Fatsculler’s look at Wednesday’s racing

With racing due to start in a few hours, I thought I would have a look at Wednesday’s races and pick out any that I think will be extra special.

 

Race 1 9:00 Thames Cup- Wairau Rowing Club New Zealand v Kingston Rowing Club ‘B’

The first race out of the blocks should be really interesting. Wairau are my picks to win the Thames Cup and this will be an opportunity to see what sort of speed they have. Kingston’s ‘A’ crew will be watching with particular interest as they are one of the favourites and will be looking to judge the Kiwis speed against their crewmates.

 

Race 6 9:30 Thames Cup- Upper Thames Rowing Club ‘A’ v City of Bristol Rowing Club

A classic Thames Cup race between two solid club crews. This is the type of race that Day 1 of Henley is all about.

 

Race 10 09:50 Fawley Cup- St Peter’s New Zealand v St Paul’s

Always good to watch crews from the other side of the world race for the first time on the Henley course….and it’s Peter v Paul!

 

Race 13 10:10 Princess Elizabeth- Scotch College, Australia v Bedford School

The first opportunity to see one of the favourites for the PE race – Scotch are unbeaten domestically and the rest of the PE field will be eyeing them closely.

 

Race 16 10:30 Temple Cup – Newcastle University ‘A’ v Imperial College ‘A’

This could be the race of the morning session. Imperial are the Selected crew, but there was little to choose between these two crews at BUCS and Marlow. At BUCS Newcastle finished 1 place ahead of IC, but at Marlow IC reversed that and finished 2 places ahead of Newcastle. This could be a real barn-burner.

 

Race 21 11:00 Temple Cup – Nottingham University v University of Michigan, USA

Another classic Temple encounter – Michigan were 9that Dad Vails and Nottingham B-Final winners of University 8’s at Marlow. Should be two fairly evenly matched boats.

 

Race 34 12:15 Temple Cup – Oxford Brookes University ‘B’ v Newcastle University ‘B’

The battle of the “B” crews – both raced in Tier 2 8’s at Marlow and Intermediate 8’s at BUCS with Brookes coming out on top in both.

 

Race 40 2:20 Princess Elizabeth – Shrewsbury School v Abingdon School

Two former winners and both shadows of their former selves. Shrewsbury had a better result at National Schools than Abingdon.

 

Race 41 2:30 Prince Albert – Exeter University v University of Pennsylvania

The Penn Lightweights against a strong crew from Exeter, could be a tough race for the Selected Americans.

 

Race 42 2:40 Wyfold – London Rowing Club v Aramoho Whanganui, New Zealand

The first ever race at Henley for the Aramoho club, and it will be tough against London, especially coming past Remenham Club.

 

Race 50 3:20 Prince Albert – University of London v Boston University, USA

Possibly the race of the session, UL are BUCS bronze medallists and Boston were Petite finalists in the 2V division at BUCS. Despite being the Selected crew, this could be a really tough race for the Americans.

 

Race 60 4:20. Prince Albert – University of St Andrew’s v Imperial College London

Imperial are the holders and have been Selected, but St Andrew’s were the fastest Scottish crew at BUCS Regatta and had a stronger result at Marlow. The holders could be going out on day 1.

 

Race 61 5:30 Princess Elizabeth – St George’s College v Flatow-Oberschule, Germany

A chance to see the winners of the German “Federal Competition of Youth” race at Henley (which was their prize for winning).

 

Race 64 5:45 Diamond Jubilee – Latymer Upper School ‘B’ v Kinross Wolaroi School, Australia

An opportunity to see what sort of speed the Australian National Champions have brought to Henley

 

Race 76 6:45 Prince Albert – Harvard University, USA v Cornell University, USA

The only all-American race of day 1 and potentially it’s the race of the day. The Harvard 2ndVarsity heavyweights against the National champion Lightweights from Cornell. Opportunities for the lightweights to race the heavyweights are one of the things that makes Henley special.

 

Race 80 7:20 Thames Cup – Tyne Rowing Club ‘A’ v Thames Rowing Club ‘A’

Another classic Thames Cup encounter. The Tynesiders were winners of the Jackson Trophy at the Head of the River, and Thames are the defending champions.

 

Race 83 7:40 Prince Albert – United States Naval Academy, USA v Bath University

The US Navy may well be the Selected crew but they will have their work cut out against a strong Bath crew. Navy won Tier 2 fours at Marlow, whilst Bath were 2ndin the B-Final of the Championship coxed 4’s division. This could be a great race and well worth hanging around for.

 

Right….bring on the racing.

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Fatsculler’s Henley Preview part 4: The Student Events

Image result for henley regatta

Photo: Henley Royal Regatta

Time now for the Student events….

 

temple

The Temple Challenge Cup

The Temple Challenge Cup

Holders: University of Washington, USA

Entries: 64 (2018: 55)

Reduced to 32 by Qualifying races

 

8 crews have been selected, two from the Netherlands, two from Great Britain and four from the USA.. The rule change a couple of year ago has really opened this event up. The big US programmes are now able to enter their Varsity 8’s, with only U23 medallists or senior internationals excluded. As a result its now become even more fiercely competitive than it already was.

The first of the Selected crews are Imperial College London ‘A’ crew.  At the BUCS Regatta at the beginning of May they finished 4thin Championship 8’s. At Marlow Regatta they finished 4thin Championship 8’s. The crew includes Junior World Champion Casper Woods who was also in the crew that won the Prince Albert in 2018. They face a tantalising first round contest against Newcastle University ‘A’ .Newcastle have qualified three crews for this event. The ‘A’ crew were sixth in Championship Eights at Marlow Regatta. Bronze medallists in Championship Eights at BUCS Regattaa and Boat Race of the North winners against Durham. Will Stewart and Cormac Molloy were the fastest U23 pair at GB Final Trials. Alex Haynes – five seat – has previously won the Thames Challenge Cup and Prince Albert. Semi-finalists in this event last year. They will be a very severe test for the Selected Imperial crew.

 

The 2ndof the Selected crews are Brown University of the USA. This crew contains most of the Varsity 8 that won the Petite Final at the IRA Championships. They finished 3rdat the Eastern Sprints and also had regular season wins against Northeastern, Boston and Dartmouth.  Brown raced in the Temple Cup last year reaching Friday’s quarterfinals. The crew includes former Tideway Scullers rower Alex Kelly. Their first round race is against Caius Boat Club, Cambridge. Caius were winners of University 8’s at Marlow Regatta.

 

3rdof the Selected crews are Northeastern University USA. They have come to Henley with their 8 out of 9 of their 1stVarsity crew. There is a distinctly Germanic tinge to their crew, with four Germans on-board, all of whom have won medals at World Junior level (Jasper Angl, Jan Hennecke, Elias Kun and Jan Berend). Also in the crew are two Kiwis, Reuben Houghton and Braeden Camp and three Americans (Cormac Purcell, will Lerwick and coxswain George Doty). The Northeastern Huskies had one of their best seasons for many years, losing only to Washington, Brown and Harvard. At the IRA Championships they made the Grand Final finishing 5th, recording their best result since 2013. With that sort of pedigree it will make them one of the favourites for this event. They face a relatively straightforward opening of their campaign against the University of London ‘B’crew.

 

The final Selected crew in the top half of the draw are Algemene Groningen Studenten Roeivereeniging Gyas, The Netherlands. The first of the two Selected Dutch crews, this crew raced at both the Bosbaan and the RaceRoei Regatta’s finishing 4thand 3rdrespectively (but crucially being beaten by the Nereus Temple Cup crew – more on them below). Gyas face the Oxford University Lightweight Boat Club. The Oxford crew is 8 of the 9 that won the Lightweight Boat Race in March.

In the lower half of the draw the first Selected crew are the 2ndDutch crew, Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Nereus. Nereus were winners of this event in 2004 and 2015 and were losing finalists in 2010 and 2011. They have been the top Dutch student programme for many years, competing with Oxford Brookes as the top University programme in Europe. They raced at the RaceRoei Regatta finishing 2ndin Open M8 and also 2ndat the Bosbaan Regatta. They are drawn against King’s College Queensland of Australia. They have raced several times at the Regatta in the last few years, losing in Round 1 in 2015 and day 2 in 2017. Whilst they’ve been in the UK they raced at Marlow Regatta finishing 5thin the B-Final of University 8’s.

Harvard University, USA are the next Selected crew in the lower half of the draw. This is the Harvard 2ndVarsity 8, winners of the Harvard v Yale Boat Race. They also won the 2V division at the Eastern Sprints and then 4that the IRA Championships. As with a lot of US Collegiate crews there is a strong international flavour to Harvard’s crew, with four British, three American, a German and an Aussie. They face Imperial College ‘B’(2ndin the ‘B’-Final of University 8’s at Marlow Regatta).

The 3rdSelected crew in the lower half of the draw are another American University crew, this time it’s Boston University. Their crew for Henley is a mix of the 1stand 2ndVarsity. Boston had a strong season this year, finishing 2ndin the Petite Final of the IRA Championships. They have a couple of Brits on-board (Luke Towers and Jonathan Cameron – who won the Fawley Challenge Cup with Claire’s Court School). Boston take on Exeter University in the 1st Round. They were Second in the ‘B’ final of Intermediate Eights at BUCS Regatta. Fifth in the final of University Eights at Marlow Regatta and Bronze medallists in Championship Coxed Fours at BUCS Head.

 

The final Selected crew in the draw are Oxford Brookes University ‘A’. Brookes have won this event in three of the last five years and were losing finalists last year. Like Newcastle they have qualified three crews for this event. Their ‘A’ crew finished 3rdin the Championship 8’s at Marlow Regatta and winners of Academic 8’s at the Metropolitan Regatta. They also raced at the Wedau Regatta in Duisberg finishing 3rd(behind their Ladies Plate crew in 2ndand the senior German national squad in 1st). They are definitely one of the favourites for this event and will be relishing an opportunity to race against some of the US and Dutch crews. Brookes start their campaign against Newcastle University’s ‘C’ crew.

 

Among the crews that haven’t been selected, one of the strongest will be the University of London ‘A’ crew. They were second in the ‘B’ final of Championship Eights at Marlow Regatta. Third in the ‘B’ final of Open Eights at the Metropolitan Regatta. UL face Oxford Brookes ‘C’ crew on Wednesday. Brookes are strong throughout their squad, this crew finished third in University Eights at Marlow Regatta. Fourth in the ‘C’ final of Open Eights at the Metropolitan Regatta and won the ‘C’ final of Intermediate Eights at BUCS Regatta. But, UL will be confident of progressing where they will most likely meet the Oxford Brookes ‘A’ crew!

 

Among the non-Selected overseas crews are the University of Michigan, USA. They finished 9that the Dad Vail Championships and took silver at the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships. They race Nottingham University on day one, who were winners of the ‘B’-Final of University 8’s at Marlow Regatta.

 

Finishing one place behind Michigan at the ACRA’s was Purdue University. They are one of Michigan’s main rivals and defeated them in a head-to-head match in April. They also defeated Michigan at the Dad Vails where they won bronze. They race Bath University in their first race. For their part, Bath finished 7thin the ‘B’-Final of Tier 2 8’s at Marlow.

 

The University of Pennsylvania, USA are, perhaps, unfortunate not to be Selected. This is the Lightweight Varsity crew which finished third at the IRA State Championships. Coach Colin Farrell was named Ivy League Coach of the Year. Won the Lightweight Eight title at the Eastern Sprints for the first time since 1976.Their first race is against the University of the West of England who were fourth in University 8’s at Marlow.

 

My picks…..Looking at the draw, the top half would suggest that Northeastern should reach the final if they can get passed Brown. In the lower half, the potential showdown between Nereus and Harvard, the winner of which will most likely face Brookes ‘A’ will generate some fireworks. But, when it comes down to it I’m going to plump for a Northeastern win.

 

 

prince_albert

The Prince Albert Challenge Cup

The Prince Albert Challenge Cup

Holders: Imperial College London ’A’

Entries: 49 (2018: 35)

Reduced to 16 through Qualifying races.

At the top of the draw the first Selected crew are Boston University, USA.  This is a mix of the Terriers  2ndand 3rdVarsity eights. Dane Esben Kok and Americans Nick Robertson and Andrew Marsh were in the 2ndVarsity that won the petite final at the IRA Championships. Coxswain Chloe Jacobs and New Zealander Luke Brady were in the 3rdVarsity that took 2ndin the Petite Final of the 3V event at the IRA’s.

They face a very tricky first round race against The University of London, they were sixth in Championship Coxed Fours at Marlow Regatta. At the Metropolitan Regatta they finished just outside of the medals in Open Championship Coxed Fours and at the British University Championships they won the bronze medal in Championship Coxed Fours. This could well be the best race of the first round of this event.

The 2ndSelected crew in the top half of the draw are Durham University. Stroked by old-Etonian, and winner of the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup, Oscar Lindsay, Durham had a slow start to the season. They missed qualification for the final of Champ 4- at the British University Championships. But they have had more success as the season progressed. At the Metropolitan Regatta they won Academic coxed fours and placed 4thin the Championship 4+ event. At Marlow they raced in the Championship 4+ event finishing 4th. Durham face The University of Michigan, USA  in the first round. The Wolverines won the Collegiate 8’s division at the Head of The Charles and swept the board at the Mid-America Collegiate Rowing Association Championships.

The 3rdSelected crew are another American Lightweight crew, this time from the University of Pennsylvania. Their crew of Vincent Armetta, James Gaffney, Nick Hutchins, Andrew Kelly and Larissa Klufas, raced in both the Lightweight coxed and (minus Klufas) the Lightweight coxless Fours at the IRA Championships, finishing 4thin both events. They race a crew from Exeter University who were second in University Coxed Fours at Marlow Regatta and also second in Open Academic Coxed Fours at the Metropolitan Regatta. This could be a tough battle for the US lightweights.

The final selected crew in the top half of the draw are the defending champions from Imperial College London. Last year Imperial prioritised this event and put their strongest crew into the M4+. This year they are focussing on the Temple Challenge Cup, meaning the crew to defend their Prince Albert title is not the strongest they could have fielded. This crew raced at Marlow Regatta finishing 3rdin the Academic coxed four’s category (losing to Exeter University by over 5 seconds). They are drawn against the University of St Andrews in the first round.  They won bronze in the Intermediate 4+ at the British University Championships and then went on to finish 4thin the ‘B’-Final of Championship 4+ at Marlow. At the Scottish Championships, Henry Marles and Oscar Von Hannover won gold in the Senior M2-. This could be another tough battle for the Selected crew.

In the bottom half of the draw Cambridge University  are the first of the four Selected crews. They have a full crew from this year’s winning Goldie crew, Hugo Durward, Tom Strudwick, Rob Harris, Jonty Page and Charlie Marcus. They raced in Championship 4+ at Marlow Regatta finishing 3rd(but only being beaten by one Prince Albert competitor). They face a crew from Purdue University, USAin round 1. Purdue finished in 3rdin the Varsity 4 at the Dad Vail Regatta in May.

There is an all-American contest in the 1stround between Harvard University and Cornell University. Harvard are the selected crew. They have a mix of their 2ndand 3rdVarsity 8 with Lucas Clarke, Ethan Seder, Harrison Burke and coxswain Ed Bracey (an old-Etonian) from the 2V and Sam Monkley from the 3V. The Crimson 2V won their race against Yale and also won the 2V Division at Eastern Sprints. Cornell probably feel a little hard done by not to be Selected. Their crew of Evan Krum, Andrew Hickey, Cameron Bertossa, Luke Small and Rori Henderson all raced at the IRA Championships. Small won bronze in the Lightweight Varsity 4 and the rest of the crew were in the Lightweight Varsity 8 that won the Grand Final. This should be another great battle between lightweights and heavyweights.

The third Selected crew in the bottom half of the draw are Oxford Brookes University. As mentioned earlier, Brookes dominate University rowing in this country. At the British University Championships they won gold in all but one of the Men’s heavyweight sweep events. This crew were part of the Brookes 3rd8 that finished 5that the Wedau Regatta in Duisburg. As a four they raced at Marlow Regatta winning the Championship coxed four category (4.5 seconds ahead of their nearest Prince Albert competition). Facing Brookes are a Lightweight crew from Georgetown University, USA. This is half of the Georgetown Lightweight Varsity 8 that finished 7that the IRA’s.

The final Selected crew in the draw are another US crew, this time representing the United States Naval Academy. Navy are in Henley primarily to compete in the King’s Cup, but they have also entered the Prince Albert and the Silver Goblets. The crew has three of the Lightweight Varsity four that won the IRA Championships. They raced at Marlow Regatta winning the Tier 2 4+ They take on Bath University, stroked by Will England, a former junior international. Second in the ‘B’ final of Championship Coxed Fours at Marlow Regatta. Fourth in the final of Championship Coxed Fours at BUCS Regatta.

So those are the crews….its going to be a great contest, but the form guide would suggest a win for Oxford Brookes.

Fatsculler’s Henley Preview Part 3: The Club events

Image result for henley regatta

The Henley Boat Tents. Photo: HRR.co.uk

Moving swiftly on to the Club events…and I want to thank Tom Morgan and his team for help with the research on the entries.

thames

The Thames Challenge Cup

The Thames Cup

Holders: Thames Rowing Club

Entries: 49 (2018: 48)

Reduced to 32 through qualifying races

The Stewards have Selected eight crews. At the top of the draw the first Selected crew are Cercle de L’Aviron de Lyon, France. Lyon finished 2nd overall at the recent Senior French Championships. They had two 8’s competing at the Senior Championships. And the crew for Henley is the majority of the club’s 2nd 8 who finished 7th overall. They have, however, made two changes to that crew, with former French U23 internationals Jordan Lequy and Antonie Nougaréde joining from the A crew that won silver.

 

The last time an Irish crew won this event was Neptune in 1996. The Stewards have The 2ndSelected Commercial Rowing Club, Ireland. They raced at the Dublin Metropolitan Regatta winning the Senior M8. The crew for Henley has 6 of that crew, with the remaining members coming from the crew that came 2ndin the Senior 4-. They also raced at Ghent regatta, finishing 2ndbehind the Dutch from Nereus and just 18/100thahead of fellow Selected crew, Kingston Rowing Club.

 

The 3rdSelected crew in the top half of the draw is the first of two German crews in the event, Münchener Ruderclub von 1880. They came to the UK in March to race at the Head of The River, finishing 25thoverall. In may they raced at Heidelberg Regatta winning won Senior M8.

 

The final Selected crew in the top half of the draw are the defending champions, Thames Rowing Club ‘A’. Thames have won this event in three of the last four years (including an all-Thames final in 2017), a testimony to the strong squad developed by Head Coach, Ben Lewis. This is Lewis’s last Henley with the club and he’ll be keen to make it 4 wins in 5. His crew for this year won Challenge 8’s at Wallingford and then placed 3rdin the B-Final of Champ 8’s at Marlow (10th overall).

 

In the lower half of the draw, the first Selected crew are Kingston Rowing Club. The club have never won this event, although they did make the final in 1971 and 1972 (losing to Harvard on both occasions). As mentioned above, they were narrowly pushed into 3rdplace at Ghent by Commercial Rowing Club. Domestically they have a 6thplace at Wallingford, and a very impressive B-Final win (8thoverall) in Championship 8’s at Marlow. It’s a mark of the strength in depth of the club that they have three 8’s in the main draw.

 

The 2ndSelected crew are Roeivereeniging Studenten Vreie Universteit Okeanos, The Netherlands. They’ve been fairly active on the Dutch domestic scene, At the Heineken Roeivierkamp they finished 8thoverall in the 2ndDivision M8. At the Bosbaan Regatta the won bronze in Open 8’s at the Bosbaan Regatta and at the RaceRoei they finished 4th

 

The 3rdSelected crew are aiming to become the first New Zealand crew to win the event since the war, Wairau Rowing Club. This is a highly experienced crew, all of whom have won medals in Senior or Premier events at the New Zealand National Championships (often rowing in crews with members of the New Zealand National team). They do have Henley experience as four of the crew raced at the Regatta last year (three in the Wyfold and one in the Visitors). They could well be the dark horses of the event.

 

The final Selected crew in the bottom half of the draw are Bonner Ruder-Gesellschaft e.V., Germany. This club competed in this event last year, reaching Friday’s racing. This year they’ll be hoping to go at least one better. They raced at the Wedau Regatta in Duisburg, finishing 6thin the B-Final on the Sunday (albeit 15 seconds behind 5thplace).

 

Of the crews not Selected by the Stewards, the crew from Molesey Boat Clubl ook to be the strongest. They were 4thin the B-Final at both the Metropolitan Regatta and in Championship 8’s at Marlow.

 

Agecroft Rowing Club from Manchester last won an event at Henley back in 2009. So far this season they raced on both days at the Metropolitan Regatta, finishing 5thon Saturday and 14thon Sunday. They also raced at Marlow, where they finished 6thin the B-Final.

 

Another strong crew are Tyne Rowing Club ‘A’. They have been fierce rivals of Agecroft all season. They just pipped them at the Head of the River to win the Jackson Trophy (for the fastest non-Thames club). But during the regatta season the Mancunians have just got the better of the Tynesiders. On both days of the metropolitan Regatta Tyne finished 1 place behind Agecroft. Sadly the draw means these two crews are unlikely to meet for what would’ve been a great battle.

 

The rules for the Princess Elizabeth forbid entries from clubs, meaning any Junior club crew must race in the Thames Cup, such is the fate for Green Lake of the USA Based in Seattle, they finished Fifth in Varsity Eights and second in Varsity Coxed Fours at the Northwest Youth Championships. At the USRowing Youth National Championships they finished first in the ‘C’ final of Youth Coxed Fours. Shortly after arriving in the UK they raced at Marlow Regatta finishing 3rd in the ‘C’ final of Tier 2 Eights. Perhaps one day the stewards will open up the Princess Elizabeth to club as well as school crews.

 

My picks…..the draw would suggest a Thames v Kingston final, but the Kiwis will be the biggest threat. I’m going for a win for the Kiwis from Wairau.

 

 

wyfold

The Wyfold Challenge Cup

The Wyfold Challenge Cup

Holders: Molesey Boat Club

Entries: 64 (2018: 56)

Reduced to 32 by qualifying races

 

 

The first selected crew in the top half of the draw is the first of four German entries (three of whom are Selected) Dresdner Ruderverein E.V. They have raced in this even several times in the last few years, reaching Thursday’s racing in 2015 and Friday the year after. Their crew of Hannes Janick, Gregori Kjulbassanoff, Franz Dieringer and Albrecht Dunkel raced at the Ratzeburg Regatta, placing 8thin Open M4-

 

The 2ndSelected crew in the top half of the draw are Mercantile Rowing club, Australia. Based in Melbourne, this club reached the final in 2018 and have two returners from that crew. They won Men’s B 8’s at the Head of the Yarra and were also winners of both Club Men’s Coxless Fours and Eights at the 2019 Sydney International Rowing Regatta.

 

Third of the Selected crews are another Antipodean entry, Aramoho Whanganui Rowing Club from New Zealand. This is the first time that the Whanganui club have sent a crew to Henley. Three of the crew, Hugh Pawson, Tom Monaghan and Luke Watts finished 4thin the Senior M4X at the New Zealand Championships. The 4thmember of the crew, Hamish Maxwell, took silver in the Premier M4- event. They face a tricky opening race against London Rowing Club. Sixth in the ‘A’ final of Championship Coxless Fours at Marlow Regatta. Fifth in the final of Challenge Coxless Fours at Wallingford Regatta. They were the highest placed Wyfold crew at Marlow Regatta. This could well be the best race on the opening day

 

The final Selected crew in this half of the draw are Thames Rowing Club ‘A’. They raced at Wallingford Regatta finishing 4thin the Challenge 4’s class. At Marlow they finished 2ndin the B-Final of Champ 4-‘s placing them 10thoverall. The Stewards decision to Select this crew is slightly odd as there were several of their competitor Wyfold crews who finished ahead of them in Marlow (London Rowing Club and City of Bristol Rowing Club), but have not been Selected. They face a tricky 1stround draw against Quintin Boat Club who finished 1 place behind them at Marlow.

 

In the bottom half of the draw the first Selected crew are from the Lea Rowing Club. They didn’t race at Marlow Regatta, but did place 3rdin Open Coxless fours on the Saturday of the Metropolitan Regatta and 2ndon the Sunday just 2 seconds behind the Thames Rowing Club Visitors crew. They also finished 2ndin Challenge Coxless Fours at Wallingford Regatta.

