Who to watch; World Rowing Cup II, Linz-Ottensheim
Get ready for a weekend of rowing magic as the best rowers in the world head to Linz-Ottensheim in Austria to test their mettle at the second World Rowing Cup for the 2018 season.
Australia and New Zealand have arrived in Europe and Italy is fronting up for the first time this season. Plan for a huge tussle in the men’s single sculls and see how the Sinkovics go against the Italians in the men’s pair. Follow the progress of the Dutch in the women’s four. And more…
Women’s pair (W2-)
Following an excellent first World Rowing Cup, the entries for the second World Cup now see Oceania back in the mix. The reigning World Champions and World Best Time holders Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler from New Zealand are surely the crew to beat. Winners of the first World Cup from Canada are absent from this event, so the crews won’t have the chance to test against the Canadian speed just yet.
The Netherlands have entered their bronze medal crew from Belgrade. This crew will be looking to match or improve on that performance. Great Britain and Denmark both have their A-finalist World Rowing Cup I crews entered as well.
Watch out too for Romania. They have entered two pairs out of their eight and are likely to be testing combinations. Romania is known for their ability to double up and still perform well.
Men’s pair (M2-)
At the first world cup of the season, the Sinkovic brothers from Croatia were raced to the line by Jakob Podrazil and Lukas Helesic from the Czech Republic and Dzimitry Furman and Siarhei Valadzko from Belarus. Martin and Valent Sinkovic won and it will be interesting to see these three crews face each other again.
Italy has entered two new combinations, one of which includes reigning World Champion in the category Matteo Lodo. Lodo has been matched up with Vincenzo Abbagnale and, on paper, this pair should be capable of speed. France also has entered two crews, with fourth place finishers from the 2017 World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton, the Onfroy brothers, likely to challenge for a medal.
Watch out too for the new combination from Australia. They have taken apart their World Champion four and entered Alexander Hill and Spencer Turrin in the men’s pair.
Lightweight men’s double sculls (LM2x)
This event promises to be good as all eyes turn to see what the new French combination can do. Following the surprise retirement of Jeremie Azou, reigning World Champion and Olympic Champion Pierre Houin had to find a new partner. He’ll be joined by Thomas Baroukh who has many medals around his neck in sweep rowing categories.
The Polish showed early-season speed earlier this month in Belgrade. They took the title ahead of Belgium and Ireland. Ireland is not entered for this second World Cup, but Belgium is back and will be looking to medal again.
The Norwegian double is once again entered in the lightweight category, after a successful performance in the openweight category at the Belgrade World Rowing Cup. We’ll have to wait and see which event they choose to compete in in Linz. Don’t forget to keep an eye on Italy, New Zealand and Great Britain. They have all entered some new line-ups which could surprise.
Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x)
The Dutch had an all-around outstanding performance at the first World Rowing Cup with the new 2018 combination of Ilse Paulis and Marieke Keijser seeming to gel during the weekend. Their first race landed them in a repechage spot, but they worked their way back to the gold medal. They will be tested by the reigning World Champions from Romania who are competing for the first time this year.
Also entered are the power-house crew of Jackie Kiddle and Zoe McBride of New Zealand. They finished second behind Romania at the World Championships last year and will be looking to see where they sit early in this international season.
Great Britain has entered two crews with their top line-up remaining unchanged since winning the bronze medal in Belgrade. They are likely to be pushed by the other Belgrade A-finalists, Switzerland and the United States. Don’t count out Poland either. They had a disappointing first regatta, but their dominance in 2017 shows they have more to give.
Men’s four (M4-)
The reigning World Champions from Australia are back. The crew of Hicks, Turrin, Hargreaves and Hill will be ready to go as they contest their first international race of the season.
For the Dutch the first World Rowing Cup acted as an internal selection measure and they have now settled on their number one crew. They have entered a mix of the two fours that placed first and second in Belgrade which includes Wieten, Tissen, Hendriks and van den Ende.
Italy has put back together their four that finished second at the 2017 World Rowing Championships and they will be out to beat the Australians. The British are back with two more line-ups and, despite historical dominance in this category, it looks like they’ve put their top names in the eight again.
Watch out too for Belarus. They finished third in Belgrade earlier this month and are likely to have maintained speed through the second World Cup.
