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PR3 Mixed Double, Women’s Pair in dominant form in early rounds of World Rowing Championships

Jed Altschwager and Nikki Ayers in action on Monday in Belgrade. Photo: Vera Bucsu/Rowing Australia

By Rupert Guinness with the Australian Rowing Team in Belgrade

Nikki Ayers and Jed Altschwager know the high expectations they carry at the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade.

As World Best (WB) Time holders in the PR3 Mixed Double that is no surprise, especially after their eye- catching win in the Heats of the PR3 Mixed Double on Monday.

Into a headwind, there was no likelihood of the Chad King coached crew bettering their WB of 7:12.70s at World Cup II on Lake Varese, Italy, in June.

But on the Ada Ciganlija Regatta Course in Belgrade, they still won Heat 2 in a Championship best time of 7:20.90.

Second place was Germany in 7:25.90, followed by the United States in 7:26.42, Brazil in 7:35.92 and Mexico in 8.52.88. With only the winner progressing directly to the A Final on Friday, the outcome paid handsome dividends to the Australians, as it did to France who won Heat 1 in 7:33.75.

“The conditions were tricky,” Ayers said afterwards. “But what we’ve been practicing is to stay relaxed, go with the flow.

“Jed sets a really awesome rhythm. Strokes are able to just hold that and keep going. We executed the plan very well.”

Asked if being a World Best crew is a burden, Ayers said: “We race our race. If we end up getting a World Best time or a Championship first time that’s the outcome, not the focus.”

The crew are more settled now they have a race under their belts. “It gets a little bit simpler as it gets towards the racing,” Altschwager said on Monday. “I was very excited when I woke up this morning, going, ‘Okay, finally, it’s race day.’

“There’s a little bit of a wait now to the Final, but as a crew we do quite well staying calm and not overthinking things.”

The PR3 Mixed Double’s win was one of three by the Australian team on day two of the World Championships.

The second win was in the Women’s Pair, with the John Keogh coached crew of Jessica Morrison OAM and Annabelle McIntyre OAM, who rowed in the Gold Medal winning Australian Four at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and are unbeaten this season with wins at World Cups II and III.

Fightback of the Day The blistering last 150m by the Australian Men’s Double Scull of Cormac Kennedy-Leverett and Harley Moore to pass Great Britain and place second in the Repechage and book a Quarter-Final spot. It was a mighty effort when only the first two progressed to the QF. Qualifying the boat for the 2024 Olympics is one of the Australian Team’s goals. As Men’s Head Coach Rhett Ayliffe said of their dig: “It was a great effort after being rowed through to come back like they did.”

Fact of the Day For those unfamiliar with the Olympic quota system in rowing, it can be a brutal process. Boats are qualified at the World Rowing Championships but the rowers who do the hard yards and qualify those boats may not be in them at the Games, or even their Olympic team. Crew selection is a separate issue. It resumes after the Australians returns home. It is not beyond the realm a 2023 World Champion does not become a 2024 Olympian or Paralympian.

In tricky windy conditions, they led from the start to comfortably win in 7:11.83. Well back in second was Lithuania in 7:19.69, then Italy in 7:24.37, Poland in 7:38.59 and Croatia in 7:45.55. The win locked them in for Thursday’s A-B Semi-Finals as only the winner of each Heat progressed.

“They were pretty tough conditions,” Morrison said. “We were just trying to row clean, a really good comfortable first 1250m, then do what we needed to do to secure the win.”

The third win came in the Men’s Single Sculls Repechages as Alex Rossi, coached by Don McLachlan, won his race to make the A-D Quarter-Finals.

Four other boats made the Quarter or Semi Finals on Monday, which augurs well for the team’s ambition of qualifying boats for the 2024 Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Women’s Four of Giorgia Patten, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe and Lucy Stephen OAM placed second in their Heat to make Thursday’s A-B Semi Final.

The Women’s Quad Scull of Rowena Meredith, Caitlin Cronin, Harriet Hudson and Kate Rowan were third in their Heat to make Thursday’s A-B Semi Final, while the Olympic champion Men’s Four of Alex Hill OAM, Jack Hargreaves OAM, Spencer Turrin OAM and Alex Purnell OAM were second and will race in the A-B Semi Final on Thursday.

