Croatia's men's double sculls
Martin Sinkovic (b) and Valent Sinkovic (s) of Croatia during the start of the A-final of the men's double sculls at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Women’s Pair (W2-)
At World Rowing Cup I in Bled, China lined up six crews in the women’s pair. Five of them ranked second to sixth in the A-final. In Varese, they have narrowed down their selection to two boats. Two boats that will not only be racing to medal, but also racing for Chinese national team selection.

Like China, the United States will be racing two pairs. Megan Kalmoe and Kerry Simmonds, who took world silver last year, will be up against Felice Mueller and Eleanor Logan. Logan won multiple Olympic and World Champion titles in the women’s eight while Mueller was part of the bronze medal winning women’s quadruple sculls at the 2014 World Championships.

New Zealand won world bronze last year in the women’s pair, but a different line-up will be racing in Varese with Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler. They both come from the 2014 World Champion women’s four and 2014 Under-23 Champion pair.

But the big name, of course, is Great Britain. Will any of these crews manage to challenge the unbeaten duo of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning? Glover and Stanning have already proved themselves this season with gold at last month’s European Championships.

Men’s Pair (M2-)
As expected, New Zealand will be racing in the men’s pair. Totally unexpected, however, is the replacement of multi World and Olympic Champions Eric Murray and Hamish Bond by two other Kiwi athletes, Patrick McInnes and Axel Dickinson. Murray and Bond have decided to head for Europe later in the season leaving spares, McInnes and Dickinson to fill their very big shoes.

European Champions, Matt Langridge and James Foad of Great Britain have withdrawn from the competition leaves the field open to newcomers. There is a new Dutch combination of top single sculler Roel Braas paired up with Mitchel Steenmann. They have not had long together, but it will be interesting to see what they can do.  

Look out too for the United States. James Ross has been a regular member of the US men’s eight and he will be racing in this boat class for the first time internationally with Dariush Aghai.

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)
New Zealand is the 2014 World Champions in this event, but they are boating a new combination for 2015 of Eve MacFarlane and Zoe Stevenson. Watch out for their 2015 international debut as they face the force from Poland. Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk is a World Champion in this event and also has several world medals and Olympic bronze to her name. Last year she and Natalia Madaj won silver at the World Rowing Championships and so far this year they have not lost a single race.

It is Australia, however, who holds the World Best Time. Set last year in one of the semifinals at the World Rowing Championships, the duo of Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe went on to win world bronze and are back this year with high ambitions.

Great Britain’s most medalled female rower Katherine Grainger is back after a post-Olympic break. She debuted her 2015 season at the European Championships last month and took bronze with partner Victoria Thornley. In the absence of 2013 World Champions Lithuania, they will be looking to better this result in Varese. Also in the race for medals will be Germany with Julia Lier and Mareike Adams as well as Belarus, with the former single sculling great Ekaterina Karsten now partnered with Yuliya Bichyk.

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)
The men’s double sculls field is packed with talent and racing is expected to be tight.

The Sinkovic brothers Martin and Valent Croatian are the World Champions and World Best Time holders. Due to a rib injury, they were unable to race so far this season. Now entered for Varese, they will be the crew that captivates the limelight.

If Croatia races their main test is likely to come from Germany. Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger joined up at the start of the season and won at both the World Rowing Cup in Bled and at the European Championships. 

Never underestimate the advantage of racing on home waters. Italy’s world silver medallists Romano Battisti and Francesco Fossi will debut for 2015 in Varese. Also debuting this year is Australia and New Zealand. Australia’s world bronze medallist combination of James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff are racing as are New Zealand’s new combination of Robert Manson and Chris Harris.

Men’s Four (M4-)
The men’s four has historically been Great Britain’s priority boat. When a number of top British athletes were transferred to the men’s eight this season, the question was whether this fresh British line-up would manage to do as well as their predecessors. Winning European gold a few weeks ago was the answer.

In Varese, the British will be lining up against 2014 world silver and bronze medallists the United States and Australia. Both crews have two new members in the boat who will be showing off their worth for 2015.

Watch out too for Canada. They finished fifth last year at the worlds, and with one new member to their team, they will be a crew to watch. Belarus won bronze at the European Championships and with the same crew in Varese, they will be aiming to prove themselves in a bigger international field.

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
The door has opened up in Varese in the women’s single sculls. Olympic Champion Mirka Knapkova from the Czech Republic is absent, as is World Champion, Emma Twigg of New Zealand. This will make Australian Kim Crow, 2013 World Champion and 2012 Olympic bronze medallist, the top athlete to beat in the women’s single.

Crow will face some relatively new names to the single. Switzerland’s Jeannine Gmelin won silver at the European Championships and Belarus’s Tatsiana Kukhta took bronze. They will be top contenders in Varese.

Look out too for the returning London Olympic silver medallist from Denmark Fie Udby Erichsen, who finished sixth at the European Championships and will be hoping to step up with every race she faces.

New Zealand has selected Fiona Bourke to race the single. Bourke is the World Champion from the women’s double sculls.Watch out too for Carling Zeeman from Canada. Zeeman medalled twice at world under-23 level in this boat class and is known for her power on the ergometre.

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
The best men’s single scullers in the world will all be gathered in Varese. Multi world medallists Mahe Drysdale of New Zealand, Ondrej Synek of Czech Republic and Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba will all meet for the first time this year. Fournier started off the season well by winning at the World Rowing Cup in Bled. Synek finished second to Croatia’s Damir Martin at the European Rowing Championships while Varese will be Drysdale’s 2015 debut.

