Anoraks and umbrellas at the ready; stop-start-drizzle did little to dampen the spirits of the athletes racing on the final day of the regatta, nor their red hot speed. The threat of lightening and a heavy down pour eventually put the racing on pause but World Rowing Cup III still concluded in style.
Another world class performance from the Red Bull sponsored Sinkovics, but it was a fierce contest in the men’s double sculls. Despite a rough start the Croatian brothers led the field in the early stages. In the third quarter Poland’s exciting new combinations of Miroslaw Zietarski and Fabian Baranski doggedly matched the lead crew stroke-for-stroke before reeling in the double Olympic champions. Both crews ticked over at 37 to 38 strokes per minute.
In the final 500 meters Poland’s tenacious effort and smooth rhythm forced Croatia to yield pole position. It might have been game over for any other double but after a deep rummage in the hurt locker the Sinkovics pulled out a desperate sprint finish worthy of their legendary Olympic champion status.
Croatia crossed the finish line a second ahead of Poland, and moments later Spain slipped across the line 0.58 seconds in front of Great Britain.
In the women’s double scull Netherlands 1 took an early lead and held it to the finish. Despite the hot pace Great Britain’s Lola Anderson and Georgie Brayshaw clawed themselves back into contention, but were unable to push past. The two top crews decimated the trailing field. Great Britain 2 finished ahead of the Netherlands 2 to claim third place. The British did not attend the medal ceremony as they were doubling up in the quad, so it was a lonely podium for Laila Youssifou and Roos de Jong. Dutch fans on the grandstand made up for it by singing songs to their victorious duo, much to their delight.
A photo finish was required to separate the gold and silver medallists in the women’s quadruple A-Final . Ukraine front loaded their effort and led from the outside lane. China, in the opposite outside lane, wrestled back control as they approached the final quarter but it was the Dutch crew that timed their race to perfection. They mercilessly passed the fading Ukrainians and continued on to cross the finish first, 0.2 seconds ahead of China. China settled for silver, and Ukraine held off Great Britain to claim a bronze medal.
A highly anticipated men’s pairs race did not disappoint. Spain’s Olympic duo blasted off the blocks at 51 strokes per minute, but soon succumbed to Great Britain 2. Coached by Cambridge University Boat Club men’s head coach Rob Baker, Tom George and Ollie Wynne-Griffith commanded from the centre lane and had clear water on trailing pack by halfway. They finished in a speedy 6 minutes 19.91 seconds.
Race commentator Martin Cross made short shrift British selection decisions: “GBR2; they’re going to be GBR1 after this regatta, aren’t they?” Serbia and Spain battled hard for the minor medals with the home side finishing in third place.
Great Britain won all bar one (Netherlands won the women’s eights) of the sweep events on offer, ergo Great Britain won every sweep event they entered. The British men won gold in the pair, four, and eight, which is the first time any nation has won all three men’s sweep events at a World Cup.
Gold and green
Great Britain narrowly missed improving upon their own World Best time in the PR4 mixed coxed fours. The new look British crew dispatched their only opposition, Australia, and finished 0.34 seconds shy of the record. In the PR1 men’s single sculls triple Paralympic silver medallist Erik Horrie held off the two-fold British attack. Tokyo 2020 Paralympian Ben Pritchard claimed silver, and Callum Russel took third. In the PR2 mixed double Australia got the better of their head to head with Mexico, landing Kathryn Ross and Simon Albury gold medals.