 

The 2ndGerman entry are from Rudern, Tennis Und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen. Their crew is Fabian Mimberg, Steffan Kruse, Faabian Weiler and Christopher Ahn. This quartet raced recently at the Ratzeburg Regatta placing 5thin their heat of Open M4- . They face a tricky opening race against The Tideway Scullers School.

 

Next of the Selected boats are Sydney Rowing Club, Australia. Sydney are perennial visitors to the Royal Regatta winning the Britannia Challenge Cup in 2015. In 2018 they reached the semi-finals and they have one of that crew, Alex Nichol in this year’s Wyfold boat. Nichol is joined by Oscar Olsen, Oscar Carr-Middleton and Alex Potter. All four of this crew won gold in U21 Championship Eights at the NSW State Championships in February. They also finished fourth in U23 Men’s Eight at Sydney International Rowing Regatta. Olsen and Carr-Middleton also won silver in the U21 Men’s Pair at the same event.

 

The final Selected crew are the 3rdof the German entries, Ruderclub Nürtingen. This crew includes Dominic Imort who won the Britannia Challenge Cup with RHTC Bayer Leverkusen in 2016. He was also a member of the RHTC Bayer Leverkusen crew that reached the final of the Thames Cup in 2015. At a stated 18st 1lb (115kg) he is the heaviest oarsman at the Regatta. Imort is joined by three athletes who all have international age-group representative honours. Marvin Ruedt finished 10thin the U23 BLM2- in 2017 and Nick Blankenburg and Oliver Peikert have both won medals at the Junior World Championships. As a crew they raced at Ratzeburg Regatta placing 7thin the A-Final of M4-. They meet a crew representing the UK Armed Forces in the first round. This crew had to come through Qualifiers and are part of the squad put together to contest The King’s Cup. The crew is Cpl Ed Carpenter (RAF Band), Cpl Tom Jackman (RAF Regiment), 2ndLieutenant George Redman (royal regiment of Scotland) and Marine Luke Grainger (Royal Marines).

 

Of the non-Selected crews, the crew from Norway, Norske Studenters Rokklub could well be the biggest threat. This crew were all in the Thames Cup finalist eight from last year. Peder Strand also won the Britannia Challenge Cup in 2017. Sture also has senior international honours to his name having raced in the LM1X at the 1st and 2nd World Cups in 2016. They face a tough first race against Cambridge 99 Rowing Club who won the B-Final of Champ 4-‘s at Marlow Regatta.

 

City of Bristol Rowing Club have never won at Henley, this year’s crew has a good chance of progressing deep into the regatta. Eighth in the ‘A’ final of Championship Coxless Fours at Marlow Regatta. The crew raced in Open Coxless Fours at the Metropolitan Regatta, but were disqualified in the final.

 

The only non-Selected German entry are from Akademische Ruderverbindung Westfalen. They raced at the Ratzeburg Regatta finishing 5thof 5 n their heat 25 seconds behind the winners.

 

The final overseas crew n the draw are from the Netherlands, Koninklijke Amsterdamsche Roei-en Zeilvereeniging ‘De Hoop’. They finished 6that the RaceRoei Regatta and 4that the Bosbaan Regatta. They face a first round race against the qualifiers from Bedford Rowing Club.

 

My picks…Always a highly competitive event, I think the Kiwis from Aromoha Whanganui are my marginal favourites.

 

britannia

The Britannia Challenge Cup

The Britannia Challenge Cup

Holders: Thames Rowing Club ‘A’

Entries: 31 (2018: 25)

Reduced to 16 by Qualifying Races.

 

The Stewards have chosen to Select eight crews for this event. At the top of the draw the first selected crew are Rudern Tennis Und Hockey Club, Bayer Leverkusen, Germany.  This club last won this event in 2016 and have put together a very strong crew to try and regain the title. Niklas Mäger and Marius Kock have both raced internationally at U23 level. They are joined by Dennis Dethmann and Julius Lingnau with cox Anna Dames. They raced at the Ratzeburg Regatta winning the Coxed Four event.

 

The 2ndSelected crew in the top half of the draw are Société D’Encouragement Du SportNautique, France. There crew has the hugely experienced Hugo Dupety at bow who is an eight-time French National Champion. At the recent Championnats De France Bateaux Long they came 5thin the M4+ category. They face the 2010 winners of this event, The Tideway Scullers School  in the first round Scullers were 3rdin the B-Final of Championship Coxed Fours at Marlow Regatta, and 2ndat the Metropolitan.

 

The 3rd Selected crew are the first of two entries from Australia, Mercantile Rowing Club. A development crew comprised of athletes from different racing profiles. Lukas Matic won silver at the Sydney International Rowing Regatta in the U19 Single whilst Achermann and Cain raced to a third place in the U23 Eight category. Both Cain and Clarke competed in the U23 single event, placing first and fourth in the ‘B’ final respectively. The raced at Marlow Regatta finishing fifth in the ‘A’ final of Championship Coxed Fours.

 

The final crew Selected in the top half of the draw are, the holders Thames Rowing Club. As with the Thames crew in the Wyfold, it’s perhaps a little surprising that Thames have been Selected as there are domestic crews who have had better results than them in the run-up to Henley. This crew were sixth in the ‘B’ final of Championship Coxed Fours at Marlow Regatta. Fifth in Open Championship Coxed Fours at the Metropolitan Regatta, and winners of Challenge Coxed Fours at Wallingford Regatta. Thames face a tricky first round contest against Royal Chester Rowing Club, who finished 3/10thof a second ahead of them at Marlow Regatta. Royal Chester also won Club Coxed Fours at the Metropolitan Regatta.

 

In the lower half of the draw the first Selected crew are probably the top domestic crew from Molesey Boat Club. Their crew of Robbie Schofield, Jens Hullah, Matt Christie, Kenneth Gray and cox Rebecca Harrison finished 2ndin Champ Coxed Fours at Marlow, but were a full 6 seconds faster than their nearest Britannia Cup rivals (Mercantile). They won Open M4+ on the Saturday of the Metropolitan Regatta and then placed 3rdon the Sunday (but beating all their Britannia Cup opposition).

 

The next Selected crew are the 2ndGerman crew in the event, Rudergemeinschaft Angaria Hannover E.V. They raced at the Ratzeburg Regatta with their crew of Sven Lessner, Marius Wagner, Konrad Thibaut, Tome Bode and cox Beatrice Lüsse, finishing 7thin the M4+ division. They also raced in small boast at Ghent Regatta winning a bronze medal in the M2X.

 

The 2ndof the entries from Australia are from Sydney Rowing Club. They last won this event in 2015. For Henley this year they have a young crew of mainly U23 athletes who all raced at the Sydney International Regatta this year. Torun Olsen competed in the U23 M4X winning a bronze medal and Max Brenner and Tom Galloway racing in the U23 M4- that finished 7th. The fourth member of the crew is Dylan Boakes. He raced in the Open M8 at Sydney picking up a silver medal. They face City of Bristol in the first round who were first in the ‘C’ Final of Championship 4+ at Marlow Regatta.

 

The final Selected crew are from Deutscher Ruder Club Hannover Von 1884, Germany. They also raced at Ratzeburg Regatta placing 5thin the Final of M4+. Several of the crew (Hendrik Hellhammer and Paul Peter) have raced at the European University Championships. Their first round opponents are from Nottingham Rowing Club who won Open Coxed Fours at the Metropolitan Regatta and silver in Tier 2 Coxed Fours at Marlow.

 

Also racing are crews from Lea Rowing Club  (5thin the ‘C’-Final at Marlow), Twickenham Rowing Club( Sixth in Tier 2 Coxed Fours at Marlow Regatta. Second in Open Club Coxed Fours on the Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta), Local club Upper Thames Rowing Club( 6thin Challenge 4+ at Wallingford Regatta) and Vesta Rowing Club (Second in the ‘C’ final of Championship Coxed Fours at Marlow Regatta. Won Open Club Coxed Fours on the Saturday of the Metropolitan Regatta. Fifth in Challenge Coxed Fours at Wallingford Regatta.)

 

My pick….I’m hoping for a home win with Molesey taking the honours.

 

 

 

 

Fatsculler’s Henley Preview Part 2: The Intermediate Events

Image result for henley regatta

Time now to look at the Intermediate events. There’s been a fair amount of discussion on social media about whether the Intermediate events should be done away with, and force the fast crews up to the Open events. But I don’t agree. For me the Intermediate events offer some of the most interesting crews and interesting racing. An opportunity for former international and up and coming U23’s to form crews for Henley and race, if they were pushed up to the Stewards or The Grand then they probably wouldn’t want to face current National Squad crews. Anyway….onto the preview.

 

Ladies CP

The Ladies Challenge Plate

The Ladies Challenge Plate (Men’s Intermediate 8’s)

Holders: Oxford Brookes University

Entries: 10 (2018:5)

Oxford Brookes University (crew 34) are back to attempt a hat-trick of wins in this event. They have established themselves as the top club crew in the country, and possibly the best club crew in Europe. They’ve not been beaten by domestic opposition since 2016 and earlier this season they raced at the Wedau Regatta in Duisburg, Germany. There they finished 2nd to the Deutschlandachter – the World Champion German M8 – by 1.5 seconds. Coach Henry Baillache-Webb has put together an outstanding squad system, probably the only one in Europe that could match the top collegiate programs in the USA.

But, Brookes will have their work cut out to win their 3rdLadies Plate title. The GB coaches are using Henley to blood their U23 men’s 8 ahead of the World Championships in Sarasota at the end of July. The crew they’ve put together (racing as Newcastle University and Cambridge University crew 33) includes several athletes studying in the USA (Arthur Doyle at Harvard, Dave Bewicke-Copley at Princeton, Harvey Kay at Washington and Lennie Jenkins and Vlad Saigau from Yale). Also in the crew are Oxford and Cambridge Blues Felix Drinkall and Callum Sullivan. Half of the crew were in the U23 BM8 last year that won silver. On paper this is an outstanding looking crew. It remains to be seen if they can match the top Brookes boat who have been rowing together all season.

But, this event is just about these two boats, there are another 8 crews racing. Chasing Oxford Brookes all season have been Leander Club (crew 31). This crew will be very familiar with Oxford Brookes, not only because they’ve been racing them all season, but because four of the crew (Richard Hawkins, Ed Grisedale, James Stanhope and cox Rory Copus) are Oxford Brookes graduates (Grisedale and Stanhope have both won this event with Brookes). As well as the Brookes graduates, the Leander crew includes three athletes with senior representative honours, Charlie Waite-Roberts finished 4thin the LM4X in 2016, Callum McBrierty and Cam Buchan both rowed in the GB M8 that finished 7thin 2017. This crew also raced at Duisburg, finishing 4th(behind the Brookes Ladies Plate and Temple Challenge Cup crews). At Marlow Regatta Leander were again beaten by the top Brookes boat, but, they were much closer than in previous races, just 1.46 seconds behind.

As mentioned earlier, Frankfurt are celebrating their 150thanniversary this year and have a number of crews racing at Henley. Crew 29, Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft Germania 1869 e.V., Germany. This is a crew made up of a number of former Senior and U23 internationals including Valentin Schatzlein who finished 4thin the LM4X in 2008, and also two members of the Frankfurt crew that won the Thames Cup in 2014 (Moritz Bock and Lukas Duhnkrack).

The Dutch have also entered an U23 crew (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland,crew 30). Five of this crew already have U23 representative honours, including Finn Florijn, Gert Jan Van Doorn, Joris Moerman and Bjorn Kwee who were in the 2018 U23 BM8 that finished 6that the World Championships. They also raced at the Wedau Regatta in Duisburg where they finished 5thin the B-Final.

France have also entered a crew with significant international experience at U23 level, racing as Aviron Grenoblois and Aviron Meulan Les Mureaux Hardicourt, France.  This crew includes Nicolas Gilbert and Louis Droissart who finished 6thin the BM4+ at the U23 World Championships in 2017, Maxence Tollet from the 7thplace BM2- in 2015 and Ivan Bove who finished 5thin the BLM4x last year.

Molesey Boat Club have never won the Ladies Plate, although they were part of a composite crew that won in 2013. They have a very strong crew for this year’s campaign which includes former lightweight World Champion Joel Cassells in the 2 seat. In early June they travelled to Germany to race at the Ratzeburg Regatta winning the Open M8 ahead of the German U23 crew.

One of the delights of this event, is it often sees some unusual composite crews put together, one such crew is East India Club and Gentse-Roei-En-Sportvereniging. This is a very European crew with athletes from Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK. Stroking the crew is U23 World Champion from the Netherlands, Max Ponsen. He has four German and one Danish U23 international behind him.

Also racing are Thames Rowing Club and London Rowing Club, and Oxford Brookes B crew

My picks….the draw would suggest a final between the Great Britain U23’s (Cambridge/Newcastle) and the Dutch U23’s (Hollandia Roeiclub). But the race of the event could well be the possible semi-final between Oxford Brookes A and the GB U23’s. That one will be too close to call….whoever wins that will win the event. If I had to pick one, I’d go for Brookes, mainly because they’ve been racing together for a long time.

 

visitors

The Visitors Challenge Cup

The Visitors Challenge Cup (Men’s Intermediate 4-)

Holders: Leander Club

Entries: 22 (2018: 16)

To be reduced to 16 entries by qualifying races

This event promises to be one of the most competitive at the Regatta. A large number of British athletes who are studying at US Universities are racing in this event for their UK clubs. The Stewards have pre-Qualified 12 crews, with the remaining 11 fighting for 4 places.

The first of the pre-Qualified crews are from the Netherlands, Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Nereus and Delftsche Studenten. Their crew is Haye Dijkstra, Bo Wullings, Louis Stolper and Mick Makker. This quartet raced at the Poznan World Cup a few weeks ago finishing 16th. Earlier in the season they won gold at the Bosbaan Regatta and finished 2ndat the RaceRoei Regatta.         Wullings also raced for the Netherlands at the World Championships in 2017, finishing 13thin the M2-

Cambridge University and Leander Club are the likely Great Britain U23 BM4-. The crew is David Ambler, Tom Digby, Charlie Elwes and Freddie Davidson. Ambler was a member of the Harvard Varsity 8 that finished 3rdat the IRA Championships. He raced in the BM4- at last year’s U23 World Championships, winning the silver medal. Elwes was also in the U23 BM4- last season, he’s also been a regular member of the Yale varsity crew that went unbeaten this season, including retaining their IRA title. Digby, the Yale Captain for the 2019-20 season, is a two-time U23 silver medallist, he won silver in the BM4- in 2017 (with Elwes) and then silver in the BM8 in 2018. Davidson is the only non-US educated athlete in the crew. He’s a Cambridge Blue and will be the CUBC President for the 2020 Boat Race campaign. He was also in the BM* that won silver last year.

The next crew to go straight through to the man draw are Cercle De L’Aviron De Lyon and Aviron Grenoblois, France. The crew is Gabriel Alardet, M Masse, Damien Gallet & Jean Noury. Gallet and Noury are both former members of the French U23 team.

There is a 2ndDutch crew that has pre-qualified, Koninklijke Studenten Roeivereeniging Njord, The Netherlands. They are Jelle Algie, Ben Tepstra, Ewoud De Haan and Gerard van der Velden. This season they raced at both the Bosbaan Regatta and the RaceRoei Regatta. At the Bosbaan they finished 2ndand at the RaceRoei they were 5th(beaten both times by the Nereus/Deftsche composite.

Oxford Brookes University. This crew is steered by Olympic silver Medallist, Pete Chambers (who recently announced his retirement from international rowing). Chambers is joined by Cameron Spurling, Barnaby Fox, and Chris Tebb. They were all members of the Brookes 3rd8 that finished 5that the Wedau Regatta (in a race where Brookes had 3 8’s in the top 5. As a M4- they raced at Marlow Regatta winning the gold by 4 seconds ahead of the Visitors entry from the University of British Columbia (see below).

Ruder-Club Favorite Hammonia Hamburg and Ruderverein Münster,Germany look to be a German U23 crew, Nils Vorberg, Ollie Kruse, Sebastian Ritter and Alex Vollmer. Vorberg raced in the U23 BM2- last season finishing 6th, Vollmer raced in the same boat class the year before, and Kruse is a World Junior champion from 2017.

A 2ndGerman crew have also pre-qualified, Ruderclub Germania Düsseldorf Von 1904 and Crefelder Ruderclub 1883 E.V.This is another predominantly U23 crew, with Jacob Schulte-Bockholt and Jakob Gebel from the 2018 BM8 that finished 4thand Anton Schulz from the U23 BM8 that finished 5thin 2017. The stroke of the crew is listed as M Korge, which is most probably Max Korge, who raced in the M4- at the Rio Olympics finishing 12th. At Ratzeburg Regatta they won M4- beating the composite from Favorite Hammonia Hamburg  & Münster, by 4 seconds.

Syracuse University, USA have come to Henley with half of the Varsity 8 that finished 9that the IRA Championships, Matt Barni, Forrest Sears, Laurence Joss and Kyle Leimeister. Joss is a former member of the Tideway Scullers School, and represented Great Britain at the European Junior Championships.

Thames Rowing Club and Leander Club are another All-US educated crew. Jens Clausen and Joe Wolfin are both studying at Princeton. Clausen was in the 2ndVarsity crew that won Eastern Sprints, and Wolfin was in the 3rdVarsity crew that placed 4that the IRA’s. Joining themare two of the Brown University Varsity 8, Tom Phelps and Rufus Biggs. These guys are no strangers to Henley and both have winner’s medals.

University College Dublin, Ireland, have a crew full of U23 medallists, Shane O’Connell, Andrew Goff, Shane Mulvaney & David O’Malley. The stern pair of Mulvaney and O’Malley are the reigning U23 BLM2- World Champions, Goff won silver in the BLM4X last year and O’Connell won bronze in the same boat class the year before. They are the 2018 Irish campions in the Senior 4- and the 2019 Irish University Champions.

University of British Columbia, Canada raced at Marlow Regatta less than 48 hours after arriving in the UK, they finished a strong 2ndto Oxford Brookes in the Cham 4-. Their crew is Clark Schultz, Ryan Beach, Brendan Wall and Karl Zimmerman. Schultz and Wall finished 12thin the U23 BM4- last year and Zimmerman was a member of the Canadian U23 team in 2016.

The final pre-qualified crew are the Kiwis from Waikato Rowing Club and Tauranga Rowing Club, New Zealand. They could well be the dark horses of the event and have some of the most experienced oarsmen. Martyn O’Leary, Charles Rogerson & Axel Dickinson are all recent senior internationals. The final member of the crew is Newcastle University graduate Will New. O’Leary was a member of the New Zealand senior M8 at last year’s World Championships whilst Rogerson rowed in the M2- at the Lucerne World Cup in 2018 and Dickinson in the pair at the 3rdWorld Cup in 2016.

Leander Club are the defending champions in this event, but this year’s crew face a tough battle to retain their title. Alex Langstone Bolt, Ryan Todhunter, Elliot Kemp and Jack Godsen-Kaye. All but Todhunter are all students at the University of California, Berkeley. Langstone Bolt was a member of the outstanding St Paul’s School 1st8 that won the Princess Elizabeth last year and both he and Kemp rowed in the 3rdVarsity at the IRA’s finishing 5th. Gosden-Kaye (who has just completed his Senior year) won silver in the 2V at the 2018 IRA Championships and rowed in the 1stVarsity boat at this year’s IRA’s finishing 4th. Ryan Todhunter is a fulltime oarsman at Leander.

Oxford University are fielding a crew of four Blues from this year’s losing Boat Race crew, Charlie Pearson, Ben Landis, Tobias Schroder and Augustin Wambersie. 

Isis Boat Club and Oxford Universityare steered by Charlie Buchanan who rowed in the 7 seat of this year’s Oxford Blue Boat. He’s joined by three members of this year’s Isis crew, Nick Elkington, Luke Robinson and Joshua Bowesman-Jones. As a M4- they won the Tier2 event at Marlow Regatta.

Thames Boat Club are all experienced Henley campaigners. Three of the crew, Ian Hurley, Sam Thornton and Luke Wertheim won the Thames Cup last year. Stroking the crew is former New Zealand international, Nick Pusinelli. He won this event with Thames back in 2016.

My picks….The Kiwis look very good, I think they will pip the young GB U23 boat (assuming the draw allows).

 

prince_of_wales

The Prince of Wales Challenge Cup (Men’s Intermediate 4X)

Holders: Algemene Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereniging Skøll, Netherlands

Entries: 29 (2018: 33)

To be reduced to 16 entries by qualifying races

The Dutch from Algemene Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereniging Skøll are back to defend the title they won in 2018, this time in a composite with Algemene Utrechtse. Thye have two of the victorious crew from last year, Job Huigsloot and Leonard Van Lieorp. This year they are joined by Daan Klomp and Guido de Ruijter. They raced at the Bosbaan Regatta at the beginning of June, winning the Open M4X.

 

The 2ndPre-Qualified crew are Community Rowing Association, USA. Hailing from Boston, this crew includes Michael Coella who race for the USA in the M2- at the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. Joining him is Alexander Dillon, Head Coach at Boston College (who race in the Princess Elizabeth) and former Northeastern University rower Trevor Appier.

The third Pre-Qualified crew are the Great Britain U23 quad, racing as Edinburgh University and Nottingham Rowing Club. This crew is George Bourne, Matt Haywood, Josh Armstrong and Sam Meijer. All but Bourne were members of the GB U23 BM4X last year that won gold at the World Championships. Bourne was selected to race for Great Britain at the European 23 Championships in the M1X last year, where he finished 5th. This season the quartet raced at Marlow Regatta, winning the Champ 4X event.

Leander Club have won this event for 8 of the last 10 years and they will be strong contenders again this year. Their crew is Victor Kleshnev, James Cartwright, Seb Devereux and Sam McKeown. Kleshnev was a Henley finalist in the Fawley last year and a two-time world junior silver medallist. Cartwright was a crew-mate of Kleshnev’s in the JM4X that won world silver last year. Seb Devereux is an experienced Henley campaigner having raced in the Fawley and even faced Mahe Drysdale in the Diamonds in 2015. In 2107 he partnered Sam Meijer to gold in the U23 BM2X. This crew finished 2ndto the Edingburgh/Nottingham composite at Marlow Regatta.

Reading University have two crews in the main draw, their A Crew is Sean O’Mahony, Luke Reiser, Rory Harris & George Lawton. All four of these athletes raced last year (in either the A or B crews. At The BUCS Regatta they finished 4thand then at Marlow they took 3rd.

There are three German crews in this event, the first is Ruder-Club Potsdam and Ruderverein Münster.This crew is Tim Liebrich, Kas Ole Lass, Merlin Schmid and Joscha Feder. Lass represented Germany at the 2018 Junior World Championships, winning gold in the JM2X. Liebrich finished 7thin the BM4X at the European U23 Championships and Schmid is also a Junior World Championship medallist. Feder and Schmid raced in Ratzeburg in June finishing 3rdin the M2X.

The 2ndGerman crew are a lightweight quad from Rudergesellschaft “Hansa” Hamburg. They are stroked by senior lightweight international, Konstantin Steinhübel, he raced in the LM2X at the 2018 World Championships and is a former European bronze medallist. Joining Steinhübel are Paul-Nelson Becker, Tilman Dreyer and Jacob Müller.

The third German boat is from Rudern Tennis Und Hockey Club Bayer Leverkusen. They reached the semi-final last year and have one of the crew returning, Michael Weppelmann. He’s joined by two Lightweight World Champions, Patrick Stoecker and Cedric Kulbach.

The final pre-qualified crew are Schuylkill Navy High Performance Centre of the USA. Christopher Shirley, Eliot Putnam, William Burstein and Charles Anderson. They are all members of Penn Athletic Club and competed in doubles at the 2ndUS Speed Order Trials in May. Anderson placed 4thwith Burstein and Shirley finishing 2ndand 3rdin the B Final and Putnam 2ndin the C Final. Anderson and Burstein have a Henley Winners medal, although it’s of the Canadian variety.

Of the crews that came through qualifying, the University of London Boat Club and Edinburgh University Boat Club have shown the best form this season. Jonas Weller, Oliver Varley, Matthew Curtis and Dale Flockhart finished 4thin  Champ 4X at Marlow Regatta. Weller won silver for Germany in the BLM4X at the U23 World Championships in 2016, Oliver Varley and Matthew Curtis were in the GB boat that beat Weller to the gold. Flockart also has U23 representative honours to his credit, having raced in the U23 BLM4X last season.

The crew from Gloucester Rowing Club, Tom Jenkinson, James Mackman, Alex Astbury and Ben Harris. They finished 6that Marlow.

One place behind Gloucester were the crew from The Windsor Boys School and the Windsorian Boat Club. Steered by former World Championship bronze medallist, Adam Freeman-Pask, he’s joined by Julian Van Gelderen who competed for Great Britain at the European Junior Rowing Championships in May, Bryn Ellery who won silver at the Junior World Championships last year, and Andy Joel who finished 4thin the BM4X at the 2017 U23 World Championships. This crew raced at Marlow Regatta, winning Tier 2 M4X.

Also racing are crews from Agecroft Rowing Club (5thin Tier 2 Quads at Marlow),Newcastle University and Itchen Imperial Rowing Club (11thin Marlow), Nottingham University (2ndin Lightweight Champ 4X at BUCS and 2ndin Tier 2 4X at Marlow) and Reading University B who came 9thin Marlow.

 

My picks…Edinburgh University and Nottingham Rowing Club (the Great Britain U23 crew) look to be the strongest crew in the field.

 

Fatsculler’s Henley Preview part 1: The Open Events

Henley-Regatta1_01

It’s that time again, its Henley time! Woo hoo….the best regatta in the world. So that means it’s also time for my “world famous” entries preview.

This year’s regatta sees a record-breaking entry of 660 crews entered for 340 places. However, behind the headlines the entries in some events (particularly The Grand, Stewards and Queen Mother) are disappointingly small. There’s also an extra, special event this year – The King’s Cup (but more on that later).

So, without further ado here are my thoughts on the entries for the Open events.

 

grand

Th Grand Challenge Cup

The Grand Challenge Cup (Men’s Open 8’s)

Holders: Georgina Hope Rinehart National Training Centre, Australia

Entries: 2 (2018: 3)

 

A straight final between Great Britain (racing as Oxford Brookes University and Leander Club) and New Zealand (Waiariki rowing Club, New Zealand). This promises to be a really interesting contest. The Brookes/Leander boat is the no.1 men’s boat for Great Britain and includes Olympic champion Moe Sbihi. Chief Coach Juergen Grobler, has slowly been building this crew throughout the Olympiad. 2017 saw them miss the A-final at the World Championships, then in 2018 they took the bronze medal. So far this season they have raced at the European Championships and stepped up one place to take the silver. With the trajectory they are on, and with potentially stronger athletes to come in, they are looking strong contenders for gold come the World Championships in Linz.

There has been a huge amount of anticipation and expectation on the New Zealand men’s 8, principally as the crew includes two of the biggest names in world rowing, Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale. Both of these men are familiar with the delights of racing at Henley, Drysdale has 6 wins in the Diamonds (and is also trying for a 7ththis year) ,Bond has three Silver Goblets wins to his name and returned to the sport of rowing after a couple of years on the New Zealand cycling team. The New Zealand M8 is another project that has had a fairly long gestation. 6that the Rio Olympics they had a disastrous end to the 2018 when they finished last at the World Championships. But, the addition of Drysdale and Bond has reinvigorated the Kiwis and their first test is at the Poznan World Cup this weekend. At the time of writing they have reached the A-Final by finishing 3rdin the Rep with the British qualifying direct by winning their heat.

 

Verdict: should be a good race, but I’m giving to the British by a length.

 

 

remenham

Th Remenham Challenge Cup

The Remenham Challenge Cup (Women’s Open 8’s)

Holders: Georgina Hope Rinehart National Training Centre, Australia

Entries: 16 (2018:19)

To be reduced to 12 entries by qualifying races

 

This has the makings of a three-way battle between the national women’s crews from Great Britain, The Netherlands and New Zealand.

Great Britain (Imperial College London and Leander Club) have a couple of survivors from the crew that won silver at the Rio Olympics (Zoe Lee and Karen Bennett. Like the GB Men’s 8, this crew has been a work-in-progress for the past few years. They have been consistently in the A-Final at the World Championships, although not among the medals. This season they’ve made a good start, taking the silver medal at the European Championships just 0.6sec behind Romania. At the Poznan World Cup this weekend they finished in a solid bronze medal position behind Australia and the USA. It’s been 5 years since a British crew has won this event, but this year’s British squad will be fancying their chances.

 

New Zealand (Waiariki Rowing Club),  last won this event in 2017. The line-up listed for Henley is slightly different to that racing at the Poznan World Cup this weekend with the NZL W2- of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast coming in in place of Ruby Tew and Kristyn Goodger. Prendergast and Gowler (the 2017 W2- World Champions) are also doubling-up in the Hambleden Pairs.

 

The Netherlands (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland) are yet to win this event, but have been finalists twice (losing to Princeton Training Center in 2006 and Leander and Imperial College in 2014).  At the 2018 World Championships they finished 4thand so far this season they’ve raced once at the European Championships finishing 4thout of the 4 entries.

 

Germany are represented by a crew from Crefelder Ruderclub 1883 E.V and Kettwigger Rudergesellchaft E.V.  This is a strong crew made up of recent U23 internationals, including 2017 bronze medallist Leonie Neuhaus.

 

University of London and Molesey Boat Club is the GB development crew which includes last year’s Hambleden Pairs winner Heidi Long (who went on to win silver at the U23 World Championships and now studies at the University of Virginia). Also in the crew is former senior international Georgia Francis, and Leander athlete Natasha Harris-White, a gold medallist in the W8 at the FISU Championships last year. They raced in Championship 8’s at Henley Women’s Regatta beating DSRV Laga in the final.

 

Thames Rowing Club have a long tradition in this event and were winners back in 2005. This year’s crew have been racing domestically and were winners at Wallingford Regatta and finished 2ndat the Metropolitan Regatta. At Henley Women’s Regatta they won the Aspirational Clubs division defeating City of Bristol in the final.

 

Oxford Brookes University are the dominant force in men’s rowing, but in the Women’s, things are a little tighter. This crew finished 3rdat the BUCS Regatta and then finished 2ndat the Metropolitan Regatta. At Henley Women’s they raced in the Aspirational Academic 8’s category beating Newcastle University in the final.

 

The Tideway Scullers School and Imperial College includes six of the Tideway Scullers crew that won silver in Ghent and followed that with a bronze at the Metropolitan Regatta. They are joined by three members of the Imperial College crew that finished 6that the BUCS Regatta.

 

There are two student crews from The Netherlands, Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereening Nereus and Utrechtsche Studenten, and Roeivereening Studenten Vreie Universitiet Okeanos and Roeivereening Willem III.

The Nereus/Utrecht combination raced at the Bosbaan Regatta at the beginning of June finishing 3rd. Last weekend they competed at the RaceRoei Regatta placing 5th.

The Okeanos/Willem III crew also raced at the RaceRoei Regatta and finished 1 place higher than they compatriots. Qualifying between these two should be very competitive.

 

University College Dublin will have their work cut out to qualify, this crew raced at the recent Irish University Championships finishing 4thin the Intermediate 8’s.

 

Also hoping to qualify for the main draw are Edinburgh University (who lost in the 1stRound as Aspirational Academic 8’s at Henley Women’s Regatta), Headington School, Oxford (which includes former GB international Katie Greves), Exeter University, The Lea (who finished 5that the Metropolitan Regatta) and Molesey Boat Club (5that the Ghent Regatta).

 

My picks…..The GB women put on a good performance at the World Cup, defeating the Kiwis, and they beat the Dutch at the European Championships. So, they will be heading into Henley as marginal favourites. But it’ll be interesting to see who they face in the final.

 

 

stewards

The Stewards Challenge Cup

The Stewards Challenge Cup (Men’s Open 4-)

Holders: Leander Club

Entries: 2 (2018: 2)

 

An all British affair. This sees the no.1 and no.2 Great Britain men’s fours face each other. The number one crew, racing as Oxford Brookes University and Leander Club is Sholto Carnegie, Rory Gibbs, Matt Rossiter and Ollie Cook. This was a new combination put together at the start of the season. Things looked positive in their first outing, winning at the Wedau Regatta. At the European Championships they really laid down a marker taking the gold medal. At the Poznan World Cup however they didn’t quite fire allowing the rest of the to get the jump on them, ending up 4th.

The 2ndGB boat are racing as Leander Club. Will Satch, Al Sinclair, Adam Neill and Tom Jeffery. Olympic champion Satch and fellow Olympian Sinclair, are both returning from injury so are certainly not at full throttle. They raced at the Poznan World Cup as GBR2 finishing 6thin the B-Final.

Based on these results alone it should be a comfortable win for the A crew.

 

 

town challenge

The Town Challenge Cup

The Town Challenge Cup (Women’s Open 4-)

Holders: University of London & Leander Club

Entries: 19 (2018: 15)

To be reduced to 8 by Qualifying Races.

 

Five crews have been pre-qualified, all of them National team crews. First up are the Chinese National Rowing Team. It’s no surprise that China have come to Henley in force, given the Chairman of the Regatta is also the Director of Coaching of the Chinese Rowing Federation….a certain Sir Steve Redgrave! This Chinese boat will probably start as favourites. The crew of Zifeng Wang, Xingye Xu, Min Zhang and Fei Wang. were bronze medallists at the 1stWorld Cup in Plovdiv, they have a mix of youth and experience with the 20-year-old Zeifang Wang and Xingue Xu joining the more experienced Min Zhang and Fei Wang. Min Zhang and Fei Wang raced in this boat class at the 2018 Worlds finishing 6th. Xu raced in the W8 last season and Zeifang Wang won bronze in the U23 BW4- in 2018. At the Poznan World Cup they had a great race against a strong Danish four, just being pipped to the gold medal.

The Dutch have two crews entered,  both racing as Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland. The A Crew is the current Dutch W4-, Ellen Hogerwerf, Karolien Florijn, Ymke Clevering & Veronique Meester. They’ve had an excellent start to the 2019 season, winning at the 1stWorld Cup and then taking gold at the European Championships. Hogerwerf is the most experienced of the quartet having been a member of the Dutch W8 at the Rio Olympics.

The 2ndDutch crew are doubling-up in the Remenham as part of the W8, Kirsten Wielard, Marloes Oldenburg, Lies Rustenburg and Monica Lanz. Stern pair Rustenburg and Lanz were both member of the Dutch Olympic W8 that finished 6thin Rio. More recently they’ve been racing in the W8 that finished 4thin the world last year and then 4that the European Championships.

 

There are also to British squad boats racing, Leander Club and Molesey  and Leander Club and the University of London. The Leander/Molesey crew are the current GB W4-, Sara Parfett, Caragh McMurtry, Rebecca Girling and Emily Ford. Parfett and McMurtry were in the W4- that finished 7that the World Championships last year and this season they have been joined by Girling and Ford who raced in the W8 at the Worlds. Their 2019 season has got off to a solid, if unspectacular, start. At the European Championships they reached the A-Final finishing 6th, 13 seconds behind the top Dutch crew in gold. At the Poznan World Cup (in a much stronger field) they raced well in reaching the A-Final, but were again some way off the medal placings. But, it was an encouraging performance against some quality opposition. They’ll be relishing the opportunity to take on the Dutch and Chinese in a match racing format.

The Leander/UL quartet includes three of the crew that raced as GBR2 at the Poznan World Cup, Sam Courty, Holly Hill and Annie Withers. At Poznan they raced with former World Champion, Polly Swann, and took 7thoverall. For Henley Swann is replaced by Oonagh Cousins. She made her senior international debut in Poznan racing in the W2- that finished 21stoverall. Courty and Withers raced as the GB W2- at the European Championship this season, finishing 6th, and Holly Hill was part of the W2- that just missed the medals at the 2017 World Championships.

 

The remaining 14 crews are all vying for the remaining 3 spots and will have to race at the Qualifiers on Friday. There’s one overseas crew involved in Qualifiers, Amsterdamschie Studenten Roeivereenniging Nereus and Roeivereeniging Studenten Vreie. This is a Dutch development crew with Hijleke Nauta, Trinka Offereins, Kim Janssen and Miriam Visser. As a crew they won at the Bosbaan Regatta at the beginning of June and then raced at the Poznan World Cup where they finished 14th. Nauta and Visser were both members of the U23 BW8 that won silver at last year’s U23 World Championships.

 

The University of London have two crews entered and they will have high hopes of qualifying their top boat. In this crew are Georgina Robinson, Issie Powell, Emily Lindberg and Alice Davies. All four have represented Great Britain in some form or other. Robinson sculled at the youth Olympics last year and Davies and Powell have both raced at the U23 World Championships. As a crew they won the Championship coxed Fours at BUCS and then won the coxless fours at the Metropolitan Regatta at Dorney Lake. At Henley Women’s Regatta they lost narrowly to a crew from Edinburgh University. UL’s 2ndcrew of Dyke, Pierce, Milborne and Lovett may struggle to get in the top three at qualifiers. They raced in the Aspirational Academic division at Henley Women’s losing in the semi-finals to Glasgow University.

 

As well as their two national squad composite boats, Leander Club have a full entry of their own. The crew of Rachel Heap, Charlotte Fennell, Molly Caesar and Juliette Perry are all U23’s and part of the Leander development squad. They raced in the Championship 4-‘s at Henley Women’s Regatta losing to a crew from the US Naval Academy in the 2ndround.

 

Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club  have a crew which includes three of this year’s victorious Blue Boat, Lily Lindsay, Kate Horvat and Sophie Deans. They are joined by Blondie oarswoman Adriana Perez Rotondo. During the regatta season this crew (with Larkin Sayre racing instead of Sophie Deans) won Champ 4-‘s at the BUCS Regatta.

 

Not to be outdone by their Light Blue rivals, Oxford University Women’s Boat Club have also got an entry in this event. Their crew are all from this year’s losing Blue Boat; Amelia Standing, Renee Koolschijn, Tina Christmann and Beth Bridgman. They raced at Henley Women’s coming up against the US Naval Academy in the first round of Champ 4-.

 

Newcastle University have been the top women’s University 8 this season. They won at BUCS, at the Metropolitan Regatta. They were unlucky to come up against an outstanding Dutch crew from Laga early on at Henley Women’s. They’ve taken three members of that crew, Hannah Cowie, Kate Wooley and Frances Russell and moved into the 4- for Henley Royal. The fourth member of the crew is Anna Van Den Braak who was in the Aspirational Academic W8 that reached the final at Henley Women’s.

 

Thames Rowing Club and Tideway Scullers School have been racing each other all season. It came to a head in a dramatic final of Aspirational Club 4-‘s at Henley Women’s Regatta. Despite severe clashes just after the start, the two crews recovered and raced neck and neck down the course only for the umpire to disqualify Thames at the finish.

 

My picks….I’m expecting a China v Holland final, with the Chinese getting the win.

 

 

queen_mother

The Queen Mother Challenge Cup

The Queen Mother Challenge Cup (Men’s Open 4X)

Holders: Leander Club and Agecroft Rowing Club

Entries: 2 (2018:2)

 

Another Open event with a straight final (for the 3rdyear in a row). This year sees the Great Britain men’s quad (racing as Leander Club)  take on a crew from Frankfurter Rudergesellschaft Germania 1869 E.V, Germany.  2019 marks a special year for Frankfurt as it’s their 150thanniversary, an event which is being marked at the Regatta with a row past during the tea interval on Saturday.

The Leander crew; Jack Beaumont, Angus Groom, Jonny Walton & Pete Lambert are some of the most experienced members of the GB squad, with all four of them having raced at the Olympics. They’ve had a mixed season so far this year, a bronze medal at the. Europeans was followed by a disappointing 5that the Poznan World Cup.

The Frankfurt crew are lightweights, Sven Kessler, Johannes Ursprung, Julian Schneider and Johannes Birkhan. Kessler is the most experienced of the quartet, and is a world champion in the LM8 from 2014. He was the Lightweight spare for the 2016 Olympics and then won bronze in the LM4- in 2017. Ursrung is another lightweight world champion, having taken gold in the LW4X at the 2017 Worlds. Schneider is a two-time U23 medallist and Birkhan has won a number of medals at the German Sprint Championships.

 

Verdict: this should be a comfortable win for Leander

 

princess_grace

The Princess Grace Challenge Cup

The Princess Grace Challenge Cup (Women’s Open 4X)

Holders: Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club and Imperial College London

Entries: 17 (2018: 17)

To be reduced to 8 by qualifying races.

 

Of the 17 entries only 3 have been pre-qualified and they are the national squad crews from Great Britain, China and The Netherlands. The remaining 14 crews will be battling it out for the last 5 spots.

 

The Great Britain crew (racing as Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club and Reading Rowing Club), are Jess Leyden, Melissa Wilson, and the Hodgkins-Byrne sisters, Mathilda and Charlotte. The GB W4X has for some time been something of a “problem child” for the British team, it was the only crew boat not to qualify for the Rio Olympics and failed to make the A Final at any World Championships during that Olympiad. But, so far in the Tokyo Olympiad things are definitely improving, and in 2017 GB took bronze at the World Championships (their first medal since 2010). This year’s crew is looking very strong and made a solid start to their 2019 season with a 5thplace at the European Championships.

 

The Chinese National Rowing Team  look like the crew to beat this season. Their crew of Yunxia Chen, Ling Zhang, Yang Liu and Xiaotong Cui produced a masterful performance at the Poznan World Cup, destroying the rest of the field to win by 4 seconds. They also won at the first World Cup and will be heading towards the World Championships as favourites. Ling Zhang and Yang Lyu both raced at the Rio Olympics (Zhang coming 6thin the W4X and Lyu 11thin the W2X).

 

The Netherlands (racing as Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland) are one of the strongest nations in this boat class in recent years, they’ve made the podium at every World Championships since 2015 and are Olympic silver medallists. Their crew for Henley is Roos De Jong, Inge Janssen, Sophie Souwer and Olivia Van Rooijen. Only Janssen remains from the Olympic silver medal crew, but Souwer and Van Rooijen both rowed in the Olympic W8 in Rio before moving across to the quad in 2017. So far this season they’ve made an impressive start to their season, taking silver behind the Chinese at the first World Cup and another silver behind the Germans at the Europeans.

 

Of the crews required to qualify, there are two entries from Dutch student clubs, the pick of which looks to be Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Nereus and Koninklijke Studenten. This crew contains three of the 2018 U23 BW4X silver medallists, Martine Van den Boomgaard, Minke Holleboom & Mieke Wilms. The fourth member of the crew is former U23 international Margriet Lantink. They raced at the Raceroei Regatta earlier this month finishing 3rdbehind the Dutch senior and U23 quads.

The 2ndDutch crew aiming for qualification are Algemene Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereerniging Skøll. They finished 2ndat the Bosbaan Regatta and then 5that the RaceRoei.

 

There are two entries from the USA. Advanced Rowing Initiative of the Northeast  are a division of the Saratoga Rowing Association and is used as a development pathway for the US national team. Their crew are Kara Soucek, Maureen Mcauliffe, Kristi Wagner and Lily Keane. Soucek and Mcauliffe already have senior representative honours to their credit having raced in the US W4X at the 2018 World Championships finishing 6th. Mcauliffe also teamed up with Keane to win the Champ W2X at the Head of The Charles and Wagner has a winner’s medal from Canadian Henley. At the recent US trials Keane and Wagner finished 3rdin the W2X.

The second US entry are Community Rowing, Boston. His crew is led by 2015 World Champion and Rio Olympian, Grace Luczak. She’s joined by Sera Bulbul, a Swiss national who was a member of the Yale University Varsity 4 that won the Ivy League Championships. Also in the crew is U23 international Sydney Michalak and University of Michigan student Meaghan Faucher (who stroked the Michigan 1stVarsity 8 throughout the 2018-19 season.

 

Among the domestic crews trying to qualify, the University of London and The Tideway Scullers School  composite stand out. They were winners of W4X on the Sunday of Metropolitan Regatta and then runners-up at Henley Women’s Regatta to a GB U23 composite, and the crew includes two former GB senior lightweight internationals, Fran Rawlins and Robyn Hart-Winks. They are joined by Katy Wilkinson, who sculled for GB at the European U23’s and Ros Wilson, a former Henley Women’s semi-finalist and GB trialist.

 

Molesey Boat Club (Emma McDonald, Lucy Primmer, Xanthe Weatherhead and Gabby Rodriguez) were winners at Ghent Regatta. At Henley Women’s Regatta they lost to the UL/TSS composite in the 2ndround.

 

Leander Club also raced at Henley Women’s Regatta, losing to the U23 composite in the 2ndRound. Leander have Anna Porteous, Emily Ashford, Emily Carmichael and Lucy Meridew. Porteous is a graduate of the University of Washington and was in the crew that won the Pac-12 Championships. Both Ashford and Carmichael have represented Great Britain at senior level, Ashford in the W4- at the 2018 World championships and Carmichael in the W2X at the 2017 Europeans.

 

 

My picks. This should be a good contest between the three International squad crews. China did look very, very good at the Poznan World Cup. I’ll pick them for the win.

 

double_sculls

The Double Sculls Challenge Cup

The Double Sculls Challenge Cup (Men’s Open 2X)

Holders: A.J. Groom & J.R.A Beaumont, Leander Club

Entries: 23 (2018: 17)

To be reduced to 12 by qualifying races

 

There are four senior international crews entered in this event, those from Great Britain, New Zealand, Argentina and Zimbabwe

The Great Britain double are John Collins and Graeme Thomas (racing as Leander Club and Agecroft Rowing Club). This duo have been members of the GB team for the last 7-8 years and have a host of world Cup and World Championship medals between them. They formed a new double at the start of the season placing 4thin their first competition together at the Europeans. At the Poznan World Cup they had a superb race, just being overhauled by the Swiss in the final 100 metres ending up with the silver medal.

 

Racing as Waiariki Rowing Club, New Zealand, John Storey and Chris Harris. They are a highly experienced duo, both of whom raced at both the London and Rio Olympics. They formed a double in 2017, going unbeaten throughout the season, winning this event and taking World Championship gold. They’ve been less dominant since, taking bronze at the 2018 World Championships and then slipping back into the C Final in their first outing of the 2019 season in Poznan.

 

The Argentinian double of Rodrigo Murillo and Cristian Rosso are racing as Club San Fernando and Club De Remo Atlantis. They have been racing together as a double since 2015. They finished 13thin 2017 and at the Poznan World Cup this season they finished 16th.

 

Racing as Molesey Boat Club  are the Zimbabwean duo of Stephen Cox and Peter Purcell-Gilpin. They raced together at the 2018 World Championships placing 2ndin the D-Final (20thoverall). They raced at the 1stWorld Cup finishing 11thout of 12 crews

 

For the first time at Henley Regatta there is an entry from Saudi-Arabia with Moe Hadhrawi and Sultan Alshali (Saudi Rowing Federation, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). The Stewards have ensured that the Saudi’s have a boat in the draw as they have pre-qualified this crew. They raced at Marlow Regatta (competing as Dorney Boat Club), finishing 10thin the Champ 2X. The crew are coached by legendary Tideway Scullers coach Bill Barry (now chief coach for the Saudi Rowing Federation).

 

A win at Marlow Regatta secured David Potter and Alex Adrienne from De Montfort University pre-qualification. The result at Marlow was a great step on for this double, who placed 5that BUCS earlier in the season.

 

Another crew excused the perils of Qualifying are Artym Hayda and Hector Formoso-Murias from Georgetown University, USA. They are both members of the Georgetown Lightweight programme. Formoso-Murias raced for the USA at the U23 World Championships in 2015, finishing 14th. Hayda is a two-time US Junior sculling champion, and rowed in the Georgetown Lightweight Varsity 8 that won the Petite final at the IRA Championships this season.

 

2ndin Champ 2X at Marlow Regatta were Matt Cummings and Zack Youell of Thames Rowing Club.  So far this season they’ve taken wins at Wallingford Regatta and on the Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta taking the win in Open 2X.

 

John Heuchan and Ben Parsonage (Strathclyde Park Rowing Club and Strathclyde University) were runners-up at the Scottish Championships this season. In 2018 they both represented Scotland at the Home International Regatta in Cork, taking the win in the M2X.

 

Nathan Hull and Ollie Dix (Queen’s University Belfast & Leander Club) both raced at the final GB trials in April finishing 15thand 14threspectively. They are both still U23, Hull raced at the European Universities championships finishing 5thin the M2X. Dix raced at the European Universities Championships the previous year, finishing 7thin the M1X, he was also a member of the Leander M4X that won the British Championships.

 

3rdplace at Marlow were James Scott and Tom Foster (Upper Thames Rowing Club and Sabrina Club). Foster was an Oxford triallist in 2017, racing as Isis at the Head of the River Fours. He went on to race for his College in the Visitors losing to a strong Leander crew. Scott is a former GB Trialist, and finalist at Marlow Regatta in the 1X in the previous few years.

 

My picks…this should come down to a battle between Great Britain and New Zealand. Based on form so far this season, you’d have to give it to the home crew.

 

 

stonor

The Stonor Challenge Trophy

The Stonor Challenge Trophy (Women’s Open 2X)

Holders: C Hodgkins-Byrne & A Thornton, University of London and Nottingham Rowing Club

Entries: 17 (2018: 13)

To be reduced to 8 by qualifying races

 

Six crews have been pre-Qualified by the Stewards, they are then national teams from Germany, China and two each from The Netherlands and New Zealand.

 

Favourites will be the no.1 New Zealand crew of Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe (racing as Waiariki Rowing Club crew 595). They won this event when it was introduced in 2017. Their partnership in the double started at the beginning of the 2017 season and they went unbeaten throughout 2017 winning the World Championships in Florida. They started 2018 as they left off, with wins at both the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. But, at the 2018 World Championships they suffered their first defeat when they were beaten to the gold medal by the Lithuanians. They started the 2019 season in impressive style winning at the Poznan World Cup.

The no.2 New Zealand Boat (also racing as Waiariki Rowing Club crew 603) are Hannah Osborne and Samantha Voss. Osborne filled the W1X slot post-Rio and Voss made her senior debut at the Poznan World Cup, as the reigning U23 BW1X World Champion. They were slated to race as a Double at Poznan but withdrew due to illness to Osborne. Voss then raced in the W1X finishing 8th.

 

The German entry, (Heilbronner Rudergesellschaft Schwaben v. 1879 e.V. and Ruderklub am Wannsee, Berlin) has the experienced international pairing of Carina Baer and Julia Richter. They were both members of the W4X that won silver at the London Olympics, Baer went on to win gold in the quad in Rio. They both have a host of European Championship, World Championship and World Cup medals between them.

 

The Netherlands entry (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland crew 599are the reigning World Championship bronze medallists, Marieke Keijser and Isle Paulis. Paulis won gold in the LW2X at the Rio Olympics with Keijser winning U23 gold that year. They formed a partnership in 2017, winning silver at the Europeans and gold a year later. One of the great things about Henley is the opportunity to see the top Lightweights mix it with the open-weights.

 

The 2ndDutch entry (also Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland crew 605) look to be a new W2X combination with Lisa Scheenaard and Nicole Beukers. Beukers was in the W4X that won silver at the Rio Olympics and last raced at the World’s in 2018taking the bronze. Scheenaard raced in the W2X last year with Roos De Jong, finishing 5th. So far this season she’s been racing in the W1X (and is doubling-up at Henley in the Princess Royal) winning in Plovdiv and finishing 6that the Europeans.

 

The final pre-qualified crew are from the Chinese National Rowing Team with Shiyu Wu and Yuwei Wang. They made a strong start to the 2019 season taking the win at the 1stWorld Cup. 20-year-old Lu made her senior debut last year and her gold in Plovdiv marked her first medal (and first A-Final) as a senior athlete. Wang is far more experienced having made her senior debut in 2014. She raced in the W4X at the Rio Olympics and then finished 4that the 2018 World Championships. At the 2ndWorld Cup in Poznan they placed 5th.

 

The remaining 11 crews are vying for just 2 remaining spots.

One of the strongest contenders will be Leander Club, Beth Bryan and Katy Maitland. This duo won The W Peer Cup at Henley Women’s Regatta this year. Bryan is a former GB international and won bronze in the W4X at the 2018 World Championships. Maitland is a graduate of Duke University competing at the NCAA Championships.

 

Reading University and Newcastle University look to be a potential U23 or EUSA LW2X crew with Chloe Knight and Fiona Chestnutt. Knight (from Reading) won Champ 2X and Champ W4X at BUCS (with Chestnutt in the crew that finished 2nd). At the GB final trials they were the top 2 U23 lightweights.

 

An exciting young crew, and the potential GB JW2X, are Lauren Henry and Olivia Morgan (Leicester Rowing Club and Shiplake College).They won Rosie Mayglothing Bowl for Aspirational 2X at Henley Women’s Regatta. Earlier this season they won gold at the Munich Junior Regatta. At the National Schools Regatta at the end of May they finished 2ndand 3rdin Champ Girls 1X.

 

There are three foreign crews that are required to qualify, two from Club NatacióBanyoles, Spain with M Gomez and M Marcado in the no.1 crew and m Montanez and L Lopez in the 2nd. I must admit I no almost nothing about these two boats. I’m also a little in the dark about the 3rdinternational crew required to qualify, X Pan and Q Wen from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China.

 

My pick…..hard to look beyond Donoghue and Loe, but there should be some cracking racing.

 

goblets

The Silver Goblets and Nickalls’ Challenge Cup

The Silver Goblets & Nickalls’ Challenge Cup. (Men’s Open 2-)

Holders: M. Sinkovic & V. Sinkovic, Croatia

Entries: 10 (2018:18)

 

A relatively weak field compared to previous years, with three national team pairs from Argentina, Ireland and the Netherlands.

The pair from Argentina (racing as Club San Fernando and Club De Remo Teutonia)are Ivan Carino and Francisco Esteras. They raced as ARG1 at the Poznan World Cup finishing 18th

 

Ireland have the World Champion LM2- turned heavyweight M2- with Shane O’Driscoll and Mark O’Donovan (Skibbereen Rowing Club). They dominated the LM2- event throughout 2017, winning the Europeans, two World Cups and the World Championships. In 2018 they made the decision to step up to the heavyweight division to try and qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. They ended the season with a 16thplace at the World Championships. Henley is their first outing of the season.

 

The Dutch (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland) sees Mitchell Steenman joined by Michiel Oyen. Steenman won this event in 2014 (with Julien Bahain) and 2016 (with Roel Braas – with whom he went on to race at the Rio Olympics). Oyen was U23 World Champion in 2017 and raced at all three World Cups last year. This season he and Steenman have been racing in the M4-, finishing 12that the European Championships.

 

There’s a distinctly antipodean slant to the Yale University pair of Daniel Williamson and Fergus Hamilton. Both are New Zealand citizens (although Hamilton is a dual British/New Zealand citizen who lives in Australia!) Williamson, won bronze in the BM4+ at the U23 World Championships last season, and Hamilton, racing for Australia, won gold in the JM2X in 2017. At Yale, both have just finished their Freshman year, Williamson stroking the 1stVarsity crew to an unbeaten season and IRA Championship and Hamilton raced in the 5 seat of the 2ndVarsity.

 

The 2ndUS entry is from the United States Naval Academy, with Owen Fireburgh and Brandon Sagawina. They were both members of the Navy 1stVarsity that finished 14that the IRA’s. They are part of a sizeable US Naval Academy squad that’s come to Henley this year with the main intention of racing at. The King’s Cup.

 

Among the domestic crews required to qualify, the leading crew look to be Leander Club, with Alex Ball and Tom Ballinger. Ball rowed for Imperial College at Henley last year, winning the Prince Albert Challenge Cup. Ballinger made the semi-finals of the Fawley with Claires Court School in 2017. They raced at Marlow winning the Championship pairs event.

 

Globe Rowing Club, M Coughlan and J Davidson, raced at the Met Regatta, finishing over 30 seconds behind two Glasgow pairs in the straight final.

 

Doncaster Rowing Club (Harry Hogan and Harry Elworthy) raced on Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta finishing 4thin the Open 2-.

 

Tom Burton and Phil Poynter of The Oratory School  are the Head of Rowing and the Head of Geography respectively. Burton is a former senior GB international and raced in the GB M8 at the 2009 World Championships.

 

Jamie-Jack Westfold and Josh McKenzie of Oxford Brookes University Boat Club, were members of the 2ndBrookes intermediate M8 at BUCS.

 

My pick….This “should” be a comfortable win for the Dutch, delivering Mitchell Steenman his 3rdGoblets title. But the young Yale pair and the feisty Irish should make the racing interesting. But, unfortunately, it’s not a “classic” year in this event.

 

 

Hambleden

The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup

The Hambleden Pairs Challenge Cup (Women’s Open 2-)

Holders: H Long & H Scott, Marlow Rowing Club and Baan Rowing Club

Entries: 15 (2018: 6)

To be reduced to 8 by qualifying races.

 

The Stewards have pre-Qualified 5 pairs; 2 from the Dutch national squad, 2 from the Chinese team and one from New Zealand.

Overwhelming favourites for this event are the New Zealanders, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler (Waiariki Rowing Club). They were the inaugural winners of this event in 2017. They were both members of the NZL W8 that finished 4that the Rio Olympics and then moved into the pair for 2017. They went unbeaten throughout 2017 and into 2018, going into the World Championships as hot favourites. But, they came up against an inspired crew from Canada who pushed them into silver. They opened their 2019 season at the Poznan World Cup, winning in convincing style. They are also doubling-up in the W8 in the Remenham.

 

The number 1 Chinese Boat of Xinyu Liuand Rui Ju (Chinese National Rowing Team, crew 560) This pairing were 5thin the world in 2018 and also raced at the 1stWorld Cup in Plovdiv where they finished 4th . They also raced at the Poznan World Cup, reaching the A-Final.

 

The 2ndChinese crew is Miaomiao Qinand Linlin Guo (Chinese Rowing Team, crew 565). This pairing also raced at the Plovdiv World Cup and beat their compatriots ending up 2ndoverall. At the Poznan World Cup they couldn’t repeat the defeat of their team mates and ended up finishing 5thin the B-Final.

 

Of the two Dutch pairs racing, the more experienced are (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland  crew 557 ) Aletta Jorritsma and Jose Van Veen. They were both members of the W8 that finished 4thlast year and both also have Olympic experience. Jorritsma raced in this boat class, finishing 13thand Van Veen was in the Olympic W8 that came 6th. They won at the Plovdiv World Cup and then finished 4that the European Championships.

The 2ndDutch crew (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland crew 554) are Elsbeth Beeres and Laila Youssifou. They raced as the W2X at the European Championships finishing 7th.  They were also both members of the W8 at the 1stWorld Cup that won gold. Last season they raced together at the European Championships winning the silver medal.

 

There are two overseas pairs that will have to go through qualifying. Crew 559 (United States Naval Academy, USA) and crew 567 (Amsterdamsche Studenten Roeivereeniging Nereus and Roeivereeniging RIC, The Netherlands). The US Navy crew is Emily Krulik and Raye Brackett. They were both members of the Navy Varsity 8 that finished 15that the NCAA Championships. The Nereus/RIC composite are Jessy Vermeer and Eve Stewart. Vermeer sculled for the Netherlands at the Youth Olympics last year and Stewart was a member of the silver medal U23 BW8 from 2018. So far this season they have won gold at the RaceRoei Regatta.

Among the domestic crews racing in the Qualifiers, the leading crew will be the Leander Club crew of Natasha Harris-White and Susie Dear. They won Champ 2- at Henley Women’s Regatta. Dear is an Oxford Brookes graduate and raced in the W2- which took silver at the World Student Championships. Harris-White, from Newcastle University, won gold at the FISU Championships in2018. At the Final GB Trials in April they finished 11th.

 

Runners-up to Leander at Henley Women’s Regatta was the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (crew 566) pairing of Tricia Smith and Pippa Whittaker. Earlier in the Regatta season this duo won Champ 2- at BUCS Regatta. They also raced at the Final GB Trials finishing 14thand were both members of the victorious Blue Boat.

There is a 2nd Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club crew racing (crew 558), with twin sisters Gemma and Catherine King. They were both members of the Cambridge crew at this year’s Lightweight Boat Race. As a pair they raced for England at the Home International Regatta last year winning the JW2- title.

 

My picks…It’ll be a big surprise if Prendergast and Gowler of Waiariki don’t win their 2ndtitle in 3 years.

 

 

 

Diamonds

The Diamond Challenge Sculls

Diamond Challenge Sculls (Men’s Open 1X)

Holder: A.M.O Drysdale (West End Rowing Club, New Zealand)

35 entries to be reduced to 16 by Qualifying Races.

 

2018 saw Mahe Drysdale  of West End Rowing Club, New Zealand, equal the record set by Stuart Mackenzie in 1962 of six Diamond Challenge Sculls wins. But, he did it the hard way. The 2018 final was an absolute classic, trailing Kjetil Borch by clear water coming into the enclosures, the Rio Olympic Champion sculled his opponent down and broke him, ending up winning by clear water. Drysdale may have lost his seat as the New Zealand M1X, but he’s dusting off his single for another Henley campaign in an attempt to take the record outright. The question is, with the NZL M8 racing in Poznan and also in The Grand, how much time will Drysdale get to train in the single, and will it be enough to see off the challenges from Borch and Zeidler?

Mahe Henley

Mahe Drysdale, holder of the Diamond Challenge Sculls

Kjetil Borch  (Horten Roklubb, Norway) is back for another tilt at the Henley title, and to get revenge on Drysdale for the defeat in 2018. Mind you, Borch went on to win the World Championship title, whereas Drysdale missed the medals racing in the M4X so it wasn’t all bad!. Borch has made a slowish start to the 2019 season as he recovers from knee surgery. At the European Championships he finished 9thand he race in Poznan at the 2ndWorld Cup this weekend surprisingly finishing out of the medals in 6thplace.

Out to spoil the Borch/Drysdale rematch is Oliver Zeidler (Donau-Ruder-Club Ingolstadt e.V., Germany).The 22-year-old took up sculling a couple of years ago and has made a dramatic impact, winning the German Small Boats Championships and then taking gold at the European Championships earlier this month. He also raced at the Poznan World Cup this weekend, but, like Borch, he finished outside of the medals taking 5thplace.

Harry Leask (Leander Club) was Great Britain’s single sculler at last year’s World Championships and produced a fine performance to take 4thoverall (beating Zeidler and Robbie Manson in the process). He’s struggled during the winter however, succumbing to a back injury. He had been entered in the Poznan World Cup, but was withdrawn just before the draw following a flare-up of his back injury. The GB team are saying it’s precautionary, but it remains to be seen whether he is fit enough to take his spot at Henley, or whether he will focus on being fit for Lucerne and to challenge fellow countryman Tom Barras for the M1X berth at the World Championships.

Stewart Innes  (Leander Club), is another GB international returning to competition following an extended lay off due to injury. He last raced in GB colours at the Rio Olympics where he finished 4thin the M2-. He’s returned to competition in Leander colours this season racing at the Wedau Regatta in Germany finishing 5th. Naturally his long-term goal is to return to the GB sweep squad, and, if he’s fully fit, he could be a great addition to the Olympic team. He raced at Marlow regatta and picked up a silver medal in Champ 1X. The Stewards have, perhaps, been a little harsh in making him race the Qualifiers.

Another sculler with international experience is Martino Goretti (Team Italia, Italy). The 33-year-old finished 7thin the world in the LM1X last season, and so far this year has a bronze medal from the European Championships and raced in Poznan at the 2ndWorld Cup finishing 5thin the LM1X. One of the great things about Henley, is the chance for Lightweights and Heavyweights to race against each other, and it’s not always the Heavyweights who come out on top (just ask the Chairman!)

Michael Schmid (See-Club Luzern, Switzerland) is another seasoned lightweight international in the draw. He raced in the LM2X at the Rio Olympics finishing 13th. Since Rio he has been racing as a single sculler and in 2017 he won the European Championships and then finished 4that the World Championship. In 2018 he retained his European Title and had an outstanding race at the World Championships, winning the silver medal.

Guillaume Krommenhoek (Hollandia Roeiclub, The Netherlands) is the Dutch M1X representative for the 2019 season. He made his senior debut last year racing at the Belgrade Cup in the M4X that finished 5thin a straight final. He then went on to race at the Holland Beker as part of the Skøll M4x winning the gold medal. He raced at the 2ndWorld Cup in Poznan, finishing 13th.

Maximillian Fraenkel (Offenbacher Rudergesellschaft Undine, Germany) also has international representative honours to his name. In 2016 he raced at the World Championships finishing 12thin the M2+. In 2017 he raced in the German M4X at the European Championships finishing 8thand then in the M2X at the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups.

Luuk Adema (Algemene Groningen Studenten Roeivereniging Gyas, Netherlands), is a member of the Dutch U23 team, and won a silver medal in the U23 BM2X at the World Championships last year. He also won the U23 BM2x at the 2018 Holland Beker. This season he was         part of the Netherlands squad racing at the Poznan World Cup,  finishing 17thin the M1X.

Dara Alizadeh (Cambridge University) is better known for his sweep prowess than as a sculler. The American was the President of the winning Cambridge Blue Boat this year and was also in the winning Cambridge Blue Boat in 2018. He raced this weekend at Marlow Regatta in Champ 1X finishing 18th. He may have his work cut out to be one of the fastest 6 scullers at the Qualifying races on Friday.

Jack Burns (Edinburgh University) is no stranger to the Henley course. He qualified for the Diamonds last year, winning his first-round match before meeting Kjetil Borch in Round 2 and going down by a respectable 2 lengths. He’s trialled for the Great Britain team and finished a strong 6that the 1stWinter Team Assessment in November last year. This season he raced at the Scottish Championships, winning the silver medal and also at the Wedau Regatta in Duisberg, finishing a creditable 7th. At the Marlow Regatta this weekend he took the win in champ 1X

Another Edinburgh University representative is James Temple.  He’s represented Great Britain at both U23 and Senior level. In 2017 he finished 4thin the BLM4X and then in 2018 he raced at the first and Second World Cups before racing at the U23 World Championships with fellow Edinburgh University clubmate Gavin Horsburgh finishing 7th. Like many of those aiming to race at Henley, he raced at Marlow Regatta finishing 3rdin Championship singles.

Another of the overseas entries is Red Matthews (Mercantile Rowing Club, Australia). He has several international appearances for Australia, the first of which was back in 2013 when he finished 6thin the LM2X at the Sydney World Cup. His next international appearance was in 2017 racing in the LM4X at Lucerne and the taking 12that the World Championships. At the 2019 Australian Championships he finished runner-up in the Open LM1X.

Silver medallist at the BUCS regatta was Matt Brigham(Leeds University). He won Open 1X at the Metropolitan Regatta and then finished 4that Marlow Regatta. At the 1stGB Team Assessment he finished 17thoverall.

 

My picks…This has the makings of another classic Diamonds. Zeidler is the in-form sculler at the moment, Borch is the reigning World Champion and Drysdale is the defending champion and bidding to set a new record for the most number of wins, and then Leask (if fit) into the mix as a wildcard…..I’m going to put my neck on the line and go with my heart….Drysdale to win his 7thDiamond Challenge sculls.

 

 

princess_royal

The Princess Royal Challenge Cup

The Princess Royal Challenge Cup (Women’s Open 1X)

Holder: J Gmelin, Switzerland

Entries: 18 (2018: 19)

To be reduced to 12 by Qualifying races.

 

Five scullers have been pre-Qualified by the Stewards.

Emma Twigg (Waiariki Rowing Club) last won this event 10 years ago. She’s also been a beaten finalist in 2013 and a losing semi-finalist in 2010.  She is returning to international competition for the first time since finishing 4th at the Rio Olympics. She is aiming to compete at her 4th Olympic Games and, hopefully, win her first Olympic medal. She was one of the outstanding scullers during the first half of the decade winning a full set of World Championship medals. She made her first appearance since Rio at the Poznan World Cup winning gold by just 12/100thof a second over Magdalena Lobnig of Austria.

Diana Dymchenko  (Sports Club Concorde, Ukraine) was a lost to Gmelin in the semi-final of this event last year. She was a bronze medallist in the W1x at the 2018 Europeans and ended the season with an 11thplace at the World Championships. So far this season she’s raced at the European Championships in Lucerne finishing 8th.

The runner-up at the first world cup was Yan Jiang of Chinese National Rowing Team. She raced in the W4X that finished 6th at the Rio Olympics and then switched to the W2X for 2018 finishing 9th. She raced the W1X in Poznan at the 2ndWorld Cup finishing 11thoverall.

Winner of this event in 2016 was Lisa Scheenaard  (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland). She’s doubling-up in the Stonor Challenge Cup so it remains to be seen how she gets on with the large volume of racing she’s got ahead of her.

The final sculler pre-Qualified is a 2nd Dutch entry, Martine Veldhuis (Hollandia Roeiclub, Holland). She made her senior debut in 2018 finishing 7thin the LW1X at the World Championships. In 2019 she formed a new LW2X partnership with Olympic Champion, Ilse Paulis. Their first race together was at the Plovdiv World Cup where they took silver. At the European Championships they missed qualification for the A-Final by just 3/10thof a second, and went on to win the B-Final by 4 seconds.

There’s one overseas entry that will have to race Qualifiers, Pia Leonie Otto from Sch¸lerruderverein Kreuzgasse Kˆln von 1911. The 18 year old raced at the Munich Junior International regatta in 2018.

The winner of the George Innes Cup at Henley Women’s Regatta was Elo Luik of Molesey Boat Club. She became the first Estonian woman to race in the Boat Race when she helped Oxford to a 24 length victory in the 2016 Boat race. She joined Molesey after graduating from Oxford. She qualified for last year’s regatta, losing to Kate Wilkinson-Feller in the heats. Her win at Henley Women’s will give her the confidence that she will qualify again for the man draw.

Runner-up to Luik in the final of the George Innes Cup was Annie Campbell-Orde  of Nottingham Rowing Club. A former national level netball player, she joined the Nottingham talent ID squad in 2015. In 2018 she represented England at the Home International Regatta winning gold. She was also runner-up in Open 1X on the Sunday of the Metropolitan Regatta.

Amanda Hynes  of Upper Thames Rowing Club won the Open 1X on the Saturday of the Metropolitan Regatta and then was 3rdthe following day. At Henley Women’s Regatta she raced in the Championship 1x losing in the first round to Abigail Parker of Cambridge.

My picks…..the draw should lead to a Twigg v Scheenaard final which should be a great contest, but I’m going for another Waiariki win.

 

Next up, the Intermediate events….

World Cup 2 – a look at the entries

poznan

Time now for the 2ndRowing World Cup. If the 1stWorld Cup of the season had one of the lowest ever entries, the 2nditeration has one of the highest. With over 800 athletes competing it’s the largest field for a 2ndWorld Cup since 2011. Poznan last hosted a World Cup in 2017 and is one of the most popular courses on the circuit.

 

 

So, without further ado let’s have a look at the entries.

 

M1X

36 scullers

A huge field that sees almost all the key players taking to the water. The most mouth-watering contest looks to be the showdown between the new wunderkind of the single sculling scene, Oliver Zeidler from Germany and New Zealand’s Robbie Manson. Zeidler won the European Championships at the beginning of the month, and has made a huge impact since taking up the sport less than 2 years ago. He made the A-Final at the World Championships in his first year of senior competition and at just 22 year of age could well dominate the event for the next decade or more.

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Oliver Ziedler (Right) and Robbie Manson (Centre). Photo: World Rowing

Robbie Manson is the holder of the World Best Time (6:30.7 set at this World Cup in 2017). He won the Kiwi M1X berth by comprehensively defeating Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale during the New Zealand summer season. Since moving to the single scull in 2017, Manson has won every World Cup regatta he’s entered. But, crucially he’s yet to deliver on the biggest stage ending up 5that both the 2017 and 208 World Championships.

Norway’s defending World Champion, Kjetil Borch, has had a relatively quiet start to the season. His first race of 2019 saw him place 9thoverall at the European Championships. But, by his own admission he is still a long way from race fitness having had surgery to his knee earlier in the year. His aims for Poznan will be to maintain his upward progression and target the World Championships as a return to full fitness. But Poznan will be a good marker for how far along the road to recovery he is.

Another exciting sculler to watch is Cuba’s mercurial Angel Fournier Rodriguez. The 2017 World silver medallist is making his first appearance since the 2ndWorld Cup of 2018 and is another athlete returning to full fitness following injury.

One athlete who has made a strong start to their 2019 season is Pilip Pavukouof Belarus. Up until this year the best result for the 2015 U23 World Champion in his senior career was a 5thplace at the 2017 World Cup in Lucerne. But, so far in 2019 he has a silver medal from the 1stWorld Cup and a bronze from the European Championships just 4/10thof a second behind the gold medal. Could this be the start of the breakthrough year for Pavukou?

Poland’s Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk has had a busy season so far this year. The 24 year-old was a member of the winning Cambridge Blue Boat in April and then raced the M1X at the European Championships finishing down in the C-Final. He was back at Cambridge last week rowing for his college at the Cambridge May Bumps. This time away from the M1X has undoubtedly had a detrimental impact on his sculling, but he will be looking to re-establish his form in the small boat and progress from his performance at the Europeans.

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Natan Wegrzycki-Szymczyk. Photo Theboatraces.org

 

Great Britain have 2 scullers racing in Poznan, each vying for the M1X spot for the World Championships. Tom Barras(GBR1) grabbed the attention of the rowing world when he won a spectacular bronze medal in the M1X at the 2017 World Championships. 2018 was spent in the M4X in what was, ultimately, a disappointing season. Racing as GBR2 is Harry Leask. He’s just returned to active duty following an extensive lay-off through injury. He’ll be hoping to pick up where he left off in 2018 when finished a strong 4that the World Championships (beating both Robbie Manson and Oliver Zeidler). It’s a mark of the strength in depth of the British sculling squad that two World Championship A-Finalists are battling it out for the final sculling seat in the squad.

A number of other countries have 2 scullers racing in Poznan. Racing as NZL2 is Isaac Grainger. He perhaps can feel a little hard done by, as he is one of the athletes dropped from the Kiwi M8 to make room for Hamish Bond and Mahe Drysdale. Poznan will be his first appearance internationally in any boat apart from the M8. He did race in the M1X at the NZL Championships but did not progress beyond the repecharge. Australia also have two scullers competing, Luke Letcher (AUS1) and David Bartholot (AUS2). Letcher finished 13thlast season and Bartholot makes his international debut in Poznan. Bulgaria have two highly experienced scullers vying for the M1X berth. Racing as BUL1 is Kristian Vasilev, he was 9thin the M2X at the Rio Olympics. Racing as BUL2 is Boris Yotov. He finished 3 places behind Vasilev at the Rio Olympics when he was competing for Azerbaijan. In 2018 Yotov won bronze in the BM1X at the U23 World Championships and followed that up with a slightly disappointing 12thplace in the M2X with Vasilev.

Another sculler who is beginning to make his mark on the international scene is Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen. He made his senior debut back in 2012, but it wasn’t until 2018 that he began to make regular appearances in the A-Finals, taking 4thand 5that the first two World Cups. He narrowly missed the A Final at the 2018 World Championships, but won the B-Final to take 7thoverall. So far in 2019 he’s made one appearance, finishing 4that the European Championships, just 3/10thoff his first senior medal.

Other scullers to watch include Lithuania’s Mindaugus Griskonis the 2018 World Bronze medallist, and Switzerland’s Nico Stahlberg (a bronze medallist at the 2ndWorld Cup last year).

My picks…..Manson is coming into the European season having had a dominant winter in New Zealand, but Zeidler is the man of the moment. It should be an epic battle between these two and I’m going to go with Manson to win (for now). Behind these two it’s a very open battle for the bronze, if Fournier Rodriguez is on form he could take it, but Borch and Barras could be in the mix as well

 

W1X

20 scullers

One of the biggest talking points of the whole World Cup will be the return to competition of New Zealand’s Emma Twigg. She is returning to international competition for the first time since finishing 4that the Rio Olympics. She is aiming to compete at her 4thOlympic Games and, hopefully, win her first Olympic medal. She was one of the outstanding scullers during the first half of the decade winning a full set of World Championship medals (including gold in 2014). It remains to be seen what sort of speed she has on the international stage, but was a convincing winner of the New Zealand Championships this year.

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Emma Twigg of New Zealand

None of the medallists from the European championships (Sanita Puspure, Jeanine Gmelin and Mirka Topkinova) are racing in Poznan which does weaken the field slightly, but there will still be some strong athletes to give Twigg a significant challenge on her return to racing. One of the most consistent of these is Austria’s Magdalena Lobnig. It’s a rare occasion indeed when Lobnig is not in the A-Final, indeed it’s only happened twice in a single sculling career dating back to 2013. She won bronze at last year’s World Championships and started 2019 with a 4thplace at the European Championships.

Finishing one place behind Lobnig at the European’s was Denmark’s Fie Udby Erichsen. She’s another highly experienced athlete, 2019 marks her 14thseason as a senior international and she’s aiming to qualify for her 3rdOlympic Games. The highlight of her career so far was an Olympic silver medal in 2012. She took a year out after London and since her return she’s not yet found the medal winning speed of 2012. 9thin Rio and again in 2017, she finally returned to a World Championship A-Final in 2018 when she finished 5th. Her strong start to the 2019 season in Lucerne will be an encouragement that she should be targeting an A-Final spot in Poznan.

Vicky Thornley of Great Britain returned to competition at the European’s following a 2018 season that was marred by over-training syndrome. The Rio W2X silver medallist had a frustrating return at Lucerne when she missed out on an A Final appearance. However she would have gained confidence from a dominant performance in the B-Final which she won by 5 seconds. With the top three scullers from Lucerne missing she will be looking to get a solid berth in the A-Final as she progresses towards the all-important Olympic qualification in Linz.

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Vicky Thornley

The most experienced athlete in the field is Ekaterina Karsten of Blearus, the 47 year-old raced in the W4X last season before moving back to her preferred single scull for the Plovdiv World Cup, finishing 6th. Should she remain in the single and qualify for Tokyo it will be an unprecedented 7thOlympic Games.

Carling Zeeman of Canada finished 10that the Rio Olympics. During 2017 she medalled at the Lucerne World Cup and made the A-Final at the World Championships. Another medal in Lucerne in 2018 was followed up by a slightly disappointing finish at the World Championships which saw her take 3rdin the B-final to finish 9thoverall. She’s a talented sculler who has proved her medal-winning ability and it’ll be really interesting to see how she gets on in 2019.

Germany have two talented scullers racing, Annekatrin Thiele as GER1 and Julia Leiding as GER2. Thiele (one of the smallest athletes in the field at 173cm tall), has won multiple world and Olympic medals in the W4X (including gold in 2016), but after the Rio Games moved into the W1X and has put in some solid performances, including bronze at the Europeans in 2017 and a 6thplace in the World last year. Poznan is her first international competition of the season. Leiding sculled for Germany at the European’s finishing 14th.

The runner-up at the first world cup was Yan Jiang of China. She raced in the W4X that finished 6that the Rio Olympics and then switched to the W2X for 2018 finishing 9th. Silver in only her 2ndWorld Cup as a single sculler (the 1stwas Sydney back in 2015), is an encouraging sign that she will be another serious contender for an A-final placing in Poznan and beyond.

The final sculler to mention is Kara Kohler of the USA. She’s a world champion in the W4- from 2011 and an Olympic bronze medallist from the W4X in London. She moved to the single scull in 2018 ending the season with an excellent 4thplace at the World Championships. The 2ndWorld Cup is always a bit of a “loosener” for the US team (for the majority of them it’s their 1strace in Europe) so it’s difficult to know what to expect, but if she’s competitive now, by the time we get to Linz she could be a serious medal contender.

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Kara Kohler of the USA. Phot USRowing

My picks…..really difficult to call…..if Twigg is anywhere near “race-fit” she will be tough to beat, but Lobnig is very consistent and Thornley desperate to step up from her last outing, then with Zeeman and Kohler making their season debuts it really is a packed field. Twigg for the win with Lobnig 2ndand Kohler in bronze.

 

M2-

29 pairs

 

Croatian’s Martin and Valent Sinkovic have established themselves as the pair to beat this year. They dominated the field at the European Championships winning by 2 seconds ahead to Romania. Their target is to become the first pair to win a World Championship and Olympic gold in both the M2X and M2-. However, due to a back injury to Valent they are a late withdrawal from Poznan

In the absence of the Croatians the favourites may well be the Australian’s Josh Booth and Alex Hill. Hill was a member of the outstanding Australian M4- that won silver at the Rio Olympics and then won back-to-back World titles in 2017 and 2018. Booth was also a member of the Rio Olympic M4- and then moved into the M8 in 2018 ending up with a silver medal at the World Championships. It’s really interesting to see Australia break up a dominant M4- and a very successful M8 and push two of their top oarsmen into the M2-. The Aussies have a long tradition in this boat class and it would appear they are looking to reclaim the top spot vacated by the Kiwis. This boat has the makings of a very fast pair. Seeing them go up against the Croatians could be one of the highlights of the regatta.

But, it’s most definitely not a 2 boat race. The Canadians also look to be prioritising the small boats (an experiment they’ve been trying for a while with mixed success). They have 2 boats racing in Poznan. Racing as CAN1 are Kai Langerfeld and Conlin McCabe. McCabe was a member of the Canadian M8 that won silver in 2012 and then he and Langerfeld raced in the M4- at Rio that finished 6th. In 2017 McCabe experimented with racing the M2X but with little success before both he and Langerfeld returned to the M8 for 2018. They finished a disappointing 8that the World Championships last year, so for 2019 they now are trying the pair. They are a talented pair of athletes but appear to be struggling to find the right boat to maximise their potential. Canada 2 is David De Groot and Tim Schrijver. De Groot was a member of the 2017 M4- that finished 8that the World Championships and then moved into the M8 for 2018. Schrijver raced in the M4- in his debut senior season in 2015 ending up just missing a medal. He then went on to race in the same boat class at the Rio Games reaching the A-Final. He missed the whole of the 2017 season, but returned in 2018 to row in the M8 at the World Championships. We will just have to wait and see if either of these pairs are competitive enough to make the A-Final.

New Zealand also have two crews racing, and the shadow of the great Murray & Bond duo hangs heavy over anyone who fills those seats. Racing as NZL1 are Michael Brakeand Thomas Murray. This duo were the bow pair in the M8 that raced at the Rio Olympics and when in 2018 they took over the role of the new “Kiwi Pair”. It looked like they were picking up where their illustrious predecessors left off, taking a win in their first regatta together at the Lucerne World Cup. They ended the season with an impressive performance at the World Championships taking 5thplace overall. The 2ndNew Zealand pair is Ian Seymour and Anthony Allen. Seymour makes his first appearance in a Kiwi boat since rowing in the M8 at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta in 2012. Allen was a member of the more recent Kiwi M8 racing in the boat at the 2ndand 3 World Cups last year.

Another set of brothers racing in this event are Valentin and Theophile Onfroy from France. They were both members of the French M4- at the Rio Olympics but then made a successful move into the pair for the 2017 season. They won silver at the Europeans and also medalled at both the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. At the World Championships in Florida they just missed the making the podium. They continued this excellent form in 2018 repeating their silver medal result at the Europeans and then improving their 2017 World Championships performance by one place to take the bronze medal. 2019 has gotten off to a slow start for them however, as they could only manage a 9thplace at the European Championships. But when they are fully race fit, they will definitely be medal contenders.

Great Britain are another nation with strong heritage in this event. They’ve sent two boats to Poznan with the lead boat of Harry Glenister and George Rossiter with the no.2 boat being Morgan Bolding and James Johnston. Glenister and Rossiter competed at the European Championships last month finishing a solid 8thplace. Johnston raced in the M4- throughout the 2018 season ending with an excellent bronze medal at the World Championships. His partner, Morgan Bolding, from Oxford Brookes University, makes his senior international debut after winning a bronze medal in the U23 BM8 last season. An A-Final appearance for either of these pairs would be a significant achievement.

Milos Vasic and Martin Mackovic of Serbia gave the favoured Croatians a big surprise at the first World Cup by taking the gold medal. They couldn’t quite follow this up at the European Championships, but a 6thplace finish in a strong field was an encouraging performance.

Italy were World Champions in 2017, but have only one member of that boat left, Guiseppe Vicino. He’s joined by Leonardo Pietra Caprina. Vicino is one of Italy’s most successful rowers of recent years, he’s won gold in the M4- at the 2015 Worlds and in the M2- in 2017. He’s also an Olympic bronze medallist in the M4- from Rio. He’s been racing in the M2- since 2017, but has had a number of different partners, including Matteo Lodo and Giovanni Abagnale. Pietra Caprina is still only 21 but already has a number of medals to his credit including an U23 World Championship gold medal from 2017, he also rowed at the Senior Worlds that year winning a bronze medal in the M8. He stayed in the M8 for the 2018 season ending up 5that the World Championships. This is an exciting pair with a huge amount of potential, an A-Final finish at their first regatta together would be a great start.

My picks….I reckon the Aussies will take gold with New Zealand in silver and Italy in bronze.

 

W2-

24 pairs

Overwhelming favourites in this event will be the New Zealanders, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler.They were both members of the NZL W8 that finished 4that the Rio Olympics and then moved into the pair for 2017. They went unbeaten throughout 2017 and into 2018, going into the World Championships as hot favourites. But, they came up against an inspired crew from Canada who pushed them into silver. Canada are back in 2019, but crucially the world champion pairing of Hillary Janssens and Cailegh Filmer has split up (following a rumoured bust-up between the two rowers). For Poznan Janssens is rowing as Canada 2 with Sydney Payne. Payne is a two-time U23 World Champion and then took silver in the W8 at the senior Worlds. Racing as Canada 1 are Lisa Romain and Kristin Bauder. They were also in the W8 last year that won silver.

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Grace Prendergast (left) and Kerri Gowler (right). Photo NZ Rowing

The USA also have two boats racing with Megan Kalmoe and Tracey Eisser as USA1 and Allyson Baker and Emily Huelskamp as USA2. Kalmoe and Eisser were the USA W2- for 2017 and finished as runners-up to the New Zealanders at the World Championships. Kalmoe missed the 2018 season but Eisser rowed in the 6 seat of the USA W8 that won gold at the World Championships. Allyson Baker, an Ohio State graduate, makes her international debut in Poznan. She’s joining the experienced Emily Huelskamp, a two-time World Championship medallist.

Neither the gold or silver medallists from the European Championships are racing in Poznan, but Italy, the bronze medallists are. They are represented by Kiri Tontodonati and Aisha Rocek. The bronze medal in Lucerne was their first sweep medal, they may find the competition in Poznan a lot tougher.

China are another nation with two boats racing. Their top boat is Xinyu Liu and Rui Ju.This pairing were 5thin the world in 2018 and also raced at the 1stWorld Cup in Plovdiv where they finished 4th. China 2 is Miaomiao Qin and Linlin Guo. This pairing also raced at the Plovdiv World Cup and beat their compatriots ending up 2ndoverall. It’s going to be interesting to see how the Chinese team develops now that both Steve Redgrave and former GB Chief Women’s Coach Paul Thompson are involved.

Australia’s 2 boats are comprised of Jessica Morrison and Annabelle McIntyre in AUS1 and Lilly Tinapple and Georgina Gotch in AUS2. Morrison makes her first international appearance since racing in the W8 at the Rio Olympics and McIntyre was runner-up at the U23 Worlds in 2017 and made her senior debut in 2018 winning a bronze medal in the W8. Tinapple makes her senior debut having last represented Australia as an U23 in 2014. Gotch was another member of the bronze medal W8 from 2018

France’s top boat sees Noemie Kober and Marie Le Nepvou reunited in the boat that saw them race at the Rio Olympics. Kober spent the 2017 and 2018 seasons sculling but without much success. Le Nepvou raced in the W2- at the 2018 World Championships with Flavie Bahuaud, but they finished last. So, back together Kober and Le Nepvou have the potential to be in the A Final although they made a slow start to the season with another last place finish at the Europeans.

The final boat to mention are the Chilean twins, Melita and Antonia Abraham.They were U23 World Champions in 2017 and are definitely a crew to watch for the future.

My picks….hard to see anyone beating the Kiwis for the gold, then USA1 in silver and Canada 1 in bronze.

 

M2X

26 crews

Another event with a huge entry, and an event where it’s really difficult to pick a clear favourite. The French, Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias, are the reigning World Champions and have been racing together as a double for the majority of the last 5 years. During that time they have raced at the Olympics and won the European and World titles. However, their defence of the European crown went awry in Lucerne where they could only manage 6th. Winners in Lucerne were the Poles, Miroslaw Zietarski and Fabian Baranski. However Baranski has swapped places with Mateusz Biskup in the quad for this World Cup. This is now the same line-up that finished 8that the 2018 World Championships. The 2ndPolish boat is Maciej Zawojski and Adam Wicenciak. Zawojski was in the M4X at the 2018 Worlds and at the first World Cup this season finished 4thin the M2X with Szymon Posnik. Wicenciak raced in the silver medal M2X at the 1stWorld Cup and then the quad for the Europeans. The Poles are doing a lot of shifting around of personnel in their sculling boats which is all very confusing!

Australia have two boats racing, Australia 1 is Hamish Playfair and Campbell Watts. Playfair raced in the M8 last year and Watts was in the silver medal-winning M4X. AUS2 is Karsten Fosterling and David Bartholot. Fosterling makes his first international appearance since winning the silver medal in the M4X at the Rio Olympics. His partner, Bartholot makes his international debut in Poznan. This duo have been named as the sculling reserves for the Australian team. Edit: Fosterling has withdrawn due to a rib injury)

New Zealand are always strong in this event and the have kept faith with the line-up that finished 3rdin the world last year – Chris Harris and John Storey. Harris raced in the M2X at the Rio Olympics and Storey was in the quad.

Chris_Harris_John_Stoery_Photosport

Chris Harris and John Storey of New Zealand. Photo: Newshub

Silver medallists at last year’s World Championships were the Swiss, Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli. The Swiss have stuck with that successful line-up for 2019 and they’ve been rewarded with a good start to the season when they won silver at the European’s (just 9/100thbehind the winners).

Great Britain’s new double combination of Graeme Thomas and John Collins made a solid start to their partnership with a 4thplace at the European Championships, just 7/10thoff a medal. They are both highly experienced scullers and this is a combination that could be very competitive as the season progresses.

It’s interesting to see the Norwegian’s have split they M4X into two doubles for this event. Martin Helseth and Erik Solbakken race as NOR1 with Olaf Tufte and Jan Oscar Helvig NOR2. As a quad they finished 5that the Europeans, so it remains to be seen if the Norwegians are having 2ndthoughts about which boat to prioritise. Certainly there is no one more experienced than Tufte, if he qualifies for Tokyo it will be his 7thOlympics.

China could well be the dark horses in this event, their crew of Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang were winners of the 1stWorld Cup – China’s first ever World Cup gold medal in this event. This was certainly a step-up in performance from previous years for this duo. It remains to be seen how they fare in such a strong field.

Another crew to watch for are the Lithuanians, Saulius Ritter and Dovydas Nemeravicius. Ritter won silver in this boat class at the 2016 Olympics and Nemeravicius was in the quad that finished 9thin Rio but went on to win World Championship gold at the 2017 World Championships. They are two highly talented scullers but as a combination they have yet to truly click managing only an 8thplace at the Europeans.

Germany are another nation that is trying to find a fast combination from a group of highly talented scullers. Racing as GER1 are Tim Ole Naske and Stephan Krueger. Naske narrowly lost out on the M1X spot to Ziedler last season having finished 6thin the world in 2017. Krueger raced in this boat class with the legendary Marcel Hacker at the 2016 Olympics finishing 8th. As a Double Naske and Krueger raced at the Europeans, missing the A-Final but taking 1stin the B-Final. GER2 is StephanRiemekasten and Hans Gruhne. Riemekasten made his one and only senior appearance so far at the 2018 Europeans finishing 7th. Gruhne is far more experienced and was a member of the gold medal winning M4X in Rio. He makes his season’s debut having last raced at the 2018 World Championships finishing 8thin the M4X.

My picks…another tough race to call…..New Zealand in gold ahead of the Swiss with the French in bronze.

 

W2X

22 crews

Another cracking event in prospect. The New Zealanders, Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe will possibly start as marginal favourites. Their partnership in the double started at the beginning of the 2017 season and they went unbeaten throughout 2017 winning the World Championships in Florida. They started 2018 as they left off, with wins at both the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. But, at the 2018 World Championships they suffered their first defeat when they were beaten to the gold medal by the Lithuanians. They will be keen to get their own back on Lithuania and return to the top of the podium. New Zealand have a 2ndboat racing with Hannah Osborne and Samantha Voss. Osborne filled the W1X slot post-Rio and Voss makes her senior debut as the reigning U23 BW1X World Champion.

Lithuania have their World Championship winning double back, Milda Valciukaite and Ieva Adomaviciute. Valciukaite (World Rowing’s Athlete of the Month for June 2019) has had an outstanding career so far, a senior World Champion at 19, and Olympic bronze medallist at 22. She won her 2ndWorld Championship gold last year and has formed an excellent partnership with Adomaviciute. For her part Adomaviciute also has an impressive medal haul with golds at both Junior and U23 level. By their own high standards the World Champions have made a slow start to the season managing “only” a 5thplace at the European Championships.

German women’s sculling tends to focus on the W4X, but this year they look to have found a very competitive W2X. Carlotta Nwajide and Leonie Menzel started the 2019 season by winning the European Championships (Germany’s first gold medal in this event since 2010). Nwajide raced in the W4X last season that won silver at the World Championships. For Menzel she made her senior debut at the 2019 European Championships, and not many athletes can claim their first senior international race resulted in a gold medal.

Australia have a new combination for 2019, and it’s a mix of youth and experience. Amanda Bateman makes her senior debut in Poznan having raced in the Aussie U23 team in 2017. She joins Genevieve Horton who has been in the senior Australian team since 2015, and raced in the W2X at the Rio Olympics. At the World Championships last year she rowed in the W4X that finished 7th.

Canada have also kept the same line-up from 2018. Gabrielle Smith and Andrea Proske finished 6thin the World last season having won silver in their first race together at the Lucerne World Cup. Not a bad return on their debut season. With another year together it’ll be interesting to see how their speed has developed.

China made a strong start to the 2019 season taking the win at the 1stWorld Cup with their crew of Yuwei Wang and Shiyu Lu. 20-year-old Lu made he senior debut last year and her gold in Plovdiv marked her first medal (and first A-Final) as a senior athlete. Wang is far more experienced having made her senior debut in 2014. She raced in the W4X at the Rio Olympics and then finished 4that the 2018 World Championships.

Italy finished 3rdat the 2019 Europeans with their pairing of Stefania Buttignon and Stefania Gobbi. Buttignon is the reigning U23 BLW2X World Champion and made her senior debut this season. Gobbi was U23 silver medallist in 2017 and then raced at the senior Worlds in 2018 when she finished 12thin the W4X.

The USA have two high class boats entered. USA1 is Cicely Madden and Gevvie Stone. This is a combination of youth and experience. Madden makes her senior debut after a couple of years on the U23 team. She joins one of the most experienced athletes on the whole US team. Stone made her senior debut in 2010 and represented the US in the W1X at both the London and Rio Olympics, taking silver at the 2016 Games. She lost out on the W1X spot to Kara Kohler so races in a crew boat for only the 2ndtime in her senior career. USA2 is Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek. They have been the US W2X since 2013. They finished 6that the Rio Olympics and followed that with a silver in 2017 and bronze in 2018.

My picks…New Zealand for gold with the Lithuanian’s in silver and USA2 in bronze.

 

M4-

21 crews

Australia have dominated this event for the last couple of years, indeed since the Rio Olympics they are undefeated. So, it’s a bit of a surprise to see the Australians make wholesale changes to their crew. Only Jack Hargreaves remains from last year’s crew. Out goes Josh Hicks, Spencer Turrin and Alex Hill, in comes Tim Masters, Nick Purnell and Joseph O’Brien. Masters and Purnell were members of the Aussie M8 last season and 21-year-old O’Brien raced in the M2- at last year’s worlds finishing 13th. This move by the Australians may well be to strengthen the M8 with the view of securing Olympic qualification at the Worlds. The M4- is an easier boat to qualify – the top 8 will qualify at the World Championships whereas only the top 5 M8 will. Perhaps the Australians feel that this new line-up is fast enough to guarantee qualification, but the M8 needed all the firepower it can get.

You can’t mention the M4- without talking about Great Britain.For many people the M4- is the British men’s boat. But, like the Australians, the British are prioritising the M8 so the top athletes are in the biggest boat. But that doesn’t mean the GB M4- is an also ran. Juergen Grobler has put together a new crew that impressed on its debut outing, winning the European Championships. Stroked by Yale graduate, Sholto Carnegie, he’s backed up by Oxford Brookes graduate Rory Gibbs along with 2017 bronze medallist Matt Rossiter and 2016 M2+ World Champion Ollie Cook. It’s going to be great to see how this new combination fares against the rest of the competition. Great Britain also have a 2ndboat racing, with a number of athletes making their return to competition following injury. Chief among these is Olympic gold medallist, Will Satch. He’s been plagued by injuries since Rio, first with a serious heart complaint and then a damaged shoulder. But it’s great to see him back in the boat. He’s joined by Al Sinclair. He raced in the pair at the Rio Olympics, just missing a medal and then moved into the M8 for the 2018 Worlds taking the bronze medal. They are backed-up by Tom Jeffry and Adam Neill. Jeffry finished 5thin the world in the M2- in 2017, and Neill was a member of the 2018 GB M4- that won bronze. These four, when fully race fit, could be looking to strengthen the M8 even more. What is clear is that the GB men’s squad is beginning to come together quite nicely.

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GB M4- Stroke Sholto Carnegie

2ndto the British at the Europeans were Poland. They have retained the same line-up from Lucerne (Mikolaj Burda, Mateusz Wilangowski, Marcin Brzezinski & Michal Szpakowski). This quartet won the first World Cup and finished 7thoverall at the 2018 World Championships. There are some of the most experienced athletes in the field with 10 Olympic games appearances between them. They are a crew that are always there-or-thereabouts.

Italy were World Champions in this event in 2015, Olympic Bronze medallists in Rio and runners-up to the Australians in 2017 and 2018. They’ve made one change to the crew that won silver last year, with Giovanni Abagnale replacing Matteo Lodo. Abagnale joins Matteo Castaldo, Bruno Rosetti and Marco Di Costanzo. Another very experienced unit, they would have been a little disappointed to have only been 5that the Europeans this year.

If the M4- is the GB boat then the M8 is the German one. But, that doesn’t mean the German’s don’t boat a good M4-. This year in particular they have a very talented line-up (Felix Brummel, Felix Wimberger, Max Planer and Nico Megret). Both Planer and Wimberger raced in the M4- at the Rio Olympics before moving into the M8 and were members of the World Championship winning boat in 2017 and 2018. Megret and Brummel were members of the M4- throughout 2018 and finished 6that the World Championships. So far this season this crew has only raced at the European championships where they finished 3rdbehind the British and Poles. For Planer and Wimberger the move to the M4- can definitely be seen as a demotion and it remains to be seen how they respond to this disappointment.

The USA are another nation for whom the M8 is the be-all-and-end-all, so it’s a bit of a surprise not to see them competing in that event in Poznan. However they do have 2 M4- racing. USA1 consists of Thomas Dethlefs, Conor Harrity, Alex Richards and Alex Wallis. Dethlefs is the most experienced of the quartet having been a member of the M8 from 2013-2015 and then gain in 2018. Harrity was also a member of the US M8 last year in his sole international appearance to date. Richards raced in the M4- at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships with a best performance of 10thin 2017. 22-year-old Wallis raced at the U23 World Championships last year finishing just outside of the medals in the BM4-. USA2 has three members of the American M8 that raced in Rio (Mike Di Santo, Austin Hack and Alex Karwoski). The final member of the crew is Andrew Reed, a World silver medallist in the M8 in 2017. It’s going to be interesting to see which of the US crews is faster – on paper it would appear to be USA2.

My picks…..tricky…..on paper the Australians look vulnerable, but whist they look a weaker crew than previous years I doubt they will be much slower. I’m going for an Aussie win with GB in 2ndand Italy 3rd.

 

W4-

15 crews

Since it was announced that this event would be included in the Olympic programme in Tokyo the Australians and Americans have been the ones to watch. Australia were World Champions in 2017 and they have three of that crew back in 2019 (Lucy Stephan, Katrina Werry & Sarah Hawe), they are joined by Olympia Aldersey who’s more used to sculling events than sweep. She’s won World Championship medals in the W2X and rowed in the W8 at the Rio Olympics.

The USA have four highly experienced athletes in their No.1 boat, all of whom are World Champions, Victoria Opitz, Maddy Wanamaker, Emily Regan and Molly Bruggeman. Opitz is a 4 time World Champion in the W8, Wanamaker and Bruggeman were world champions in the W4- last year and Regan has three World Championship golds and one Olympic gold.

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The USA’s Victoria Opitz. Photo: World Rowing

Canada are the reigning Olympic Champions from 1992. Their crew this year is Christine Roper, Colleen Nesbitt, Karen Lefsrud and Stephanie Grauer. Roper and Grauer were both members of the W8 that won silver at the World Championships last year. Lefsrud is an U23 World Champion from 2017 and Nesbitt makes her second international appearance following a 7thplace in the W4- at Lucerne last year.

Denmark were 4thin the world last year and then 4that the Europeans this season. The crew includes Olympic bronze medallist Hedvig Rasmussen. She’s joined by Christina Johansen who was her partner at the World Championships last season, winning bronze in the W2-. The rest of the crew are Frida Sanggaard Nielsen and Ida Jacobsen who were both in the crew at last year’s Worlds.

Poland were world silver medallists in this event in 2017 and have kept faith with that line-up (Joanna Dittmann, Monika Chabel, Olga Michalkiewicz & Maria Wierzbowska). They are an experienced quartet, with both Chabel and Wierzbowska having Olympic experience. In 2018 they finished 5thin the world and so far this season they’ve raced once, taking bronze at the European Championships.

China were bronze medallists at the 1stWorld Cup in Plovdiv, they have a mix of youth and experience with the 20-year-old Zeifang Wang and Xingue Xu joining the more experienced Min Zhang and Fei Wang. Min Zhang and Fei Wang raced in this boat class at the 2018 Worlds finishing 6th. Xu raced in the W8 last season and Zeifang Wang won bronze in the U23 BW4- in 2018.

As with the men’s 4-, Great Britain have two boats racing in Poznan. GBR1 is Sara Parfett, Caragh McMurtry, Rebecca Girling and Emily Ford. This combination were 6that the European Championships. They will be looking to step on from that performance and if they can secure an A-Final place in this strong field it will be a good result. The GBR2 boat sees the return to competition of Olympic silver medallist Polly Swan. She took time out of the boat to finish her studies (and recover from a back injury). Her return will be a significant boost to the GB women’s sweep team. It remains to be seen what boat she ends up in for the World Championships. Swann is joined by Holly Hill, who makes her 2019 debut following a return from injury, and Sam Courty and Annie Withers who were the GB W2- at the Europeans. The inter-team rivalry between these two boats is going to be fun to watch.

My picks…Australia in gold ahead of the USA and the Danes in bronze.

 

M4X

12 crews

Italy have kept the same line-up that won the European and World Championships last year (Filippo Mondelli, Andrea Panizza, Luca Rambaldi and Giacomo Gentili). Their 2019 season got off to a slightly disappointing start as they were beaten into 2ndat the European Championships by an outstanding Dutch Quad. With the Dutch absent from Poznan the Italians will be looking to get back on the top of the podium.

One of the main threat to Italy will be Australia. They were runners-up to the Italians last year and have three of that crew back in 2019 (Caleb Antill, Alex Purnell and David Watts). Joining the crew this year is Cameron Girdlestone. For Girdlestone, Poznan marks his return to international competition for the first time since winning a silver medal at the Rio Olympics. Watts is another member of the crew with Olympic experience having raced in the M2X in Rio.

Great Britain have put a lot of faith in their quad as the boat that can deliver a major medal for them this season. The crew of Jack Beaumont, Angus Groom, Jonny Walton and Pete Lambert all have Olympic experience with Beaumont, Groom and Lambert having finished 5thin the quad at the Rio Games and Walton 5thin the M2X. GB narrowly missed out on a world Championship gold medal in 2017 but then had a very disappointing end to the 2018 season when they failed to qualify for the A-Final. With the tweaked line-up in 2019 they made a reasonable start to their campaign, taking a bronze medal at the Europeans. They will be disappointed if they cannot get among the medals again in Poznan.

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Angus Groom (left) and Jack Beaumont (right) at the U23 World Championships in 2014. (Photo: World Rowing)

Germany finished one place behind Great Britain at the Europeans. The crew is led by Olympic champion Karl Schulze. He’s joined by former lightweight Olympian Lars Hartig and Timo Piontek and Max Appel who were both in the M4x that finished 8thin 2017. This crew, like the British, has great potential but hasn’t (yet) shown their top speed.

Lithuania won the World Championships in 2017 but then finished last in 2018. This year’s crew of Martynas Dziaugys, Rolandas Mascinskas, Dominykas Jancionis and Aurimas Adomavicius made a similarly inauspicious start to their 2019 season, finishing 5thin the B-Final of the Europeans (albeit racing with a substitute onboard). It is often the case with the Lithuanians, on their day they can beat anyone and everyone, but then they can also end up at the back of the field.

New Zealand produced an outstanding performance at last year’s World Championships when they just missed out on a medal. That crew included the legendary Mahe Drysdale. For 2019 Drysdale has moved into the M8, and his place is taken by Jordan Parry. He joins Nathan Flannery, Cameron Crampton and Lewis Hollows. Flannery was in the M4X that finished last at the Olympics in Rio. Parry made his senior debut last year having won gold at the U23 World Championships in 2017. Crampton and Hollows were both members of the M4X that finished 7thin the world in 2017. It remains to be seen what sort of speed this combination has, now that Drysdale has moved out of the boat.

Poland have a long tradition in this boat class (they were Olympic champions in Beijing). This season’s crew has been going through a number of changes, but for Poznan the line-up is Dominik Czaja, Wiktor Chabel, Szymon Posnik and Fabian Baranski. This is three of the crew that finished 6thn the world last season. So far this season Poland have a gold medal from the 1stWorld Cup and a 7thplace from the Europeans (although only 2 of the crew for Poznan were in those boats). Once Poland have a settled line-up they should be a competitive crew.

My picks….another great contest in prospect….I’m going for Italy in gold with GB in silver and Australia in bronze.

 

W4X

5 crews

Poland are the reigning World Champions and have the same crew racing this season (Agnieszka Kobus-Zawojska, Marta Wieliczko, Maria Springwald and Katarzyna Zillmann). This is a highly experienced unit and includes 2 of the crew that won bronze at the Rio Olympics. They didn’t get the best of starts to their season when they were pushed out of the medals entirely at the European Championships, only the 3rdtime the Polish quad has missed out on a medal since before the Rio Games. However they will take some comfort from the fact that the last time that happened was at the 2017 Europeans and they went on to take silver at the Worlds.

If the M8 is the boat for the German men then the same can be said of the quad for the German women. They have dominated the event for the last 20 years. However in more recent times their crown has begun to slip, although they won in Rio they haven’t dominated the racing quite as much as they used to. However, that could well be about to change. Their crew for 2019 (Michaela Staelberg, Julia Lier, Franziska Kampmann and Freida Haemmerling) made an excellent start to 2019 by winning the European Championships, and doing so in some style. Lier is the sole remaining member of the crew that won the Rio Olympics with the stern pairing of Kampmann and Haemmerling remaining from the crew that won silver at last year’s world Championships.

China were winners of the 1stWorld Cup, even though it was a 2 boat race the crew they beat from The Netherlands were 3rdin the world last year and silver medallists at this year’s Europeans, so they were a good scalp to take. China’s crew includes three of the crew that finished 4that last year’s Worlds (Ling Zhang, Yang Lyu and Xiaotong Cui). The new member of the crew for this season is Yunxia Chen who raced in the W2X last season.

Australia have a new, and relatively inexperienced crew this year. Three of the crew (Fiona Ewing, Cara Grzeskowiak and Katrina Bateman) are all making their senior debuts with only Rowena Meredith having any senior experience, she sculled in this boat at the 2017 and 2018 world championships finishing 6th and7th respectively.

The final crew racing are from The Netherlands. This is not their senior crew that finished runners-up at the Europeans, but their U23 crew of Nika Vos, Tessa Dullemans, Ilse Kolkman and Bente Paulis.

My picks….a bit more straightforward than some of the other events….Germany for gold ahead of Poland in silver with China in bronze.

 

M8

7 crews

This event is always eagerly anticipated, but this regatta even more so as it marks the first appearance of the new look New Zealand crew, with Hamish Bond at stroke and Mahe Drysdale at 3. Everyone wants to see just what a difference these two legends can have on this crew. Should they not win it’ll be the first time since the Beijing Olympics that Hamish Bond has lost an international regatta….that’s quite a record to put on the line! They will need to elevate the performance from last year significantly as the Kiwis could only manage a disappointing 9that the World Championships. A repeat of that at this year’s worlds will mean they are a long way off qualifying for the Olympics. But, all the rumours coming out of New Zealand is that this boat is now very, very rapid.

But, the M8 this Olympiad has been all about Germany. So far they have been unbeaten since losing to the British at the Rio Olympics. They are desperate to repeat the feat they achieved at the London Olympiad, winning all three world titles and then the Olympics (something the British also achieved for the Rio Olympiad). At the European Championships this season they continued their winning ways, but were made to work hard for the win having to come from behind at the halfway point to eventually take the win by 9/10thof a second.

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The German M8

Great Britain have prioritised the M8 this Olympiad, as mentioned before, qualification for the Olympics via the World Championships is extremely tough so a number of nations are loading their 8’s in an attempt to secure qualification. GB will have been disappointed to lose to the Germans at the European championships. They were leading at half way and it’s rare for a crew in that position to end up losing. However the margin of defeat will give them confidence that they can beat the Germans. It’ll also be interesting to see if the crew gets strengthened later in the season with the return of Olympians Will Satch, Al Sinclair and Tom Ransley.

Australia are another nation who have loaded their M8, bringing in Josh Hicks and Spencer Turrin from the World Champion M4-. It’s not as if the Aussies needed much strengthening, their 2018 crew were World silver medallists behind Germany. But with this revised line-up they present a major challenge to the British and the Germans.

Canada have long prided themselves on their M8, however their performances in recent years have been somewhat disappointing. They have made a number of changes to the crew that finished 8thin the world last year, with only four of that crew remaining. At stroke they’ve brought in the highly experienced Will Crothers, an Olympic silver medallist from 2012. The bow pair of Mackenzie Copp and Taylor Perry raced as the Canadian M2- last season finishing a credible 4that the World Championships. One of the most notable changes is in the coxes seat, Lesley Thompson-Willie (who turns 60 in September) takes the helm of the M8. Her career dates back to 1981 and she certainly brings a wealth of international experience to the boat.

Italy looked to have found a truly competitive M8 when they took the bronze medal at the 2017 World Championships. However since then they’ve not really been able to repeat the feat. They finished 5thin the World Last season (which would be enough to qualify for Tokyo if they repeat the performance this year). Their one appearance so far this season was a somewhat lacklustre performance at the European Championships which saw them trail in last in the A-Final almost 19 seconds behind Germany.

Poland are a very “hit-and-miss” crew as a M8. At their best they can be pushing for a medal, but more often than not they are at the backend of the A-Final. This season they took the win at the 1stWorld Cup albeit in a 2 boat final against the Romanian U23 crew. At the European Championships they failed to qualify for the A-Final ending up 7thin a 7 boat field. With such a strong field facing them in Poznan they may struggle to give the home fans something to celebrate.

My picks….it’s going to be epic whatever happens. Germany will be desperate to retain their 100% record and I think they’ll just edge it ahead of Australia with GB in bronze.

 

W8

7 crews

For the last decade the question with the women’s 8 was “who will finish 2ndto the USA”, such was the dominance of the Americans that they went undefeated for more than a decade. But, the world was turned upside down in 2017 when, not only did the USA lose, they didn’t even win a medal. 2018 started badly for the US as well, when they could only manage 3rdat the Lucerne World Cup. However normal service was resumed at the World championships when they secured gold. For 2019 they’ve made three changes to the 2018 crew with Rio Olympic Gold medallist Meghan Musnicki, 2018 W4- gold medallist Erin Reelick and relative newcomer Brooke Mooney joining the crew.The question now is whether they can return to their usual dominance, or whether the result in 2017 as opened the door for other nations?

The biggest challengers to the Americans has always traditionally been Canada. They were runners-up to the Americans last year. This season they’ve made four changes to the crew. In comes 2018 W2- World Champion Hillary Janssens along with 2017 W8 silver medallist Nicole Hare, U23 World Champion Avalon Wasteneys and the final member of the crew is Kasia Gruchalla-Wesierski (who made her international debut at the Lucerne World Cup last year).

New Zealand had a disappointing end to their 2018 campaign, missing out on the A-Final in Plovdiv, especially as 2017 saw them take the bronze medal and they won silver and gold at the 2ndand 3rdWorld Cups. But, the Kiwis have had to wait all winter to answer the question of whether the result in 2018 was a blip and they are genuine medal contenders in this boat class again.

Australia finished 3rd at last year’s World Championships and they have six of that crew back for 2019 (Leah Saunders, Jacinta Edmunds, Georgina Rowe, Rosemary Popa, Annabelle McIntyre and James Rook). New to the crew this year are Bronwyn Cox (U23 silver medallist in 2017), Jessica Morrison (who last raced internationally at the Rio Olympics) and Molly Goodman (another member of the Olympic W8 and World gold and silver medallist in the W4- in 2017 and 2018).

Great Britain faced a significant rebuilding task after the Rio Olympics. Only two of the silver medal crew remain, Karen Bennett and Zoe Lee. Last season the British finished 6thin the world, they will be desperate to get at least one place higher by the end of this season as only the top 5 qualify directly for the Tokyo Olympics. They made a solid start to the season, taking 2ndby just 6/100thto the Romanians. This will have been a very encouraging result for GB and they will be relishing the test against the USA, Canada and New Zealand.

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Zoe Lee of Great Britain. Photo: British Rowing

Germany have never really excelled in women’s sweep rowing, especially in the eight. The last time they won a medal in this boat class was at the 1stWorld Cup in 2015. Their crew for Poznan is made up of mainly U23 athletes. Given the strength of the rest of the field they may be the ones to miss out on an A-Final spot.

China are another nation yet to master the biggest of boats. Thy did win silver at the 1stWorld Cup, but that was in a 3 boat final against the top Dutch W8 and the U23 Romanians.  The majority of the crew raced in this event at the 2018 Worlds finishing 8thoverall.

The final crew in the event are The Netherlands. As mentioned above, the Dutch won the 1stWorld Cup and finished 4th(of 4) at the Europeans. However the crew racing in Poznan is not the number 1 Dutch boat. Instead, as with the rest of the Dutch squad in Poznan, it is their U23 boat. This includes a number of athletes from the silver medal U23 8 from last year, but also a number of athletes making the step up from the junior ranks, including Iris Klok who is still only 17!

My picks….USA to win but I reckon GB will get the silver with Canada in bronze

 

LM1X

15 scullers

Peter Galambos of Hungary has emerged as the one to beat so far in 2019. He’s currently unbeaten having taken the wins at both the 1stWorld Cup and the European Championships. He was 6thin the world last season, but has, in the past had a best result of silver at the 2016 World Championships.

Sean Murphy from Australia had a strong 2018 season, reaching the A-Final at the Lucerne World Cup and then he went on and raced at the U23 Worlds last season, picking up a bronze medal in the BLM1X.

Croatia’s Luka Radonic has been racing in this event since 2014 and has a number of World Cup medals to his credit. This season he’s won bronze in Plovdiv and just missed the medals in Lucerne.

Germany have two scullers entered, Lucas Schaefer and Florian Roller.Schaefer rowed in the LM4- at the Rio Olympics and sculled in the LM2X at the 2017 Worlds. Roller is a three-time World Champion, winning gold in the LM8 in 2015 and in the LM4X in 2016 and 2018.

Martino Goretti of Italy also rowed in the LM4- at both the London and Rio Olympics. He won silver in the LM4- at the 2017 Europeans, but with the demise of the LM4- event he moved into the LM4X finishing 4that the World Championships and then in 2018 he moved to the single, picking up another European silver in 2018. At this year’s European’s he made the podium again, this time with a bronze medal.

New Zealand are represented by Benjamin Van Dalen. He made his senior debut last season sculling in the LM2X with Matt Dunham and finished a creditable 4that the World Championships. With his seat in the LM2X now being filled by Harrison Somerville, Van Dalen will be keen to make an impression in the single.

Artur Mikolajczewski of Poland finished 12thin the World last year, but has made a much stronger start to the season in 2019. He’s been runner-up to Galambos at both the 1stWorld Cup and the European Championships.

The USA are represented by Matt O’Leary. His last international appearance was at the Lucerne World Cup in 2017 where he finished 9th

My picks…Galambos to continue his good form with Roller in silver and Goretti in bronze.

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Peter Galambos of Hungary. Photo: Zimbio

 

LW1X

16 scullers

Australia’s Georgia Nesbitt was a member of the LW4X that won silver at the 2017 World Championships. Her last international appearance was in the LW4X at the Lucerne World Cup in 2018 when they finished 5th.

Jill Moffatt of Canada raced in the LW4X at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships, just missing out on a medal on both occasions. At last year’s World Championships, she raced in the LW1X reaching the A-Final and finishing 5thoverall.

China have two scullers racing, with the pick of the two being Fang Chen. She doubled up in the LW2X and LW4X at the 2017 World Championships picking up a bronze in the LW4X. In 2018 she just raced the LW4X and won gold at the World Championships. She partnered Mengyin Cheng in the LW2X at the 1stWorld Cup finishing in 6thplace (but the crucially 5 places behind the no.1 Chinese boat).

Silver medallist in the LW4X last season was Denmark’s Mathilde Persson. This season she’s raced at the Europeans reaching the A-Final in the LW1X.

Leonie Pless of Germany is one of the most experienced athletes in the field, having made her senior debut in 2011. She has a number of World Cup medals to her credit. Her best World Championship performance came In 2014 when she raced the LW1X finishing 4th. This season she raced in the LW2X at the Europeans placing 9thoverall.

Giulia Mignemi of Italy was U23 World Champion in 2018 in the BLW4X. She went on to race the light quad at the Senior Worlds in 2018 placing 6th. This season she formed a LW2X for the European Championships with Valentina Rodini reaching the A-Final. Also racing for Italy is Paola Piazzolla. She’s a triple U23 World Champion in the BLW4X and senior World Champion in the Light Quad from 2107. In 2018 she was a member of the LW4X that finished 6that the World Championships.

The oldest competitor in the field is 39-year-old Ursula Grobler of South Africa. She’s making her first appearance since finishing 5thin the LW2X at the Rio Olympics. She’s actually won medals representing three different countries. Her first medal was a LW2X silver at the 2009 World Cup racing for Spain, from 2010 to 2012 she raced for the USA winning a silver in the LW4X in 2010 and then switched to South Africa in 2013 (winning a bronze medal in the LW2X at the 2015 World Championships).

My picks….gold for Piazzolla of Italy, silver for Pless of Germany and bronze for Chen of China.

 

LM2X

24 crews

The leading crew so far this year are Germany, Jason Osborne and Jonathan Rommelmann. Osborne has established himself as the best lightweight sculler in the world at the moment. He won the World Championships last season and for 2019 he has formed a very effective partnership with Rommelmann. At the European Championships they won Germany’s first gold medal in this boat class since the Munich World Cup in 2011 and their first Championship victory since the European Championships in 2010.

Italy are always very strong in Lightweight sculling. Their double of Steffano Oppo and Pietro Ruta both raced as part of the LM4- that finished 4that the Rio Olympics. Post-Rio they moved into the LM2X winning a medal every time they raced including silver medals at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships. So far in 2019 they’ve collected another silver, this time behind Germany at the Europeans.

France are the reigning Olympic Champions, but they have struggled to find a suitable replacement to partner Pierre Houin since Jeremie Azou retired after winning the 2017 World Championships. In 2018 Houin was partnered by Thomas Baroukh but ended up in the C-Final at the World Championships. At the start of 2019 he was joined by Thibault Colard, a pairing that again ended up in the C-final. For this World Cup the French are now trying Hugo Beurey, the 21-year-old won silver in the BLM1X at the U23’s and 12that Senior Worlds last year. At this year’s Europeans he picked up a bronze medal in the LM4X. France have a 2ndLM2X racing, with Houin’s previous partner, Thibault Colard, joined by Ferdinand Ludwig. 18-year-old Ludwig made his senior debut at the Europeans in the bronze medal light quad.

Great Britain are another nation with two boast battling for selection. Racing as GBR1 are Zak Lee-Green and Will Fletcher. Fletcher raced in this event at the Rio Olympics finishing 7th. Injury cut-short his 2017 season and also meant he missed the whole of the 2018 campaign. For 2019 he’s joined by Lee-Green, a World silver medallist in the LM4X in 2017. In 2018 he partnered Jamie Copus in the LM2X finishing 9that the worlds. At the 2019 Europeans Fletcher and Lee-Green finished 10th. GBR2 sees Jamie Copus join Sam Mottram to challenge for selection in the LM2X. As mentioned above, Copus had a seat in the LM2X throughout 2017 and 2018 but missed out for the European Championships. Instead of the LM2X he raced in the LM1X finishing 5th. Mottram raced with Copus at the 2017 World’s and then moved into the LM1X for 2018 winning a bronze medal at the European Championships and taking 8that the Worlds. It’s always fun watching two boats from the same nation battling it out against each other, and there is potentially a lot more at stake than just bragging rights.

China have reunited their double from 2017, Man Sun and Junjie Fan. This pairing won bronze at the 2017 World Championships. Sun has Olympic experience from Rio when he finished 11thin this event. They competed at the 1stWorld cup this year placing 5th.

New Zealand have selected Matt Dunham and Harrison Somerville for 2019. Dunham won silver in the LM1X in 2017 and then partnered Ben Van Dalen in the LM2X in 2018, just missing out on the medals at the World Championships. Poznan marks the senior debut for Somerville, who last raced internationally as a member of the Kiwi U23 team in 2016. He represented New Zealand at the World University Championships last season, winning gold in the LM1X. This is an exciting new combination and a solid A-Final finish in their first regatta together will be a great start.

Poland’s Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski have been racing together as a LM2X for the past 2 seasons. Their best result came at the 2017 World Championships when they finished on the wrong end of a three-way photo-finish for 2nd, 3rdand 4th. In 2018 they made the A-Finals at all three World Cups, taking gold at the 1st, before slipping back to 8that the Worlds. At the first World Cup of this season they won silver behind Belgium and at the Europeans they were edged out of the A-Final but won their B-Final.

The final crew to highlight are the USA. They’ve selected Nick Trojan and Andy Campbell. Campbell, a former U23 World Champion, raced in the LM2X at the Rio Olympics placing 5th. He didn’t race internationally in 2017 and made just one appearance in 2018, winning a bronze medal in the LM1X at the World Championships. Trojan made his senior debut in 2013 when he finished 12that the World championships. He then represented the US in the LM1X at the 2015 and 2017 World Championships.

 

My picks….Hard to go with anyone other than Germany for the gold, behind them it should be a solid battle for the minor medals with Italy getting silver and New Zealand in bronze.

 

LW2X

22 crews

The top-ranked crew from last year’s World Championships competing in Poznan are Switzerland. Patricia Merz and Frederique Rol finished 4thlast year. At the European Championships this season they took bronze, repeating the medal they won at the 2018 Europeans.

The USA finished 2ndat last year’s World Championships, however for the 2019 campaign they have a new line-up, Michelle Sechser and Christine Cavallo. Both of these athletes raced at the 2018 World Championships, with Sechser taking 4thin the LW1X and Cavallo also 4thin the LW4X. Sechser raced in the LW2X during the 2017 season, partnering Emily Schmeig, winning a bronze medal.

The top-ranked crew of 2019 so far are Belarus, Anastasiia Ianina and Alena Furman won gold at the European Championships. Furman (whose tendency to look out of the boat every other stroke must frustrate coaches and crew-mates alike) raced in the W2- in Rio and was European champion in the LW1X in 2018.

Another highly experienced crew are China, Wenyi Huang and Dandan Pan. Despite being only 23, Pan’s senior career already stretches back 8 years, her international debut at the age of 15 saw her win a silver medal in the LW4x in 2011. She’s also won world championship medals in the LW2X taking bronze in 2014. More recently she added to her medal haul in 2018 taking another gold in the LW4X. 5 years pan’s senior, Huang already has two Olympic appearances to her credit. She won silver back in 2012 and followed that up with a bronze in Rio. She made a return to international competition for the first time since Rio this year, winning a silver medal in the LW1X at the 1stWorld Cup. This is a combination with a huge amount of potential, and under the guidance of new chief coach, Paul Thompson, could be China’s strongest contender for a gold medal.

Thompson’s former charges, Great Britain, have two boats racing inn Poznan. The no.1 boat of Ellie Piggott and Imogen Walsh, made a strong start to the season, taking 4that the European Championships. Grant, a former Cambridge Blue, won bronze in the LW1X at last year’s World Championships. Piggott was 5thin this boat class at last year’s Worlds and has a World Championship gold medal to her name from the 2016 LW4X. GBR2 is Emily Craig and Maddy Arlett. They went to the European Championships as spares, but ended up racing the open-weight W2X event, finishing a highly creditable 5th. Craig partnered Piggott in this event last season and was also aa member of the gold medal LW4X from 2016. Arlett raced in the LW4X throughout 2017 and 2018 finishing 5thon both occasions.

France have also made a strong start to the 2019 season. Their double of Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove won silver at the European Championships. This due were 7thin the world in 2017 and in 2018 Tarantola picked up gold medals in the LW1X at both the European and World Championships.

New Zealand have kept faith with the duo that won silver in 2017 and then finished 6thin 2018, Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle. This duo know each other extremely well having won gold together at the 2015 U23 World Championships. McBride joined the senior NZL team in 2015, becoming World Champion in the LW1X in 2015 and 2016 and setting a new World Best Time in the process.

South Africa finished 8that last year’s World Championships and they return with the same line-up this season. Kirsten McCann raced with Ursula Grobler at the Rio Olympics, finishing 5th. She then switched to the LW1X winning the gold in 2017. Her partner for the last two seasons has been Nicole Van Wyk. She made her senior debut in 2018 having won medals as part of the U23 team in 2016 and 2017.

The final crew to mention are Poland. Their crew of Katarzyna Welna and Joanna Dorociack took bronze at the 1stWorld Cup. Dorociack represented Poland in this boat class at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships finishing 4thand 11threspectively. Welna raced in the LW1X last season finishing 8that the World Championships.

My picks….another close battle in prospect. I think the Chinese will take the gold with Belarus in silver and New Zealand in bronze.

 

LM4X

5 crews

Italy will be the overwhelming favourites in this event. They are the defending World Champions and have one member of that crew returning, Catello Amarante. He’s joined by Gabriel Soares, Alfonso Scalzone and Niels Torre. Torre, U23 World Champion in 2018, replaces Lorenzo Fontana from the crew that won at the European Championships.

Austria were 4that the European Championships and their crew includes the Sieber brothers, Paul and Bernhard. This duo raced in the LM2X at the Rio Olympics. They are joined by Sebastian Kabas & Philipp Kellner.

China’squartet all raced at the 1stWorld cup, but in the LM2X, finishing 7thand 8th. Sensen Chen and Tao Zeng took 7thand Zhiyuan Zhang and Fanpu Lyu finished 8th. Zhang and Chen were the LM2X for China at the World Championships in 2018 finishing 22nd.

Norway have two of the crew that finished 8thin this event at last year’s World Championships, Oskar Soedal and Lars Benske. The rest of the quad are Jens Holm and Ola Larsson. Norway raced at the European Championships but withdrew before racing the repecharge due to illness.

The final crew racing is Uzbekistan.Their crew includes Jasurbek Mavlanov and Nurmatov Shakhzod who are making their senior debuts, joining them are Shehroz Hakimov and Anatoliy Krasnov, both of whom have raced at a number of World Cups.

My picks….a comfortable win for Italy with China in silver and Austria in 3rd.

 

So that’s it…..a bit of a marathon, but there promises to be some fantastic racing, that should give a good indication of who is looking good for Olympic qualification.

Image result for Poznan rowing

The Lake Malta course in Poznan, Poland. Photo: British Rowing

World Rowing Cup 1 2019 – A preview

Plovdiv

The purpose built regatta course in Plovdiv – site of the 2018 World Championships and the 1st World Rowing Cup of 2019

The 2019 World Rowing season kicks off where it left off in 2018…at Plovdiv in Bulgaria. The 2018 World Championships venue plays host to the first World Cup of the season, a pivotal season which will see countries attempt to qualify boats for the Olympics at the World Championships in Linz, Austria at the end of August.

The first World Cup is always a bit of a strange beast, it seldom attracts a big entry, but FISA will be particularly concerned as this year entries are particularly low (157 from 24 countries compared with 266 from 41 at the 1stWorld Cup last year). It’s also a concern that, with a few notable exceptions, the quality of the entries isn’t particularly high either. Part of the problem is the relative proximity of the European Championships in Lucerne at the end of the month. Most of the big European rowing nations (GB, Germany, Italy, France) are focusing on the Europeans to open their season rather than the World Cup.

 

But, enough moaning, let’s have a look at who is racing.

 

M1X

16 scullers

 

Plovdiv sees the return of Rio silver medallist, Damir Martin of Croatia. Martin missed most of the 2018 season through injury. His last race of 2018 was a disappointing 16that the European Championships. He’s made a positive start to 2019 with a win at the Croatia Open last month. Martin probably couldn’t have wished for a gentler return to World Cup competition as the next highest ranked single sculler (based on 2018 performance) is Pierre de Loof of Belgium. De Loof finished 14thin Plovdiv last season. The 23-year-old made his senior debut last year racing in both the single and double. His best results was a 12thplace in the single at the Lucerne World Cup.

Damir Martin

Damir Martin of Croatia. Photo: World Rowing

An athlete who has struggled over the last few years is Aleksander Aleksandrov of Azerbaijan. World Rowing’s “Rising Star” of 2013, his career hasn’t progressed as many (me included) predicted. He made his senior debut aged just 17 finishing 12that the 2007 World Championships. He’s won junior and U123 World titles and finished 5that the London Olympics. He moved in the M2X for the Rio Olympiad but finished at the back of the B Final. For the Tokyo Olympiad he’s moved back into the single but has only made the A-Final once (at the 2017 European’s) the rest of 2017 and 2018 were a bit of a disaster culminating in a 21stplace at the World’s last year. However, Aleksandrov has the talent to challenge the best in the world, if he can recapture the form he showed at the 2012 Olympics.

One athlete who has shown good form this season is Aleksandar Filipovic of Serbia. The 26-year old from Smederevo has spent most of his career racing in the M2X with a best performance of silver at the first World Cup in 2015. As a single sculler he finished 5that the U23 World Championships in 2014 and 16that the Belgrade World Cup last year. At the 2018 World Championships he switched to the M4- finishing 11th. However, last month he opened his season racing at the Memorial Paolod’Aloja in Piediluco, Italy where he won the A-Final in the M1X defeating some good quality scullers. It’ll be interesting to see if he can bring that form to Plovdiv and challenge Martin.

Another sculler who raced at Piediluco, finishing 5th, was Robert Ven of Finland. Ven has been Finland’s representative in the single scull since 2011 and his best ever performance at a World Cup was 4thin Varese in 2016. At last year’s World Championships he finished 15th.

Finland also have two other scullers racing in this event with Olli-Pekka Karppinen and Joel Naukkarinen who raced together in the M2X at the final World Cup last season finishing14th.

Mexico’s Juan Carlos Cabrera made his sculling debut in 2012 and has been hovering around the back end of B-Finals, top end of C-Finals since. His best ever performance came at the Rio Olympics where he finished an outstanding 8th(the best ever performance by a Mexican M1X at the Olympic Games). He’s not yet been able to recapture that sort of form since the Olympics, with a 20thplace at the Worlds in 2017 and 27that the first World Cup last year.

Olympic hosts Japan have two scullers racing, Ryuata Arakawa and Tatsuya Sakurama. Arakawa finished 18that the 2017 World Championships and Sakurama makes his senior debut in Plovdiv having raced at the U23 World Championships last season finishing 11thin the BM2X.

Kristian Vasilev of Bulgaria could well be challenging for the minor medals. He’s more known for racing in the M2x and finished 9thin this event at the Rio Olympics. As a single sculler he has a best performance of 8that the European Championships last year.

Also racing in this event are Dusan Slavnic (racing as Serbia 2), Mihail Derevvianco of Moldova, Privel Hinkati of Benin, Pilip Pavukou of Belarus and Mihal Chiruta of Romania.

 

Verdict: This should be a comfortable win for Damir Martin with the rest of the field trailing in his wake. Filipovic in silver with de Loof in bronze.

Edit: Since writing this there have been two withdrawals, Mihal Chiruta of Romania and Aleksandar Filipovic of Serbia. So De Loof in silver and Vasilev in bronze

W1X

8 scullers

 

The smallest entry for a World Cup since 2005, however there is quality among this small field. Ekatarina Karsten of Belarus is the most outstanding athlete in World Rowing. 2019 sees the 47-year old start her 29th international season. Her record is incredible….5 Olympic medals (including 2 gold), 16 World championship medals – 6 of them gold. She’s raced at seven Olympics and is aiming to qualify for her 8th. She always seems happiest when she’s in the single and her 8thplace in Rio show’s she still has the speed to mix it with the best. She raced in the quad last year finishing 8that the World Championships, but it remains to be seen if she’ll be left to race the single this season and at Tokyo (if she qualifies).

Karsten

Ekaterina Karsten

Not too far behind Karsten in the age stakes at the age of 38 is the Czech Republic’s Mirka Topinkova Knapkova. She’s the London 2012 Olympic Champion and also has 6 World Championship medals to her credit – including gold in 2011. She made her debut in 2001 and is looking to qualify for her 5thOlympic Games. She took a year off after Rio and having spent her entire career racing in the W1X she made the somewhat surprising decision to race in the quad for 2018. A disappointing 14thplace at the World Championships sees her move back into her preferred boat for 2019.

Behind these two the next athlete to highlight is China’s Yan Jiang. She was a member of the W4X that finished 6thin Rio and has been racing in crew sculling boats since her international debut in 2010. Her best result was a silver medal in the W4X at the 2014 World Championships. She carried on racing in the Quad after Rio finishing 7thin 2017 before moving to the W2X half way through the 2018 season culminating in a 9thplace at the 2018 Worlds. As a single sculler she’s a bit of an unknown quantity but has a strong pedigree so will certainly be challenging for the medals.

Bulgaria’s Desislava Georgieva is still only 21 but already has 7 years of international experience. She made her debut as a junior back in 2012 and then her senior debut 3 years later. Last season she raced at the Belgrade World Cup, finishing 16th, before going on to win a bronze medal at the U23 World Championships. Clearer a name to watch for the future.

Bulgaria have 2 sculler racing with the no.2 being Madlen Markova, she more than half the age of Karsten and Knapkova and Plovdiv sees her make her senior international debut following three years on the Bulgarian junior team. Racing against such quality opposition will be great experience for the youngster.

Another experienced athlete is Jovana Arsic of Serbia. She’s spent the last few seasons racing in the W2- with a best result of 9that the 2018 European Championships. Prior to 2016 she raced in the single placing 23rdin 2015. She’s made a good start to her 2019 campaign, taking the silver medal at the Memorial Paolo D’Aloja Regatta in Piediluco.

Another young athlete racing is Romanian Larisa Elena Rosu. The 19-year-old was junior World Champion in 2017. She made her senior debut last year racing in the W2X that finished 18that the World Championships.

The eighth sculler racing is Tatiana Contevicenco of Moldova. She made her senior debut aged 18 at the Bled World Cup in 2015 and raced at the U23 World Championships in 2015, 2017 and 2018.

 

Verdict: a battle between the old guard….Topinkova Knapkova to take the gold ahead of Karsten with Jiang in bronze.

Edit: since writing this Larisa Elena Rosu has withdrawn and Lisa Schenaard and Kirsten Wielaard of The Netherlands have been added.

 

M2X

15 crews

 

This event has the makings of being quite competitive, there is no standout crew. Perhaps marginal favourites will be the Romanians, Ioan Prundeanu and Marian-Florian Enache. They have been racing as a double for a couple of years and made the A-Final of the World Championships last year and also won silver at the European Championships. This season they have already notched up a win in Piediluco.

Image result for Ioan Prundeanu and Marian-Florian Enache.

Ioan Prundeanu and Marian-Florian Enache of Romania. Photo: Zimbio

The main challengers to the Romanians are likely to be the Belarussians, Stanislau Shcharbachenia and Dzianis Mihal. Shcharbachenia made his senior debut whilst still a junior in 2002 and is looking to try and qualify for his 5thOlympic Games. Mihal made his senior debut in 2004 and is aiming to qualify for his 4thGames. This duo raced together as a double at the Beijing Olympics finishing 7th. In Rio Mihal rowed in the M4- that came 9thwhereas Shcharbachenia moved into the 1X and took an excellent 5th. Now reunited, it’ll be interesting to see if this duo has the same sort of speed they showed in 2008.

Poland have two strong doubles racing in Plovdiv. Racing as Poland 1 are Dominik Czaja and Adam Wicenciak. They were both members of the M4X that finished 5thin 2017. Wicenciak then moved into the single racing at the 2ndWorld Cup in 2018. Czaja remained in the M4X winning bronze at the Europeans and then finishing 6that the World Championships. Poland 2 is Maciej Zawoiski and Szymon Posnik. They also rowed in the quad last year that won bronze at the Europeans and finished 6that Worlds.

Hungary also have two crews racing, Hungary 1 is Bendeguz Petevari-Molnar and Adrian Juhasz. Petevari-Molnar was Hungary’s representative in the M1X at the Rio Olympics where he finished 14th. Juhasz made his senior debut in 2007 and since 2009 has raced almost exclusively in a pair with Bela Simon including. 9thplace at the Rio Olympics and gold in the M2+ at the 2017 World Championships. However, 12thplace in the M2- last year was a disappointment so it’ll be interesting to see what sort of speed this new combination has.

The 2ndHungarian crew is Kristof Acs and Mate Backsai both of whom are making their senior debuts having raced in the U23 BM4X last year that finished 4th.

China have three crews racing, China 1 is Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang, both of whom were in the M4X that came 13thin 2017, China 2 also includes a member of that 2017 crew, Xudi Yi and he’s joined by Ha Zang who missed out on qualification for the Rio Games in the M2X at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta. China 3 contains the 4thmember of the 2017 quad, Quan Zhang along withDang Liu who raced in the quad back in 2015.

Also racing are two Bulgarian crews, Rangel Katsarski and Stanmir Haladzhov who raced the M2- last season finishing 23rd and international debutants Nikolay Georgiev and Georgi Chavdarski.

Romania also have a 2nd crew racing, Julian Nestian and Gheorghe-Robert Dedu. Nestian is making his senior debut having raced at the Junior Worlds last year. Dedu is a junior and U23 World medallist and made his senior debut at the 2016 World Cup in Varese.

The other crews racing are Japan (Tomokazu Kuribara and Keita Yamao) 14that the 3rdWorld Cup last year, Spain (Ruben Padilla and Jordi Jofre Senciales) and the Zimbabweans Stephen Cox and Peter Purcell-Gilpin (20th in the World last year).

 

Verdict: Romania 1 in gold, followed by Belarus in silver and Poland 1 in bronze.

Edit: Both Romanian crews have withdrawn, so Belarus in gold, Poland 1 in silver and Poland 2 in bronze

 

 

W2X

9 crews

 

This has the makings of a three-way battle between the Dutch, Belarussians and Romanians. The Dutch, Roos De Jong & Lisa Scheenaard were 5that last year’s World Championships and also took silver at the Europeans last year. In 2017 Scheenaard raced in the W1X finishing 5th. De Jong raced in the double with Marloes Oldenburg in 2017 finishing 8th. Belarus have Krystsina Staraselets and Tatsiana Klimovich. This duo were U23 World Champions in the BW2X in 2017 and then finished 6that the 1stWorld Cup in 2018. They both then moved into the quad for the World Championships taking 8th. The Romanians have a pair of 20-year-old’s with Nicoleta-Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Geanina Radis. They were 8that the U23 World Championships last year and followed that up with 18that the senior Worlds. They’ve made a strong start to this season with a win in Piediluco which included beating the reigning World Champions from Lithuania.

Poland will also be challenging for the medals with the same line-up that finished 8that last year’s World Championships, Krstyna Lemanczyk-Dobrzelak and Martyna Radosz. Radosz is a former lightweight (when she raced under her maiden name Mikolajczak). She finished 7thin the LW2X at the Rio Games and then won gold at the European championships in 2017. She switched to openweight in 2018 where she and Lemanczyk-Dobrzelak finshed 6that the Europeans and then 8that Worlds. For her part, Lemanczyk-Dobrzelak is a two-time U23 World Champion and made her senior debut in 2018.

China have two doubles racing with China 1 Shiyu Lu and Yuwei Wang and China 2 Hairong Zhang and Qinyue Hou. Lu finished 10thin the BW1X at last year’s U23 World Championships. She joins the very experienced Wang who was 4thin the W4X last year and bronze medallist the year before. She was also in the quad that finished 6that the Rio Olympics. 18-year-old Zhang in China 2 is making her international debut with Hou who makes her senior debut having finished 6thin the JW2- in 2017. Also racing are the Japanese (Haruna Sakakibara and Shiho Yonekawa), Cuba (Aimee Hernandez Delgado and Yariulvis Cobas Garcia) and Hungary (Zoltana Gadanyi and Vivien Preil).

 

Verdict: This should be a good contest, but I’m going for a Dutch win with the young Romanians in silver and Belarus in bronze.

Edit: Both The Netherlands and Romania have withdrawn, so Belarus up to gold with Poland in silver and China 1 in bronze.

 

M2-

17 pairs

Sinkovic M2-

The Sinkovic brothers from Croatia

This should be another good contest and is the only event at the regatta with the reigning World Championship gold and silver medallists facing each other. Martin and Valent Sinkovic of Croatia won gold last year, but they were pushed hard by the Romanians Marius Vasile Cozmuic and Ciprian Tudosa. The Romanians also won in Piediluco last month (beating the 2017 World Champions from Italy in the process). The Sinkovic’s are probably the most famous crew in World Rowing at the moment, having dominated in the double Scull during the Rio Olympiad, they are now looking for the same dominance in the pair. After a slightly stuttering start in 2017 they established their dominance in 2018 winning both the European and World titles. For the Romanians Cozmuic is the more experienced having raced at both the London and Rio Olympics, but it’s since forming the pair with Tudosa that they have emerged as genuine medal contenders.

These two boats will be significantly ahead of the rest of the field. The chasing pack will most likely be led by the Spanish, Jaime Canalejo Pazos and Javier Garcia Ordonez. They raced together in the M4- 2017 finishing 7th, but since forming a pair in 2018 they’ve established themselves as regular A-Finalists finishing 4that the Lucerne World Cup and 6that the World Championships.

The 2ndRomanian crew, Dumitru-Alexandru Ciobica and Florin-Sorin Lehaci are an exciting young crew with Lehaci just turned 20 and Ciobica still 19. They were silver medallists at the U23 World Championships last year and for Ciobica Plovdiv sees his senior international debut. Lehaci raced in the M8 at the 1stWorld Cup last year winning a bronze medal. They will be an exciting combination to watch in the future.

Another established combination are the Belorussians Dzmitry Furman and Siarhei Valadzko. They finished 11that the World Championships last year and one place better than that in 2017.

Serbia have three pairs racing with the no.1 crew of Martin Mackovic and Milos Vasic. Mackovic made his senior debut in 2014 whilst still 18 and became a senior world medallist taking bronze in the M2+ in 2015 and then U23 World champion the year after. Vasic has raced at both the London and Rio Olympics finishing 10thin the pair in 2016 with Nenad Bedik and then finished 9thlast year. Serbia 2 are the Bedik brothers, Nenad and Aleksandar. As mentioned above, Nenad partnered Vasic last year and at the Rio Olympics. The younger Bedik, Aleksandar, made his senior debut in 2017 and raced in the M2X in 2018 finishing 12th(out of 12) at the World Championships. Serbia 3 are Igor Djeric and Viktor Pivac. Pivac is a multiple U23 and Senior World medallist with a bronze in the M2+ in 2015 and U23 gold in 2016. Djeric raced at the European Championships last season, finishing 12thin the M2X.

Another nation with three boats racing is Poland. Their number 1 boat is Piotr Juszcak and Dariusz Radosz.Juszcak has spent most of his senior career rowing in the Polish 8, and was in that crew at both the London and Rio Olympics. Last season saw him move to the pair for the World Championships and finish 14th. Radosz has spent almost all of his senior career as a part of the Polish sculling squad finishing 4thin the quad at the Rio Olympics and then 5that the 2017 World Championships. He didn’t compete in 2018 and in Plovdiv makes his first international appearance in a sweep boat for 12 years. It remains to be seen if either of these athletes remain in the pair for the rest of the season. Racing as Poland 2 are Mateusz Wilangowski and Marcin Brzezinski. This is another pair of highly experienced athletes with both of them having rowed in the Polish M8 at the Rio Olympics and Brzezinski also having rowed in that boat at the London Games. Brzezinski partnered Juszcak in the M2- at last year’s Worlds and Wilangowski finished 7thin the M4-. Poland 3 is Lucasz Posylajka and Bartosz Modrzynski. This pair were the Polish U23 crew last season that finished 9that the U23 World Championships and then went on to finish 13that the European Championships. Also racing are two Hungarian pairs with HUN1 Marton Szabo and Gergely Pap and HUN2 Kalman Furko and Bence Szabo and also pairs from China (Xuman Cheng and Pengpeng Cai) and Japan (Yoshihiro Otsuka and Yuta Takano)

 

Verdict: It’ll be a surprise if Croatia don’t take the win, but they will be pushed hard by both the Romanian pairs and the Spanish. I’ll go with Romania taking both the silver and bronze.

Edit: 7 crews have withdrawn since writing, Hungary 1, Poland 2 & 3, Serbia 2, Japan, Romania 1 & 2. So Spain to take silver and Poland in bronze.

W2-

15 pairs

 

This has the making of a USA clean sweep, they have no fewer than four pairs racing with all 8 athletes having won world or Olympic gold. Racing as USA1 are Madeleine Wanamaker and Erin Reelick. Both of these athletes were in the W4- that won gold at the World Championships last season. Wanamaker, from Princeton, New Jersey and a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, made her senior debut in 2018 having won silver in the U23 W8 in 2017. Reelick, a Princeton graduate, was U23 World Champion in 2015 and raced in the W4- at both the 2017 and 2018 World Championships.

USA2 are Felice Mueller and Emily Regan. They were both members of the gold medal W8 at last year’s World Championships. Mueller was in this boat at the Rio Olympics finishing 4thand is also a world gold medallist in the W4- in 2013 and has world bronze medals from 2014 and 2015 in the W4X and W2-. Regan won gold in the W8 at the Rio Olympics and also has World Championship golds form 2011 (W4-), 2013 and 2015 (W8). USA3 is Meghan Musnicki and Brooke Mooney. Musnicki is a two-time Olympic champion having won golds in the W8 at both the London and Rio Games. She’s making her first international appearance since the Rio final. The 36-year-old is one of the most experienced athletes on the US team, and she’s paired with the least experienced, Brooke Mooney makes her international debut in Plovdiv. The 23-year-old graduated from the University of Washington last year, and was a member of their outstanding Varsity 8 that won the PAC-12 Championships last year. The 4thand final US boat comprises Olivia Coffey and Emily Huelskamp. Coffey is another member of the World Championship winning W8 from 2018. She also has a World Championship gold from the W4X in 2015. Huelskamp was World champion in the W4- back in 2013 and won silver in the same boat class in 2016. For 2017 and 2018 she raced in the W4X reaching the A-Final on both occasions.

Outside of the US crews the leading contenders may well be the Romanian no.1 crew, Adriana Ailincai and Maria Tivodariu. They are a young pairing and were junior World Champions in 2017. They raced in the senior W8 last season that won the European Championships and then finished 5that the World Championships. They are one of three Romanian pairs racing. Romania 2 is Roxana-Iuliana Anghel and Maria-Magdalena Rusu. They are another young pair, both of whom are making their senior debuts having raced in the U23 BW8 last season. Romania 3 is Alina Ligia Pop and Iuliana Buhus. Pop has won a number of junior and U23 World medals and won her first senior medal by taking silver in the W4- at the 2017 European Championships. In 2018 she was a member of the W8 that finished 5that the Worlds. Buhus was another member of the silver medal W4- at the 2017 Europeans and went on to row in that boat class at last year’s World’s finishing 11th.

At the 2018 World Championships Spain produced a superb performance to win a bronze medal in the W2-. It looked as though that crew, Aina Cid and Anna Boada Peiro had had a breakout season and could become serious contenders for Tokyo. However, last year Boada Peiro announced her immediate retirement from the sport at the age of 26 due to depression. This left the Spanish coaches needing to find a new partner for Cid. They have turned to Virginia Diaz Rivas. She has spent the majority of her senior career as Spain’s single sculler (although she did double up in the W1X and W2- at the 2015 Worlds). At the 2018 Worlds she finished 2ndin the C final to take 14thoverall.

The Netherlands have two strong boats racing. The number 1 crew is Aletta Jorritsma and Jose Van Veen. They were both members of the W8 that finished 4thlast year and both also have Olympic experience. Jorritsma raced in this boat class, finishing 13thand Van Veen was in the Olympic W8 that came 6th. Netherlands 2 is Lies Rustenburg and Monica Lanz. They were both members of the Olympic W8 with Lanz also being in the W8 last season and Rustenburg racing in the W4-.

China also have two crew racing with the stronger boat looking to be China 2 with Xinyu Lin and Rui Ju. This pairing raced at the 2018 World Championships reaching the A-Final and finishing 5thoverall. The No.1 China boat contains Miaomiao Qin and Linlin Guo. Qin raced in the w8 that finished 8thlast year with Guo competing in the W4- that finished 6th.

Also racing are the Hungarians, Dora Polivka and Eszter Kremer, 12thin the World last year, the Poles, Anna Wierzbowska and Monika Sobieszek who finished one place behind the Hungarians and a pair from Japan, Yui Nishida and Akiho Takano, both of whom are making their senior debuts.

 

Verdict: it’s going to be tough for any nation other than the US to take a medal. I’m going for USA2 (Mueller/Regan) to win gold ahead of team mates USA4 (Coffey/Huelskamp) in silver with the Netherlands 1 (Jorritsma/Van Veen) spoiling the clean sweep.

Image result for felice mueller

Felice Mueller of the USA

Edit: Three pairs have withdrawn prior to the draw, Romania 1 & 2 and The Netherlands 2

 

M4X

6 crews

 

Poland look to be the dominant crew in this event. They have three of the crew that finished 4that the Rio Olympics (Mateusz Biksup, Wiktor Chabel & Miroslow Zietarski). Buksup and Zietarski were silver medallists in the M2X in 2017 and 8thlast year. The fourth member of the crew is Fabian Baranski. The 19-year-old is making his senior debut having won bronze in the BM2X at last year’s U23 World Championships.

The Poles should be a long way ahead of the rest of the field, which is made up primarily of U23 or lightweight quads.

Austria look like they have their LM4X bumped up to heavyweight. The boat includes the Seiber brothers, Paul and Bernhard who were the Austrian LM2X at the Rio Olympics, along with Sebastian Kabas who was 4thin the LM4X last year and Philipp Kelner who makes his senior debut having finished 12thin the BM4X at the U23 World’s last year.

Both the Romanian andMoldovan quads are made up of U23 athletes with the Moldovan quad containing 3 of the crew that finished 8that last year’s U23’s.

Mexico have entered a M4X for the first time at a World Cup since 2001. Their crew includes Hugo Carpio Garcia – 8thin the LM4X last year, Jordy Guiterrez – making his senior debut after finishing 6thin the JM2- in 2017, Diego Sanchez Sanchez – 18thin the M2X in 2017 and Miguel Carballo Nieto – making his senior debut after last competing internationally as an U23 in 2013.

The final crew racing is China. Their crew is Xudi Yi, who raced in the M8 at the Lucerne World Cup last year and was in the M4X that finished 13thin 2017. Ha Zang – who last raced internationally at the 2016 Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta when his M2X was eliminated at the repecharge stage. Dang Liu – who last raced internationally at the 2015 World Championships finishing 15thin the M4X and Quan Zhang – who was also in the M4X that finished 13thlast year.

 

Verdict – If Poland don’t win this by an ocean of clear water then I’ll be very surprised. Behind them I’d probably pick Romania in silver and China in bronze.

Edit: China withdrew before the draw. So Austria in bronze.

 

W4X

3 crews

 

As is often the case at the first World Cup the entry for the W4X is very small, the last time there were more than 6 entries (i.e. anything other than a straight final) was in 2012. But, unlike the M4X entries, all three entries for the W4X look to be of decent quality. Favourites for the gold will be The Netherlands.They have the same crew that won gold in 2017 with Olivia Janssen returning to international competition for the first time since 2017. She and Nicole Beukers were in the quad that took silver at the Rio Olympics. Their team mates, Inge Van Roojien and Sophie Souwer were in the Dutch W8 that finished 6thin Rio. Beukers, Van Roojien and Souwer were in the quad that finished 3rdin the World last year.

 

One place behind the Dutch at last year’s World Championships was China. They have three of that crew returning (Ling Zhang, Yang Lyu and Xiaotong Cui) the fourth member of the crew is Yunxia Chen who raced in the W2X last season finishing 9th.

 

The third crew in the event is Romania.They are a young crew with three of the boat that finished 5that the European Championships and 10that the Worlds (Elena Logofatu, Georgiana Vasile and Nicoleta Pascanu). The final member of the crew is Tabita Maftei, she’s had an outstanding junior career winning gold in the JW4X in 2017 and the JW1X in 2018. She also picked up a bronze medal in the JW2- at the Youth Olympic Games.

 

Verdict – This should be a win for the Dutch, but behind them it should be a good battle between the Chinese and Romanians for the lesser medals. China in silver and Romania bronze.

Edit: Romania withdrew prior to the draw making this a 2 boat race between China and The Netherlands.

M4-

9 crews

 

Three Romanian and two Polish crews along with Spain, Austria, Croatia and China.

Austria have kept the same line-up that finished 16that the 2018 World Championships (Florian Walk, Max Kohlmayr, Rudolph Querfeld & Gabriel Hohensasser). China have a young crew (average age of 20), three of whom are making their international debuts (Wenlei Wu, Zhenfeng Goa and Mingyong Wang) they are joined by Songhu Zhang who raced in the M8 at the Lucerne World Cup last year. Spain have also kept faith with the same line-up that raced at last year’s World Championships, finishing 15th(Ismael Carazo Tobar, Jon Montes, Jaime Lara Pacheco & Marco Sardelli Gill). But, the medals are likely to be fought out between the Romanians and the Poles. Poland have a number of athletes who are doubling-up in the M2- with the number one Polish boat containing Marcin Brzezinski and Mateusz Wilangowski doubling up along with Mikolaj Burda and Michal Szpakowski. All four of this crew were in the M8 at the Rio Olympics with Brzezinski, Burda and Szpawowski all having raced in the M8 at the London Olympics as well. Last year Wilangowski, Burda and Szpawowski raced in the M4- that finished 7that the World Championships, with Brzezinski racing in the M2-.

Poland 2 are all doubling up in the M2- with a crew of Dariusz Radosz, Bartosz Modrzynski, Lucasz Posylajka and Piotr Juszczak.

The three Romanian crews are all young, each with an average age of just 20. The leading crew are Romania 1 with Mihaita-Vasile Tiganescu, Cosmin Pescari, Stefan-Constantin Berariu & Ciprian Huc. This quartet were U23 World Champions and Senior European Champions last year. They went on to race at the Senior Worlds finishing 5th. Romania 2 are George Catruna, Marian Ciresa, Florin Ceobanu and Nic-Iulian Chelaru. All four are making their senior debuts. Romania 3 are Andrei-Alexandru Tanasa, Mugurel Vasile Semciuc, Alexandru Chioseaua and Alexandru-Laurentiu Danciu. Semciuc and Chioseaua were both members of the U23 BM8 that won bronze last year. Danciu is a Junior World Chaampion from the JM2- last year.

 

Verdict: It should be a good contest between the top Polish and Romanian boats. I’ll go for Romania 1 in gold with Poland 1 in silver and Poland 2 in bronze.

Edit: Romania 1 and Poland 2 have withdrawn. So Poland in gold, Croatia in silver and Spain in bronze.

 

W4-

10 crews

 

Whilst there are ten crews entered these come from just four countries – The USA,China, The Netherlands and Romania.

This has the makings of a shut-out by the USA (many of whom are doubling-up in the W2-)

Only one athlete across the three boats is not World or Olympic champions (Brooke Mooney who makes her international debut in Plovdiv) I think it’s not a case of will the US win, but which US crew wins the gold, which the silver and which the bronze. Racing as USA 1 are Victoria Opitz, Gia Doonan, Kristine O’Brien and Molly Bruggeman. All but Bruggeman were in the gold medal W8 last season, and Bruuggeman herself won gold in the W4-.

USA2 contains Brooke Mooney along with three Olympic or World Champions Meghan Musnicki, Emily Regan and Felice Mueller. USA3 has Olivia Coffey, Megan Kalmoe, Tracy Eisser and Emily Huelskamp. Coffey and Eisser were World Champions in the W8 last season, Kalmoe from the W4X in 2015 and Huelskamp in this boat class back in 2013.

The Netherlands have two crews entered. Their no.1 crew is based around the 2017 U23 BW4- (Karolijn Florijn, Ymkje Clevering and Veronique Meester), the fourth member of the crew is Ellen Hogerwerf – she raced in the W8 at the Rio Olympics and last season was in the W8 (with Clevering) that finished 4th. Florijn has moved across from the Quad in which she won a bronze medal last year.

The Netherlands 2nd boat has half the crew that finished 8th in this boat class last year (Lisanne Brandsma and Laila Youssifou), they are joined by Hermijntje Drenth who was 14thin the W2- last year, and Mieke Wilms – who makes her senior debut after winning a silver medal in the U23 BW4X.

The number 1 Romanian crew has three of the crew that shocked the rowing world by defeating the USA W8 in 2017 (Ioana Vrinceanu, Viviana-Iuliana Bejinariu and Denisa Tilvescu). The fourth member of the crew is Amalia Beres who makes her senior debut having won silver in the U23 BW4- last season. The 2ndRomanian boat is a young crew with Madalina Heghes from the silver medal BW4-, Ioana-Madalina Morosan and Andrea-Ioana Budenau from the 7thplaced U23 BW8 and former junior international Dumitrita Juncanariu.

China also have 2 boats racing with their no.1 crew containing half the crew that finished 6thlast year (Min Zhang and Fei Wang), joining them are Xingye Xu from the 6thplaced W8 in 2018 and Zifeng Wang who won bronze in the U23 BW4- last year. China 2 has Yanwei Zhong and Kaifeng Huang from the 2018 W8 that finished 6thalong with Liqin Li from the 6thplaced W4- and international debutant Keke Xia.

 

Verdict: Whilst the Romanians and Dutch will do their best to avoid a clean sweep for the Americans, I don’t think they will be successful. I’ll go for USA1, USA2 and USA3 for the medals in that order.

Edit: 2 crews have withdrawn prior to the draw, Romania 1 and The Netherlands 2.

 

M8

4 crews

4 boats but from only 2 countries. It’s Romania v Poland.

Poland are traditionally very strong in the M8, however their top athletes look to be racing in smaller boats in Plovdiv. Their M8 entry is based around their U23 BM8 from last year, with four members of the crew which finished 5th(Jakub Aleksandrowicz, Bartosz Leszcynski, Jakub Jankowski and Patryk Przekopski) plus another U23 athlete, Filip Leszczynski.  They do have a couple of athletes with senior experience, with Robert Fuchs (who rowed in the M8 at the Rio Olympics) and Adrian Pawlowski (who raced at the 1stWorld Cup last year). The rest of the crew are all making their international debuts (Adam Wozniak and Tomasz Skurzynski).

The number 1 Romanian crew is the virtually the same line-up to the crew that finished 6that last year’s World Championships (with just 2 changes). The 2ndRomanian boat are all making their senior debuts having rowed in either the U23 or Junior teams (the one exception is their cox, Stefan Florin, who, at 50, is old enough to be the father for the whole crew and last raced internationally 7 years ago). Romania 3 has two of the crew that raced at the senior Worlds last year (Cristi-Illie Prighie and Adrian Damii) the rest of the crew, like the no.2 boat, is made up of junior and U23 athletes.

 

Verdict: unfortunately, this is one of the weakest entries for a M8 at a World Cup for many years with the majority of the crews being U23. The one exception is the No.1 Romanian crew who should win this comfortably. I’ll pick Romania 3 in silver and Poland in bronze.

Edit: a weak entry has become even weaker with the withdrawal of Romania 1 and 3

W8

4 crews

2 boats from Romania (the organisers must be thankful the Romanians brought so many crews!) and one each from The Netherlands and China.But, despite the small number of entries it promises to be a good race between the Dutch and the Romanians (both of whom are doubling up in other events). The Dutch crew is Lies Rustenburg, Hermijntje Drenth, Monica Lanz, Mieke Wilms, Marloes Oldenburg, Lisanne Brandsma, Elsbeth Beeres, Laila Youssifou and Ae-Ri Noort. This crew has a wealth of experience including racing at the Olympics and have won medals at the European Championships. The number 1 Romanian crew includes two athletes who won the World title in 2017 (Daniela Druncea and Iuliana Popa) the crew also contains three of the crew that won the W4- at the 2018 European Championships (Madalina Heghes, Madalina-Gabriela Casu and Roxana Parascanu). The 2nd Romanian boat is predominantly made up of their 2018 bronze medal JW8 along with 3 members of their 7th place U23 BW8. The Chinese are also doubling-up, and the core of their crew are four members of the W8 that finished 8thin the world last year (Yingying Li, Yanwei Zhong, Fei Xu and Kaifeng Huang).

The Romanian 2nd crew look like they will be outclassed by the rest of the field, but it should be a good race between the Dutch, Romania 1 and Chinese boats. I’ll go for a Dutch win with Romania 1 in 2nd and China in 3rd.

Edit: Romania 1 have withdrawn, so the Dutch for the win with China 2nd and Romania 2 in bronze.

LM2X

10 crews

This promises to be an interesting contest between the Belgians and the Chinese. Belgium have Tim Brys and Niels Van Zandweghe. They won bronze in this event at the 2018 World Championships and were 5thin the world in 2017. China have three boats entered, but it’s their No.1 crew who look to be the best bet for a medal, Man Sun and Junjie Fan raced together in 2017 winning a bronze medal at the World Championships. Man raced in the LM1X at the 2018 World championships where he finished 5th. Fan raced in the LM2X at the 2ndWorld Cup with Sensen Chen, but could only manage 14th.  Chen is racing in the China 2 boat along with Tao Zeng, who last raced internationally at the Lucerne World cup in 2016 where he came 9thin the LM2-. China 3 has Fanqu Lyu and Zhiyuan Zhang. Lyu was 8thin the LM4X in 2017 and Zhang partnered Sensen Chen at the World Championships finishing 22nd.

Image result for Tim Brys and Niels Van Zandweghe

Tim Brys and Niels Van Zandweghe of Belgium. Photo: Team Belgium

Another strong contender for the medals are Poland, their crew of Jerzy Kowalski and Milosz Jankowski have been racing together for the past few seasons, they finished 4thin 2017 and 8th last season. Spain could also get among the medals with their crew of Manel Balastegui and Rodrigo Conde Romero. This duo were U23 World Champions in 2017 and Conde Romero raced in this boat class last year with Patricio Rojas Anzar finishing 6th.

Also racing are the Austrians (Matthias Taborsky and Julian Schoerbel), two crews from Japan (Kakeru Sato and Masahiro Takedain JPN1 and Mitsuo Nishimura and Yuki Ikeda in JPN2) and the final crew entered are the Portugeuse with the evergreen Pedro Fraga (now in his 19th season) joined by Afonso Costa.

 

My picks….Belgium in gold with China 1 in 2ndand Spain in 3rd.

 

LW2X

13 entries

It looks like the Lightweight women may provide the best racing of the whole regatta. This event pits the reigning World Champions from Romania against the Dutch who include one of the reigning Olympic Champions, throw into the mix the Chinese, who have two of the World Champion gold medal LW4X racing and it promises to be quite a contest.

The Romanians will start as favourites, Ionela-Livia Cozmuic and Gianina-Elena Beleaga, were 8thin Rio when they were both still only 21. Since then they have won the World Championships in both 2017 and 2018 and are one of the outstanding crews in World Rowing at the moment.

The Netherlands are the reigning Olympic champions, but only have half of that crew racing in Plovdiv, Ilse Paulis. In 2018 she partnered Marieke Keijser and together they won the European Championships and took bronze at the World Champs. This season she’s partnered by 22-year-old Martine Veldhuis. She made her senior debut last season racing in the LW1X at the World Championships last season finishing 7th. She also has silver medals from the U23 World Championships from both 2017 and 2018. This is an exciting new combination and should be a good test for the Romanians.

China have three boats racing, but it’s the no.1 crew of Dandan Pan and Fang Chen who look the fastest. They were both in this boat class in 2017 and finished 10th. Last season they moved to the LW4X and won gold at the World Championships. Pan has multiple world medals to her credit, winning her first at the age of 16 when she took silver in the LW4X in 2011. She followed that up with bronze in the LW2X in 2014.

Poland are another nation who have tweaked their line-up from last year. Joanna Dorociak finished a disappointing 11thlast year with (Weronika Deresz) having won silver at the European Championships and gold at the Lucerne World Cup. This season she has a new partner, Katazyna Welna– she raced in the LW1X last season finishing 8that the World championships.

Other crews to watch out for are the Japanese no.1. crew of Chiaki Tomita and Ayami Oishi (12that the Rio Olympics), Austria – Louisa Altenhuber and Laura Arndorfer (14that the World Championships in 2018) and the Spanish – Rocio Lao Sanchez and Natalia Miguel Gomez (16th last year). Also racing are two more Chinese crews, a 2nd Japanese crew and Portugal.

 

Verdict: the Romanians will be tough to beat, especially by new combinations. Romania for gold with the Netherlands in silver and Poland in bronze.

Edit: Romania 1 have withdrawn so gold for The Netherlands, Poland in bronze and China 2 in bronze.

 

LM1X

11 scullers

There are some well known names in the field for this event. Slovenian Rajko Hrvat,Hungarian Peter Galambos and Croatian Luka Radonic have been racing each other in this event for the last 5-6 seasons. All three have a host of World Cup, European and World Championship medals. Hrvat has the dubious honour of having capsized whilst leading the quarterfinal at the 2017 World Championships resulting in him being relegated to the C Final. But, it’s not just about these three, there are two Polish scullers who will be looking to muscle in on the medals, Artur Mikolaiczewski and Milosz Jankowski represented Poland in the LM2X at the Rio Olympics finishing 6th. Also racing are Lazar Penev of Bulgaria (19thin the World last year), Yuta Arai of Japan (8thin the U23 BLM4X in 2018), Vadim Bezdetnyy of Moldova (20that the European Junior Championships), Patricio Rojas Aznar of Spain (6thin the LM2X in 2018), Bence Tamas racing as Hungary 2 (9thin the LM4X) and Dinis Costa of Portugal (12thin this boat class at the European Championships last year).

 

Verdict: Galambos in gold with Hrvat silver and Radonic bronze.

Edit: Mikolaiczewski of Poland has withdrawn

LW1X

7 scullers

Belarus’s Alena Furmanwill probably be the marginal favourite in this event. She made her senior debut in 2010 finishing 5thin the LW2X at the European Championships, that same year she won gold in the U23 BLW1X and repeated that win two years later. Her first senior medal was LW1X bronze at the 2012 World Championships. In 2015 she switched to openweight (why is it “Openweight” for women, but “Heavyweight” for men??) racing in the W2- at the World Championships, she went on to race in that boat class at the Rio Olympics before switching back to lightweight for 2018. She won gold at the European Championships and finished 6that the Worlds.

The main challenger to Furman will be China’s Wenyi Huang.Plovdiv is her first international regatta since winning bronze in the LW2X at the Rio Olympics. She made her debut in 2010 and won her first medal at the Munich World Cup that year (silver in the LW2X). At the London Olympics she won silver in the LW2X and followed that up with a World Championship bronze medal in 2014.

These two are likely to be well ahead of the rest of the field, which is likely going to be led by Mexico’s Kenia Lechuga Alanis(7thin the LW1X in 2017) and Austria’s Anja Manoutscheri(13thlast year). Also racing are Moldova’s Yulia Narivonchik(who last raced as a junior in 2014), Bulgaria’s Antoaneta Karaivanova(who makes her international debut in Plovdiv) and Xiaoyu Yuan(who makes her senior debut after racing in the U23’s in 2016).

 

Verdict: Huang of China has the pedigree, but she’s not raced in nearly 3 years…I’m going for Furman in gold with Huang in silver with Lechunga Alanis of Mexico in bronze.

Edit: Xiaoyu Yuan of China has withdrawn

So those are the crews racing in Plovdiv. Next up will be the European Championships in Lucerne at the end of the month, an event were we will see the full squads from Germany, Great Britain, France and Italy make their season’s debuts.