Who to watch at the Lucerne World Rowing Cup
The final World Rowing Cup for 2015 returns to Lucerne, Switzerland for what is expected to be a hot regatta both on and off the water. Late entries has seen the number of countries competing rise to 48 with the inclusion of Indonesia, Brazil and Luxemburg. This is the first time Luxemburg has competed at a World Cup event and they have entered men's single sculler, Jean-Benoit Valsehaers.
The regatta goes from 10-12 July 2015 on Lucerne's Rotsee regatta course.
Women’s pair (W2-)
Great Britain’s Olympic, World and European Champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning are unstoppable. They now also own the European and World Best Times. This outstanding record leaves the rest of the field to attempt to break the British winning streak.
At World Rowing Cup II the United States gave it a good go finished with silver behind the British, but they will not be racing in Lucerne. This the door open for New Zealand to inch even closer to the British. In Varese, the New Zealanders, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, took bronze and were very much on the pace. The young duo are the under-23 World Champions as well as the World Champions in the women's four.
A crew to look out for are the French with Noemie Kober and Marie Le Nepvou. They raced in the A-final at the European Rowing Championships in Poznan as well as at World Rowing Cup II in Varese. Denmark has also been regular A-finalists this year with Hedvig Rasmussen and Anne Andersen.
Men’s pair (M2-)
The top New Zealand pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond will be showing off their skill for the first time this season in Lucerne. Due to family commitments, the duo delayed their trip to Europe and consequently their seasonal debut. Murray and Bond have remained unbeaten and unrivalled since 2009 as the World and Olympic Champion and the World Best Time holders.
Hoping to close the gap on the Kiwis will be France, Great Britain and the Netherlands. So far this season these three different crews have claimed gold at three different regattas. At World Rowing Cup I it was France, with Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette. At the European Rowing Championships it was Great Britain with Matt Langridge and James Foad. At World Rowing Cup II the Netherlands’ new combination of Roel Braas and Mitchel Steenman won.
Other crews to look out for are the Italians. The young crew of Giovanni Abagnale, 20, and Vincenzo Abbagnale,22, took silver at World Rowing Cup II and Italy has entered a second crew indicating the top boat is yet to be decided. The second crew includes the return to international rowing of Olympian Niccolo Mornati.
The bronze medallists from Varese, Jack Hargreaves and Nicholas Wheatley of Australia and the 2014 world bronze medallists from South Africa, David Hunt and Shaun Keeling will add to the depth of competition.
Women’s double sculls (W2x)
The 2014 world silver medallists, Poland, took the top spot at World Rowing Cup I and also at the European Rowing Championships. With the arrival of New Zealand, the competition stepped up a notch at World Rowing Cup II in Varese. New Zealand's Zoe Stevenson was part of the 2014 World Champion crew and this year her partner is Eve MacFarlene. Together the New Zealanders won gold at Varese ahead of the United States and Great Britain.
Legendary British sculler Katherine Grainger is back in the double after a break following her gold medal at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Victoria Thornley is her new partner. So far this season they have won two bronze medals, one at the European Championships in Poznan and the second at World Rowing Cup II in Varese.
Australia made their seasonal debut at World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy. Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe, who hold the World Best Time in this boat class, finished fifth and will be aiming to improve in Lucerne. Watch out too for Germany. Julia Lier and Mareike Adams medalled at World Rowing Cup I and have raced in the A-final at the European Rowing Championships and at World Rowing Cup II.
Men’s double sculls (M2x)
The 2014 World Champions and World Best Time holders from Croatia, Valent and Martin Sinkovic raced for the first time this season at World Rowing Cup II in Varese. Their form was impressive with a six second victory margin.
This time they will face European Champions and winners of World Rowing Cup I, Germany’s Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger. Hacker withdrew from World Rowing Cup II for medical reasons and this is the first time the Croatians will race Germany's top double.
Other crews to look out for include Australia’s James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff. The duo took silver in Varese and are the 2014 world bronze medallists. Italy’s 2014 world silver medallists Romano Battisti and Fransesco Fossi are also medal contenders, having finished with bronze at World Rowing Cup II. Keep an eye out too for France’s Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias who have medalled twice so far this season.
Men’s four (M4-)
Of the nine medals won in this boat class at the three World Rowing regattas so far this season, eight nations have medalled. Belarus is the only boat to have medalled twice, the first time with gold at World Rowing Cup I followed by bronze at the European Rowing Championships. With such a variety of boats capable of reaching the podium this boat class is wide open.
Great Britain has a high standing as World Champions and European Champions, but then they finished fifth at World Rowing Cup II. Greece were finalists at last year’s World Rowing Championships and won European silver this year. They will race in Lucerne. Italy are also medal contenders after a spectacular silver behind the United States at World Rowing Cup II. Look out too for Australia. They are finalists from last year’s World Rowing Championships and in Varese they finished fourth.
Women’s single sculls (W1x)
The 2013 World Champion Kim Crow, from Australia and the 2012 Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova from the Czech Republic, will be facing each other for the first time this year. Knapkova became the 2015 European Champion earlier this season. She will face an on-form Crow who won at World Rowing Cup II in Varese with a dominating nine second lead. Crow is likely to be hard to beat.
Other medal contenders include Genevra Stone from the United States, who took silver in Varese, and Swiss sculler Jeannine Gmelin, who took silver at the European Championships in Poznan. Look out too for Belarus’s Tatsiana Kukhta who won bronze in Poznan and Magdalena Lobnig from Austria who took bronze in Varese.