The Men’s Double Scull of Cormac Kennedy-Leverett and Harley Moore came from behind to finish second in the Repechage to book a ticket in Wednesday’s Quarter Finals.

Day Two: Full Australian Results

Women’s Pair
Crew: Jessica Morrison OAM, Annabelle McIntyre OAM (Coach: John Keogh)
Result: 1. AUS 7:11.83; 2. LTU 7:19.69; 3. IT 7:24.37; 4. POL 7:38.59; 5. CRO 7:45.55
Qualifying: 1 to A-B SF. Rest to repechage

Lightweight Women’s Double Scull
Crew: Anneka Reardon, Lucy Coleman (Coach: Ellen Randall)
Result: 1. USA 7:08.58; 2. CHI 7:09.31; 3. AUS 7:20.61; 4. GER 7:22.21; 5. DEN 7:24.60
Qualifying: 1-2 to A-B SF. Rest to repechage

Women’s Double Scull
Crew: Amanda Bateman, Laura Gourley (Coach: Hally Chapman)
Result: 1. USA 6:58.91; 2. ITA 7:00.56; 3. AUS 7:02.48; 4. CAN 7:03.56; 5. RSA 7:08.33
Qualifying: 1-2 to A-B SF. Rest to Repechage.

Women’s Four
Crew: Giorgia Patten, Katrina Werry, Sarah Hawe, Lucy Stephen OAM (Coach: Tom Westgarth)
Result: 1. GB 6:39.50; 2. AUS 6:43.52; 3. IRE 6:47.99; 4. GER 6:52.06; 5. MEX 6:57.46
Qualifying: 1-3 to A-B SF. Rest to Repechage.

Women’s Quad Scull
Crew: Rowena Meridith, Caitlin Cronin, Harriet Hudson, Kate Rowan (Coach: Tom Westgarth)
Result: 1. CHI 6:30.75; 2. SUI 6:32.39; 3. AUS 6:33.89; 4. USA 6:39.34 ; 5. CZE 7:05.61
Qualifying: 1-3 to SF. Rest to Repechage.

Men’s Four
Crew: Alex Hill OAM, Jack Hargreaves OAM, Spencer Turrin OAM, Alex Purnell OAM (Coach: Rhett Ayliffe)
Result: 1. USA 6:01.51; 2. AUS 6:03.76; 3. UKR 6:08.37; 4. SUI 6:13.74; 5. RSA 6:17.06; 6. IRL 6:22.23
Qualifying: 1-2 to A-B SF. Rest to repechage

Men’s Single Scull
Sculler: Alex Rossi (Coach: Don McLachlan)
Result: 1. AUS 7:32.71;  2. TUN 7:39.40; 3. IRQ 7:47.63; 4. BAR 9:02.62.
Qualifying: 1 to A-D QF. Rest to E-H QF

Men’s Quad Scull
Crew: Caleb Antill, Jack Cleary, Dave Bartholot, Henry Youl (Coach: Don McLachlan)
Result: 1. POL 6:00.17; 2. SUI 6:01.98; 3. AUS 6:03.83; 4. CH 6:11.21; 5. CAN 6:13.44
Qualifying: 1-2 to A-B SF. Rest to Repechage.

Men’s Double Scull
Crew: Cormac Kennedy-Leverett, Harley Moore (Coach: Rhett Ayliffe/Lyall McCarthy)
Result: 1. CZE 6:50.81; 2. AUS 6:51.55; 3. GB 6:56.09; 4. UKR 7:07.08
Qualifying: 1-4 to QF. Rest to F-E Final

PR3 Mixed Double Scull
Crew: Nikki Ayers, Jed Altschwager (Coach: Chad King/ Christine McLaren)
Result: 1. AUS 7:20.93; 2. GER 7:25.90; 3. USA 7:26.42; 4. BRA 7:35.92; 5. MEX 8:52.88
Qualifying: 1 to A Final. Rest to Repechage

PR3 Mixed Coxed Four
Crew: Tom Birtwhistle, Harrison Nichols, Jessica Gallagher, Susannah Lutze, (cox) Teesan Koo (Coach: James Loveday)
Result: 1. GB 7:07.29; 2. USA 7:13.06; 3. AUS 7:20.76; 4. KOR 8:20.85; 5. MEX 8:56.68
Qualifying: 1-2 to A Final. Rest to Repechage