Women’s quadruple sculls (W4x)
Despite an impressive gold medal at the first World Rowing Cup of the season, the Dutch have changed their line-up in the women’s quad. Lisa Scheenaard has replaced Karolien Florijn. The boat is looking to find the perfect combination without Olympic silver medallist, Inge Janssen who is taking the year off.
The Polish had a slightly slow start to the season, finishing several seconds behind the Dutch. But they are not likely to stay there for long. Germany chased the Poles to the line in Belgrade with their new-look quad. These three crews are likely to be contenders for medals again in Linz-Ottensheim.
Belarus has combined their two doubles into a quad, including rowing legend Ekaterina Karsten. It will be interesting to see if they’ve had enough time to gel together as a boat. Australia has also entered an interesting crew with some of their under-23 stars. They may surprise.
Men’s quadruple sculls (M4x)
Going by the results from World Rowing Cup I in Belgrade, Great Britain is definitely the crew to beat. They had an impressive performance earlier this month after coming off a silver medal at last year’s World Rowing Championships. Right behind Great Britain was the new German men’s quad. This was a staple boat for the Germans for many years, but they’ve struggled to find the right line-up recently. This crew, however, seems to have found some good speed.
Norway finished with a bronze medal in Belgrade and they’ve entered the same line-up for the second World Cup. It has rowing legend Olaf Tufte in the stroke seat who really knows how to bring up the stroke rate in the final sprint. Norway, however, was heavily challenged by Poland in Belgrade and Poland has entered the same line-up in Linz-Ottensheim. Newcomers from New Zealand and Australia are likely to pose a threat as well.
Men’s double sculls (M2x)
All eyes will be on New Zealand in this boat class. They have entered their World Champion crew of John Storey and Christopher Harris. But the 2017 World Rowing Championship final was a close one. Poland finished just three quarters of a second behind New Zealand and their crew of Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup is also entered in Linz-Ottensheim.
Great Britain will be going after the medals. The crew of Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont came in second behind Lithuania at the first World Rowing Cup. Italy has entered two crews, one including Romano Battisti who has a long list of rowing accolades to his name. The question will be if the duo is able to work together to find speed. Watch out too for Switzerland. They have put their two top single scullers into the men’s double, Roman Roeoesli and Nico Stahlberg.
Women’s double sculls (W2x)
As in the men’s double, New Zealand holds the world title in the women’s double and are definitely the crew to beat. Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe have crossed the continents to race at their first international regatta for the 2018 season.
We are yet to see what the rest of the field can do as crews have not yet settled into line-ups.
The Dutch won the first World Rowing Cup earlier this month but have since changed their line-up. With Lisa Scheenard going into the women’s quad, Karolien Florijn has switched into the double. Belarus has divided their quad into two doubles, one with Olympic Champion, Ekaterina Karsten and Tatsiana Kukhta, the other who won the 2016 under 23 championships, Tatsiana Klimovich and Krystina Staraselets.
Men’s single sculls (M1x)
New Zealand has pulled out all the stops in the men’s single sculls. They have entered both the reigning Olympic Champion, Mahe Drysdale – who took the 2017 season off – and World Best Time holder Robert Manson, who set the World Best Time when he took over Drysdale’s spot in 2017. New Zealand Rowing is letting results decide which boat will be going to this year’s World Rowing Championships.
Drysdale is looking to make yet another comeback after winning his second Olympic gold medal in a photo finish in Rio. Manson is hoping to be New Zealand’s single sculler.
There are some other greats, and rising stars, entered in Linz-Ottensheim as well. Germany has two scullers, including the 22-year-old Oliver Zeidler who has only been rowing for a couple years. Zeidler finished with a bronze medal at World Rowing Cup I earlier this month.
Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin of Croatia will be there to challenge for a medal, as well as his fellow countryman David Sain. Cuba’s Angel Fournier-Rodriguez is often on the podium at the World Championship level and will be looking for some early-season form. With this line-up, the men’s single is definitely a race to watch.
Women’s single sculls (W1x)
Jeannine Gmelin held onto her place at the top of the podium, finishing first at the World Rownig Cup I. She seems to be unstoppable at this point. Sanita Puspure of Ireland came closest in Belgrade, but she is not entered in this World Cup.
