Stormy weather forced a hiatus during the morning session, which meant World Rowing reshuffled the race schedule, but as soon as safe conditions returned so did the racing. The temperature was notably cooler but the racing was still piping hot. Day 2 saw the first World Rowing Cup I medals awarded, as well as the last shot at A-Final progression.
In the first repechage of the women’s pairs Netherlands 3 and Croatia denied Denmark and the two Chinese pairs passage to the A-Final. The second repechage was considerably quicker, and more competitive. Less than a second separated the three women’s pair fighting to join Great Britain, and Chile and in the A-Final. Striking 41 strokes per minute as they approached the line the Czech pair could be forgiven for thinking they’d done enough, but it was the two Dutch crews that secured the top spots.
In the women’s double it was the brand new combination from Lithuania who delivered a dominant performance and won the repechage. The Greeks came in second to secure the last spot in the A-Final ahead of a valiant charge from the Dutch and Hungarian crews.
Zietarksi and Baranski put the Sinkovics under pressure with an impressive third quarter of their semifinal men’s double race. With Poland in the lead the Croatians were forced to dig deep in the last 250 meters to secure their victory. Both crews race again in Sunday’s A-Final, as will Great Britain. The new combination of Matt Haywood and George Bourne squeezed past the Olympic gold and silver medalists in the Dutch double, by 0.1 second. The other semifinal saw Netherlands 1, Spain, and Lithuania 1 qualify for the A-Final.
Despite Lithuania’s high-rating start it was Spain and the two British boats that secured qualification to the men’s pairs A-Final. Indoor rowing world record holder Tom George stroked Great Britain 2 to victory with the Tokyo 2020 Spainish pair taking second-place, and Great Britain’s Rossitor and Glenister in third. In the other semifinal hometown heros Mackovic and Vasic took the win ahead of Netherlands 1 and Great Britain 1. Half of the men’s pair A-Final will be British, but what about the podium? Can Serbia please their local supporters, and which of the British crews will return home with bragging rights?
The Dutch qualified three of their four men’s fours into the A-Final. The tight racing wets the appetite for what will surely be a feast of fierce fours racing come Sunday. China 2, who remain undefeated in Belgrade, have found impressive speed. Even their performance director, Sir Steve Redgrave, has been surprised by their step-up in form. Confined to his hotel room, Oliver Wilkes will rue the positive Covid test that saw him miss the men’s four racing. With Morgan Bolding onboard the British men’s four made it through to the A-Final after winning the first semifinal in style.
Serbia’s Jovana Arsic flew from the starting blocks in the first semifinal of the women’s single scull and attacked the race fearlessly. Hannah Scott of Great Britain, Shiyu Lu of China, bided their time before moving past in the second half. Dutch Olympian Lisa Scheenaard could not find the required pace to get by so Arsic clung on to the final qualifying spot. Netherlands faired better in the second semifinal as Karolien Florijn led from the start. China’s Yunxia Chen took second and Lenka Antosova of the Czech Republic secured the third and final qualification spot. In the men’s singles Melvin Twellar took aim at Oliver Zeidler but to no avail – the big German sculler swatted off the attack and cruised through to the A-Final. In third place was Callum Dixon who makes it through to the A-Final and continues his impressive debut. In the other semifinal British Olympian Graeme Thomas looked strong, he took the top spot ahead of Bulgaria 1 and Slovenia. Biskup of Poland forced into the B-Final.
One and done
Great Britain went head to head with Australia in the first medal race of the regatta. Lauren Rowles, 24, won the gold in the final of the PR2 women’s single sculls, beating Australian Kathryn Ross, 40, the current World Champion. “It’s great to be back out on the circuit, and just back racing. It was only me and Kathryn out there today but she’s World Champion and a fierce competitor, so when you beat her you know you are doing pretty well. It was a good, close race and great to be out here going against the best of the best,” says Rowles. Victory too for Mary Jones, the American lightweight women’s single sculler, and Belgium’s Tibo Vyvey in the lightweight men’s single sculls.