In my earlier blog (Henley Women’s preview) I talked about this weekend being a “veritable smorgasbord of rowing”. In that blog I previewed the Henley Women’s Regatta, now it’s time to look at the other big event 15 miles down the road at Eton Dorney. It’s time for the 2nd Rowing World Cup.
The 2nd World Cup’s always suffer a little with low entries, but even taking that into consideration the entry for Dorney is best described as “disappointing”. For the first time since Princeton in 2001 there are no entries in the Women’s 8. The sole entry from the host nation has had to be split into other boats.
But, putting that aside, there should be a good crowd at Dorney as the British love their rowing and the event is pretty much sold out. Also on the first day of racing there will be over 1000 school children screaming their heads off, thanks to an initiative from GB squad member, Nathanial Reilly-O’Donnell, who has persuaded local companies and individuals to sponsor classes of 30 kids to come along and get a taste of some world class rowing. Initially this looked in jeopardy as FISA planned to run all the races on Friday as Time Trials. But, following representations from GB Rowing (and others) they have reverted to side-by-side racing. Whatever else happens on Friday, it should be a fairly unique atmosphere! The famous Dorney Roar may not quite match that of the Olympics but it won’t be far off.
Anyway, here are my thoughts and predictions for each event.
18 entries. Most of the” big” European scullers raced at the European Championships in Seville last month…making it almost like a “mini” World Cup. The most notable exception was the British team who stayed at home. At the Europeans it was “business as usual” for the Olympic silver medallist, Ondrej Synek. He had a comfortable victory ahead of Germany’s mercurial Marcel Hacker with Roel Braas of the Netherlands in 3rd. Hacker has had a good start to the season winning at Essen Regatta beating GB’s Alan Campbell into 2nd. Campbell, by contrast, has had a tricky start to the season. He didn’t race the 1st World Cup in Australia, preferring to stay at home and train out of his club, Tideway Scullers, rather than at the GB Rowing base at Caversham. But, he suffered a shock defeat in the GB trials losing out to Charles Cousins in the final and then was beaten by hacker at Essen.
3rd at the Europeans was the current U23 1X world champion and Olympic finalist, Azerbaijan’s Aleksander Aleksandrov. He’ll be hoping to cement his place towards the top order of scullers and at just 23 he is a prodigious talent, 7 years younger than Synek and Campbell (and 13 years younger than Hacker). Given that single scullers do not reach their best until their early 30’s he could be a real name to watch at the 2020 Olympiad.
Other European scullers to pick out are the Norwegian Kjetil Borch (3rd in the M2X at the Europeans) and Olympic bronze medallist, Luka Spik.
For the entries outside of Europe it’s a case of “the Kiwis are coming!” The Oar-Blacks have two boats in this event. Boat 1 is Nathan Flannery, U23 M2X world Champion and a member of the Kiwi quad that came second at the 1st World Cup. But it’s on the 2nd Kiwi boat that most attention will be focussed. Joseph Sullivan won gold at London in the M2X, but suffered the ignominy of being dropped from the NZ squad for the first World Cup. He is being given the chance to prove himself in the single at Dorney and to say he’ll be keen to make an impression is an understatement! Also keep an eye out for Argentinean, Cristian Rosso, along with partner Ariel Suarez, narrowly missed out on a medal in the M2X at the Olympics.
For the USA there is lightweight, John Graves, who’s previous international experience was a 5th place in LM1X at the 2nd World Cup in 2011. But he won the right to represent the USA by winning their National Speed Order Regatta and it’ll be interesting to see how he fairs against the more experienced heavyweights.
Finally a couple of young scullers to mention are the 17 year old Boris Yotov of Azerbijian (6th in the JM1X last year) and GB’s Jonno Walton (4th at the 1st World Cup).
My predictions….Difficult to see anyone getting past Synek, but it’ll be interesting to see what sort of form both Campbell and Sullivan are in (and with Campbell having the home support)….
1st Synek, 2nd Sullivan, 3rd Campbell (or Hacker!)
13 entries. Aleksandrov and Yotov of Azerbijian are doubling up in M1X but I don’t think they will be challenging for a medal in this event. This event sees the first of the Chinese boats at Dorney, and it sets the pattern for their entries. They have 2 boats entered, the 2nd boat is made up of experienced Olympians Tiexin Wang (from the LM4-) and Jie Sun (LM2X). But the Chinese no.1 boat are 2 scullers making their international debuts, 17 year old Ha Zang and his 16 year old partner Tianyi Chen. Common sense dictates that these juniors should be well off the pace, but you never know with the Chinese!
