Tension stepped up a level for these athletes sitting in the starting blocks on the Rotsee regatta course. In many ways their upcoming race was all about who could stand the pressure.

On top of that the weather decided to be as changeable as possible. Opening races got relatively smooth slight-tail conditions. The wind then turned around, the day cooled and head wind conditions developed until racing had to be suspended as a storm was forecasted to arrive.

When racing recommenced head-wind conditions remained, but as the afternoon turned into evening the weather became increasingly calm and the final three events of the day raced in barely any wind.

Women’s Pair (W2-) – Repechage
Of the five nations racing, two would advance to the final. For the remaining three 2012 Olympic dreams would be shattered. So were the stakes here today on the Rotsee.

As crews headed towards the starting blocks a shower of rain fell. This was soon forgotten with the sun appearing in time for the roll call. Canada’s Natalie Mastracci and Larissa Lagzdins looked to be the crew to beat. Lagzdins raced in this event last year and missed out on Olympic qualification by just one position. Now teamed up with Mastracci, from the 2011 silver medal eight, the duo took on the fast-starting Dutch and 2008 Beijing bronze medallists, Yuliya Bichyk and Natallia Helakh of Belarus.

Going through the middle of the race the Netherlands still had the lead with Bichyk and Helakh in second. Mastracci and Lagzdins followed in third. The Canadians then did a really huge piece coming through the 1250m mark which propelled them past Belarus and past the Netherlands. The Canadians had found first and were not letting go. Bichyk and Helakh realised that their Olympic chances were in doubt and started to sprint. The Dutch had run out of steam. Progression to the semifinal mean that Canada and Belarus have kept their Olympic hopes alive.

Results: CAN, BLR, NED, AZE, UKR
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Men’s Pair (M2-) – Repechage One and Two
The top two boats in each repechage would keep their Olympic dreams alive. For the remaining crews it would spell the end of their hopes for this season. This scenario played out in bittersweet fashion in Repechage One. From the start Alexander Sigurbjonsson Benet and Pau Vela Maggi of Spain stamped their authority. Yesterday Benet and Maggi had given 100 per cent effort in the heat but had just missed out on going directly to the final. Benet needed medical assistance for his effort, however he looked great today out in the lead.
Behind the leading Spaniards a full-on battle was taking place with Norway holding the slightest of edges over Belarus and the Czech Republic with Argentina a little way back. It was all on for the final sprint with a huge charge coming from Diego Lopez and Joaquin Iwan of Argentina as well as Jan Gruber and Jakub Makovicka of the Czech Republic.

As the line came into view Spain led, rating 36, Argentina had reached 44 and the Czechs were in second at a 43 stroke rate. Then the unthinkable happened. Just 30m before the line Gruber and Makovicka slowed right down. Something had happened. Spain and Argentina crossed the line in the first two positions. The Czechs limped across the line and sat there – dejected.

Results: ESP, ARG, BLR, NOR, CZE

Repechage Two saw a beautifully paced race by the South African duo of Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling. Keeling came into the pair after spending last season trying to qualify in the four while Brittain, 21, raced last year in the pair with Olympic medallists and now retired, Ramon Di Clemente.

Together Keeling and Brittain remained at the head of the field keeping a confident eye over the remaining four boats. China’s Xiaobing Guo and Dongjian Li got themselves into second and tried to stay ahead of a fast finishing Romania. This is Guo and Li’s third season of international competition and their style of long, smooth strokes showed a real maturity in technique. South Africa and China will advance to the final.

Results: RSA, CHN, ROU, CRO, UKR
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Repechage
In today’s Repechage five countries would race. Of those five, the top two would advance to tomorrow’s final. For everyone else their chances of Olympic qualification would end. The race turned into a battle of the elements. As these five boats progressed down the 2000m Rotsee course a dark cloud moved in and the wind switched to a solid head wind. Which athletes were ready to handle it the best?
Denmark’s Lisbet Jakobsen and Anne Andersen got out at the start and into the lead. Jakobsen raced in this event last year with another partner. Now teamed up with 19-year-old Andersen the duo looked to be the crew to beat. By the half-way marker, as the wind continued to increase, Jakobsen and Andersen remained in the lead but now with Italy pushing hard to overtake.

The Italian combination of Laura Schiavone and Giada Colombo is new this season. Last year they were together in the quad which missed out on Olympic qualification. As Schiavone and Colombo came through the third 500m they pushed hard and got their nose ahead of Denmark. The Danes held on as Finland attacked from their third-placed position. Italy and Denmark held off the Finns to become the two boats that will be in the final.

Results: ITA, DEN, FIN, HUN, SUI
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Repechage
Five nations lined up for the Repechage of the men’s double. The top three would get to advance to Tuesday’s semifinal. For the remaining three crews, it would mean the end of their 2012 Olympic bid.

