2, AUS2, EGY2, FIN, CZE, USA, CRO1, GER1, BUL1, ROU, SUI2
Women's Single Sculls (W1x) - Heats
Four heats made up the women's single sculls with the top two scullers in each heat to qualify directly to the semifinals. Racing opened with Australia's best, Kim Crow leading the way in Heat One. Crow is the reigning World Champion and recently arrived in Europe in time to win the Holland Beker regatta in Amsterdam. Crow led today's heat from start to finish by an impressive margin and recorded the fastest qualifying time. Ireland's Sanita Puspure qualified from second.
Olympic Champion and recent Henley Royal Regatta winner, Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic raced at the head of the field in Heat Two. Behind Knapkova a battle went on between the two Dutch crews of Inge Janssen and Chantal Achterberg. Achterberg got the better of the battle and will go directly to the semifinal along with Knapkova.
Great Britain's Victoria Thornely raced in Heat Three. Thornley is in the single after her doubles partner Frances Houghton was ruled out of this regatta due to injury. Thornley made a fine effort of the circumstances by leading for the majority of the race. Magdalena Lobnig of Austria, who was third in Aiguebelette, then overtook Thornley in the final sprint. These are the two scullers that will go to the semifinals.
Heat Four had current World Cup leader, Emma Twigg of New Zealand finish first. Twigg has won both the first and second World Cups and will be looking for a hat trick in Lucerne. The New Zealander outpaced the rest of the field with definite ease, cruising home at a 25 stroke rate pace.
Qualifiers: AUS1, IRL, CZE, NED1, AUT, GBR, NZL, GER1
Women's Pair (W2-) - Heats
Two heats lined up with the top boat on the direct path to Sunday's final. This was quite an incentive as it would mean another potential slippery hands, rainy race in a repechage. In Heat One, Louise Trappitt and Rebecca Scown of New Zealand started out in the lead with Romania One chasing hard. The Romanians then found themselves under pressure from South Africa. With New Zealand now comfortably in front, South Africa and Romania One went head to head until the line. New Zealand got to go directly to the final while Romania One and South Africa will do it all again in the repechage.
Winners of the World Rowing Cup in Aigubelette and Olympic Champions, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain One led the way in Heat Two. The British duo, however, did not dominate. Usually Glover and Stanning have looked in a class of their own, but today they were under pressure from New Zealand Two of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler. At the line the British rated 37 but were unable to shake the New Zealanders. Still, Great Britain crossing the line in first gave them a direct path to Sunday's final.
Qualifiers: NZL1, GBR1
Men's Four (M4-) - Heats
With two heats lining up the goal was to be first or second to go directly to the Finals on Sunday. Heat One was the faster heat after reigning European Rowing Champions, Great Britain bolted out of the blocks. The British kept the heat on to move to a clear water lead through the middle of the race with reigning World Champions, the Netherlands slotting into second. The British did not need to sprint at the end and both Great Britain and the Netherlands move directly to Sunday's final.
In Heat Two, Italy got off to a fine start with their new 2014 men's four line up. By the middle of the race the Italians and the Germans had firmly established themselves in these positions. Then in the final sprint Germany decided that they wanted to be in the lead and took their stroke rate to 43. Italy reacted back hitting the low 40s and managed to cross the line just in front.
Qualifiers: ITA, GER, GBR, NED
Women's Quadruple Sculls (W4x) - Heats
Two heats lined up with the top two boats in each heat earning a direct path to Sunday's final. Winners from the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette, Germany led the way in Heat One. The Germans have been trying different line ups this season and after their win in Aiguebelette they look set on the Thiele, Baer, Lier and Schmidla crew. New Zealand challenged hard but remained in second with these two crews getting to go directly to the final.
Finishing in a slightly faster time than the Germans, Canada was at the head of Heat Two. The Canadians finished fourth in Aiguebelette and have now had more time in Europe to really settle in. Canada was followed by Poland who kept the Canadians honest, but they were not able to overtake. Canada and Poland go directly to the final.
Qualifiers: GER, NZL, CAN, POL
Men's Eight (M8+) - Heats
The men's eight was divided into two heats with the first and second from each heat getting to go directly to the final. Heat One saw the return to the international scene of Olympic Champions, Germany. The Germans led the way ahead of Poland. Surprisingly Belarus, who finished third at the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette, was back in fourth and off the pace. At the line Germany and Poland rated in the mid 30s to cross in the two qualifying spots.
A faster time was recorded in Heat Two with Russia leading the way. The Russians finished second at the European Rowing Championships in May and they look to be improving as the season advances. Pushing Russia hard, but never quite managing to overtake, were the current World Champions, Great Britain. Both boats sprinted to the line with Russia hitting a stroke rate of 41 to stay in front. Russia and Great Britain earned the direct path to the final.
Qualifiers: RUS, GBR, GER1, POL