Changeable coastal weather met the finalists of World Cup III in Sabaudia. Chilly overcast conditions turned to spitting rain before bright sunshine burst through as the men’s eights charged down the course. The tailwind was consistent and strong enough to allow for a new World Best Time in the lightweight women’s double event. After the racing concluded, the heavens unleashed a thunderstorm worthy of Jupiter himself.
Can silver in Sabaudia create a golden renaissance for Tufte? The forty-five-year-old firefighter, farmer, and four-time Olympic medallist delivered an adrenaline-fueled podium performance in the men’s quadruple sculls. Event organisers had pulled the Norwegian crew off the water during their warm-up because Erik Solbakken tested positive for Covid-19. Twenty nervous minutes later and the retest returned a negative result. The Norwegians rushed back to the start line and then delivered their best performance of the season. They won the silver medal behind Italy, the hometown heroes and ahead of Germany in third place. Since the Zagreb World Cup, the Norwegians have adjusted their rig and switched Tufte to the two seat with Erik moving to stroke. Tufte has a knack for delivering when it counts. He sets forth on the final road to Tokyo and his seventh Olympic Games.
Josipa and Ivana Jurkovic were racing for much more than medals. The sisters wore black arm bands in memory of their friend and former teammate Stipe Trojanović. The 22-year-old Croatian policeman suffered a fatal traffic accident in April. Like the Jurkovic twins he was a member of Ošjak Rowing Club in Vela Luka. After their race Josipa and Ivana dedicated their silver medal to Stipe. Ivana said her thoughts were with Stipe “…he helped push me every stroke of the race”.
Denmark claimed the gold medal and set their sights on Tokyo. Great Britain secured the bronze medal. A confidence booster to the British development crew that is part of the Paris Project – a sporting pathway to the 2024 Olympic Games.
With Saturday’s withdrawal of the French Turlan twins those lining up at the start of men’s pairs A-Final had opportunity and incentive to hunt the medals. Tarczy and de Graaf secured the silver medal and will return to Great Britain for U23 crew selection. The final spot on the podium went to the second Croatian pair of Patric and Anton Loncaric. It was no surprise to see the Sinkovic brothers lay claim to the gold medal early in the race. They held firm all the way to the finish line. Afterwards Martin Sinkovic said he had expected to race the Italian pair at this World Cup but Matteo Lodo and Giuseppe Vicino teamed up with Matteo Castaldo and Bruno Rosetti to win the men’s four.
Crews were thin on the ground in the men’s eight. Germany beat Italy in their two-boat final. It was the German Achter’s first gold medal of the season. An injured Richard Schmidt missed out on the action and Maximilian Korge filled in. Double Olympic medallist cox Martin Sauer said, “we can only race who is here”. Despite the bumpy season Sauer still hopes to challenge for the gold medal at Tokyo.
Perhaps a prelude to the tussle in Tokyo? The men’s single sculls event delivered an epic fight out front in tough bouncy conditions. Five of the six starters are qualified for the Olympics. Kjetil Borch blasted out of the blocks in his customary fashion but unlike previous encounters Oliver Zeidler struggled to reassert dominance. Sverri Nielsen tracked the Norwegian down the course with Zeidler in third place. These three pulled away from the Croatian, Italian, and Polish scullers. By the finish it was a mere 0.35 seconds that separated all three. Kjetil clung on for gold, Sverri took the silver and Zeidler the bronze. After the finish, the German sculler did not seem overly disappointed by the result.
In the women’s single sculls, the Dutch sculler Sophie Souwer was disappointed with her silver medal. She was unable to reel in the Coastal World Champion Diana Dymchenko who took the gold medal for Ukraine. Lola Anderson of Great Britain nabbed the bronze medal ahead of the German sculler.