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Australian crews continue strong form at World Rowing Championships

First para-rowing boat qualified for 2016 Rio Paralympic Games

The Australian Rowing Team continued to make positive progress today at the 2015 World Rowing Championships. Twelve crews raced for Australia (Monday), with the para-rowing events also beginning today in Aiguebelette, France.

Australia’s reigning para-rowing World Champions, Erik Horrie (ASM1x) and Kathryn Ross and Gavin Bellis (TAMix2x) both won their heats to book places in the semi-finals and A-Final of their respective boat classes, while the Women’s Quadruple Scull showed their mettle to win their heat and book a place in the A-Finals. In making the A-Final of the TAMix2x, Bellis and Ross have qualified that boat class for the 2016 Rio Paralympic Games.

In total, seven crews qualified for the respective quarters, semis, or finals, while the remaining five will contest repechages in the coming days.

Horrie, who won his heat in a time of 4:42:45, the fastest of all the ASM1x heats said post-race: “It’s only the start of the process, Championships aren’t won on the first race but it’s good to get the first one out the way.

“Conditions weren’t too bad here in Aiguebelette, the wind came up just before the race which made conditions unusual but everyone had to deal with the same thing and that’s the joys of rowing.

“Between now and semi-finals it’s about keeping things as normal as possible and to maintain my training regime and focus on the end goal.”

The ASM1x boat class has 23 entries this year, which in Horrie says is fantastic: “It’s great for Paralympic rowing in general to see the size of the field. It’s showing everyone that the level of rowing going up with so many other countries involved.”

This morning’s racing saw nine crews in action, with five booking places into the respective quarter-finals, semi-finals or A-Finals, and four headed to repechages. The para-rowing races The first Australian crew to take to the water today was the Lightweight Men’s Pair of Darryn Purcell and Nick Silcox. The Queenslanders, who are coached by Brett Crow, jumped into the boat after Perry Ward’s injury meant the Lightweight Men’s Four would no longer compete in Aiguebelette.

Purcell and Silcox, who are both members of Toowong Rowing Club, sat for the majority of their race in third with Great Britain and Germany pushing out in front. The Australians battled at times with the Japanese crew but it was the Queenslanders who came out on top and booked themselves a place in the semi-finals in a time of 6:50:95.

Back on the water today was Tim McDonnell in the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull repechage. Queenslander McDonnell performed well in his repechage sitting comfortably in second throughout the race and qualifying himself a place in the quarter-finals in a time of 7:14:74.

The Lightweight crews continued to take to the water for Australia on the second day of the event in France, with the Lightweight Men’s Quadruple Scull racing in their heat, where they required a top two finish to make the A-Final.

The crew of Jonothon Hookway, Tom Perry, Ed de Carvalho and James Wilson are coached by 1980 Olympic coxswain David England. The crew were drawn against Germany, Italy, Hungary and USA and it was the Germans and Italians who booked their places in the A-Final, while the Australians will head to the repechage alongside USA and Hungary from their heat and Russia, Great Britain and Hong Kong from the other heat.

The Lightweight Women’s Quadruple Scull who in 2014 won a silver medal in this boat class at the World Rowing Championships qualified their boat for a place into the A-Final of this year’s event. The crew of Maia Simmonds, Sarah Pound, Georgia Miansarow and Laura Dunn recorded a time of 6:34:70, finishing second to Germany.

With the Lightweight categories concluded for Australia, it was the Women’s Quadruple Scull up next for Australia. The Women’s Quadruple Scull of Madeleine Edmunds, Kerry Hore, Jennifer Cleary and Jessica Hall required a first place finish to automatically qualify for the A-Final and avoid the repechage.

The crew, who are coached by Tom Westgarth, claimed silver at the Lucerne World Cup earlier this year and were up against USA, China, New Zealand and France in the heat. The Chinese were the Olympic champions in Beijing in 2008 and they were fastest out the blocks with Australia and USA hot on their heels. The Australians showed their stamina and pushed into the lead at the halfway mark with USA pursuing them, but rating at 41 the Queensland-based crew got to the line first to book their place in the A-Final. The Germans, who are the current World Champions, won the other heat, but only a fraction faster than the Australians.

