Who to watch: Samsung World Rowing Cup III

10/07/2013 - 11:23:00

For the culmination of the 2013 Samsung World Rowing Cup series, rowers head to Lucerne, Switzerland in large numbers. This regatta has joined the best of the World Rowing Cup II in Eton Dorney with the best of the European Rowing Championships in Seville to make for an impressive finale to the World Cup season.

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Women’s Pair (W2-)
The new kids on the block in this boat class show no desire to give up their 2013 perfect record. Helen Glover and Polly Swann of Great Britain teamed up this season and have won Samsung World Rowing Cups I and II. Glover’s pedigree includes a London Olympic gold medal from the pair and Swann has slotted seamlessly in with the Olympic Champion.

At the last World Cup at Eton Dorney, Glover and Swann’s biggest challenge came from New Zealand’s Rebecca Scown and Kayla Pratt and these two crews are likely to be the ones going for the top spot in Lucerne.

Watch out, though, for Taylor Goetzinger and Meghan Musnicki of the United States and Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse of South Africa. Musnicki is an Olympic Champion from the eight and Goetzinger won last year’s under-23 women’s eight. Smith and Persse finished eighth at the London Olympics and this is their first international regatta for the 2013 season.

Romania’s Cristina Grigoras and Andreea Boghnian are also expected to put on a strong performance.The duo won two gold medals at this year’s European Rowing Championships in Seville – one in the pair and the other in the eight. Grigoras is also an Olympian, having finished fourth in the women’s eight at London 2012. This will be their first showing at a World Cup this year.

Men’s Pair (M2-)
Can anyone catch the New Zealanders? Hamish Bond and Eric Murray are setting records with their unbroken winning streak and often winning by open-water margins. They debuted their 2013 season last month at the Eton Dorney World Cup and not only won, but they were the only crew to set a World Cup Best Time during the regatta in a time that would have earned them a medal in the men’s double sculls final.

In Lucerne, Murray and Bond will meet Olympic silver medallists for the first time this season, France’s Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette. The French duo should be able to provide tougher competition than that faced by Bond and Murray at Eton Dorney.

Along with the French, the depth of competition has increased as Germany and Italy are back on the World Cup scene and both crews should put up a good fight. But maybe Eton Dorney World Cup silver medallists Wojciech Gutorski and Jaroslaw Godek of Poland will be the crew to step up. Gutorski and Godek also won silver at the 2013 European Rowing Championships.

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)
Single sculling golden girl, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus teamed up with Olympic medallist Yuliya Bichyk at the 2013 European Rowing Championships and finished third. It seems that Belarusian selectors were pleased with the result as the duo are back together in Lucerne. They will face Eton Dorney World Cup winners, Frances Houghton and Victoria Meyer-Laker of Great Britain. Both of these crews are new combinations for the 2013 season and both will continue to try and establish their worth with selectors.

But perhaps the top contenders for gold will be the winners of the European Rowing Championships, Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania. This combination looked impressive last month at the Euros in Seville and now with another month’s training under their belt and a win at the Unversiade in Kazan they should come back even stronger.

Watch out too for New Zealand’s Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson who debut together internationally at this regatta.

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)
New Zealand has replaced its Olympic Champion crew with two new double scullers – Robert Manson and Michael Arms – and they have shown their worth winning both the Sydney and Eton Dorney World Cups. Snapping at their heels, though, are the Germans. Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger finished second at Eton Dorney but have time together on their side with a World Championship title from 2009.

Added to the mix at Lucerne are the Italians. Francesco Fossi has joined London Olympic silver
medallist, Romano Battisti and together they finished first at the European Rowing Championships. They will come to Lucerne with this knowledge in their favour.

The new combination from Great Britain of Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas could also present strong competition. Langridge won Olympic bronze in the eight at London, while Lucas finished fifth at the 2012 Games in this boat class, the double. Together they won bronze at Eton Dorney.

Keep an eye out too for Olympic fourth place finishers, Ariel Suarez and Cristian Rosso of Argentina and also Norway’s Kjetil Borch and Nils Jakob Hoff. Borch and Hoff finished third at the European Rowing Championships but Hoff missed Eton Dorney due to injury.

Men’s Four (M4-)
The template for this season in the men’s four started to be established last month at the Samsung World Rowing Cup at Eton Dorney when Australia and Great Britain set themselves up as the top medal contenders. Australia finished first and Great Britain was second. These crews have been given the stamp of approval by their respective selectors and remain the same line ups for Lucerne. Expect another tight British-Australian bout at the final stage of the World Cup.

