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RA media release: Australian Rowing Team performs well on opening day of World Rowing Cup II, Aiguebelette

Fox Sports 3 set to show Sunday’s WRC II finals from 1800 AEST

World Rowing Cup II in Aiguebelette, France got underway yesterday and Australia’s five crews all featured on day one.

Western Australian Maia Simmonds was first to compete for Australia on a beautiful sunny day in France and secured herself one of the nine automatic semi-final positions after she finished her heat in third place.

Simmonds’ race saw the fastest qualifying time come from Julia Edward of New Zealand, who recorded a time of 7:46:10, followed by Christina Pultz of Denmark and Simmonds in third with a time of 7:56:23. Simmonds will race her semi-final in the first half of today (France time).

Australia’s Maia Simmonds competing in the LW1x at WRC II Aiguebelette ©Rowing Australia

In the Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls heats, a 20-crew line-up started in this boat class with all the top rowers minus the reigning World Champions, Italy. These crews were divided into four heats with the top two finishing times in each heat getting to go directly to the semi-finals.

New Australian lightweight partnership of Tasmania’s Ella Flecker and Victoria’s Alice McNamara qualified for their semi-final after they finished second in Heat Three, losing out to top spot from Great Britain’s second crew, Eleanor Piggott and Charlotte Taylor. Great Britain are the current Olympic Champions in this category.

Ella Flecker and Alice McNamara prepare to get underway in the LW2x at World Rowing Cup II in Aiguebelette, France ©Rowing Australia

In the Men’s Double Sculls, Alexander Belonogoff and James McRae took part in a strong Heat Four that saw the young duo up against current World Champions Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch of Norway. The winning time to progress to the semi-final was 6:14:18 and claimed by the Norwegians, while the young Australians’ put in a sterling effort to finish just 2:06 seconds behind.

However, with only the winner progressing automatically to the semi-finals, Belonogoff and McRae took part in the repechage against Iran, Egypt and Hungary and secured their route to the semi-finals by winning their repechage. After a conservative start the boys took the lead mid race and did enough to record the win and move through as expected.

Alexander Belonogoff and James McRae finished second in their heat but won their repechage in the M2x to make the semi-finals of WRC II, Aiguebelette ©Rowing Australia

Sally Kehoe and Olympia Aldersey, who won the Women’s Double Sculls in World Rowing Cup I in Sydney, competed in one of three heats yesterday in a bid to secure a semi-final position at World Rowing Cup II.

The time trials in this boat class saw the leading boat in each heat seeded as the fastest boat and top three boats all going direct to the semi-finals. Kehoe and Aldersey were seeded at the back of their field, however the Australian girls showed their prowess to claim first place in their heat followed by USA and New Zealand.

Kehoe and Aldersey will now race in a semi-final today in a bid to make it to the final and claim their second World Cup victory of the season.

Sally Kehoe and Olympia Aldersey claimed top spot in their heat for W2x to progress to the semi-finals in Aiguebelette ©Rowing Australia

Meanwhile, with 10 crews entered in the Men’s Four boat class for World Rowing Cup II, heats will take place tomorrow (Saturday). However, two preliminary races took place on Friday with Australia’s Men’s Four, Christopher Cunningham-Reid, Spencer Turrin, Fergus Pragnell and Joshua Dunkley-Smith, winning their race in a time of 5:58:31.

Australia’s race featured crews from China, USA, Poland and Great Britain 2, while the second preliminary race show-cased the current European Champions in the Men’s Four, Great Britain’s Alex Gregory, Mohamed Sbihi, George Nash and Andrew Triggs-Hodge, along with Canada, Croatia, France and Germany.

With heats taking place today, the Great Britain 1 crew appeared to only push themselves up to the 500m mark before easing off the pace to ultimately finish last in their race, however what is of interest is the 500m timing splits for what are agreeably the two favourite crews for this event.

Australia’s Men’s Four, at the 500m mark, had a time of 1:29:79, while Great Britain 1’s split at the same distance was 1:28:10, showing a gap of 1.69 seconds between the crews who will race in separate heats tomorrow.

The Men’s Four compete in their heats today (21 June) – Joshua Dunkley-Smith, Fergus Pragnell, Spencer Turrin and Christopher Cunningham-Reid finished top in their preliminary racing yesterday. ©Rowing Australia

In summing up today’s racing, Australian Rowing Team manager Ray Ebert said: “We have a small but exciting group here in Aiguebelette and after good performances today in this Time Trial format. We are looking to head-to-head racing tomorrow and some good performances from our group, remembering that the ultimate aim is Amsterdam and the World Rowing Championships in August”

To follow the progress of the Australian Rowing Team in their respective heats and semi-finals, please go to The finals of World Rowing Cup II will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 3 in Australia from 1800 AEST.

Tweet the Australian Rowing Team via @RowingAust and using the hashtag #ARTeam. World Rowing Cup II’s event hashtag is #WRCAiguebelette.

Media wanting images of the Australian Rowing Team in action in Aiguebelette should email [email protected]

For more information, please contact:

Lucy Benjamin
Rowing Australia – Media and Communications Manager
Mob: +61 457 744 434
Email: [email protected]