Australia began World Rowing Cup 2 in Lucerne, Switzerland with a positive start today (Friday) securing three A-Final positions, two semi-final spots and three repechages.
Kim Brennan began her international season with a win today in her heat of the Women’s Single Sculls. Drawn in a heat with scullers from Zimbabwe, Paraguay and Thailand, the reigning World Champion needed a top two finish to book a place in tomorrow’s semi-finals (Saturday) and that she did, leading her heat from start to finish.
In the Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls, Sarah Pound needed a top two finish to book a place in the semi-finals. The New South Welshwoman was drawn against crews from Denmark, Brazil, Netherlands, USA and Thailand. Pound has been based in Europe for the last few weeks as the reserve for the Australian Rowing Team and this was her first hit out internationally and she finished in fourth place, with Denmark’s Rungeaja Holmegaard winning the heat. Pound has a strong repechage, finishing second and booking a place in Saturday’s semifinals.
The Men’s Pair of Alex Lloyd and Spencer Turrin were drawn in a strong heat including reigning Olympic and World Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond. A top two finish would secure the Sydney Rowing Club duo a place in this weekend’s A-Final, anything less and it would mean racing in the repechage on Saturday.
The New South Welshmen had a positive start and were second after the first 500 metres but were overtaken at the half-way mark by the New Zealanders who have not lost a race in over seven years. The Kiwis then made their move on first place South Africa to secure the win, while Australia finished in third and will now race the repechage tomorrow. Lloyd and Turrin will need a top two finish to secure a spot in Sunday’s A-Final.
The new look Women’s Double Sculls took to the water after the Men’s Pair, with Sally Kehoe joined this year by Genevieve Horton who last season raced the Women’s Pair. With Horton in the stroke seat the Australians powered out of the start (rating 44 in the first 50 metres) with the Lithuanians hot on their heels. Leading for three quarters of the race the Australians settled into a good rhythm with the Lithuanians making a final surge at the line to take the win, but no matter, Horton and Kehoe had done enough to early on to ensure they finished second and went straight into Sunday’s A-Final.
In the male equivalent race, David Watts and Chris Morgan took to the water for the first time this international season. Watts and Morgan were drawn in Lane 4 and were up against crews from Lithuania, Great Britain, France, Azerbaijan and reigning World Champions in the Men’s Double Sculls, Croatia.
The Sinkovic brothers of Croatia led the race from start to finish and took their place in the A-Final, while the remaining crews booked a place in the repechage tomorrow. Australia were fourth in the heat with a time of 6.19 and will need a top two finish in tomorrow’s race to proceed to the A-Final; they’ll face Cuba, two crews from Great Britain and one from the USA in their repechage.
In the Men’s Four, the crew had one change, with Josh Hicks coming in for Alex Hill who is currently recovering from illness. Will Lockwood, Josh Dunkley-Smith, Josh Booth and Hicks had a strong start and needed a top two finish to secure a place automatically in Sunday’s A-Finals. Up against Great Britain, Greece, Belarus and Russia, it was a battle from the start with the Great Britain crew.
The Australians led at the 500 metre mark but the British pulled ahead at the halfway point, by a mere 0.76 seconds but pulled out in front at the 1500m to have clear water over the Australians. At the finish it was Great Britain first and Australia second with both crews progressing to the A-Finals.
In the Women’s Quadruple Sculls, Maddie Edmunds, Kerry Hore, Jennifer Cleary and Jessica Hall required a first place finish to book a spot in the A-Finals and avoid the repechage. The crew, who finished fifth in Aiguebelette at last year’s World Rowing Championships, were up against The Netherlands, China and USA – the USA being the reigning World Champions in this boat class.
The Dutch powered out at the start and maintained their lead throughout to secure the win, with the Australians keeping a good pace to finish second with a time of 6.23, while they were followed over the line by China and USA. The Australians will race tomorrow’s repechage where they will require a top four finish to book a place in Sunday’s A-Finals.
The final Australian crew to compete in the heats this morning in Lucerne was the Men’s Quadruple Sculls, of James McRae, Cameron Girdlestone, Sasha Belonogoff and Karsten Forsterling. The crew faced off to Canada, Germany and Poland with the winning crew booking a place in Sunday’s finals and avoiding the repechage.
The Australians shot out the start but found themselves in fourth by the halfway mark, as the Canadians, Germans and Poles exerted all their energy in the opening half of the race, perhaps in a bid to show Australia’s 2015 World Championship silver medalists what they had in their engine rooms, but if this was the case, it was a fool’s errand. The Australians paced themselves well, with stroke James McRae upping the crew’s rate in the final 500 metres, enabling the Australians to cruise past the tiring competition and book themselves a place in Sunday’s finals.
Race times for Saturday
LW1x – Semi-final at 17:36 AEST (09:36 local time)
M2- – Repechage at 21:44 AEST (13:44 local time)
M2x – Repechage at 21:58 AEST (13:58 local time)
W1x – Semi-final at 22:26 AEST (14:26 local time)
W4x – Repechage at 23:29 AEST (15:29 local time)