Right from the beginning Moustafa Fathy and Nour El Din Hassanein of Egypt made their intentions clear. They got their nose in front with Serbia and Slovakia chasing hard. Nour El Din Hassanein has already qualified for the London Olympics in the single through the African Olympic Qualification Regatta, but he must be looking for an alternative spot by racing in the double.

As the boats came through the middle of the race Fathy and Hassanein still had the lead as Israel moved into second with Serbia just back in third. The head wind then increased in strength causing Serbia to struggle. Israel’s Oleg Gonorovski and Dani Fridman were then able to cement their second place spot with Slovakia’s Lukas Babac and Richard Vanco moving through into third. Egypt, Israel and Slovakia had done enough to advance to the semifinal.

Results: EGY, ISR, SVK, SRB, GEO
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2


Men’s Four (M2x) – Repechage
The formula here had six countries lined up with the top four getting to move on to the final on Tuesday. The remaining two crews would be out of Olympic contention. As the head-wind conditions strengthened on the Rotsee course, these six boats gave it their all. Romania took an early lead and managed to build a two second advantage over Russia though the middle of the race. Then in the third quarter Spain moved on through, pushing past Russia and closing the gap on Romania.
Garcia Cortes, Gonzalez Alvarez and the Guzman Del Castillo brothers of Spain seemed to be handling the windy conditions the best as they pushed on to the line, now in the leading position. Romania held on to second while Russia and Croatia were in third and fourth respectively. There was no desperate sprint to the line as China and Ukraine were now off the pace and their 2012 Olympic hopes dashed. Spain, Romania, Russia and Croatia advance to the final.

Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Racing was then suspended for one and a half hours for safety issues as a storm was forecast to arrive.

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Repechage One and Two
Two repechages of five boats in each lined up with the aim of being in the top three for a chance of advancing to the semifinal. The remaining two boats in each race would see the end to their 2012 Olympic dreams. These athletes were put under extra pressure as they had already warmed up and prepared and were on the water before racing was postponed due to the change in weather.
Returning to the water Sophie Balmary of France looked like she was best handling the changes in racing times and the head-wind conditions. The very experienced Balmary started racing internationally as a junior back in 1996. Balmary then went on to compete at three Olympic Games before retiring following Beijing. Now back on the scene Balmary made relatively easy work of Repechage One. She led from start to finish in true style building a clear-water lead with just 500m rowed.

Great Britain’s Rachel Gamble-Flint slotted into second leaving Switzerland and Latvia to battle it out for the third and final qualifying spot. Latvia’s Elza Gulbe waited until Regina Naunheim of Switzerland ran out of steam and then overtook her.
France, Great Britain and Latvia qualify for the semifinal.

Results: FRA, GBR, LAT, SUI, CYP

In Repechage Two Nataliia Huba of Ukraine took off at a cracking pace in these head-wind conditions. Norway’s Tale Gjoertz looked like the only rower that could catch Huba. Gjoertz has been racing at the international level since 2007 when she raced as a junior and earlier this month she finished a credible eighth at the World Rowing Cup in Belgrade. Coming into the third 500 Gjoertz had nearly caught Huba with Bulgaria’s Luiza-Mariya Rusinova now putting the pressure on.

A solid finish put Gjoertz into the lead with Rusinova pushing past Huba to take second. Huba held onto third. Norway, Bulgaria and Ukraine move on to the semifinal.

Results: NOR, BUL, UKR, ITA, POL
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 4

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Repechage One and Two
The top two boats in each of these repechages would keep their Olympic hopes alive as they would get a chance to compete in the semifinal. This meant that the remaining seven scullers were out – their Olympic dreams would be over.

Repechage One saw all of the hard work being done early in the race. Serbia’s Marko Marjanovic leapt out to a fast start followed closely by Henrik Stephansen of Denmark. Marjanovic has rowed in various boat combinations during his nine years at the international level while Stephansen comes to this event as the reigning World Champion in the lightweight single.

Stephansen and Marjanovic carried out an extremely close tussle through the middle of the race with Stephansen, using a higher stroke rate, getting the advantage. Marjanovic looked content to hold on to second with these two scullers under no threat from the remainder of the field as they went through the second half of the race. Denmark and Serbia make it to the semifinal.

Results: DEN, SRB, EST, MDA, CYP

Not surprisingly Repechage 2 was much faster as the lead changed several times through the race. Sculling spare of the Olympic quad for Australia, Jared Bidwell took off at a cracking pace and took the lead. Greece’s Dionysios Angelopoulos then got his nose in front with Artem Kosov of Russia now pushing through.
Kosov has spent most of his international career in the quad with a short time in the double. Today in the single he was showing his worth. As the final 500m came into view, Kosov had moved out to an open water lead with Angelopoulos following back in second. Italy then gave it his all in the final sprint, but there was too much distance to make up. Kosov and Angelopoulos move on to the semifinal.

Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Repechage One and Two
Finishing in the top two spots meant keeping Olympic hopes alive. Finishing anywhere else in the field meant the end of the road in terms of 2012 Olympic qualification. In some of the most intense racing of the day, Repechage One started with France in the lead. This didn’t last long as Italy’s Erika Bello and Laura Milani found their rhythm and pushed on through. Bello, 36, has had a long rowing career. She competed at the 1996 Olympic Games in the open women’s double. Now partnered with Milani the duo got themselves in the lead.

Belarus, however, was not going to let Italy get away. Alena Kryvasheyenka and Irina Liaskova of Belarus challenged and challenged again. Bello and Milani continued to keep their nose just in front. In the last 500m Switzerland started to rev it up. Belarus was under threat for a qualifying spot. But the Swiss had left their sprint too late. Italy and Belarus qualify for the final.

Results: ITA, BLR, SUI, CZE, FRA

An aggressive start by Austria gave them the lead at the start of Repechage Two. The lead did not last long as Sweden’s Emma Fred and Kristina Knejp Christensson came storming through. Knejp Christensson, 38, comes into the double this year with Fred, an Olympian from 1996. She retired in 2000 then came back to elite rowing in 2010. Together Fred and Knejp Christensson held the lead and managed to inch away from Austria.

In the final sprint Austria pushed back hard. But it was Poland’s Weronika Deresz and Jaclyn Halko who presented the sprint of the day. Deresz and Halko were out of qualifying and back in fourth place with just 500m left to row. They then let loose and went after Russia, then Austria and finally in the last 20m overtook Sweden to finish first. What a sprint! Sweden held on to second with Austria out, their Olympic chances for 2012 gone.

Results: POL, SWE, AUT, RUS, ESP
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Repechage
The top three countries in this race would advance to the semifinal tomorrow. For all other boats the Olympic dream for 2012 would be over. Slovenia’s Jure Grace and Jure Cvet got out in front but only by a fraction over Sweden’s Oskar Russberg and Dennis Bernhardsson. These two countries then went head-to-head through the middle of the race leaving the rest of the field to contemplate who could get into the third and final qualifying spot. The Czech Republic’s Petr Cabla and Milan Viktora got into that spot and did their best to shake off Turkey.
As these crews came to the line Russberg and Bernhardsson had managed to get the better of Grace and Cvet. Russberg and Bernhardsson have been racing together since 2010 under-23s. If they qualify 2012 will be their first Olympic Games. Grace and Cvet held on to second with Cabla and Viktora holding on to retain the final qualifying position.

Results: SWE, SLO, CZE, TUR, ARM
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Repechage One and Two
For the men in the lightweight four a top two position was required if they wanted to keep their 2012 Olympic hopes alive. Not finishing in the top two meant the end of the road to the Olympic Games.

The water had calmed down almost completely as Repechage One came down the 2000m Rotsee course. As the evening light dulled the waters a storm was going on between the United States and New Zealand with Portugal very much in on the action. By the half-way point the United States new 2012 line up of Anthony Fahden, William Newell, Nick La Cava and Robin Prendes had a very small margin over the New Zealanders with Portugal now slipping back.

Coming into the close of the race the two qualifying crews looked clear – the United States, at a 33 stroke rate, remained in first with New Zealand, on 36, clearly in second. Portugal gave it their best to close the gap with a 38 stroke rate sprint, but they did not have enough water left. The United States and New Zealand qualify.

Results: USA, NZL, POR, RUS, ARG

There was no disguising the absolute adulation by the top two crews as the crossed the line in Repechage Two. Spain had led the race from start to finish despite sustaining endless attacks by Japan. In the final sprint the field closed up completely with all four crews well within the chance of qualifying in the top two spots. The finishing times saw a spread of less than two seconds.
Spain had held on to first, Brazil had conducted an enormous sprint to finish second, while Japan and Chile had only just missed out. Spain and Brazil were ecstatic.

Results: ESP, BRA, JPN, CHI
Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Repechage
Of the six countries lining up in this Repechage, the top four boats would advance to the final. For the remaining two crews their regatta would be over and their chance of making the 2012 London Olympic Games finished.

The race opened with Slovenia in the lead. Marko Grace, Grega Domanjko, Janez Jurse and Gasper Fistravec. Fistravec is the only remainder of the quad that raced last year at the World Rowing Championships. Now in stroke seat Fistravec was keeping his boat in front. Behind Slovenia, the Czech Republic held the leader’s pace with Denmark and Hungary just a bit back.

The Czech Republic then did a big push in the third 500 and got half a length on Slovenia. With the Czech’s now in the lead, Slovenia pushed back and again found the lead. Coming into the line Slovenia and the Czech Republic held first and second without having to really sprint. Denmark and Hungary followed, also in qualifying spots.

Olympic Qualification Places Available: 2

Full results of today's racing can be found here.

The first Olympic qualifiers will be decided tomorrow, Tuesday 22 May. The updated startlist is now available. Find out who the qualifiers will meet at the 2012 Olympic Games here.