One of the most anticipated races of the day was Great Britain and Australia racing in semifinal one of the men’s four. Great Britain had beaten Australia at the World Rowing Cup last month and the race was on when they met again today. Read on to find out who got the better of who. 

Lightweight women’s single sculls (LW1x) – Semifinals
Lining up in Semifinal One was favourite Michaela Taupe-Traer of Austria. But it was Leonie Pless of Germany1 that had the lead at the start. Then Taupe-Traer, 37, using a steady 32 stroke rate pushed through into the lead with Pless having no answer. Taupe-Traer has so far won both World Cup regattas this season and seems to just get better with age in the single. Taupe-Traer has tried to qualify for the Olympics by rowing the lightweight double but has been unsuccessful and thus has never been to the Olympics in her 18 year career.

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Switzerland’s Pamela Weisshaupt racing in the Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls at the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup III in Munich, Germany

Coming into the finish Taupe-Traer remained in front of Pless with Evi Geentjens of Belgium coming through. Geentjens had a very average heat yesterday and thus had to race in the repechage later in the day. Today Geentjens held off a last minute push by Australia to hold onto the third and final qualifying spot.

Semifinal Two ended in a huge disappointment for Kristina Knejp Christensson of Sweden2. Chirstensson got out into the lead at the start and held it through the middle of the race over Lucia Palermo of Argentina. But Christensson had misjudged her race and coming into the final sprint Pamela Weisshaupt of Switzerland took her stroke rate to 34 and charged. So did Palermo and Kathryn Twyman of Great Britain. Christensson could do nothing. She had run out of steam and, despite her best attempt, could not hold off this charge to the line. Weisshaupt finished first, Palermo got second and Twyman took third.

Finalists: AUT, GER1, BEL, SUI, ARG, GBR

Lightweight men’s single sculls (LM1x) – Semifinals
Semifinal One saw France2 Guillaume Raineau come out of the starting ‘boots’ at an incredibly fast pace. But soon winner of the first World Rowing Cup of the season, Pietro Ruta of Italy had pushed past. Ruta, 24, has spent his career swapping between different lightweight boats (apart from the double), with the single lately bringing him good success. Raineau began to slip back off the pace leaving his very experienced team mate, Frederic Dufour to overtake him and go after Ruta.

Ruta looked very comfortable in his leading position coming into the line with now Raineau performing a massive sprint to get himself into a qualifying position. The sprint paid off. Raineau overtook both Dufour and Austria’s Florian Berg, to finish second. Dufour held on to third. Ruta’s first place finish was in a time of 6:59, the only sculler to go under the magic 7 minute mark.

Semifinal Two was led from start to finish by Peter Galambos of Hungary. Galambos, 25, tried to qualify for the Olympic Games last year in the double but was unsuccessful. So this year at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta Galambos attempted to qualify in the open men’s single. He just missed out, but his speed in the lightweight single continued to be obvious today. Galambos held off Jonathan Koch of Germany and Thomas Gibson of Australia to finish first. Koch was in second for most of the race but chose not to sprint the finish and was overtaken by Gibson. Gibson will go to the Olympic Games in the lightweight double but is racing here in the single as his doubles partner is recovering from an injury. Galambos, Gibson and Koch are in the final later today.

Finalists: ITA, FRA2, FRA1, HUN, AUS, GER1

Lightweight men’s pair (LM2-) – Semifinals
The British are the reigning World Champions in this event. They have a new line up this year with Paul Mattick, who was in his country’s lightweight four last year, teamed up with Adam Freeman-Pask. Today in Semifinal One Mattick and Freeman-Pask held the lead from start to finish. They did not, however, have an easy time of it. Australia’s Blair Tunevitsch and Alister Foot pushed the British crew through the entire race with Arnoud Greidanus and Joris Pijs of the Netherlands2 also right on the pace.

This race must be bittersweet for Mattick who missed out on making the lightweight four this year and, thus, will not be going to the Olympic Games. But Mattick made the best of it with Great Britain crossing the line in first with the fastest qualifying time. Australia held on to second and the Netherlands2 were third.

