Who to Watch: 2013 World Rowing Championships
Get ready for hot and humid conditions and hot and heady racing at the 2013 World Rowing Championships in Chungju, Korea.
A record number of nations have entered, 74 in total, with racing taking place over eight days from 25 August to 1 September 2013.
This who to watch covers the 14 Olympic boat classes plus the eight International boat classes that will be competing at the World Rowing Championships.
Women’s Pair (W2-)
Coming to Chungju unbeaten so far this season is Helen Glover and Polly Swann of Great Britain. Right from their first race back in March, Glover and Swann showed that they had quickly gelled together and their boat speed was apparent. Glover is the 2012 Olympic Champion while Swann is the tall, young, talented newcomer.
Glover and Swann’s stiffest competition is likely to come from New Zealand’s Kayla Pratt and Rebecca Scown. Like Great Britain, New Zealand has combined the experience of a London Olympian (Scown who won bronze at Eton Dorney) with the young and talented newcomer to the pair, Pratt. These two crews met at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne in July and the British had controlled the race with Pratt and Scown coming through in second.
Likely to be fighting to get into the medals mix will be Roxana Cogianu and Nicoleta Albu of Romania as well as Taylor Goetzinger and Meghan Musnicki of the United States. Albu is a four-time European Champion and two-time under-23 champion in the pair. She and partner Cogianu also have a vast collection of medals from the eight. Musnicki is a 2012 Olympic Champion in the women’s eight, while her partner Goetzinger won gold in the eight at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships last year.
Men’s Pair (M2-)
By his own admission, Hamish Bond has stated that he and Eric Murray of New Zealand have made this event less interesting. Bond and Murray have been so dominating that top sweep rowers from other nations have moved out of the pair and into other events. After becoming Olympic Champions last year, Bond and Murray took a break. They came back to race internationally at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne this year. Their clear-water win showed that they had lost no speed since London. If Bond and Murray win in Chungju they will make history by securing their 16th consecutive international win, a new feat in rowing.
In Lucerne the stand-out new combination for 2013 was Italy’s Marco Di Costanzo and Matteo Castaldo. But Di Costanzo and Castaldo didn’t have it all their own way. They held a huge battle with Spain’s Alexander Sigurbjonsson Benet and Pau Vela Maggi. These two crews are likely to be fighting it out again in Chungju for the lesser medals.
London Olympic silver medallists Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette of France have performed rather averagely this season as they set their goal on the 2016 Olympics. Chardin and Mortelette will still be looking to show form at Chungju. Keep and eye out too for the Polish pair of Wojciech Gutorski and Jaroslaw Godek who have collected two silver medals already this season.
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)
There has been much interest this season around Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania. Vistartaite comes from racing the single at the London Olympics while 19-year-old Valciukaite won gold at the 2012 World Rowing Junior Championships. In their debut race together they won the 2013 European Rowing Championships and at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne the duo took gold again making them favourites coming to Chungju.
But showing their determination at Lucerne, and surprising the rest of the competitors, was New Zealand’s new combination of Zoe Stevenson and Fiona Bourke. The duo nearly caught the Lithuanians at the finish and in the process pushed Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek of the United States into third.
Watch out too for Belarus. Year 2013 sees the joining of two of rowing’s best-known names – Ekaterina Karsten and Yuliya Bichyk. So far this season single sculling Olympic and World Champion Karsten and Olympic medallist Bichyk have taken a third and a fourth place and surely will show their experience in Chungju.
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)
Unbeaten so far this season, Michael Arms and Robert Manson of New Zealand have burst onto the post-Olympic 2013 scene with gusto. Using the Olympic Champion New Zealand men’s pair as their training partners, Arms and Manson showed fast times from the beginning.
Racing at the World Rowing Championships is never easy however, and ready to knock the New Zealanders off the top perch are Italy’s Francesco Fossi and Romano Battisti. Battisti took silver at the London Olympics in this event and teaming up with Fossi this year has been a fortuitous move.
