Women’s pair (W2-)
Seventeen crews are entered making this a hotly contested category. Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast of New Zealand will be looking to lock up the best title of the year; World Champions. These two have been unstoppable so far this season, winning the two World Rowing Cups in which they were entered.

However, at the final world cup in Lucerne, Canada and the United States raced them to the line, with Canada finishing just 0.43 seconds behind Kiwi pair. Canada also won the first World Cup of the season, making them definite contenders for the podium.

The United States had two crews in the top four in Lucerne, but their pick for the women’s pair in Plovdiv is a new combination. Watch out too for the European Champions from Romania. They’ve made one change to their line-up and are likely to be fast. Italy’s duo has been on the podium this season, finishing with a bronze at the European Championships. With the right conditions, they stand a chance as well.

Men’s pair (M2-)
The top of the podium is anyone’s guess. After complete domination in the men’s double sculls, the Sinkovic brothers have been fighting for the same title in the men’s pair. But it hasn’t been easy. The Czech combination of Jakob Podrazil and Lukas Helesic beat them to the line at the second World Cup. Then at the third World Cup New Zealand’s combination of Thomas Murray and Michael Brake scored gold with Podrazil and Helesic having to settle for bronze.

At the European Championships, the Sinkovic’s were back on top, followed by an extremely fast French crew of Theophile and Valentin Onfroy. The Onfroy brothers also picked up bronze and silver at the World Cups. The Czech crew did not compete in Glasgow and it was Romania who took home the bronze medal.

The reigning World Champions Italy have not competed together so far this year and another line-up is entered in Plovdiv. Watch out too for Great Britain. They’ve been trying different line-ups throughout the season and they are likely to be fast as well.

Marieke Keijser (b), Ilse Paulis (s), Lightweight Women's Double Sculls, Netherlands, 2018 World Rowing Cup II, Linz-Ottensheim, Austria © FISA Igor Meijer


Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x)
There are 21 crews contending for medals and a number have had repeated success throughout the season. The Dutch combination of Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis definitely stand out. This is their first season together and they shot out with a bang by winning the first World Cup. They finished with silver at the second World Cup, just behind Italy before going on to win the European Championships ahead of Poland and Switzerland. They are now after the World Championship title.

Keijser and Paulis will face challenges from Poland and New Zealand. The Polish double had a tough start to the season, finishing in the B-final. After a temporary line-up change for World Cup II, Joanna Dorociak came back to the boat for World Cup III and, together with Weronika Deresz, won gold. The Polish then finished in silver medal position behind the Netherlands at the European Championships.

New Zealand only competed at one event this season where they finished second behind Poland. Watch out too for Switzerland and Italy. They picked up two bronze medals at World Cup III and the European Championships. The Italians beat the Dutch at World Cup II of the season.

Men’s four (M4-)
Australia is the crew to beat. They are the reigning World Champions, have retained the same line-up and, at the second and third World Cups this season, they had a substantial lead over the rest of the field in taking gold. Can anyone beat them?

Romania has mounted a good challenge. Romania finished second at World Rowing Cup II, just three seconds behind Australia. They went on to win the European Championships and have entered the same line-up in Plovdiv.

Watch out too for South Africa. They competed only once so far this year in Lucerne, where they finished third. Keep an eye on the Netherlands and Great Britain as well. They’ve both picked up medals so far this season, but have also frequently changed their line-ups.

Lightweight men’s double sculls (LM2x)
At the four major regattas so far this season, we’ve seen four different gold medallists: Poland, Italy, Ireland and Norway. In the podium mix there’s also Belgium and Denmark.

The first event of the season went to Poland, followed closely by Ireland and Belgium. The second World Cup went to Italy, followed by Norway and Belgium. The third World Cup was won by Ireland, again followed closely by Belgium and Denmark. Then at the European Championships, Norway took home gold ahead of Ireland and Italy.

To top it all off, the margins have always been within about three seconds. Suffice it to say that there are six crews who, on any given day, are within about one second of each other’s speed. For this one, you’re just going to have to watch them all.

Women’s Four (W4-)
Australia seems to be the dominant force. They are the reigning World Champion and have retained the same line-up for the 2018 season. They entered the second and third World Cups and won both. Australia is, however, likely to face challenges from Denmark, Russia and Great Britain. Denmark had a slow start to the season, but finished closely behind Australia at World Cup III.

Russia won the European Championships, ahead of Romania and Poland who have also boated solid crews this season. But the Russians did not fare well early in the season. Great Britain also faced mixed results, finishing second at World Cup II then picking up two fourths.

Women’s quadruple sculls (W4x)
This season has seen several leaders. Early in the season, the Dutch were on top of the podium. Their line-up saw the addition of Karolien Florijn, after World Champion and Olympic silver-medallist Inge Janssen decided to take a one-year break.

But the Dutch success was muted as the season went on. Germany, who had a hard time finding the right line-up following their Olympic success in 2016, finally landed gold at World Cup II. They followed it up with gold in Lucerne and have entered the same line-up for the World Championships.

The Dutch and the Germans are likely to face challenges from Poland and Australia. Poland worked their way to gold at the European Championships after winning two silver medals in the World Cup series.  Australia finished third at the second World Cup, only to find themselves back in 6th in Lucerne. Also keep an eye on Ukraine. They are Olympic Champions from 2012, but have had inconsistent results ever since.