Men’s single sculls (M1x)
There has been an on-the-water rivalry between Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand and Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic for a decade now. Drysdale is the World Best Time holder, the reigning Olympic Champion and has five World Championship titles. Synek won Olympic silver twice and has three World Championship titles including the past two editions of the World Rowing Championships. At World Rowing Cup II in Varese, for the first time since 2009, Synek did not reach the medals podium. Drysdale was first, Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez was second and Belarus’s Stanislau Shcharbachenia was third. Synek finished fourth.
Fournier is not racing at Lucerne giving Shcharbachenia, Great Britain's Alan Campbell and Croatia’s Damir Martin an extra opportunity to show their medal worth. Campbell is an Olympic medallist in this boat class, while Martin comes from Croatia's famed men's quadruple sculls and is the current European Champion in the single.
Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x)
At World Rowing Cup II, the British combination of Katherine Copeland and Charlotte Taylor set a new benchmark in lightweight women’s rowing when they recorded a new World Best Time at 06:48.38. The duo also became European Champions a few weeks prior. They are back in Lucerne as the crew to beat.
The 2014 World Champions from New Zealand made their 2015 international debut at World Rowing Cup II in Varese and took silver, finishing less than a second behind Great Britain. In Lucerne these top two boats will meet again.
Germany’s Fini Sturm and Marie-Louise Draeger raced at two World Rowing regattas so far this season and medalled both times, taking European silver and World Cup bronze.
In Varese, illness forced the withdrawal of two crews: Canada and Australia. At last year’s World Rowing Championships, the Canadians won world silver while Australia finished fifth in the final. In good physical condition, these crews will be strong contenders.
Lightweight men’s double sculls (LM2x)
The 2014 World Champions and World Best Time holders, South Africa are back. In Lucerne, South Africans James Thompson and John Smith will race at their first World Rowing regatta this season and meet up with world silver medallists, France’s duo of Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre. Azou and Delayre are on their game this season, so far winning the European Rowing Championships and World Rowing Cup II. They also set a new World Cup Best Time at 06:09.26.
Italy’s Pietro Ruta and Andrea Micheletti put on a strong performance at World Cup II in Varese, taking silver ahead of Richard Chambers and William Fletcher of Great Britain. There is very little between these two crews and Lucerne will be a close trial.
In Varese, two crews on the to-watch list were forced to withdraw due to illness. The 2012 Olympic Champions from Denmark Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist were making their first appearance this season while the 2013 World Champions Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli from Norway had won European bronze a few weeks prior. In Lucerne they are back and if granted good health will present the rest of the field with a good challenge.
Watch out too for the 2014 under-23 World Champions from Germany, Jason Osborne and Moritz Moos who finished fifth in Varese.
Lightweight men’s four (LM4-)
Switzerland began the season in front, taking gold twice at World Rowing Cup I and at the European Rowing Championships. At World Rowing Cup II in Varese, with the arrival of 2014 silver medallists, New Zealand, the Swiss were pushed into the silver medal position behind New Zealand.
After skipping World Rowing Cup II, Denmark is back in Lucerne. The 2014 World Champions won European bronze this season and will be aiming to do even better at Lucerne. Watch out too for France and Great Britain. The French have made the podium at both regattas that they entered this season and at World Rowing Cup II they were less than a second behind Switzerland in third. After finishing fourth twice this season, Olympic medallists Great Britain will do everything they can to make their way into the medals in Lucerne.
Women’s quadruple sculls (W4x)
Germany’s women’s quad is the only boat to have won three consecutive gold medals on the international rowing stage so far this season. It will take a massive effort from the rest of the field to challenge the 2013 and 2014 World Champions and World Best Time holders.
Look out for Poland, who have medalled at both initial stages of the World Rowing Cup series (two silver medals) as well as the European Rowing Championships (a bronze).
The Netherlands are back in Lucerne after skipping Varese. They took bronze at World Rowing Cup I in Bled and at the European Championships in Poznan they managed to get seriously close to Germany in the A-final, crossing the line less than one second later in silver medal position.
Men’s quadruple sculls (M4x)
The 2015 European Champions, Russia missed World Rowing Cup II, and are back to race again. They are likely to be the crew to beat as winners from World Rowing Cup II, Great Britain have just withdrawn due to an illness in the crew.
Germany also medalled twice this season, having won gold at World Rowing Cup I in Bled and then a silver at World Rowing Cup II. They will again be racing in Lucerne. Watch out too for France who took bronze in Bled.
Women’s eight (W8+)
In the absence of World and Olympic Champions, the United States, it is likely that Canada will step up to the top spot. The Canadians, however, should keep an eye out for Romania who put a lot of time and resources into having a fast eight.
Impressive at the European Championships this year was the Netherlands who took silver. The Dutch are back to race again. Watch out too for Great Britain. At World Rowing Cup II in Varese they managed to break into the medals by winning bronze.
Men’s eight (M8+)
The rivalry continues between Great Britain and Germany in the men’s eight. Germany are the 2012 Olympic Champions while Great Britain became World Champions two years in a row, in 2013 and 2014. So far this year, Germany and Great Britain have raced each other three times. Most recently they raced at the Henley Royal Regatta where Great Britain finished first in the head-to-head iconic British race. Who will be back on top in Lucerne?
Also in the medals mix this season have been Poland and Russia, with Poland winning silver at World Rowing Cup I in Bled and Russia bronze in at the European Championships in Poznan. At World Rowing Cup II, the United States finished with bronze, New Zealand in fourth and Poland in fifth. The USA will be absent in Lucerne while Russia returns to race along with New Zealand.