The most stable duo are the Germans – Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger. Knittel and Kreuger took the World Championship title in 2009, but have recorded mixed results since. So far this season they have won World Cup silver and bronze.
Watch out too for the ever-improving Lithuanians Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter who missed out on a medal at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne by just 0.01 of a second. Also don’t underestimate the very determined Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch of Norway who won bronze at the 2013 European Rowing Championships.
Men’s Four (M4-)
In an event that has been recently dominated by Great Britain and Australia, there is a new crew that deserves respect. The United States raced at the 2013 Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, led for the entire race and held off their competition in the final sprint. But margins were incredibly close between the US and silver and bronze medallists Australia and Italy. The indication is that the fight for gold at Chungju will be intense.
Great Britain did not fare well at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, but do not dismiss them. The British recorded silver at the second stage of the Samsung World Rowing Cup series and Lucerne’s B-final result could be a short-term glitch.
Watch out too for 2013 European Champions, the Netherlands, and this year’s European bronze medallists, Germany. For an outside chance at the medals, have a look at Belarus. They have retained their 2012 Olympic seventh-placed crew and this season Belarus have established themselves as regular A-finalists.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
This event has really spiced up in the last couple of years with gold medals being much more widely shared. The most dominant one has been Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic who comes to Chungju as the reigning World and Olympic Champion. Knapkova, however, has been beaten this season.
At Amsterdam’s Holland Beker Regatta Knapkova was fourth with Australia’s Olympic bronze medallist Kim Crow winning. Crow also finished first at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. There is little doubt that the single sculling field will be casting a wary eye towards Crow who leads the Australian team as the best gold medal prospect.
This season has seen the rise of Olympic Champion from the women’s eight, Eleanor Logan of the United States. Logan has already proven herself in the single by picking up two bronzes and a silver from the three World Cups that she has raced in 2013. Watch out too for New Zealand’s Emma Twigg who finished second at the Holland Beker Regatta and is usually in, or on the edge, of the medals.
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
The question on everyone’s lips is how Olympic Champion and five-time World Champion Mahe Drysdale will come back after an extended post- Olympic break. Drysdale did make an appearance at the Henley Royal Regatta but was knocked out relatively early on. Then he raced at the Holland Beker Regatta and finished a very respectable third. Drysdale has had a couple of months to get ‘racing fit’ and it will be interesting to see how he does it.
Taking Drysdale’s place at the top of the podium this season has been Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. The two-time Olympic silver medallist won two stages of the Samsung World Rowing Cup as well as the European Rowing Championships already this season and set a new World Cup Best Time of 6:37.40 in Lucerne.
Keep watch for Marcel Hacker of Germany. The former World Champion has been in and out of the medals in recent years but this season he is looking relaxed and confident and finished second to Synek at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne.
Medal potential also exists with Great Britain’s Olympic bronze medallist Alan Campbell. Campbell, under a new coach, will be working his way back from finishing outside of the medals at Lucerne.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)
If Laura Milani and Elisabetta Sancassani of Italy take gold it will be the first senior World Championship title for Italian women’s rowing. And, judging by their unbeaten record so far this season, Milani and Sancassani might just do it. The lightweight double, however, is merciless and requires the right blend of fluid intake, weight control, training and racing tactics to get it all right.
Milani and Sancassani met their toughest competition at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in July in Lucerne. There they held off silver medallists the United States (Kristin Hedstrom and Kathleen Bertko) and an excruciatingly close battle between Great Britain (Kathryn Twyman and Imogen Walsh) and New Zealand (Lucy Strack and Julia Edward).
These boats will all be lining up again at Chungju with Germany boating the same combination as from last year’s London Olympics, Lena Mueller and Anja Noske. This year’s European silver medallists, Mueller and Noske know that their best is yet to come.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
Top contenders for this season, France’s Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre have been put out of action following a boating accident for Delayre. Azou, thus, is entered in the lightweight single. This means the door has been opened just a little wider for Italy’s Andrea Micheletti and Pietro Ruta to come through at the front.
The new Italian combination finished second at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. But at Lucerne, Micheletti and Ruta were pushed hard by the Chambers brothers of Great Britain. Both of the Chambers raced to Olympic silver in the lightweight four last year and they have been shaping up well in the double.
Watch out too for the return to health of Olympians Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway. The duo missed Lucerne but had already medalled twice this season indicating their 2013 potential.
The depth of talent in this event will also see a strong push to get into the final by the Dutch, Poles, Greece and European Rowing Championship bronze medallists, Switzerland.
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)
Following an unbeaten season, New Zealand are undoubtedly the favourites for this year’s World Championship title. If the crew of James Hunter, James Lassche, Peter Taylor and Curtis Rapley pull it off it will a first for their country in this event. Denmark, however, will be doing everything in their power to foil the New Zealand plan.
The Danes feel a certain level of entitlement in the lightweight four having been regular medallists in it ever since it became an Olympic event in 1996. With legendary Eskild Ebbesen now retired, the Danish boat still contains the three remaining members that took Olympic bronze in 2012. Denmark and New Zealand are likely to be fighting it out at the head of the field.
Behind them the race will be tight between reigning Olympic Champions South Africa, Olympic silver medallists Great Britain and the fast finishing Dutch. South Africa has retained three members of their Olympic boat while Great Britain has rebuilt their crew in 2013 around Olympian Chris Bartley.
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
Look towards the Germans for the crew to beat. So far this season Germany have been unbeaten with gold at the European Rowing Championships as well as the two stages of the Samsung World Rowing Cup that they entered. Despite there being some crew changes throughout this season, each crew has remained in front and for Chungju they are back with their London Olympic silver medal combination.
To take down the Germans, the other crews will have to do something pretty special. The new Polish line-up, built around Olympic medallist Magdalena Fularzcyk, could be the crew to do it. They have a young, enthusiastic approach that may spell danger for the Germans. Also young and enthusiastic, the 2012 Under-23 Champions Australia are looking good. They finished third at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne showing that they are competitive at the senior level.
Keep an eye out too for Italy. The Italians finished third at the European Rowing Championships and fourth in Lucerne.
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)
Germany and Croatia lead the way as favourites following racing this season. These two nations raced to gold and silver respectively at the London Olympics, but it looks like Croatia has the upper hand in 2013 having won both World Cup regattas that they entered. Croatia has kept their Olympic crew intact while Germany has had one change from their 2012 line-up.
Following these top two boats it would take a bit of crystal ball gazing to work out the remaining medallist. Russia has a good shot if they can work out how to pace their race more efficiently. Estonia is looking good with two World Cup bronze medals already this season. If Great Britain can find a stronger finishing sprint they will be powerful medal contenders.
Watch out too for Switzerland and Poland. Both have quads that have been developing throughout the season.
Women’s Eight (W8+)
After suffering their first defeat since 2006 at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Sydney, the United States women’s eight took no chances in July at the World Cup in Lucerne. The crew not only took gold, but broke the World Best Time in remarkably average conditions.
With the United States in dominant form at Lucerne, the most interesting part of the race was seeing former Olympic Champions Romania looking like they were getting some of their old form back. Romania took second ahead of Olympic silver medallists, Canada. The bronze for Canada at Lucerne was a very fine result as it was with a newly-built crew for 2013.
This bodes well for Canada’s chances in Chungju. Watch out too for Australia. The Australians were the crew that brought down the United States at the Sydney World Cup. But the crew hasn’t raced together internationally since as a number of the crew rowed instead at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships.
Men’s Eight (M8+)
The United States pulled off a shock result when they defeated the unbeaten Germans at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne in July. It was the first time that this American line-up had been boated and at Chungju there is one crew member change from the Lucerne boat.
