Day three in Varese at the 2021 European Rowing Championships


3 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 12.04.21

Sunday and its brutal racing schedule concluded the 2021 European Rowing Championships. Packed with thrills and spills the finals day in Varese was hotly contested and highly anticipated. The victors earned the right to an unusually sparse podium and handed out their own medals – but official prize givers were not the only surprise absentees on the podium.

Photo Tough finals racing takes its toll on Sunday in Varese
Credit Benedict Tufnell
Watch the throne

Champions don’t go easy: Never truer than of the Deutschland Achter. After Friday’s exhibition drubbing the Teutonic mask of invincibility slipped. It spurred the eight-time defending Champions to come out swinging. Like a cornered animal hungry and fearful, the German crew flew from the start pontoon intent on their ninth European crown.

Photo GER M8+ fly out the blocks in Varese
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Every stroke dripped with intensity and they pulled out a significant lead in the first half. Any other Sunday perhaps it might have worked but not this time; not against Steve Trapmore’s steely eight.

Deep in the third quarter the cracks began to tell and by the final 500 meters the German bluff was exposed. They crumbled under the relentless pressure from the British, and the Dutch who both tasted blood in the water.

Germany fell and the Romanians happily snapped up the bronze medal behind the silver medal-winning Dutch. The British oarsmen were the only ones unphased as they crossed the line – no wild fist pumps needed – cool and calm they dream of greater prizes ahead.

Photo The GBR M8+. bow their heads for the national anthem in honour of HRH Prince Phillip
Credit Benedict Tufnell
Swann Song

Polly Swann set the rhythm in the stroke seat for the British pair who repeated their Championship-winning form of 2013 – albeit within a European context. Naysayers doubted golden girl Glover maintained her Midas touch but the Mum of three towered over her competition in Sunday’s A-Final. If this is the last season for these two comeback queens, they will surely hope it ends in the same vein it began: Winning.

Photo Polly Swann and Helen Glover (GBR) cross the finish line ahead of ROU on Sunday in Varese
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Fortuitous happenstance drew the two women back together as a shared recovery timeframe meant the pair was the perfect tool for rehabilitating their recent injuries. However, it is a combination worth paying closer attention to as the unit remains unbeaten throughout its World Rowing racing history.

Defending European Championships Romania came close to unseating the British – less than three tenths of a second separated the two crews at the finish line. One second later and the fast-finishing Spanish pair of Aina Cid and Virginia Diaz Rivas powered past the finish tower to claim a well-earned bronze.

Near Perfect
Photo Zeidler wins gold in Varese
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Disregarding the traditional single sculls race strategy Oliver Zeidler likes to lead from the get-go. Speaking after his A Final the German sculler discussed his imperfect heat on Friday where he failed to progress directly to the semi-final. He welcomed a return to training in order to improve his capacity to scull in all conditions. Evidently Zeidler is a diligent perfecter of process and a low-key but hard-working practitioner who is now the current European and World title holder. He moves a step closer to realising his Olympic dream.

Groans were heard from the grandstand when Stefanos Ntouskos was pipped to the line by Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk. The Greek single sculler had a promising start in the Championships but Ntouskos’ lack of experience cost him the bronze medal as he stopped a stroke short of the finish.

Photo Hanna Prakhatsen of Russia wins gold and Vicky Thornley (GBR) takes silver
Credit Benedict Tufnell

It was almost too good to be true for Hanna Prakhatsen of Russia who astounded her fans by winning both the 2021 European Championships and the European Olympic Qualification Regatta. Only four days separated the two competitions the most recent of which she won by nearly seven seconds. Victoria Thornley of Great Britain won the silver medal ahead of Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland in third place.