September 27, 2017
Day 3 Review: 2017 World Rowing Championships
Day 3 of 8 – Tuesday 26 September.
The water at Nathan Benderson Park on Tuesday was mirror-flat, so calm that you could see the branding hoardings reflected perfectly upside down. Until the crews disturbed it, that is. The sense of the competition sharpening was palpable, and despite (or perhaps because of) fierce racing, several more crews fell off the medal pathway to join the 16 M1x who were unsuccessful in Monday’s reps.
If anyone doubted that men could cox international women’s crews their worries would have been put to rest by Sam Bosworth, the diminuitive lad tasked with steering New Zealand’s W8+.
If anyone doubted that men could cox international women’s crews their worries would have been put to rest by Sam Bosworth, the diminuitive lad tasked with steering New Zealand’s W8+. After dealing with the cheeky Brits, who dared to lead the field out, the Kiwis then held off a monumental 1km-long charge from the USA, who threw everything at it to try and knock New Zealand out of the single qualifying spot, but failed by a third of a length. The American W8+ juggernaut has been derailed a bit this summer, but as long as Tom Terhaar is in charge you wouldn’t bet against them recovering their world-beating capacity at some point soon.
Meanwhile, the only other cox apart from Bosworth who is steering the opposite gender here, Andrea Vanda Kollath, guided her Hungarian men’s coxed pair to a second place in a near-blanket finish which put them into Friday’s final. Two coxed ‘swapping’ crew-genders, and the world hasn’t fallen in. Who’d have thought.
The Canadian embargo on eights has been lifted – at least for Canadian oarswomen – and there was a lot of support in the stands for their crew, but Roumania’s resurgence in this event continues and they led the second heat home with Canada under significant pressure from the Dutch eight.
The men’s eights caused a bit of surprise in the stands.
The men’s eights caused a bit of surprise in the stands. First Italy, who had come 7th in Lucerne, launched an all-out assault which caught the Brits, Australians and Dutch napping and sent the buoyant Italians straight through to Sunday’s final. It was less of a shock when Germany joined them, but only after having to repeatedly stamp on the fingers of the USA who were very hard on their heels, particularly in the first half. There will have been tough words spoken in several crew tents after that, and the repechage on Thursday will be worth grabbing a seat for.
The biggest losers in the quads repechages were China, both of whose crews fell out of contention. This year we expected better Chinese results due to the champs taking place after their high-priority All-China City Games. And indeed they are at least fielding virtually a full squad here in Sarasota. But the openweight quads losses will be a disappointment even though they won the LW4x repechage.
The biggest losers in the quads repechages were China, both of whose crews fell out of contention.
I’m told that the reason why the PR3 Mix4+ (formerly known as LTA4+) had a test race on Tuesday was that Israel, although entered, are going to have to miss racing the straight final on Saturday because alas it coincides with Yom Kippur. Very sad and difficult when an immovable fixture coincides with such an important festival. So a test race was held for them today, which Ukraine and Italy also took advantage of, because otherwise Thursday’s exhibition race would be the only one they’d get the chance to take part in. Fortunately all A/B finals for the singles events the rest of the Israeli team are entered in take place on Sunday.
Overall the para-rowing heats displayed excellent technique, styles still varying particularly in the arms-only (PR1) races, where there remain two schools of thought about how high to rate. In the end the best tactic may be dictated by the physique and movement range of the scullers: despite all being strapped in at equivalent heights relative to their midriffs, the arms-only rowers still vary in how much forward reach they can get with their shoulders. Stand-outs in the men’s PR1 event were three old hands: Erik Horrie (AUS), Alexey Chuvashev (RUS) and Roman Polianskyi (UKR) who between them hold 11 medals including world and Olympic titles, and have clearly adapted well to the new distance. So too had 2014 champion Birgit Skarstein (NOR), and interestingly the other PR1 W1x heat was claimed by Germany’s Sylvia Pille-Steppart, who has shot up the rankings after the distance has doubled.
There were sighs of relief on Tuesday for the USA’s men’s four, both men’s pairs and women’s quad, all of whom got through repechages to keep home hopes alight even though the US LW4x was off the pace. But there was shock also in the men’s four, when South Africa, who were fourth in Lucerne, failed to fend off Canada and the USA, or overtake early leaders France. The result was one of the potential medallist crews in this event being relegated to the C-final: bowman David Hunt actually stopped rowing a stroke early when the result became clearly inevitable.
The top six were clearly obvious in the lightweight women’s doubles, Denmark confirming how close they’d been to qualifying on Sunday and Britain winning the other rep with the kind of confidence which had put them on the podium twice much earlier in the year. But in the LM2x repechages there was everything from strung-out processions (in the two races won by Belgium and Denmark) to photofinishes (Ukraine snatching first the lead a 0.06 second victory from the Czechs on the line, but both well ahead of non-qualifiers Canada).
The last rep was somewhere in between, Britain’s new double of Jamie Copus and Sam Mottram initially pacing it very well to move smoothly past Argentina into the lead just after half-way, but then having to turn on the sprint to hold off South Africa’s charge as they barrelled through Argentina and just kept going. Argentina had lost out a couple of races earlier, too, when their M2- made a valiant attempt to claw back towards third-placed USA but narrowly failed to close the gap, missing it by 0.35 seconds.
Rachel Quarrell will be blogging for Row360 from Sarasota for the full 8 days of the WRC.
All photography © Benedict Tufnell.