Para Women’s Single Sculls (ASW1x) – Heats

A packed field of 15 nations had entered in this category and they were divided into three heats with the top three boats in each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. In Heat One it was 2012 Paralympian Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus that got away the quickest. Rating 46 strokes per minut. Vauchok got to the half way point first. But margins were close and both Claudia Santos of Brazil and Rachel Morris of Great Britain were in striking distance. In the close of the race Morris managed to sprint past Santos, who had moved into the lead, and cross the line first.

Heat Two saw reigning World Champion, Birgit Skarstein of Norway in the lead. Skarstein then went to row her own race as she moved away to a huge lead. Skarstein used a relatively low 32 stroke rate pace with long powerful strokes to stay ahead as Sandra Khumalo of South Africa and Jacqueline Kapinowski of the United States battled it out for second. In the close of the race Kapinowski managed to get ahead of Khumalo with all three crews qualifying.

Moran Samuel took a gold medal earlier this season and is the 2014 silver medallists making her the favourite to do well in Heat Three. Samuel rated 32 through the body of the race to hold her place in the lead and move away from the rest of the field. Italy’s Eleonora De Paolis followed a long way back in second and this race turned into a procession. Samuel had now dropped her stroke rate to 28 as she was under no threat of losing her leading position. Despite under no pressure Samuel had recorded the fastest qualifying time.


Para Men’s Single Sculls (ASM1x) – Heats

This boat class attracted 23 nations. They were divided into four heats with the top boat only from each heat getting to go directly to the semifinals. The 2008 Paralympic Champion, Tom Aggar of Great Britain had the edge in Heat One. The long reaching Aggar held a 33 stroke rate to stay ahead of Germany’s Johannes Schmidt. The 2012 Paralympic Champion, Cheng Huang of China followed in third. Aggar had built up enough of a lead that he was able to drop his stroke rate to 27 in the close of the race.

The favourite in Heat Two must have been Alexey Chuvashev of Russia who has been medalling at the World Rowing Championships regularly for the last four years. The gold, however, still eludes him. But it was Igor Bondar, 49, of Ukraine who was challenging Chuvachev. Bondar medalled at the 2013 World Rowing Championships, finishing in silver ahead of Chuvashev’s bronze. Chuvashev and Bondar went through the middle of the race neck-and-neck. The higher, 38 stroke rate, pace of Bondar kept him up with Chuvashev, but the Russian held on and crossed the line just a fraction ahead of Ukraine.

Heat Three featured the reigning World Champion, Erik Horrie of Australia. The long stroking Horrie soon moved into a handy lead against his less experienced competition. Using a 30 stroke rate pace, Horrie was able to move further away from the rest of the field. Fabrizio Caselli of Italy followed a way back in second. In the last 200m of the race Horrie dropped his stroke rate to 29 and looked like he was cruising home. Horrie recorded a time of 4:42 – just seven seconds outside of the World Best Time.

Heat Four featured a relatively new field of para-rowers making it hard to pick the winner. Two were making their international debut. Rene Pereira of Brazil was the first to show and he was able to get to the half way point first. But then Pereira appeared to lose his early momentum with Steven Haxton of the United States able to push on through.

Qualifiers: GBR, RUS, AUS, USA

Para Mixed Double Sculls (TAMix2x) – Heats

The rule here was to be first for a direct path to the final. There were two heats, and Heat One featured France’s para stars Perle Bouge and Stephanie Tardieu. Brazil got away the quickest with the very experienced Josiane Lima paired up with Michel Gomes Pessanha. The Brazilian duo went through the half way point at under two minutes with Bouge and Tardieu hot on their heels. These two boats then went head to head right through to the finish line. Brazil managed to stay just a fraction ahead and crossed the line 0.26 of a second before France.

The World Champions, Gavin Bellis and Kathryn Ross of Australia got away the quickest in Heat Two. Their opening stroke rate was around 40 strokes per minute. But Australia’s lead was tiny with Ukraine and the Netherlands moving closely with them. Bellis and Ross were keeping their stroke rate at 38 to try and stay ahead with Great Britain also in striking distance. In a show of beautiful synchronicity, Ross and Bellis stayed just in front.  The Australian finishing time of 3:59 was the fastest qualifying time and just five seconds outside of the World Best Time.

Qualifiers: BRA, AUS

Para Mixed Coxed Four (LTAMix4+) – Heats

Slotted into the para four were 17 nations all ready to battle each other. Today they were divided into three heats and the idea here was to be in a top two spot as this would earn a direct path to the semifinals. The first to show in Heat One was the Italians. Italy took silver in 2014 and they are coxed by Olympic Champion, Giuseppe di Capua. Italy made it to the half way point first with Germany and South Africa in hot pursuit. Holding a 35 stroke rate at the finish, Italy stayed just ahead of South Africa at 38. These became the two qualifying boats with Germany unlucky to miss out on qualifying.

The World Champions, Great Britain were the obvious hot favourite in Heat Two. The crew of Fox, Relph, Brown, Clough and coxswain James from Great Britain were the first to show driving through water that had now become a little rough at the start. The British then settled into a 34 stroke rate pace being chased hard by Canada. The Canadians also rated 34 and kept the British very honest who crossed the line in a time of 3:20. This time was just seven seconds short of a World Best Time.

Heat Three saw the United States take a flyer at the start of their race. The US are the world silver medallists and they crossed the 500m mark in just 1:38. Behind them Korea and France went neck-and-neck with Israel also very much on the pace. Smith, Hansen, Burns, Vandergrift and coxswain Sichel for the United States then moved away from the field to qualify with a quick time of 3:21. France broke away to take the second qualifying spot.

Qualifiers: ITA, RSA, GBR, CAN, USA, FRA