Since Eton Dorney, though, the field has increased its depth of talent. Into the mix are the European Championship winners from the Netherlands and third-place finishers from the Euros, Germany. Both the Dutch and the Germans have a strong men’s sweep tradition and their men’s fours are invariably competitive.

Debuting this season, and worthy of a look-in, are the Americans. They finished third at last year’s London Olympics with Henrik Rummel remaining in the 2013 crew.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)
After qualifying at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta for the London Olympic Games and going on to race in London’s A-final, Lena Mueller and Anja Noske of Germany seem to have stepped up a notch this season. They were second at the European Rowing Championships and then finished first at the Samsung World Rowing Cup at Eton Dorney.

Behind Germany in Eton Dorney was the British double of Kathryn Twyman and Imogen Walsh. Twyman and Walsh are in their first season together and have also scored a bronze at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Sydney.

But the mix in Lucerne has gotten deeper with winners of the European Championships, Laura Milani and Elisabetta Sancassani of Italy lining up along with bronze medallists from the Euros, Katarzyna Welna and Weronika Deresa of Poland. Then there are the New Zealand double that will likely be fast, along with Denmark’s duo. Just making the A-final in this boat class will be an accomplishment.

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
There was no denying the disappointment of Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou of France after they finished just outside of the medals at the London Olympics. They have come back in 2013 firing on all cylinders and already have a gold medal from the European Rowing Championships. In Lucerne, Delayre and Azou will face Great Britain’s new double of Peter and Richard Chambers for the first time this season. The Chambers brothers were second at the Samsung World Rowing Cup at Eton Dorney and look to be settling into their role as a sculling duo rather than part of a four.

Working their way into the medals this season are Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway. They were third at both the European Championships and the Eton Dorney World Cup giving them a concrete start to the season.

Keep an eye out too for Austrian brothers Paul and Bernhard Sieber. They finished fourth at the
European Rowing Championships, just behind Simon Schuerch and Mario Gyr of Switzerland. These two crews will be aiming to get into the medals.

And for the crew that may surprise. Denmark has teamed up two of its best single scullers, Henrik Stephansen and Steffen Jensen. If Stephansen and Jensen can make the boat move together they will be a tough combination.

Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)
It was fast and furious at the Eton Dorney World Cup. It was full-on at the European Rowing Championships. It will be a race to watch at Lucerne. One thing about the lightweight men’s four is that it rarely fails to be a nail-biting finish and, going by the entries at Lucerne, the final will be a fight to the end.

New Zealand has come onto the 2013 scene with a crew that will race in Lucerne unbeaten after winning the Sydney and Eton Dorney stages of the Samsung World Rowing Cup. This has given perennial winners Denmark a bit of a shakeup. The Danes finished second to New Zealand at Eton Dorney by a fraction of a second and have also taken gold this season at the European Rowing Championships.

Add to the mix the arrival of the Olympic Champions from South Africa. They will debut their 2013 season in Lucerne with a crew that just has one change from their London gold medal crew. Then there is Great Britain who regularly appear in the medals. As former World Champions their aim is always to win.

Watch out too for the Czech Republic. They have a boat load of familiar names like the Vetesnik twins as well as Juri Kopac and Miroslav Vrastil. The Czechs finished second at the European Championships and will be aiming to medal again at Lucerne.

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
This event has Germany written all over it. The Germans, despite one crew member change from their Olympic silver crew at Eton Dorney, have won both the European Rowing Championships and the Samsung World Rowing Cup at Eton Dorney.

In the absence of Olympic Champions Ukraine, stepping up to challenge the Germans is Poland. The Poles, with a boat built around Olympic medallist in the double Magdalena Fularczyk, put up a strong challenge at Eton Dorney where they finished second.
The Netherlands, after finishing second at the European Championships, have returned to race in Lucerne and they will be looking to remain in the medals along with Australia who have a gold medal from the Sydney World Cup and a bronze from Eton Dorney. The Australian crew is the 2012 World Champion under-23 boat in-tact and they have high expectations for this, their first senior season.

Great Britain cannot be discounted either: they raced two crews at Eton Dorney finishing fourth and fifth overall. Their fifth-placed crew is the boat that will race in Lucerne.

