Men’s Coxed Pair (M2+) – Heats

This International (non-Olympic) boat class had rowers going after World Championship titles. There were two heats with the top boat in each heat getting to go directly to the finals. In Heat One, Great Britain featured two World Champions from their country’s eight and also the winners from World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell and Matthew Tarrant of Great Britain led the way. They kept their stroke rate in the low 30s guided by coxswain Henry Fieldman and executing beautiful catches to remain in front to the line and recorded the fastest overall qualifying time.

Heat Two had Jakob Schneider and Clemens Ernsting of Germany in the lead. With Jonas Weisen in the coxswain seat, Germany stayed out in front for the entire race. Keeping a steady 34 stroke rate, the Germans crossed the line in first place to secure a spot in the final where they will face Great Britain who beat them at Lucerne last month.

Qualifiers: GBR, GER

Lightweight Men’s Pair (LM2-) – Heats

There were three heats that lined up in this boat class and the goal here was to finish in a top three position for a direct path to the semifinals. Heat One featured the winners of World Rowing Cup III, Petru Zaharia and Armando Dell’Aquila of Italy. Spain followed in second. With Italy remaining in front, the United States challenged Spain and these two crews challenged each other before Spain got a way to cross the line in second behind Italy.

After an initial lead by the Czech Republic, France’s Augustin Mouterde and Theophile Onfroy took over in front and never looked back. An appreciative applause greeted Mouterde and Onfroy as they rowed through to the close of the race. Behind them China and Russia was able to pull away from the Czech’s to grab the remaining qualifying spots.

Great Britain’s Joel Cassells and Sam Scrimgeour had the fastest start in Heat Three and by the middle of the race they had pulled away from a battle going on between Germany, Australia and Japan. This battle was intense and continued through the middle of the race before Germany broke away with Japan not handling the pace. Cassells and Scrimgeour had recorded the fastest qualifying time, but only by a fraction of a second over France.


Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Sculls (LM4x) – Heats

The two heats lining up were aiming to be in a top two position as this would give them a direct path to the finals. In Heat One, Germany had the fastest opening pace. Italy, who has in the past dominated this boat class, followed in second and managed to make up ground through the middle of the race. Despite Italy’s challenge, the order remained the same through to the line and Germany and Italy became the qualifying boats.

Heat Two saw France’s entry show their style. This boat included three members of the under-23 World Champion crew. Also the very accomplished single sculls, Pierre Houin sat in three seat. The French remained in front and enjoyed the support of a very appreciative crowd as they sculled through to the finish line at a 37 stroke rate pace.  France crossed the line with the fastest qualifying time by a handy four seconds.

Qualifiers: GER, ITA, FRA, DEN

Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Sculls (LW4x) – Heats

This boat class had two heats and the goal here was to be in a top two position for a direct path to the final. Heat One featured the reigning World Champions, the Netherlands. They had retained two members of the World Champion crew. But it was Great Britain that had the upper hand today. The Dutch instead had to work their way through China and Italy to get into a qualifying position. China did not give away the spot easily, but the Netherlands proved to be stronger.

Australia and Germany took silver and bronze respectively at last year’s World Rowing Championship and it was not surprising to see them being the dominating crews in Heat Two. Today Germany made it difficult for Australia and kept their boat ahead to cross the line in first. But full credit to Australia who chased hard. This helped Germany to achieve the fastest qualifying time of 6:31, a good eight seconds faster than Great Britain in heat one.

Qualifiers: GBR, NED, GER, AUS

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Heats

This boat class saw 11 entries making for two heats with the top boat in each heat getting to go directly to the final. This boat class has been dominated by World Champions, Germany over the last couple of years and they contested Heat One in dominating style. Thiele, Baer, Arnold and Schmidla of Germany got away quickly. But Poland was giving the Germans a run for their money being less than two seconds down going through the middle of the race. Then Germany showed their true form and pushed way from the field. In the final sprint the Netherlands closed on Poland and went after the Germans. Germany kept a 35 stroke rate to cross the line in first.

The Beijing Olympic Champions, China have come back on the scene this year and they raced in Heat Two. China had the quickest start, but margins were close with the United States and Australia right on their tails. Then the Australians showed their stamina and pushed into the lead with the United States chasing hard. China tried hard to keep up as Australia and the United States held their own battle at the head of the field. Rating 41, Australia got to the line first. The Australian time was just a fraction slower than that of Germany’s in heat one.