Amongst the medal contenders this looks to be a four-way battle between Germany, GB, Norway and NZ. The German double of Eric Knittel & Stephan Krueger were 9th at the Olympics, but have shown good speed this year with a 4th place at the Europeans and a win at Essen. The British, Matt Langridge and Bill Lucas were both Olympic finalists (Langridge winning bronze in the M8) and Lucas was in the M4X that won a first ever M4X gold at the first World Cup. But the British were beaten into 4th at Essen and will be hoping the “Dorney Roar” will get them past the Germans. The Norwegians Kjetil Borch & Nils Jakob Hoff have a bronze at the Europeans, and will be looking to perform better than the last time they raced at Dorney when they were disappointed not to make the Olympic final. But it’s the Kiwis, Michael Arms & Robert Manson who everyone will be watching out for. They were very impressive in Sydney, winning by almost 4 seconds.
My picks…NZ, GB, Ger
11 entries. This is all about who will win silver and bronze. No-one will come close to the Kiwis. Eric Murray & Hamish Bond are making their international debut for this season by returning to the scene of their greatest triumph. The last time they took to the waters of Eton Dorney they won gold and earlier in the regatta had set the truly astonishing time of 6:08. This is rowing’s equivalent of Roger Bannister’s 4 minute mile, or Bob Beaman’s epic long jump in 1968…a real “game-changing” and “I was there” moment.
So, it’s pretty safe to assume that, with all due respect to the rest of the field, no one will get within a length of the Kiwis. So who will take the other medals?
Possibly the favourite of the “best of the rest” are the Poles. Wojciech Gutorski and Jaroslaw Godek were 10th at the Olympics, but so far this season they have a 5th place finish at Essen and a silver medal from the European Championships. GB has an interesting entry, Oxford Blues Karl Hudspith & Paul Bennett finished an excellent 6th at the GB trials, thus earning the chance to earn their first senior vests. With the home crowd support they could well sneak a medal. Another pairing in with a good shout for a medal will be Azerbaijan’s Luka Dordevic & Igor Lucic. These two were JM2- world champions in 2009 and followed that up with U23 gold’s in the 4+ in 2011 & 2012.
My picks…New Zealand (obviously!), Poland, GB
7 entries. At the first World Cup in Sydney, the Australians dominated, however since then they have changed half of their crew. Olympian Josh Booth dropped out mid-way through the Aussie trials to concentrate on his medical studies (no doubt the shopkeepers of Egham will be relieved 😉 )Also Olympic silver medallist James Chapman was, surprisingly, dropped. In their place come a couple of talented U23’s Spencer Turrin and Alexander Lloyd. These two were in the 1st (2nd) Aussie boat at the first World Cup and took silver. They were also both in the U23 8 that won bronze in 2012. But, the big question is whether this boat is near the speed of their predecessor?
The biggest challenge to the Aussie’s will be from GB and New Zealand. The Kiwis (Jade Uru, Tobias Wehr-Candler, Adam Tripp & Robert Kells) took bronze at the first World Cup behind the two Aussie boats. The GB crew (Alan Sinclair, Nathanial Reilly-O’Donnell, Scott Durant & Matthew Tarrant) were 4th in Sydney but less than 3 seconds separated 1st & 4th. The new GB crew have some pretty big shoes to fill given the incredible tradition GB has in this boat. This is undoubtedly a combination for the future.
Another crew for the future are the Chinese (Xing Shen, Biao, Wang, Yuxuan Zhang & Penpeng Cai). This crew are all making their international debut & has an average age of 16…Wang only turned 16 on the 12th June! As with a lot of the Chinese crews at Dorney it’ll be interesting to see just what this crew is like.
Romania are possibly the only other crew in with a shout of a medal, based around Olympians Chisti-Ilie Pirghie & George Palamariu (12th in the M4- at London) They won silver at the European championships but (like the Aussies) they have changed half their crew with Marius-Vasile Cozmiuc & Florian Curuea being replaced by JM4- silver medallist Florin Razvanta and Nica Stefan.
My picks…tricky…Australia, GB, New Zealand
11 entries. Possibly the most competitive of all the events at Dorney. Germany are the Olympic champions and have three of that crew racing (Karl Schulze, Lauritz Schoof and Tim Grohmann) they are joined by U23 bronze medallist, Paul Heinrich. This combination won the European Championships in Seville. Up against them are the Olympic silver medallist from Croatia (David Sain, Damir Martin and brothers Martin & Valent Sinkovic). The Croatians won in Essen but were shocked to only finish 6th at the European championships. The British have put together a very, very talented quad, indeed they won GB’s first ever gold in this event at the first World Cup. But, they have changed their line-up since then. The revised line-up of Peter Lambert, Graeme Thomas, Charles Cousins & Sam Townsend came 2nd to the Croatians at Essen, but they very nearly took gold, losing out by just 3/10ths second. They have the makings of a crew that will be seriously challenging for medals all the way to Rio.
2nd to the British in Sydney were the Kiwis (Nathan Flannery, Fergus Flauvel, & brothers Nathan & Hayden Cohen). The Aussies were 3rd but, like GB, have changed their line-up with Chris Morgan & Shane Jackson being replaced by Alexander Belonogoff (3rd M2X at WC1) and Kieren Kolbeke (silver M1X WC1).