Martin’s win at the European Championships means that all eyes will be firmly fixed on the Croatian. After beating the 2014 World Champion, Synek at the European Championships, Martin has become the new challenger in the single. Martin was previously part of his nation’s men’s quadruple sculls, winning a variety of world and Olympic medals.

Keep an eye out too for two-time Olympic Champion Olaf Tufte of Norway who medalled for the first time in five years last month by winning European bronze. After pulling out last season due to lack of form, Alan Campbell of Great Britain is racing again and will no doubt be in the mix pushing for medals.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)
All three medalling crews from the Europeans in Poznan are back: Great Britain, Germany and Poland. But selectors seem to not be resting on their laurels. Both Great Britain and Germany will be racing another boat form their country in Varese, ensuring the best combination is identified in the lead up to the World Rowing Championships.

The Canadians will be making their seasonal debut in Varese. The 2014 world silver medallists Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee are back and will be looking to make a strong impression on the rest of the field.

Watch out for China and Denmark. The Chinese won gold at World Rowing Cup I in May and another Chinese combination won bronze at last year’s World Rowing Championships. Both of these crews will be racing in Varese.  Denmark’s Anne Lolk Thomsen and Juliane Rasmussen are back following a post-Olympic break. They finished fourth at the European Championships and are aiming for their second Olympics together.

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
The medallists from the 2015 European Rowing Championships will all be lining up again in Varese. France’s duo of Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre won gold, the British Richard Chambers and William Fletcher won silver and the Norwegians Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli won bronze. But additional competition will be stacking up against them at World Rowing Cup II.

The Danes have returned. Mads Rasmussen and Rasmus Quist, the 2012 Olympic Champions and 2008 Olympic bronze medallists, have not raced together internationally since London. Making their comeback in the Olympic qualification year, their eyes must be intently set on Rio 2016.

After spending two years in the lightweight men’s four and winning two World Championship silver medals in this boat class, New Zealand’s Peter Taylor is back in the lightweight double.  In London, he and his partner Storm Uru claimed Olympic bronze. Now teamed up with Hayden Cohen,  Taylor has a new point to prove.

Also making their seasonal entrance in Varese are the Germans Moritz Moos and Jason Osborne. The 2014 and 2013 under-23 World Champions will add serious competition to the field. Keep an eye out too for the United States combination of Andrew Campbell and Joshua Konieczny. Campbell is a two-time under-23 World Champion in the lightweight single and has now switched to the double in the hope of qualifying for Rio later this year.

Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)
Switzerland is the current top boat. They have won at both the World Rowing Cup I and European Rowing Championships including beating out 2014 World Champions, Denmark. Denmark finished with bronze at the European Rowing Championships in May while France took silver.  Denmark recently pulled out of this race but should be back later in the season.  

Watch out for the arrival of 2014 world silver medallists, New Zealand. The selection competition was so tight for this boat that 2014 team member, Peter Taylor missed out and is now rowing in the lightweight double. And never discount Great Britain. They have made two changes to the crew that finished fourth at the Europeans, with Peter Chambers and Joel Cassells coming in.

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
Germany has a winning tradition in this boat class and they are racing at Varese with the aim to continue their winning season.

At the European Rowing Championships in Poznan, the Netherlands gave the Germans a good run for their money. Poland also put up a good performance in Poznan, taking bronze. In the absence of the Netherlands in Varese, Poland has a good chance of making the podium again.

The United States will be lining up in Varese with two changes to their 2014 world bronze-medal winning crew, while Australia, who finished fourth at the World Rowing Championships last year, are coming back with the same crew. Keep an eye out for China. They will be lining up two crews in Varese, with all four members of last year’s world silver medal winning crew in the mix.

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)
The top two crews from the European Rowing Championships, Russia and Ukraine will not be racing in Varese leaving the door open to some new medallists. Next highest ranking is Great Britain. The 2014 world silver medallists won bronze at the European Championships and, with one new member in their boat, they will be the crew to watch.

Hoping to push back into the medals will be Olympic Champions, Germay. After a disappointing sixth-place finish at the European Championships, Germany will be lining up two crews in Varese in the hope of finding the perfect combination.

China will also be a serious contender. They finished fourth at the World Rowing Championships last year and took silver at the World Rowing Cup in Bled. Keep an eye out too for Estonia and Switzerland. Although they have not stood out yet this season, they have a strong background in this boat class.

Women’s Eight (W8+)
The United States has had an incredible winning streak in this boat class since 2006. Will anyone ever manage to beat them? Canada have won a number of silver medals during this time and in 2015 they will continue to try and grab that elusive gold medal.

Strong competition can also be expected from the likes of China (2014 world bronze medallists) as they aim for Olympic qualification later this year, Germany and Great Britain.

Men’s Eight (M8+)
At the European Rowing Championships last month, World Champions Great Britain had been counting on its dream line-up getting the better of Germany. But Germany, the Olympic Champions, won leaving Great Britain with silver. In Varese, both nations will be boating the same crews again, with a second under-23 German boat also in the mix.

At the European Championships, Russia denied Poland of a medal when they took bronze. With Russia not racing in Varese, 2014 world bronze medallists Poland will aim to get back onto the podium.

France will be sending the same crew that finished fifth at the European Championships. Watch out too for the first showing this season of the United States. The US eight has been one of their most successful boats historically and with another Olympic Games on the horizon, they will be aiming to put together a winning crew.

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