Qualifiers: GER, AUS

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats

A fine field of 24 countries lined up in this boatclass. They were divided into four heats with the aim to be in the winning position for a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One the German crew of Julia Lier and Mareike Adams took off quickly and got a very slight lead over the World Champions, New Zealand. Going through the middle of the raced Eve MacFarlane and Zoe Stevenson of New Zealand took on the Germans stroke for stroke. Then MacFarlane and Stevenson proved that they wanted this race more and did a piece that moved them away from the Germans to take their boat home in first place. Lier and Adams did not seem to have another gear to fight back.

Coming directly from racing the single at the World Rowing Junior Championships, Sofia Asoumanaki of Greece led the way with her partner, Aikaterini Nikolaidou in Heat Two. Meanwhile Belarus followed in second. Belarus included the rowing legend, Ekaterina Karsten. Karsten, 41, raced in Aiguebelette in 1997 when it last hosted the World Rowing Championships. In that year Karsten was in the single and became a World Champion, it was also the year in which Asoumanaki was born. The Greeks stayed ahead and by the final sprint they had broken away to an open water lead.

Heat Three also represented one of the legends of rowing. Great Britain’s Katherine Grainger raced in Aiguebelette in 1997 as part of her country’s eight. She won bronze. Today Grainger got away the quickest with her partner Victoria Thornley. Then Australia’s Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe got their nose in front. But margins were close and a burst by 2013 World Champions, Lithuania got ahead. Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite of Lithuania then moved away from the field and looked all class as they crossed the line in first.

On paper Poland’s Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj had the best pedigree. As the European Champions and last year’s silver medallists, Fularczyk and Madaj took this into consideration and got away quickly in Heat Four. By the middle of the race only China was close to attacking Poland, but the Chinese would have to do something very special to catch Fularczyk and Madaj. In the final sprint, Poland kept their stroke rate high and kept their boat ahead of China, who in turn did not give up. Poland crossed the line to record the fastest qualifying time – just ten seconds outside of the World Best Time.

Qualifiers: NZL, GRE, LTU, POL

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats

This boat class had attracted 29 nations to today’s racing and they were divided into five heats with the first four boats progressing to the quarterfinals from each heat. In Heat One the 2014 World Champions, Croatia led the way from the start. Martin and Valent Sinkovic of Croatia have a style that is beautiful to watch in their perfect synchronicity and by the middle of the race they had pulled away to an open water lead over Serbia. Then it looked as though the Sinkovic brothers were doing just enough to remain in the lead – which they did.

The second heat, Heat Two featured winners of World Rowing Cup I, Germany. The German crew included Marcel Hacker who raced in Aiguebelette at the 1997 World Rowing Championships and won silver in the men’s quadruple sculls. Now teamed up with Stephan Krueger, the duo left the start in third behind China and the United States. By the middle of the race Hacker and Krueger were leading the way with the United States duo of Benjamin Dann and John Graves in second. Hacker and Krueger looked relatively comfortable rating 35 as they crossed the line in first. Ukraine’s Sergii Gryn and Ivan Futryk followed in second after getting ahead of Dann and Graves.

Italy’s Giacomo Gentili and Romano Battisti had the best start in Heat Three with Great Britain and Hungary the nearest challengers. In the second half of the race only John Collins and Jonathan Walton of Great Britain looked within striking distance of the Italians. These two crews then managed to move away from the field and neither boat sprinted the finish.

After an opening lead by France, New Zealand’s Robert Manson and Chris Harris took over in the lead in Heat Four. The New Zealand duo have had an inconsistent season which included some health issues and so their true speed is yet to be seen . Today they gave an indication of their speed by leading through the middle of the race. Then France’s Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias brought the crowd to their feet. The French duo, using a 41 stroke rate, closed on New Zealand and then overtook them. Manson and Harris, rating 40, held on to second. France had recorded the fastest qualifying time, a time just nine seconds outside of the World Best Time.

Lithuania has had Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter together in the double for quite some time. Today they raced in Heat Five by taking off the quickest leaving an almost complete line to form behind them. By the middle of the race, Mascinskas and Ritter continued to lead with Norway now fighting for second. A very solid race by Cuba’s Eduardo Rubio Rodriguez and Adrian Oquendo Ibanez then brought them into second and ahead of the 2013 World Champions, Norway. Lithuania, rating a calm 35, remained in the lead.


Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-) – Heats

With four heats lining up, the job here was to finish in a first place to get to advance directly to the semifinals. In Heat One Italy had the lead for the first half of the race before World Champion, Denmark took over in front. The Danes have had one change to their 2014 crew with the boat now made up of Larsen, Barsoe, Vilhelmsen and Winther. Former stroke, Joergensen was out of the boat and battling with health issues. Denmark remained ahead right through to the line rating a steady 38 stroke rate at the end.

France’s Solforosi, Baroukh, Colard and Raineau led the way from start to finish in Heat Two. China put in a very good effort to try and catch the French, but France looked in control and loving being on their home waters. Rating 40 at the end, France became the sole crew to advance to the semifinals from Heat Two.

On paper New Zealand and Great Britain looked to be the crews that would be in front in Heat Three. These two crews took silver and bronze respectively at last year’s World Rowing Championships and so far this season New Zealand has had a very good showing. But at the start of the race it was the Czech Republic that grabbed the race with all their power and held the lead. New Zealand, however was not going to let the Czechs get away and by the middle of the race, New Zealand had the lead. Hunter, Bond, Lassche and Rapley of New Zealand then showed their true pace and, followed by Great Britain, New Zealand took their stroke rate to 41 and charged through into the final 500m. Outpacing the British, New Zealand crossed the line in first.

A solid season by the 2012 Olympic Swiss crew has put them into good stead for this World Championship regatta. They raced in Heat Four with a reshuffled line-up which saw Mario Gyr back in stroke seat. The Swiss crew of Tramer, Schuerch, Niepmann and Gyr got away the quickest and by the middle of the race they had a nice lead. The Netherlands followed in second, but the Swiss were took quick and rating a very comfortable 36 in the final sprint, Switzerland crossed the line in first and with the fastest overall qualifying time – a time of 5:55.

Qualifiers: DEN, FRA, NZL, SUI

Women’s Eight (W8+) – Heats

It is not often that ten boats enter in this very tough boat class, the women’s eight. Here in Aiguebelette it happened, with the ten boats divided into two heats. The top two boats in each heat would get to go directly to the finals. At the start of Heat One, Romania had the lead. But then Canada, who are the 2014 silver medallists, got their boat into first. Canada is coxed by Lesley Thompson-Willie who coxed here at Aiguebelette for the 1997 World Rowing Championships. In that year her Canadian boat won silver. Canada remained in the lead with New Zealand now storming down the middle of the course, rating high and trying to grab a qualifying spot. In the final sprint, New Zealand not only overtook Romania, but they closed on Canada. The Canadians, rating 42, held off New Zealand .

At the start of Heat Two it was the Netherlands that had the lead. But margins were closed and by the middle of the race the United States had pulled out in front. The United States are on an incredible winning streak that goes back to 2006 and there is no indication that they will relinquish this streak. Using an aggressive, all-power style the United States started to pull away from the more relaxed-looking Dutch. Rating 36 in the final sprint, the United States powered home to a time of 5:59 – just five seconds outside of the World Best Time.

Qualifiers: CAN, NZL, USA, NED

Men’s Eight (M8+) – Heats

A full field of two heats had these crews aiming to be first in their heat if they wanted to have a direct path to the final. Heat One got under way with Poland in the lead. The Polish have kept a very constant crew over the last couple of years and they have earned medals along the way including a silver at World Rowing Cup I this season. Coming through the middle of the race, the Olympic Champions and current world silver medallists, Germany closed on Poland. Poland tried to hold on. In the final sprint Germany, rating 35, managed to pull away from Poland and earn the sole qualifying spot.

First to show in Heat Two was the Russian crew. Russia has been building their eight through this Olympic quadrennial coached by the unstoppable Mike Spracklen. Russia remained in the lead by just a fraction over the World Champions, Great Britain. Margins though the middle of the race were incredibly tight with just one second separating the top four boats. In that mix was also the Netherlands and New Zealand. Great Britain, rating 39, pushed into the lead and once there, they remained there to the line. Great Britain recorded the fastest qualifying time of 5:27 – just eight seconds outside of the World Best Time.  

Qualifiers: GER,  GBR