The 2016 World Rowing Championships have kicked off in wet conditions at the Willem-Alexander Course in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. While the regatta will include the Junior, Under 23 and non-Olympic World Championships, Day 1 of racing only saw the heats of the Under 23 boat classes.
In driving rain Cara Grzeskowiak kicked off Australia’s campaign with a comfortable win in Heat 1 of the Under 23 Women’s Single Scull. The sculler from Capital Lakes Rowing Club was never challenged over the whole distance and will progress directly to the quarter-finals on Tuesday in fine form. The Melbourne University Boat Club duo of India McKenzie and Alice Arch followed this up with a great race in the Under 23 Lightweight Women’s Double Scull. With the rain and strong tail-wind continuing they passed through the 1500m mark in second position just behind China, however faced a strong attack close to the finish from the Canadian crew. The Victorians were more then up to the challenge and crossed the line less than a length behind China to place second and progress directly through to Tuesday’s semi-finals.
The afternoon session started with the rain easing, but with the wind swinging around to straight cross creating some more difficult conditions at the start. This was no deterrent to the Australian crews however, with the Under 23 Men’s Quad and Under 23 Men’s Coxed Four both having start to finish victories in their heats to progress directly to the semi-final on Tuesday in the case of the Quad, and A-Final on Thursday in the case of the Coxed Four. The Under 23 Men’s Lightweight Quad also successfully progressed directly to their semi-final by placing third in their heat, just being pipped on the line by Norway but comfortably beating New Zealand in fourth place to progress.
The sun started to shine as the afternoon’s racing wound towards conclusion, however this didn’t bring good fortune as both the Under 23 Women’s Quad and Under 23 Women’s Eight narrowly missed progressing directly to their A-Finals. The Eight in particular pushed a fast Russian crew all the way down the course, and finished just half a length behind in second place. Both crews will contest the repechages on Monday morning (Monday evening AEST).
The Under 23 Men’s Eight rounded out the day’s racing for Australia with a great effort to finish second behind France and progress directly to Tuesday’s semi-finals. With 13 entries the Men’s Eights field is one of the biggest seen at an Under 23 World Championship for some years, and the Australian crew coached by Simon Gadsden showed they will be right in the mix come finals.
Australian Team Manager Andrew Service commented after racing that he was very pleased with the way that the crews handled difficult conditions. “To have 6 of 8 crews progress directly to finals in challenging weather is a great result, and will give a lot of confidence to the whole team going forward for the rest of the regatta.” He further noted that “the Organising Committee is doing a fantastic job with the management of such a large regatta and it is shaping up to be a great week of racing.”
Monday will see the repechages of the Under 23 events, followed by the heats of the Senior A non-Olympic events in the afternoon including Georgia Nesbitt in the Lightweight Women’s Single Scull. A full list of results from the day’s racing along with a draw for Monday can be found on the World Rowing website – http://www.worldrowing.com/.