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Morrison, McIntyre show true grit as World Champs heat up in Serbia

Jess Morrison OAM and Annabelle McIntyre OAM (background) go stroke-for-stroke with the Dutch at the World Rowing Championships. Photo: Vera Bucsu/Rowing Australia.

By Rupert Guinness with the Australian Rowing Team in Belgrade

Australia’s undefeated Women’s Pair of Jessica Morrison OAM and Annabelle McIntyre OAM proved they are ready to answer the challenge of their rivals at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade by the way they won their Semi-Final on Thursday to progress to Saturday’s medal race.

After a relatively untroubled run through World Cup II and III and their Heat of the World Championships, the Australian duo had to fend off a brave bid by the Dutch crew to win the Semi-Final, from which the top three went to the A Final.

The Dutch pair of Ymkje Clevering and Veronique Meester blasted away from the start. Morrison and McIntyre didn’t lose composure and kept close. By 1750m they were level with the Dutch and then drew away to win by 0.87 seconds.

Australia’s winning time into a challenging cross headwind was 7:32.30. The Netherlands was second in 7:33.17. In third was the USA in 7:46.47. With the first three only making the A Final, the medal race will also include Romania, Ireland and Chile who were first, second and third respectively in the first and slower Semi Final where Romania won in 7:38.69.

The win by Morrison and McIntyre also qualified the boat for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. Qualifying boats for the Olympic and Paralympic Games are a key objective at the world titles for Australia. On Thursday, Australia qualified four boats in Semi Finals; the Women’s Pair, Women’s Quad Scull, Women’s Four and Men’s Four that all placed third.

Women’s Head Coach John Keogh, who also coaches the Pair, was impressed by their response to the Dutch challenge.

Quote of the Day
“It’s not quite white capping, but it’s trying t” – Australian Men’s Head Coach Rhett Ayliffe on the tricky cross headwind conditions that are whipping up the waters of the Ada Ciganlija Regatta Course in Belgrade and causing headaches for many a rower or sculler and crews.


Fun Fact of the Day
Did you know French used to be the international language of rowing? “Êtes vous prêt? … Partez!” was the start command, translating to “Are you ready? … Go!” Nowadays, the boats are held by a stake boat holder on the stern with the bow locked into a basket. The start is electronic with the rowers given the instruction, “Attention! … Go!” A red disc drops to green, the basket releases the boat and the race is under way.

“We haven’t been in that position internationally yet,” Keogh said after the race. “I thought they were composed even though the Dutch were doing what they were doing. We’ve obviously got our race plan and strategies, but I thought they looked pretty comfortable under the pressure of the Dutch.”

A highlight was the Semi Final third place by the Women’s Quad Scull of Rowena Meridith, Caitlin Cronin, Harriet Hudson and Kate Rowan. Great Britain won in 7:01.33, from Switzerland in 7:07.48, Australia in 7:10.34, Ukraine in 7:13.65; Germany in 7:14.14 and United States in 7:33.03.

The Australians were half a length off third place at 1000m but then they produced a big third 500m to move and then charge by Ukraine to book their slot for Saturday’s A Final.

“They showed a lot of composure through the middle,” coach Tom Westgarth said. “The Ukrainians really challenged hard early, but then they remained confident and composed in their rhythm. Then they picked their time really well and made a really good push to come through Ukraine.”

The Women’s Four also made Saturday’s final. The crew of Giorgia Patten, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Lucy Stephen OAM, a member of the Olympic champion Four in Tokyo, placed third in the Semi-Final that was won by The Netherlands in 6:52.72. In second place was Romania in 6:53.98, followed by the Australians in third place in 7:05.02. New Zealand was fourth in 7:09.93, followed by Poland in 7:20.10 and Germany in 7:27.84.

For the Olympic champion Men’s Four of Alex Hill OAM, Jack Hargreaves OAM, Spencer Turrin OAM and Alex Purnell OAM, their third place in the Semi Final was not their best. They have changed their crew order at the regatta to help unlock some more speed.

Their Semi Final, from which the top three progressed to the A Final on Saturday, was won by the World Champions from Great Britain in 6:26.39. Second was New Zealand in 6:31.14, followed by Australia in 6:38.28. Also making the final were the USA, The Netherlands and France.

Coach Rhett Ayliffe said he decided on Wednesday morning to move Hill to the Stroke seat and Purnell to Bow – the same seating to the crew that won gold at the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021 and Silver at World Cups II and III this year.

“We were trying to look for a little more speed and consistency. Now we know – or hopefully we will in the Final – that most likely this is how we need to race,” Ayliffe said.

The Men’s Quad Scull of Caleb Antill, Jack Cleary, Dave Bartholot and Henry Youl also needed a top three place in their Semi Final to make the A Final. However, despite a courageously fast and strong start, they finished sixth.

