Day two in Zagreb at 2021 World Rowing Cup I

30th April - 1st May 2021, Zagreb, Croatia

3 minute read
Words Tom Ransley
Photography Benedict Tufnell
Published 02.05.21

Saturday was the last day of racing at World Cup 1 and there were some epic battles on the water. World Rowing were forced to curtail the weekend’s racing schedule owing to the bad weather forecasted for Sunday. The A-Finals were moved from the Sunday to Saturday but they still went swimmingly.

Photo Damir Martin wins bronze in front of a home crowd in Zagreb on Saturday
Credit Benedict Tufnell

The former German swimmer Oliver Ziedler won the men’s single sculls and closed out the regatta on mirror-flat conditions, but it was a sinking feeling for Eline Rol the Swiss lightweight sculler who capsized during the first A-Final of the day. Croatian locals cheered Damir Martin’s bronze medal in the men’s single and the imperious performances from their two pairs. The Jurkovic sisters and the Sinkovic brothers were emphatic in their gold medal winning performances.

Photo The Jurkovic sisters emotional celebration after winning gold in Zagreb
Credit Benedict Tufnell
Allez Le Bleu!
Photo Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdiashe, the French M2x win gold in Zagreb
Credit Benedict Tufnell

The French team delivered an impressive day of results; gold medals were awarded to their men’s double, men’s coxless four, and lightweight women’s double. And they secured a handful of podium positions including silver medals in the men’s pair, women’s double, and women’s quadruple scull.

“Crazy fast” is how Mateusz Biskup of the Polish men’s double described the French crew’s last 500 meters. The silver medallist made a valiant effort in the third quarter, but France’s Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias responded well and held on to gold.

Less than an hour later and another French crew denied Poland the top spot. The World Champion Polish men’s four were favourites to win but a hungry French four blasted off the start pontoon at close to fifty strokes per minute and led from ticker to tape. It was a promising effort by the four French men as they head to the Regatta of Death at Lucerne, hoping to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

Photo The french M4-, pictured on the podium in Zagreb, face the Regatta of Death in Lucerne later this month
Credit Benedict Tufnell

The French women’s quadruple scull reeled back their German opposition to within a half-length. Marie Jacquet was pleased with the silver medal but was optimistic with the progress to come and confident that her crew could do better next time.

Photo Claire Bove and Laura Tarantola in the FRA LW2x
Credit Benedict Tufnell

The most convincing French effort came in the women’s lightweight double. After her bronze medal winning performance at the 2021 European Rowing Championships Claire Bove reunited with Laura Tarantola to devastating effect. They claimed the gold nearly fifteen seconds ahead of the Belarusian silver medallists. With twenty-one-year-old Merve Uslu and nineteen-year-old Elis Ozbay from Turkey snapping up the bronze medal at their first ever World Cup Regatta.

Twin Peaks
Photo NOR M4x on Saturday monring in Zagreb
Credit Benedict Tufnell

A quirky feature of this World Cup is the different training cycles each crew finds itself in as they compete. Those pre-qualified for the Tokyo Olympics are months away from peak fitness. Other athletes are tapering and sharpening ready for the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta (FOQR) at Lucerne in a fortnight.

It is a fact not lost on the German lightweight men’s double sculler Jonathan Rommelmann who won gold. He said, “All the other boats are preparing for the FOQR, so they’re at the top of their form. To win here means a lot to us.”

Photo Jonathan Rommelmann, GER LM2x
Credit Benedict Tufnell

Taking aim at Lucerne’s last chance shootout are the American men’s quad. Arriving in Europe to test their new line-up against international opposition the Americans found themselves scrapping it out for the medals in the best race of the regatta.

Poland and Estonia pulled away from the field as they battled stroke-for-stroke down the track. The smooth-moving Estonians crossed the finish line one second ahead of the Polish. Poland’s bowman Dominik Czaja later admitted he was ill the previous week and was unsure if he would race.

Photo USA M4x just edged out of the medals by a photo finish on Sarturday in Zagreb
Credit Benedict Tufnell

The fight for the bronze medal was equally compelling. The Americans overhauled the German quad in the third quarter but could not hold on – crossing the line together the decision required a photo finish. Bowman Sorin Koszyk said, “I’m disappointed to miss the medals, but I feel like we are headed in the right direction. Overall, the race felt good, and we executed the plan. We still need to smooth it out a bit. Hopefully we can get a little more speed for Lucerne.”

Credit Benedict Tufnell

The World Rowing Cup returns for part II in Lucerne, Switzerland 21-23 May.