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)
After finishing sixth at the European Rowing Championships, Croatia picked themselves up and came back to be first at the Eton Dorney World Cup. Croatia, the 2012 Olympic silver medallists, won at Eton Dorney against Olympic Champions Germany. These two crews will race again in Lucerne and it is likely that they will be the two boats fighting it out at the front of the field.

This event, however, has an impressive 15 entries in Lucerne and there is plenty of depth amongst these boats. Estonia, who finished third at Eton, will be a standout crew once they find their end-of-the-race speed. Poland, who finished second at the European Rowing Championships, look like they could have some more surprises up their sleeves.

Then there is Italy stroked by the perennial Simone Raineri (gold medallist from the Sydney 2000
Olympics). The Italians were third at the European Rowing Championships and under new leadership this year it will be interesting to see what this crew can do.

Women’s Eight (W8+)
This is the first real showdown of the 2013 season in the women’s eight and the field sees new line-ups, new rowers and new coxswains to the senior scene. This means the race could produce some surprises. But, going by past results, the United States will be up there at the front of the pack. The United States held a winning streak that went from 2006 through to 2012. Then at the Sydney World Cup they lost the final to the Australians.

Australia is not racing in Lucerne and the United States have mixed and matched a new crew which is bound to be fast.

The most stable crew this season is Romania and that will surely play to their advantage. Romania won comfortably at the European Rowing Championships and has retained seven members of that crew including Nicoleta Albu in stroke. There is every chance that this race will be between Romania and the United States.

Olympic silver medallists, Canada, debut their 2013 season in Lucerne with just Natalie Mastracci remaining from the London Olympic silver medalling crew. The Canadians with history on their side, along with Germany, could get into the medals.

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
The pick here is that three boats will be gunning for gold – Australia, the Czech Republic and New Zealand – and at this stage of the season the jury is out on the winner. Leading the way is 2012 Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic. Knapkova showed that her form was still up there when she finished first last month at the European Rowing Championships.

Then there is Olympic fourth-place finisher, Emma Twigg of New Zealand. Twigg won the Eton Dorney World Cup last month and seemed quite surprised to have done so well freshly off the plane from the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.

Olympic bronze medallist Kim Crow of Australia is also on her game. Putting injury aside, Crow was the fastest at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Sydney and, now in Europe, Crow won Amsterdam’s Holland Beker regatta two weeks ago ahead of Twigg (second) and Knapkova (fourth).

Watch out too for Frida Svensson of Sweden and Eleanor Logan of the United States. They finished second and third respectively at Eton Dorney and could have a shot at the lesser medals.

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
This race could be a repeat of last month’s Samsung World Rowing Cup at Eton Dorney with the top four contenders facing each other again in Lucerne. The edge, however, must be with Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Synek, the Olympic silver medallist, won at Eton Dorney by over-powering Alan Campbell of Great Britain who finished second.

Campbell is the London Olympic bronze medallist and has a reputation for his formidable sprinting ability. Then came Georgi Bozhilov of Bulgaria who won the bronze medal ahead of Germany’s top male sculler, Marcel Hacker. With another month’s training behind them, these four scullers will no doubt be the ones battling it out again in Lucerne’s final.

Keep an eye out too for Roel Braas of the Netherlands. Braas is having a very solid season so far in the single with a bronze medal from the European Rowing Championships and then  Beker two weeks ago in Amsterdam.

Men’s Eight (M8+)
Can the Germans continue their winning streak? The German crew took an extended break after becoming Olympic Champions in London but then came back to finish first at last month’s European Rowing Championships proving that they are still in medal winning form. But in Lucerne, Germany will meet Great Britain for the first time this season. Great Britain finished third at the London Olympics and this year they have made the eight their priority men’s boat with the intention to make it a gold medal boat.

Also back in the mix are the United States. The Americans finished fourth at the London Olympics and this year they have a new coach and a new plan.
But it may be Poland and France that play hard ball with the front runners. Poland already has two silver medals from their 2013 season and a very stable line-up that looks very similar to their London Olympic line-up. France finished fourth at the European Championships and third at Eton Dorney. The French boat looks to be a tighter, more confident crew with every race.

World Rowing Twitter hangout
Ever wondered what @kiwipair's Eric Murray eats for breakfast? or where he keeps his Olympic gold medal? Well now you can ask him! The first World Rowing Twitter hangoutt will be held on Friday at 17:00 CEST where Eric will be answering the questions you want to know. Tweet them to us using #WRhangout and tune in to see what he to say.

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