Olympic Champions Germany have tweaked their Lucerne crew, but kept the same rowers and will be back with determined resilience. Perhaps the crew that will arrive with the most determination, though, will be Great Britain. The eight has been named as their flagship men’s boat with three of their Olympic Champion four (Triggs Hodge, Gregory and Reed) all in contention. This crew finished fourth at Lucerne and much rethinking has gone on between Lucerne and Chungju. For Triggs Hodge and Reed it was their first time not medalling since 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Keep an eye out too for the Dutch, the French and the Poles. France has pulled together a boat that mixes their best sweep and scullers together and they have regularly been in the A-final this season including a World Cup bronze medal. The Netherlands have scored two bronze medals this season including one from the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. The Poles have also medalled twice this season, earning one silver at the Europeans and another at the World Cup at Eton Dorney.
International Boat Classes
The eight international boat classes have proved to be most popular in the lightweight single sculls. The lightweight men’s single sculls (LM1x) has attracted a whopping 29 nations – the second biggest field of the regatta – and includes first time entries from Ivory Coast and Vanuatu. Leading the field is likely to be Pedro Fraga of Portugal. Fraga has won the last two World Rowing Cup’s and has showed that he can race from behind and still win. Fraga holds the flag for his nation as the sole Portuguese representative at this regatta.
Fraga, though, will face some mighty competition. This year’s under-23 champion, Andrew Campbell of the United States is racing, as is the reigning world champion, Denmark’s Henrik Stephansen and World Best Time holder, Jeremie Azou of France.
The lightweight women’s single sculls (LW1x) is primed with 24 nations entered and 2011 world champion, Fabiana Beltrame of Brazil could well be the one to beat. Beltrame comes to Chungju after finishing first at last month’s World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. Beltrame will again face her World Cup competitors – perennial sculler Michaela Taupe-Traer of Austria and World Cup bronze medallist, Ursula Grobler of South Africa.
Great Britain’s Sam Scrimgeour and Mark Aldred are looking to be the crew to watch in the lightweight men’s pair (LM2-). They conducted a very well-paced race at the World Rowing Cup last month to finish first. But if Switzerland’s Niepmann and Tramer can sort out their pacing they will be tough competition. Keep an eye out too for Italy. Olympic medallist, Elia Luini is tucked into the boat with Martino Goretti.
The lightweight men’s quadruple sculls (LM4x) is regularly the domain of Italy. Their Chungju crew, however, has not yet raced internationally this season and they did not fare so well in 2012. This may put winners of the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne, Germany, at an advantage. Germany recorded a very quick time last month in Lucerne and will be looking to medal again at Chungju. Watch out too for lightweight rowing specialists, Denmark and 2012 silver medallists, Greece.
It is predominantly a brand-new field for the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls (LW4x). Of the top three boats from 2012, only bronze medallists, Italy is racing. This gives Italy the upper hand coming to Chungju. Watch out, however, for the Netherlands. Maaike Head is racing in the quad as well as the lightweight double sculls and she will bring experience to the Dutch boat. Keep an eye out too for the new United States crew that recorded some fast times during their national team trials earlier this month.
Both Canada and Australia are doubling up in the women’s four (W4-) to race also in the women’s eight. These two crews finished first and second respectively at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and it is likely that they will be the frontrunners again in Chungju. Watch out too for the United States who frequently do well in this boat class. This boat class missed 2012 but is back on the event schedule this year.
The men’s coxed pair (M2+) has four new crews racing which leaves the door wide open to guess the winner. France may have the upper hand as coxswain, Benjamin Manceau was part of the silver medal crew at the 2012 World Rowing Championships. But all four nations entered have strength in men’s sweep rowing so take your pick.
Italy is likely to have the upper hand in the three-boat-race of the lightweight men’s eight (LM8+). The Italians were silver medallists in 2012 and will just need to hold off Australia and the United States to win gold.