World Rowing Championship heats for the seniors
15/08/2012 - 19:12:00
The boat classes that do not get to race at the Olympic Games raced today on the first day of the 2012 World Rowing Senior & Junior Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.
In late afternoon racing the first round of heats were raced in hot, humid 31 degree Celsius conditions. The water was a bit bobbly caused by a small tail wind and finishing times were quick as crews aimed to qualify for the next round of racing.
Men’s Coxed Pair (M2+) – Heats
This event had attracted nine countries and these nine were split into two heats with the top two boats in each heat getting to go directly to the final on Sunday. Starting out the fastest in Heat One was Canada. The Canadian’s finished third last year but this is a new crew with Peter McClelland and Kai Langerfeld on the Canadian national team for the first time.
By the middle of the race McClelland and Langerfeld had established a huge dominating lead and they looked to be untouchable. Behind the Canadians, Poland and the United States were going head-to-head with the aim of getting that vital second qualifying spot. This scenario played out right through to the finish line with the fight between Poland and the United States causing the gap to Canada to close.
The Canadian’s, however, looked comfortable and remained in first rating 33. Meanwhile the United States duo was rating 37 to Poland’s 39. The United States got to the line first. Canada and the United States become the two qualifying boats.
Heat Two opened with Romania in the lead, but it was soon lost to France’s Michael Molina and Benjamin Lang with coxswain Benjamin Manceau through the middle of the race. But margins were close and coming into the final sprint only a second and a half separated the top three boats. Ratings began to rise as three boats fought it out for two spots. Romania, meanwhile, had completely faded. At the line France and Belarus had managed to be in the two qualifying spots and they will go directly to the final.
Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Heats
This event saw four heats lining up with the top boat only getting to progress directly to the semifinals. Denmark’s Rikke Quist got out in front at the start of Heat One and never looked back. This left last year’s World Champion, Fabiana Beltrame to contemplate having to go through a repechage as Quist remained clearly in front.
Quist raced earlier this season at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships and finished second in the open single. Now as a lightweight she was proving her worth and continued to lead this very accomplished field that, apart from Beltrame, also included Italy’s Elisabetta Sancassani who has been racing internationally for over a decade. At the line, rating 32, Quist had won easily and will be the sole boat to advance to the semifinals.
Heat Two featured the return of Austria’s Michaela Taupe-Traer to the World Championships single. Last year Taupe-Traer tried to qualify for the London Olympics in the lightweight double but she missed out and moved back into the single this season. Taupe-Traer raced at all three World Rowing Cups this season taking two golds and a bronze. Today Taupe-Traer led from start to finish building to a huge open water lead through the middle of the race. Taupe-Traer thus earned a spot in the semifinals.
It was no surprise to see Alexandra Tsiavou of Greece out in the lead of Heat Three. Tsiavou comes to these World Champs having won bronze in the lightweight double at the London Olympics. Tsiavou is very accomplished in the single and she proved that she still had it in what it took to row solo by leading from start to finish.
Behind Tsiavou, the Belarussian sculler overtook the United States to take second. But it was all semantics as only first placed Tsiavou would qualify for the semifinals, all other boats would have to return to race in the repechage.
Heat Four began with Germany in the lead, but this didn’t last long with Miao Wang of China then pushing out in front. Wang has just turned 18 years old and this is her first time on the national team. Germany’s Leonie Pless followed Wang but seemed unable to catch her. Wang, in her first international race, got to move directly to the semifinals by finishing first.
Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
In one of the larger events at this regatta, the lightweight men’s single sculls had 25 countries entered. They were divided into six heats with the top three or four boats advancing to the quarterfinals (depending on time and number of boats in the heat).
Heat One had Switzerland’s Michael Schmid in the lead. Schmid tried to qualify for the London Olympics earlier this year in the lightweight double, but he missed out. He then did some racing in the lightweight pair before moving to the single for this regatta. Today Schmid led the field from start to finish and rated a solid 32 coming into end line. Behind Schmid three more boats would qualify. Andrew Campbell of the United States chose to do it by rating low and finishing fourth. Lithuania’s Karolis Sunklodas did it by sprinting to the finish and overtaking Campbell to be third. Rajko Hrvat of Slovenia did it by being second for the majority of the race.