Challenges are likely to come from home favourite Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig. Lobnig has a fair few medals in her pocket and is well known to cope with tough weather conditions. Another potential challenger is Victoria Thornley from Great Britain. Thornley finished second at the 2017 World Rowing Championships and, despite a fifth-place finish at the first World Rowing Cup, she is likely to be a contender this season.
Don’t count out Germany’s Annekatrin Thiele either. Thiele was part of the German quad that won Olympic gold, she then switched to the single in 2017. Thiele finished fourth at the first World Cup of the season.
Men’s eight (M8+)
There are eight men’s eights entered, including two entries from the Netherlands and likely to top the podium is Germany. The German men’s eight are reigning World Champions, they sent the exact same line-up to the first World Rowing Cup of the season in Belgrade, where they won gold.
Olympic Champions, Great Britain will definitely be challenging for a medal. They were about half a boat length behind the Germans in Belgrade. Italy, who finished with a surprise bronze medal at last year’s World Rowing Championships in Sarasota-Bradenton, will also be lining up in Linz-Ottensheim. New Zealand, Australia and Poland round out the entries. They have all historically done well in this category, so it remains to be seen where they stand at this point in the season.
Women’s eight (W8+)
At last year’s World Rowing Championships the Romanian women’s eight took the race by a storm. They broke the 11-year winning streak of the Americans and did it on their home waters. Romania is likely the crew to beat at this World Rowing Cup if they’ve been able to maintain speed over the winter months. The Netherlands had an impressive showing at the first World Cup, winning gold and silver in the women’s fours before combining the crews to win gold in the women’s eight.
New Zealand is also likely contenders. They finished third on the podium in Sarasota-Bradenton and are back with a similar line-up. Watch out too for the British who finished just behind the Netherlands in Belgrade.
Women’s Four (W4-)
The National Federations have embraced this new Olympic boat class of the women’s four, which sees an impressive 13 entries in Linz-Ottensheim. Many of the line-ups are formed from the women’s eights as teams are likely to be testing their speed.
Australia has the World Championship title and has entered two crews in Linz-Ottensheim. With their experience in the boat-class, Australia will be going after the medals. But they will be up against the Dutch who won both gold and silver in Belgrade and are back with similar line-ups. Poland has entered their silver medal-winning crew from the World Championships and Russia has entered their bronze medal-winning crew.
Keep an eye on Romania. With their strong women’s sweep programme, they are likely to have good speed in the women’s four as well.
Para PR1 men’s single sculls (PR1M1x)
The man to beat is Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine. Polianskyi is the reigning Paralympic Champion, 2017 world silver medallist and winner of the first World Rowing Cup in Belgrade. In the absence of the reigning World Champion, Erik Horrie from Australia, Polianksyi’s challenge will come from Andrew Houghton of Great Britain. Houghton finished fourth at last year’s World Championships and is quickly gaining speed. Houghton picked up a silver medal at the first World Cup.
Watch out too for Brazil’s Rene Pereira, who finished fifth at the 2017 World Rowing Championships. He’ll be looking to challenge for a medal.
Para PR1 women’s single sculls (PR1W1x)
Birgit Skarstein of Norway won another gold at the first World Rowing Cup in Belgrade and also managed to set a new World Best Time. Skarstein made a quick transition back to rowing after competing in the 2018 winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang.
Anna Sheremet from Ukraine and Anila Hoxha of Italy will be competing for the medals. Hoxha was on the podium in 2017 at the World Rowing Cup in Poznan. She also finished fourth at the World Championships. Sheremet, only 17 years old, competed at her first world rowing event earlier this month in Belgrade.
Para PR2 mixed double sculls (PR2Mix2x)
The Dutch line-up of Corne de Koning and Annika van der Meer seem to be unstoppable in this category. They finished the 2017 season by becoming World Champions and started the 2018 season winning gold at the first World Rowing Cup.
Also in the mix will be Poland, Ukraine and Brazil. Ukraine has picked up many medals along the way, including silver at the 2017 World Rowng Championships. Poland and Brazil have regularly challenged each other for the better finish and will have a good race in Linz-Ottensheim.
Para PR3 mixed coxed four (PR3Mix4+)
Two crews are entered in this category; Italy and Ukraine. At last year’s World Rowing Championships, Italy got the better of Ukraine and took the bronze medal. They are back with three of the five from that crew.