Welcome back to the Rotsee for the finale of the 2022 World Rowing Cup. A sun-drenched boat park, blue skies and flat water greeted the international rowers as they plied their trade beneath Mount Pilatus.
China are the only big team to compete in all three world cups with a full contingent. With 81 points, they are currently second in the overall standing of 2022 World Rowing Cup, 8 points clear of Great Britain who skipped World Rowing Cup II in Poznan, Poland. The Netherlands have a somewhat hotchpotch team at Lucerne with an eye on development. The Dutch currently lead the overall standing with 140 points. Will it be enough to hold off a potentially strong finishing China and/or Great Britain? It could be tight between the big three.
Covid continues to cause head coach headaches and play havoc with national team plans. For some Henley Royal Regatta might have been a super spreader event given that New Zealand, Australia, and China have all made significant changes to their original Lucerne entries. Covid or not, Henley Royal Regatta’s [HRR] finalists Anneka Reardon and Lucy Coleman of Australia’s LW2x withdrew prior to Thursday’s Lucerne draw. HRR Diamond’s finalist David Bartholot joins Jack Cleary in the Australian M2x, in for Caleb Antill. Australia’s W2- withdrew after HRR Remenham Challenge Cup (W8+) finalist Lucy Stephan could not row due to medical reasons. New Zealand’s Emma Twigg, who withdrew from HRR’s Princess Royal Challenge Cup (W1x) mid-competition, will also miss the racing at Lucerne. Brook Robertson withdrew from the M1x due to medical reasons and New Zealand is no longer set to race in the M4x or W2x. Positive news for Kiwi-supporters came in the W2-. Olympic champions Grace Prendergast and Kerri Williams (neé Gowler), who pulled out of HRR Hambledon Pairs Challenge Cup, returned to racing in fine fettle and won their W2- heat. China pulled their W2-, M2- and two M4-.
Small Boat Scorchers
Olympic talent and tough racing was on show in the heats of the W2x. Romania’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic champions Simona Radis and Ancuta Bodnar produced the fastest win in the W2x heats, clocking 6:45.82. Less than two seconds separated the top three in the first heat, respectively; China, France, and Canada 1. While, in the last heat, Lithuania found success in their new combination of experienced Olympic medallist Donata Karaliene and newcomer Dovile Rimkute.
France’s Matthieu Androdias, Great Britain’s Callum Dixon, Hungary’s Mate Bacskai, and Croatia’s Damir Martin delivered a barnstorming sprint finish in their M1x quarterfinal. Bacskai denied Martin a spot in the A|B semifinal, outgunning him in the final few strokes by just 0.03 seconds. Swiss W1x scullers Salome Ulrich and Olympian Jeanine Gmelin are through to the A|B semifinal, Gmelin won her heat while Ulrich came via the rep.
The Norwegian LM2x continued their Poznan form via a lung-busting win in their heat, Poland secured the second spot and pushed the Spanish into the repechage. Italy1 held off the Czech Republic in the first heat to take the last qualifying spot for the semi finals, less than a second behind Italy2. The French won the second heat with the Swiss taking second. Olympic champions Ireland are not at Lucerne. Paul O’Donovan is the sole competitor representing Ireland at Lucerne, he made short shrift of his LM1x heat and was the only LM1x to break the 7 minute mark across the three heats.
Big Boat Battles
Australia 1 paid no heed to the legacy of Deutschland Achter; their powerful performance bested Germany by 3/4L in the first heat of the M8+, Canada finished third missing out on the two A-Final qualification spots. In the second heat Great Britain looked to be in cruise control, striking a lowly 36 strokes per minutes at points through the middle of the race, yet clocked a rapid 5:24.33 and finished 1L clear of Romania who forced Italy into the reps. The Azzurri were the quickest crew not to gain direct passage into the A-Final. They stacked the middle of their crew with Tokyo 2020 M4- medallists; “an exciting experiment” as one Italian insider put it.
It was only a test race for the five women’s eights who meet for the real thing on Sunday. Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Kristen Kit was back in the cox’s seat but had to watch Romania pull out clear water on her crew. The Canada took second and were unable to break free of Australia in third. Germany and China were further back. The Chinese have considerable ground to cover to close the gap before the A-Final.
In the W4x China 2 edge Poland into second place, winning in a time of 6:17.06, and in the other heat Great Britain squeezed past Italy to take the win. All four crews meet again in the A-Final, with the last two spots determined in Saturday’s repechage. A gnarly effort from the bottom end of the M4x who had to red line the Rotsee twice in four hours. The name of the game in the last race of the race day was, don’t come last! Germany edged out hometown heroes Switzerland who were 1/2L in front of Belgium, leaving the British trailing in last place and ultimately succumbing to an early exit from the competition. Of the three M4x heat winners (Romania, Poland and France) Romania were the fastest, 5:39.09.