Austria’s Florian Berg was the leader from start to finish in Heat Two. Berg took a silver medal in this event earlier this season when he raced at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Lucerne and when he has a good row his potential is top-notch. Germany’s Daniel Lawitzke chased Berg hard but could never get ahead. At the line Berg had qualified for the quarterfinals from first, Lawitzke took second to qualify and Japan’s Kenta Tadachi was the final qualifier.
The margin by Pietro Ruta of Italy in Heat Three must have some kind of record. Ruta had such a lead that he not only could rate low but, even at a lower rating his leading margin continued to increase. At the line Ruta was a full 36 seconds ahead of Nikolaos Afentoulis of Greece. Ruta comes to Plovdiv after racing in the lightweight double at the London Olympics. Ruta and Afentoulis had qualified for the quarterfinals along with Desmond Nanchengawa of Zambia who outrowed the Ugandan sculler to pick up a qualifying spot. Nanchengwa is at his first international regatta and is also the first time Zambia has competed at an international event.
Heat Four had Peter Galambos of Hungary in the lead from start to finish. Galambos is a very accomplished single sculler and comes to Plovdiv having finished second at the final Samsung World Rowing Cup of this season. Poland’s Bartlomiej Lesniak kept Galambos honest by pushing him throughout the entire 2000m race. Lesniak also had a closing sprint in him and he took his stroke rate to 39 in the final metres of the race. Galambos remained in front to qualify for the quarterfinals with Lesniak qualifying from second and Niall Michael Kenny of Ireland also qualifying by finishing third.
In Heat Five France’s Guillaume Raineau led the way. Raineau raced in his country’s lightweight four last year but has moved back into the single this year. Behind him, Nedelcho Vasilev of Bulgaria gave the French man a run for his money, but Raineau looked to be doing just enough to stay in front. At the line Raineau had qualified from first, Vasilev had taken second and Juan Jimenez Regules of Mexico had made it to the quarterfinals by finishing third.
Slovakia’s Lukas Babac had the lead at the start of Heat Six. But Babac was up against the reigning World Champion, Henrik Stephansen of Denmark. By the 1000m mark Stephansen had pushed ahead of Babac and with that said his good byes to the rest of the field. By the finish line Stephansen had a clear water lead. Babac qualified for the quarterfinals by finishing second and Victor Aspillaga Alayza of Peru and Sau Wah So of Hong Kong also qualified.
Lightweight Men’s Pair (LM2-) – Heats
This event had four heats with the top boat only in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. Heat One featured reigning World Champions, Italy. But at the start it was Bulgaria who had the lead, with Italy and New Zealand chasing hard. By the middle of the race Luca De Maria and Armando Dell’Aquila of Italy had got their boat in front as Bulgaria began to fade. But the New Zealanders were not fading. As the boats went under the 1000m bridge, Alistair Bond and Armin Svoboda really began to move.
Coming into the final sprint Bond and Svoboda had the lead and from that point they never looked back. New Zealand were the sole qualifiers for the semifinals.
Austria got off to a fast start in Heat Two and they led for the first half of the race. But then the Austrian’s began to run out of steam with Arnoud Greidanus and Joris Pijs of the Netherlands taking over in the lead. Greidanus and Pijs have been having a great 2012 season so far as they have already collected a World Rowing Cup silver and gold medal. Greidanus and Pijs then moved away from the rest of the field and by the finish they were comfortable in their qualifying first place position.
Heat Three started out with last year’s bronze medallists, Germany in the lead. Going through the middle 1000m Germany looked to be rather comfortable in their lead. But then it all began to change. As the final 500m came into view a mad sprint was developing between Denmark and the United States.
The sprint was so aggressive that Germany were taken completely by surprise and found themselves not only overtaken but now back in third. The United States (Gregory Flood and William Daly) had moved their stroke rate to 41 with Denmark’s Christian Pedersen and Jens Vilhelmsen also upping the stroke rate. At the line these two boats had left Germany in their wake with Flood and Daly crossing the line in first to be the sole qualifying boat for the semifinals.
In Heat Four former World Champions in this event, Fabien Tilliet and Jean-Christophe Bette of France had the lead. But the French lead was not big with the Czech Republic chasing hard. The experienced Bette and Tilliet continued to lead and in the final sprint the French duo had worn out the Czech’s who conceded by dropping their stroke rate to 29. Bette and Tilliet had not only qualified for the semifinals but they had done it in the fastest qualifying time.
Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats
This event had three heats competing with the goal of being in a top three position for a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One Greece got out in front. The Greek line up included Panagiotis Magdanis and Eleftherios Konsolas who competed at the London Olympics in the lightweight double. Greece continued to lead and through the middle of the race the Greeks had built up a nice lead.
Then the sprint began. Brazil, China and Austria all charged, hoping to be in one of the two remaining qualifying spots. A 36 stroke rate sprint for Brazil had taken them into second and a 40 stroke rate sprint by China had earned them third and a qualifying spot.
Heat Two opened with the United States in the lead. The US finished fifth in 2011 and must be hoping for a better result this year with their new line up. But the United States were up against a feisty Japan and Denmark. So feisty were Denmark that the Danes, who were bronze medallists last year, got into the lead. But only just – less than a second separated the top three crews.
Denmark has retained the crew that finished third at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Munich and they continued in the lead as the final sprint came into view. The Danes did a big push at the 1500m mark and left Japan and the United States to fight it out for second. At the line Denmark were first, Japan were second and the United States were third. These are the three qualifying countries.
On paper Italy was the favourite and they were racing in Heat Three. It is rare for Italy not to win gold in this event and they come to Plovdiv as the reigning World Champions. The Italian line up was full of talent, including Daniele Danesin, Elia Luini, Marcello Miani and Francesco Pegoraro. Italy got out in front at the start with Poland and Germany chasing hard.
Italy remained in the lead at the 1000m mark, but there was very little in it with Poland just a bow ball back. Poland then did a huge piece coming into the 1500m mark and took the lead. What could Italy do? This race must have been turning into a race of guts as Italy tried to fight back. In a huge sprint to the line a smooth and confident looking Poland, rating 34, remained in front with Italy, rating 36, having to accept second. Then Switzerland and Germany took it to a photo finish for third with Germany getting there just ahead. Poland, Italy and Germany are the qualifying boats.
Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) – Heats
The formula here was to finish in a top two position to earn a direct path to the final on Saturday. Two heats lined up with this target in mind. Heat One had Poland in the lead. This Polish crew finished first at the Samsung World Rowing Cup in Munich. This was the last time this event raced internationally and it must give a good indication as to who would do well here in Plovdiv.
Poland continued to lead with Denmark and Australia going head-to-head just slightly behind Poland. Coming into the final sprint Poland remained in the lead with Denmark now having broken free of Australia. Denmark, in their attempt to get ahead of Australia, had closed the gap on Poland and, at 40 stroke per minute, was moving fast. At the line Poland had just held on to first with a very happy Denmark taking second. These are the two crews that qualify for the final.
In Heat Two the United States was in the lead at the start. The US were the 2011 bronze medallists but are boating a new line up this year. By the middle of the race Italy had overtaken the United States and, rating 35, and they started to move away. The United States was not able to hold the Italian pace and coming into the final sprint Italy remained in front. Italy and the United States both qualify for the final.
Lightweight Men’s Eight (LM8+) – Heats
The formula here was to finish in a top two position for a direct path to the final of the two heats that lined up. Heat One featured Germany in the lead at the start, closely followed by Poland. Last year neither of these countries raced in this event at the World Rowing Championships and it is a welcome sight to see them back racing. The lightweight eight nearly got cancelled as a World Champion event due to low participation numbers, but with nine countries racing this year it looks like resurgence is happening.
Germany continued to lead through the middle of the race but Poland was not giving up and the margins remained close. Germany got to the 1500m mark first rating 35 and by that stage they had broken away from Poland. This meant that the close of the race had turned into more of a procession. At the line Germany had qualified comfortably with Poland qualifying from second.
Heat Two had Italy in the lead after overtaking a fast-starting Japan. The Italians finished with silver last year and five of the crew, including the coxswain Gianluca Barattolo have remained in the boat this year. Italy remained in the lead through the middle of the race keeping a handy margin over the reigning World Champions, Australia.
In the final sprint Italy looked comfortable in first with Australia, rating 39, trying to close on Italy. The order did not change and Italy and Australia become the two qualifying boats for the final.