Lasse Antczak (s) and Yannic Corinth (b) race for Germany in the Lightweight Men’s Pairs at the the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup III in Munich, Germany

The German spectators at the Munich regatta course got their money’s worth from Semifinal Two. Out in front was Yannic Gorinth and Lasse Antczak of Germany1. Gorinth and Antczak raced together last year to fourth at the World Rowing Under 23 Championships in the lightweight four. Today, racing at the senior level, they were doing their best to hold off Christian Pedersen and Jens Vilhelmsen of Denmark. These two crews kept the pace hot through the middle of the race and looked secure to easily take out the top two spots. But just when it looked like everything was sorted out, Germany2 of Daniel Wisgott and Stefan Wallat came flying down the outside at a 39 stroke rate pace. Germany2 pushed past Switzerland and caught up to Denmark.

At the line Germany1 had just held on to first with Germany2 taking second and Denmark holding on to third.

Finalists: GBR, AUS, NED2, GER1, GER2, DEN

Men’s double sculls (M2x) – Semifinals
As in their heat, Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch of Norway jumped out to an early lead in Semifinal One. But the German former World Champions, Eric Knittel and Stephan Krueger did a solid piece around the 700m mark to earn the lead. Going through the 1000m mark, however, not much more than a second separated the top five boats. Slovenia’s Luka Spik and Iztok Cop was out-rating the field to try and get into a top three position while Knittel and Krueger held on to a very slight margin.

It was very close on the line with Hoff and Borch storming back to finish first, Knittel and Krueger took second and Bill Lucas and Sam Townsend of Great Britain looked very happy to have earned third. The photo finish of these three crews separated them by less than half a second.

Semifinal Two had Estonia in the lead early on. Their early pace soon proved to be way too difficult and as Estonia dropped right back Argentina’s Olympic hopefuls, Ariel Suarez and Cristian Rosso took over in the lead. Then France’s Julien Bahain and Cedric Berrest did a big push to get their nose in front of Argentina. Bahain and Berrest medalled in the quad at the Beijing Olympic Games. They then switched to the double and have been regular medallists since. They are one of the strongest hopes for France for a medal in rowing at the London Olympics.

Coming into the line France held on to the lead with Argentina following in second and reigning World Champions, Joseph Sullivan and Nathan Cohen of New Zealand came through in third. This must have been huge relief for Sullivan and Cohen who missed out on the final when they raced last month at the Lucerne World Rowing Cup.

Finalists: NOR, GER, GBR, FRA, ARG, NZL

Men’s four (M4-) – Semifinals
Semifinal One had the top two boats from the Lucerne World Rowing Cup sitting side-by-side in the middle of the field – Australia and reigning World Champions, Great Britain. But it was Belarus that set the early pace. Australia, with the great Drew Ginn sitting in the boat, then pushed into the lead and Great Britain followed closely. As Great Britain kept their rating at a high 37 – 38 stroke rate, Australia was able to stay in the lead at a lower 35 pace.

In Lucerne Great Britain had outsprinted Australia. Were Australia prepared for it today? The crowd was on the edge of their seats as Great Britain charged, getting up to a 42 stroke rate. But Australia were managing to do just enough to stay in front as both crews looked like they were really pushing it to the line. Great Britain suffered their first loss this season coming in second to Australia with Belarus holding on to third.

In Semifinal Two it was Romania who started off the most aggressively and at the half way point they still had the lead. Then Serbia took over. Serbia had a very solid heat yesterday when they finished second to Great Britain and they look to be a crew to watch. Then winners of the second heat, the Czech Republic, really started to move. Michal Horvath, Jakub Podrazil, Milan Bruncvic and Matyas Klang only qualified for the Olympics when they won the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta last month and they were now in the lead. At the line the Czech Republic were in first, Serbia in second and Romania held on to third.

Finalists: AUS, GBR, BLR, CZE, SRB, ROU

Lightweight men’s double sculls (LM2x) – Semifinals
In 2009, in the absence of Great Britain, New Zealand’s Peter Taylor and Storm Uru became World Champions. Since then they haven’t been able to take a World Champion title. But their main goal has been Olympic gold. Taylor and Uru beat Great Britain in the heats yesterday and today in Semifinal One they faced Denmark’s Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist. Rasmussen and Quist held the lead for the first half of the race over Uru and Taylor before a strong push by the New Zealander’s in the third 500 gave them the lead, but only just. Uru and Taylor continued to push to the line at a 37 stroke rate. Denmark seemed content just to hold on to the line which meant Hungary’s late Olympic qualifiers, Zsolt Hirling and Tamas Varga was able to get through into second. New Zealand, Hungary and Denmark will be in the final.