Their hopes of qualifying the boat for the Olympics in Paris are still alive; but they must win Saturday’s B Final to do that.

It was a similar story for the Men’s Pair of Fergus Hamilton and Simon Keenan who placed fifth in their Semi Final.  But with 11 Olympic qualifying spots up for grabs, they can finish from first to fifth in Saturday’s B Final to qualify the boat.

In C-D Semi-Finals on Thursday, the Women’s Lightweight Double Scull of Anneka Reardon and Lucy Coleman won to make the C Final; as did the Men’s Lightweight Double Scull of Oscar McGuinness and Sean Murphy; and Alex Rossi finished third in the Men’s Single Scull. The Men’s Double Scull of Cormac Kennedy-Leverett and Harley Moore placed fifth their C-D Semi FInal, but they will now race the D Final.

Day 5: Full Australian results

Women’s Pair
Crew: Jessica Morrison OAM, Annabelle McIntyre OAM (Coach John Keogh)
Result (A-B SF): 1. AUS 7:32.30; 2. NED 7:33.17; 3. USA 7:46.87; 4. GRE 7:53.49; 5. CZE 7:59.74; 6.ITA 8:05.80
Qualifying: 1-3 to AF. Rest to BF

 Women’s Four
Crew: Giorgia Patten, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Lucy Stephen OAM (Coach: Tom Westgarth)
Result (A-B SF): 1. NED 6:52.72; 2. ROU 6:53.98; 3. AUS 7:05.02; 4. NZL 7:09.93; 5. POL 7:20.10; 6. GER 7:27.84
Qualifying: 1-3 to AF. Rest to BF

Women’s Quad Scull
Crew: Rowena Meridith, Caitlin Cronin, Harriet Hudson, Kate Rowan  (Coach: Tom Westgarth)
Result (A-B SF): 1. GB 7:01.33; 2. SUI 7:07.48; 3. AUS 7:10.34; 4. UKR 7:13.65; 5. GER 7:14.14; 6. USA 7:33.03
Qualifying: 1-3 to A-B F. Rest to BF

Women’s Lightweight Double Scull
Crew: Anneka Reardon, Lucy Coleman (Coach: Ellen Randell)
Result (C-D SF): 1. AUS 7:40.09; 2. 7:43.60; 3. TUN 8:00.56; 4. PER 8:12.50
Qualifying: 1-3 to CF. Rest to DF

Men’s Pair
Crew: Fergus Hamilton, Simon Keenan (Coach Laryssa Biesenthal)
Result (A-B SF): 1.ROU 6:51.21; 2. IRL 6:54.70; 3. RSA 6:55.67; 4. ESP 6:59.70; 5. AUS 7:01.85; 6. NZL 7:08.44
Qualifying: 1-3 to AF. Rest to BF

Men’s Four
Crew: Alex Hill OAM, Jack Hargreaves OAM, Spencer Turrin OAM, Alex Purnell OAM (Coach: Rhett Ayliffe)
Result (A-B SF): 1. GB 6:26.39; 2. NZL 6:31.14; 3. AUS 6:38.28; 4. ROU 6:44.95; 5. SUI 6:47.32; 6. RSA 6:55.35
Qualifying: 1-3 to AF. Rest to BF

Men’s Quad Scull
Crew: Caleb Antill, Jack Cleary, Dave Bartholot and Henry Youl (Coach: Don McLachlan)
Result (A-B SF): 1. NED 6:06.20; 2. GB 6:12.64; 3. SUI 6:14.47; 4. ROU 6:16.32; 5. EST 6:18.49; 6. AUS 6:19.35
Qualifying: 1-3 to AF. Rest to BF

Men’s Single Scull
Sculler: Alex Rossi (Coach: Don McLachlan)
Result (C-D SF): 1. BEL 7:39.95; 2. POR 7.43.04; 3. AUS 7:44.43; 4. ESP 7:55.91; 5. SWE 8:02.10; 6. CAN 8:12.79
Qualifying: 1-3 to CF. Rest to DF

Lightweight Men’s Double Scull
Crew: Oscar McGuinness, Sean Murphy (Coaches: Laryssa Biesentha/Lyall McCarthy)
Result (C-D SF): 1. AUS 6:55.92; 2. URU 6:56.00; 3. EST 7:04.12; 4. UZB 7:09.34; 5. EGY 7:34.79, DNS. FRA
Qualifying: 1-3 to CF. Rest to DF

Men’s Double Scull
Crew: Cormac Kennedy-Leverett, Harley Moore (Coaches: Rhett Ayliffe/Lyall McCarthy)
Result (C-D SF): 1. POL 6:42.89; 2. SRB 6:43.23; 3. CZE 6:43.45; 4. CUB 6:43.78; 5. AUS 7:01.45; 5. BUL 7:05.02
Qualifying: 1-3 to CF. Rest to DF