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Benedict Tufnell

Fast times in Poznan; World Rowing Cup II

by Benedict Tufnell

Poznan, Poland –

Three new World Best Times (WBTs) is the headline from today as racing in the second leg of the FISA World Rowing Cup series concludes here in Poznan.

A rare combination of a stiff tailwind breeze and flat, warm water made for blisteringly fast conditions and records fell in the M1x, W2- and M8+.

“Our only aim was winning the race, not setting fast times. The fact that it ended up being a World Best Time was a bonus” – Jakob Schneider GER M8+

With Drysdale on sabbatical, for the year at least, it was Robbie Manson who shone for New Zealand in the M1x in Poland. Finishing in 6.30.74, Manson shaved almost three seconds off Drysdale’s previous record which had stood since 2009. Big Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba took silver and Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland the bronze. We are yet to see a return to form this year for Damir Martin of Croatia, who finished a disappointing sixth.

A slick German M8+, fresh from their European Championship win, seized the initiative in their final. Despite having a comfortable open water advantage over second placed New Zealand by the finish, the Germans crossed the line in a new WBT of 5.18.68, beating the previous record of 5.19:35 set by Canada in 2012. “We knew it was quick conditions today, but our only aim was winning the race, not setting fast times. The fact that it ended up being a World Best Time was a bonus” said German five seat Jakob Schneider.

The W2- WBT was previously held by two time Olympic champions Heather Stanning and Helen Glover of Great Britain until New Zealand’s Grace Prendergast and Kerri Growler went just over two seconds quicker in a WBT of 6.49.08 today, putting themselves firmly in the ‘ones-to-watch” category.

It was the first outing on the international circuit since the Olympic Games for many of the non-European teams, with New Zealand, USA, Australia and China all showing up in force. In the newly minted Olympic class W4-, Australia were first to plant their flag, mirroring their male counterparts who won today in the M4-. The Australian women had prioritised the W4- heading in to this event and they took gold ahead of the USA and Poland here.

The USA W8+, who have dominated all Olympic and World Championship finals since 2006, finished third behind New Zealand and Great Britain today, although appeared unperturbed. With half of the American crew having already raced in the W4- earlier in the day, and their talent being mixed around as they use the early season (and olympiad) to experiment with various combinations, I imagine little sleep will be lost over their performances.

The next international showings will be at Henley Royal Regatta which will be held from 28 June to 2 July and World Cup III in Lucerne the weekend after.

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