Day two in Varese at the 2021 European Rowing Championships

Semi-finals and repechages

3 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Ben Tufnell
Published 10.04.21

Medical staff onsite ensured several Covid cases were discovered early and the isolation protocols swiftly put into action. Racing continued as planned and the battle to make the A-Finals was as fierce as ever. Forecasted rain never came, and the racing conditions were good – flat calm water beneath cloudless grey skies. For some athletes the day was a disappointment, but others are a step closer to greater glories.

Photo The Dutch W4- boat under grey skies on Saturday in Varese
Credit Benedict Tufnell
Covid Cases

Three positive Covid cases were identified among those at the 2021 European Rowing Championships in Varese. All three individuals belong to the Turkish rowing federation. In line with the World Rowing Covid protocol all of the Turkish rowers were forced to withdraw and take no further part in the competition.

Photo Turkish LM4x leaving the lake Saturday morning
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Those who tested positive were informed earlier today and immediately moved to a separate hotel in order to self-isolate. They had no symptoms of Covid, and the other 17 members of their delegation tested negative. The rest of the Turkish team began a period of isolation and will move to a separate hotel in due course. The positive tests were identified in yesterday’s ‘return to home’ testing. These were conducted onsite at the rowing venue.

The withdrawal is especially disappointing for the Turkish lightweight men’s four who had hoped to win a medal.

Sibling Strength  
Photo French M2- on route to Saturday’ semi-final
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Familial fortitude was on display in the pairs events. Two pairs of brothers battled it out in the first semi-final of the men’s pairs event. The Sinkovic brothers lead from start to finish beating the Turlan brothers of France who secured the last spot for progression to Sunday’s A-Final. The Romanians were sandwiched between these competing crews and their second place finish keeps their European title defence alive. On the other side of the draw hometown heroes Italy won a photo finish ahead of the Serbians in their nail-biting semi-final. The Dutch pair was the third and final boat to progress to the A-Final denying a newly formed British pair. The British mounted their last-ditch dash to the line a little too late to make the qualifying spots.

Photo Croatian M2- push off for their semi-final Saturday
Credit Benedict Tufnell

In the repechage of the women’s pair, Croatian sister-act Ivana and Josipa Jankovic delivered a blistering final quarter and secured the last spot through to the A-Final. Spain won the repechage race but were forced to dig deep in order to hold off the Croatian sisters.

Photo Croatian W2- battle alongside Spain
Credit Benedict Tufnell
One Times

Hanna Prakhatsen of Russia led the field to every marker in the first semi-final of the women’s single scull – it was a gritty performance. Olympic silver medallist Victoria Thornley of Great Britain eased into the second spot ahead of Sophie Souwer who until recently raced as part of the Dutch women’s quadruple scull.

Photo Austrian sculler Magdalena Lobnig withdraws from racing on medical grounds
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Medical withdrawals by Lobnig of Austria and Arsic of Serbia meant it was three from four in the second semi-final. A promising start from Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen ultimately fizzled to nothing as the rest of the field rowed through her in the second half. Former World Champion Jeannine Gmelin of Switzerland took the lead and held on until the finish. Belarus and Ukraine claimed the final spots through to the A-Final.

In the men’s single sculls semi-final German sculler Oliver Zeidler exhibited his prodigious talent and kept ahead of the chasing pack. He led at each marker all the way until the finish. Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk made steady progress after his lacklustre start and secured the final qualifying spot behind Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen.

Photo Kjetil Borch of Norway leads Damir Martin of Croatia in Saturday’s semi-final
Credit Benedict Tufnell

In the second semi-final the Greek sculler Stefanos Ntouskos delivered minimal fade between his first and second 500-meter splits and enjoyed a brief spell at the front of the field in the third quarter. The final 500 metres of the race was a brutal endeavour: every athlete was arguably in contention. The Norwegian powerhouse Kjetil Borch crossed the finish line first after producing a dominant start, a steady middle kilometre and a strong finish. Damir Martin of Croatia followed in second place ahead of Ntouskos who claimed the last qualifying spot.