The Women’s Quadruple Scull were followed by the Women’s Double Scull of Sally Kehoe and Olympia Aldersey who required a first place finish to automatically make their semi-final, otherwise it was to be the repechage. Kehoe and Aldersey were up against Lithuania, South Korea, Great Britain, Cuba and Ukraine.

The race saw tight margins throughout with Australia battling with Great Britain, Lithuania but it was Lithuania who surged at the line to take the win with Kehoe and Aldersey in second. The crew, coached by Jason Lane, will now compete in the repechage on Wednesday this week in a bid to make semi-finals.

Alexander Belonogoff and James McRae were up next in the Men’s Double Scull with Rhett Ayliffe’s crew requiring a top four finish to book a place automatically in the quarter-finals. Facing off to Estonia, Bulgaria, New Zealand, France and Azerbaijan, the Australian double secured themselves a place in Thursday’s quarter-finals after finishing third overall.

The Women’s Eight, coxed by Sarah Banting, were up against stiff competition in their heat including 2014 silver medallists in the boat class, Canada, as well as Romania, Germany and New Zealand. With only two spots up for grabs from the heat into the A-Final, it was Canada and New Zealand who booked their automatic qualification, while Australia finished in fourth and will now head to the repechage on Wednesday.

The final race of the morning was the Men’s Eight, who were up against Great Britain, Russia, Netherlands, New Zealand and Italy. The British are the current World Champions in this boat class and had a point to prove over those trying to assume their crown. All six crews went out evenly, however it was then Russia, Great Britain and Netherlands who then pulled ahead.

It was to be Great Britain’s race with the crew winning in a time that was eight seconds off the World’s best times, while Australia who had been battling with Italy and New Zealand for fourth, fifth and sixth place finished sixth overall and will head to the repechage in a bid to make the A-Final.

The afternoon’s racing saw, Horrie win the ASM1x nearly 20 seconds faster than his closest competitor in his heat.

The TA Mixed Double Scull of Gavin Bellis and Kathryn Ross had a competitive heat with the reigning World Champions winning in a time of 3:59:36. The Australians got away quickest in the heat with their opening stroke rate around 40 strokes per minute, however the Ukrainians and Dutch were closely pursuing the 2013 and 2014 World Para-rowing Champions.

As the other crews made their bid to overtake Ross and Bellis, the duo coached by Gordon Marcks, kept their stroke rate at 38 and showed their worth by staying just in front to qualify for the A-Final in time just five seconds outside of the World Best Time.

The Legs, Trunks and Arms Mixed Coxed Four of Kate Murdoch, Jeremy McGrath, Alistair Chong, Sara Waitzer and coxswain Jo Burnand made their debut at the 2015 World Rowing Championships today. The crew were up against the 2014 silver medallists in the event, Italy, as well as Germany, South Africa, Austria and Russia.

The young crew were focused on the task at hand but finished in fourth with Italy and South Africa taking the two automatic qualifying places. The Australians will now contest the repechage tomorrow (Tuesday).

Tomorrow sees the following crews competing:

Lightweight Women’s Single Scull, Georgia Nesbitt, Repechage, Lane 3. 18:20 AEST (10:20 Local Time) – 1-2 to Semi-Final A/B, 3.. to Semi-Final C/D

Women’s Pair, Genevieve Horton and Molly Goodman, Repechage, Lane 1. 18:45 AEST (10:45 Local Time) – 1-2 Semi-Final A/B, 3… Semi-Final C/D

LTA Mixed Coxed Four, Kate Murdoch, Jeremy McGrath, Alistair Chong, Sara Waitzer and Jo Burnand, Repechage, Lane 2. 20:04 AEST (14:04 Local Time) – 1-3 to Semi-Final A/B, 4…C Final

Check www.worldrowing.com for the most up to date race times for Australian crews for Tuesday 1 September.