Men’s quadruple sculls (M4x)
Great Britain might be the crew to beat. They won both the first and the third World Cups and look to be leading the way for the British squad. Italy won the second World Cup and the European Championships, the only two events in which they were entered this year.  They will face the top British line up in Plovdiv for the first time.

Keep an eye out for Germany and Poland. They have fielded an extremely fast line-up that includes Hans Gruhne, the only remaining member from the German Olympic Champion quad. Poland has been on the podium twice this season. And don’t forget about the reigning World Champions from Lithuania. They had some trouble with early-season speed, but looked better at the European Championships.

An outside chance could be New Zealand. They have a new addition: double Olympic Champion, Mahe Drysdale.

Women’s double sculls (W2x)
The Kiwis have to be the ones to watch. Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe are not only reigning World Champions, they also won both World Rowing Cups that they entered.

A couple crews stand a chance of catching them including the Dutch duo of Lisa Scheenaard and Roos de Jong. This double won the first World Cup, then went through some line-up changes before racing again in Glasgow to take a silver medal.

Watch out too for the United States. Ellen Tomek and Meghan O’Leary have earned many medals over the years, including silver at last year’s World Championships. They competed only once so far this season and finished third behind New Zealand and Canada. Don’t forget about Lithuania either. They’ve been on the podium a couple times so far this season.

Dovydas Nemeravicius (b), Saulius Ritter (s), gold, Lithuania, Angus Groom (b), Jack Beaumont (s), silver, Great Britain, Timo Piontek (b), Lars Hartig (s), bronze, Germany, Men's Double Sculls, 2018 World Rowing Cup I, Belgrade, Serbia © Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com


Men’s double sculls (M2x) 
There has been inconsistent results this season. Reigning World Champions, New Zealand did not medal. Silver medallists from 2017, Poland picked up a win at World Cup III, but were bumped off the podium at the European Championships.

Great Britain has showed the most consistent results with Jack Beaumont and Angus Groom taking gold and silver during the World Cup series.

Keep an eye for Germany and Switzerland. The German duo of Lars Hartig and Timo Piontek finished with silver at two of the World Cups. They were pushed both times by the Swiss double of Nico Stahlberg and Roman Roeoesli. But the Swiss have changed their line-up in Plovdiv, switching in Barnabe Delarze for Nico Stahlberg.

Women’s single sculls (W1x)
It is hard to believe that anyone stands a chance of toppling Jeannine Gmelin’s (SUI) dominance. Gmelin fought her way to the top during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, finishing as World Champion last year. Since then, she has gone unbeaten winning all three World Cups as well as the Henley Royal Regatta and the European Championships.

We’ve seen a great performance from Ireland’s Sanita Puspure this season. Puspure has two silver medals from the World Cups and her final sprint at World Cup III brought her within one second of Gmelin.

Watch out too for Magdalena Lobnig of Austria. Lobnig has medalled at two World Cups and took silver in Glasgow. And don’t forget about Canada’s Carling Zeeman. She only competed once so far this season, but finished third behind Lobnig.

Men’s single sculls (M1x)
The New Zealand and German selections this season meant that these two countries often dominated the racing. New Zealand had to choose between double Olympic Champion, Mahe Drysdale and World Best Time holder, Robert Manson.

Germany had to choose between the young Tim Ole Naske, the Junior and Under-23 World Champion and the even-younger Oliver Zeidler, a newcomer with rowing in his blood. It all came down to World Cup III to decide. In the final sprint, it was clear.  Manson was and Zeidler second. They gained spots for their country to compete in Plovdiv. But did these scullers have to peak too early in the season?

They will be up against reigning World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. And keep an eye on Kjetil Borch of Norway. He came out of the Olympic bronze-medal double with Olaf Tufte and recently took the European Champion title.

Women’s eight (W8+)
There are eight crews entered and we expect a great battle. Many of these crews have not had the opportunity to race each other this season, so it’s difficult to know where they all sit.

The Dutch opened the season with a dominant performance and will have a strong line-up in Plovdiv. New Zealand won at World Rowing Cup III with Canada hot on their tails, fiery after their silver-medal win at last year’s World Championships.

Reigning World Champions, Romania struggled to find speed in the World Cups. But they topped the podium at the European Championships. Keep an eye too on the Americans. They dominated women’s sweep rowing for ten years and will be back to prove themselves.

Johannes Weissenfeld (b), Felix Wimberger, Maximilian Planer, Torben Johannesen, Jakob Schneider, Malte Jakschik, Richard Schmidt, Hannes Ocik (s), Martin Sauer (c),gold, Men's Eight, Germany,2018 World Rowing Cup I, Belgrade, Serbia © Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com

 

Men’s eight (M8+)
The reigning World Champions, Germany seem to be unbeatable. They have won everything they entered this season, despite challenges in some of the early rounds of racing.

Australia came the closest at World Cup III with Germany taking gold just in the last strokes. If the Australians has gained speed in the past few months, they are in a good position.

The British are also medal contenders. They struggled with illness and injury early in the season, but are likely to have now found the best combination. And don’t rule out the Dutch. They had two top-level eights to choose from and certainly have the man-power to be on the podium.