Crabs, comebacks, and sculling standstills all in a Munich-morning’s racing. Conditions continue to challenge the athletes but the intensity of racing dialled up a notch as the crews fought to keep their competition hopes alive.
A sobering spate of last places for Germany as Friday’s racing got underway. The German W2x, W2-, and W4- will all race in the B-Finals. Italy also got the better of Germany in their head-to-head LW4x preliminary race. “We had a great start,” says Italy’s Silvia Crosio in the three seat. “We are looking forward to Sunday to do our best race against Germany on their home water.”
Marie Louise Drager boosted local spirits with her second place in the LW1x, finishing behind Greece’s Zoi Fitsiou; both crews safely into the A-Final. Great Britain’s Maddie Arlett withdrew prior to the race for medical reasons. In the second repechage a tight race between Italy and Ireland ultimately saw Ireland sprint to the finish line first but both crews meet again in the A-Final. In the LM1x it was to be three from four, the Finnish sculler was the last man to qualify to the A|B semifinals. He let out a big roar after the finish, Hungary’s Roland Szigeti missed out.
In the openweight class Germany’s World Rowing Cup III winner and U23 world champion Alexandra Foester, safely made it through the W1x repechage but she was not convinced by her performance. “Slightly better than yesterday, but also not that good. I’m struggling with the conditions. It was a bit better, but it’s going to be hard tomorrow [in the semifinal],” says Foester.
The prospect of the German M4- reaching the A-Final was shorted lived despite a bold start and an early lead in their repechage. Romania and Switzerland rowed them down to take the top two spots and progress to the A-Final. In the first M4- repechage Poland looked strong in pole position with Italy just behind. Ukraine dug deep in the final few hundred meters and unearthed a monster sprint to deny the Italians a place in the A-Final. Perhaps, the Italian coaches will take another look at their line-up before the 2022 World Rowing Championships, in September.
In the second LW2x repechage Ireland established a comfortable lead. With 200 meters remaining, the finish line beckoned and the Swiss launched a huge effort to close the gap. They denied Spain a spot in the A-Final. Ireland won; 0.03 seconds in front of Switzerland. A costly endeavour – they will need to recover well before the A-Final. Poland and France were the other repechage winners.
After leading the Irish Olympic champions in the heat on day one, the Swiss LM2x delivered an assured performance to secure their spot in the A-Final. Switzerland were five seconds ahead of Ukraine. In the other repechage the Czech Republic pushed to the front of the field rating 38 stroke a minutes. Spain pressurised the Portuguese in second place but Portugal held firm. A job well done for Portugal, as demonstrated by the handshake at the finish line between Afonos and Dinis Duarte Costa.
Monaco’s Quentin Antognelli won the first M1x repechage five seconds clear of Sweden’s Eskil Borgh; both are through to the A|B semifinals. “The European Championships are always stacked so being in the semi is good, that was my aim,” says Antognelli. “There was pressure when the draw came out because I felt like I got the good one [repechage]. I didn’t want to screw it up! The race went according to plan. I managed to get out faster than the others. I kept my rhythm and relaxed at the front while the others battled for second place. My focus was on technique, and it felt nice. For me, the conditions are advantageous. The first time I rowed the single was in the sea. I’m used to terrible weather and lots of waves, so this doesn’t bother me.”
Dani Fridman did not have a nice row in the second M1x repechage. It was a lung buster of a race and impossible to call. Fridman blasted off the blocks and built a lead through to halfway but massively misjudged his effort in the headwind; dramatic consequence ensued. At 1500 meters the Israeli had sculled himself to a standstill. Swiss sculler Scott Baerlocher looked good for the A|B semifinals but faded to fourth place. Italy and Slovenia charged to the line. With 250 meters left Slovenia almost took the lead from Italy but Matteo Sartori responded well. Sartori won in 07:36.61, two seconds clear of Slovenia. In the PR1 M1x Great Britain’s Benjamin Pritchard won the repechage with ample distance on Israel, Spain, and Hungary. The Polish sculler came last and so will not be in the A-Final.
Six semifinals split the race schedule. Roos De Jong and Laila Youssifou continue their world cup winning form by winning the first W2x semifinal. Lithuania and Great Britain also made it through to the A-Final. In the second semifinal Romania finished ten seconds clear of Italy, Poland secured the final spot into the A-Final. Sanita Puspure was unable to row due to medical reasons and this meant the withdrawal of Ireland’s W2x and W8x.
In the quicker of the two M2- semifinals Great Britain handled the headwind well and secured a confident win over Spain in second place, and Italy in third. The other semifinal winners were Romania. The remaining A-Final spots were snapped up by Serbia’s Martin Mackovic and Milos Vasic, and Lithuania’s Stankunas brothers. The M2- C-Final produced a close tussle between Switzerland, Turkey and France, with Switzerland taking the win by less than a second. Scandi-drama in the other C-Final, the Norwegian M4x beat the Swedish.
The M4x semifinals closed out the racing schedule. The British quad produced their best result all season after their worst start of the year. A boat stopping crab at the start delivered the jolt of adrenaline to see them charge into the A-Final. The British took third place behind Poland and Romania. In the other repechage the Swiss and the Czech Republic missed the qualification spots while Italy delivered the win. Less than half a second separated France and third place finishers Estonia.