Peter Taylor (s) and Storm Uru (b) of New Zealand compete in Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls heats during the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup III in Munich, Germany

It looks like the new French combination is a winner. Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou of France just came together in time for the second World Rowing Cup last month in Lucerne and they clicked so well that they won. In Semifinal Two Delayre and Azou led at the start. By the half way point, however, Olympic and World Champions, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter of Great Britain had pushed past. Purchase and Hunted did not have a good Lucerne regatta with mutterings of Purchase not being at full fitness. Today they looked strong as they held onto the lead right through to the finish.

Behind Great Britain, France held on to second with a huge battle going on between Italy and Norway coming into the line. Italy’s Elia Luini and Lorenzo Bertini rated 38 to try and hold off the sprinting Norwegians. Luini and Bertini had managed it and will get to race in tomorrow’s final.  

Finalists: NZL, HUN, DEN, GBR, FRA, ITA

Men’s single sculls (M1x) – Semifinals
The top two scullers in this event were not racing here. Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand had a bike accident a couple of days ago, sustaining injuries that has kept him from racing and Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic is not racing here as his pre-Olympic preparation means that he has already gone to altitude training. This left the field open for some new finalists. In Semifinal One hometown favourite Marcel Hacker of Germany got out to a solid start. Hacker won a World Champion title back in 2002 but has had mixed results since then. Hacker remained in front, looking strong and confident, through the middle of the race.

Behind Hacker, Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway slotted into second, also looking strong with a good rhythm. Tufte has not seen the medals podium since 2010 but there are still high expectations that the Norwegian will do something special at the Olympic Games. Coming into the line Hacker had the luxury of not needing to sprint while Tufte, rating a high 39, found himself under pressure from Mexico’s Juan Carlos Cabrera and Great Britain2 Graeme Thomas. At the line Hacker remained in first, Tufte held on to second and Thomas got third.

Lassi Karonen of Sweden racing in the Men’s Single Sculls heats at the 2011 Samsung World Rowing Cup in Munich, Germany

Alan Campbell of Great Britain is a regular medallist at the World Cups, but hasn’t seen the gold since 2009. Will this regatta be his chance to get gold? Today he raced at the head of the field in Semifinal Two. Settling into a solid 32 stroke rate pace, Campbell kept ahead of Hubert Trzybinski of Germany2. Lassi Karonen of Sweden then did a solid piece coming into the third 500 and Karonen got ahead of Trzybinski. The Swede then closed the gap on Campbell and chose to push Campbell to the line. Campbell took his stroke rate to 36 to cross the line in first with Karonen in second. A great race by Patrick Loliger Salas of Mexico gave him the third qualifying spot.

This is an excellent result for Loliger making it his first time in the A-final. Loliger went to the 2008 Olympics and then qualified for London by winning the Latin American Olympic Qualification Regatta.

Finalists: GER, NOR, GBR2, GBR1, SWE, MEX

Women’s single sculls (W1x) – Semifinals

The initial stages of Semifinal One featured Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus back in third place. Having just turned 40 years old, this is Karsten’s first international regatta for 2012 as the former World Champion prepares for her sixth Olympic Games. Out in front, however, it was Donata Vistartaite of Lithuania. Vistartaite qualified for her first Olympic Games when she got through at last year’s World Rowing Championships and she has been showing fine form ever since. As the race progressed, Karsten, looking relaxed and on form, pushed her way past Vistartaite to get into the lead with Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark moving with Karsten.

At the line Karsten remained in first, Erichsen was in second and Vistartaite held on to third.

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Nataliya Mustafayeva of Azerbaijan prepares to race in the semifinals of the Women’s Single Sculls at the 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup III in Munich, Germany

Coming through the heats yesterday, New Zealand’s Emma Twigg had recorded the fastest qualifying time. Today, in Semifinal Two, Twigg overtook fast starter Sanita Puspure of Ireland to get into the lead. Going through the middle of the race Twigg had a slight margin over Puspure and Nataliya Mustafayeva of Azerbaijan.

As these athletes would have to race again in tomorrow’s final, it looked as if Twigg was doing just enough to hold her spot while Mustafayeva kept on pushing. Puspure kept a squeeze on to ensure she kept fourth place Talia Gjoertz of Norway at bay. Mustafayeva’s more aggressive finish put her into first at the line with Twigg following in second and Ireland’s sole representative at the London Olympics in rowing and first time for an Irish woman since 1980, Puspure was third.

Finalists: BLR, DEN, LTU, AZE, NZL, IRL