The final crew to highlight at the Estonians. The crew that finished 10th at the Europeans has been strengthened by the inclusion of Olympians Allar Rajar & Kaspar Taimsoo.
My picks….I think it’ll be very, very close, but I’ll go for Germany for the win with GB a close 2nd and Croatia 3rd.
5 entries. This is less about who has entered, and more about who hasn’t. Most notably the deutscher achter. They are spending the time doing some intensive training after a torrid couple of months. They were completely shell-shocked to finish 4th at Essen. They strengthened their crew and subsequently won the Europeans, but the air of invincibility they displayed throughout the London Olympiad has gone (they were even beaten by a very talented Oxford Blue Boat in the run-up to the Boat Race). But the German’s aren’t racing at Dorney….so who is?
This should be a comfortable victory for the flagship GB boat. Even with the loss, through illness, of Olympic Champion Alex Gregory shouldn’t hamper their speed. Gregory is replaced by Olympic bronze medallist James Foad (returning after a long lay-off through injury). Jurgen Grobler has packed this boat with his top guys including Olympic champions Pete Reed & Andy Hodge. The intention is clear, certainly for this season, and that is to de-throne the Germans. That will have to wait until Lucerne and (hopefully ) the World Championships in Chungju.
Chasing the British will be the French, it’s been a while since the French have had a truly competitive men’s 8 and they were2nd at Essen & 4th at the European championships. Also chasing the British will be the Poles, they have a settled crew which were 7th at the Olympics, silver at the Europeans and bronze at Essen.
GB have also entered a 2nd , development boat, including Matt Gotrel & Lance Tredell who were in the GB 8 that won in Sydney. The final entry are the Czechs who finished 6th at the European Championships.
My picks…GB should win comfortably with Poland 2nd and France 3rd
Now onto the women
16 entries. None of the Olympic W1X medallists are racing at Dorney, but there are plenty of Olympians on show. From a sculling perspective the lead contender is New Zealand’s Emma Twigg she narrowly missed out on a medal in London but will hoping to make a winning return to Eton Dorney. Eleanor Logan of the US has very happy memories of the Eton Dorney course having won gold in the Women’s 8. For this season she has switched to sculling and took a bronze medal in the W1X and silver in the W4X at the first World Cup.
The British have 2 boats entered, Vicky Thornley was in the GB W8 that came 5th at the Olympics and was 4th in the W2X at the first World Cup. Mel Wilson was in the Olympic women’s quad which came 6th. Both GB scullers will be looking to impress on home waters. The Germans have 3 scullers eneterd, Julia Lier, Lisa Schmidla & Marieke Adams were all in the quad that was 4th in Essen. Magdalena Lobning of Austria is having a very strong season; she was the winner at Essen and took silver at the Europeans. Frida Svensson of Sweden is a former world champion in the single scull and will be looking for the sort of form that won her the title in 2010. So far this season she has a 4th place at Essen.
China’s sculler is another junior, Yunxia Chen is 17 and making her international debut.
My picks…Twigg, Lobning, Logan
9 entries. 3 boats from China….again showing China’s tendency to have youth and experience, Boat no.1 (Ji Mengke & Ling Zhang) are both just 16. But, the other 2 Chinese boats have more form, the No.2 boat includes Dongxiang Xu who won silver in the LW2X at London, joined by Feihong Pan who was in the LW2X that won the B final at the World Championships in 2011. Boat no.3 are juniors but it includes Dandan Pan who won silver in the LW4X in 2011 at the tender age of 15. She is joined by 16 year old debutant Yanqing Wang.
But, I think the gold will be a battle between the British and the Germans. Fran Houghton is the most experienced member of the GB team, she made her international debut as a junior in 1996 and has raced at 4 Olympics and has 2 silver medals to her name. She is joined by European bronze medallist, Victoria Meyer-Laker. Together they were 3rd at the first world cup. The Germans, Julia Schmidla & Marieke Adams are doubling up in the single sculls, as a double they were 4th at the Europeans.
The Danes, Mette Petersen & Lisbet Jakobsen were 4th at the European champs. Also worth mentioning are the Irish, Monika Dukarska is making her debut for Ireland, as is her partner Leonora Kennedy. But Belfast-born Kennedy won a bronze medal at the 2012 Europeans as part of the GB W8.
My picks…GB, Ger, CHN2
9 entries. One of the stars of London 2012 was Helen Glover, along with her partner Helen Stanning they not only won Team GB’s first Olympic gold, it was also the first ever Olympic gold for GB women’s rowers….it was another of those “I was there” moments for those of us lucky enough to witness it in person. But, with Stanning having returned to her army career (at least in 2013) and serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan, it fell to Polly Swann to try and replace the irreplaceable. Her debut in the pair can only be described as stunning. At the first World Cup she and Glover totally dominated a high class field, demonstrating the silky smooth technique that was a hallmark of the Glover/Stanning combination. