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Positive start for Australia on opening day of World Rowing U23 Championships

Four out of five crews automatically progress to quarter or semi-finals

In warm conditions, with a slight head wind, Australia’s Under 23 crews began their World Rowing U23 Championships campaign today (Wednesday). It was a positive start for Australia with four of the five crews racing automatically booking quarter or semi-final berths for Friday in Poznan, Poland.

The U23 Women’s and Men’s Pairs both won their heats to progress to semi-finals, as did the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull, Sean Murphy, who progresses to the quarter-finals of his boat class. Meanwhile, Sam Marsh finished third in his heat of the U23 Men’s Single Scull to progress to the quarter-finals. The U23 Men’s Coxed Four had a tight race to the line to just miss out on automatic qualification to the A-Final, and will thus contest the repechage today (Thursday).

The U23 Women’s Pair, featuring 2017 U23 silver medallist, Bronwyn Cox, who this year is joined by Giorgia Patten, had a strong start to their campaign beating the reigning U23 Women’s Pair World Champions, the Abraham sisters of Chile, to qualify fastest for Friday’s semi-finals. The Chileans led in the first quarter of the race but it wasn’t long before the West Australian duo upped their rating to 38 at the halfway mark to take the lead.

The Chileans, along with the Greeks, pushed on Australia as the crews approached the line but Cox and Patten sprinted for the finish to take the win in a time of 7 minutes 19 seconds.

Perhaps spurred on by their female counterparts’ earlier win, the U23 Men’s Pair of Andrew Judge and Jack O’Brien also won their heat in impressive style. The Sydney University Boat Club duo came out firing in their heat to lead the race from start to finish. Despite a challenge by Italy in the final 250 metres, it was the New South Wales partnership that crossed the line in first and also recorded the fastest qualifying time overall, 6 minutes and 45 seconds.

Sean Murphy in the U23 Lightweight Men’s Single Scull heats needed a top four finish to make the quarter-finals. Taking on Norway, Japan, Denmark and Portugal, the Mosman Rowing Club rower came out quickly and led the race from start to finish. Clocking in a time of 7 minutes 13.07 seconds, the 22-year-old now race Friday’s quarter-finals

West Australian Sam Marsh was drawn in Lane Five in his heat of the Men’s Single Scull and took on an inform Ronan Byrne from Ireland. Marsh, who recently raced at World Rowing Cup 3 in Lucerne, put his senior racing experience to good use, ensuring he finished in third place and securing a spot in Friday’s quarter-finals.

Australia’s Men’s Coxed Four opened proceedings for Australia on Lake Malta in Poznan. The crew of Fraser Pensini, Alexander Clarke, Kane Grant, Zac von Appen and coxswain Sarah Ben-David were drawn in Lane 1 taking on Ukraine, Denmark, USA and Great Britain.

Needing a top two finish to make the A-Final, the crew sat back in fourth for the first half of the race but muscled into third as they crossed the halfway mark. With the USA taking an early lead, it was a battle between the Australians and Great Britain for second place, with Ben-David calling on her crew to up their rate in the final 500 metres.

With a spirited sprint to the line against the British, the Australians surged forward but the British upped their rate to 42 and nipped ahead of the Australians at the line forcing them into tomorrow’s repechage.

Thursday will see the heats of the U23 Women’s Double Scull, U23 Women’s Lightweight Single Scull, U23 Lightweight Women’s Double Scull and U23 Women’s Eight. Australia’s U23 Men’s Coxed Four will also race its repechage.

Please see below the race times for the heats and repechages of the U23 Australian Rowing Team at the 2018 World Rowing Championships for 26 July

U23 Women’s Double Scull (Hudson and Thompson) – 17:35 AEST (09:35 local time)
U23 Lightweight Women’s Single Scull (Russell) – 18:20 AEST (10:20 local time)
U23 Lightweight Women’s Double Scull (Masters and Zilm) – 18:55 AEST (10:55 local time)
U23 Women’s Eight (Franetic, Pearce, Brown, Parker, Pozzi, Bettega, Rowan, Stalph and Harrisson) – 20:05 AEST (12:05 local time)

U23 Men’s Coxed Four (Clark, von Appen, Grant, Pensini and Ben-David) – 20:30 AEST (12:30 local time)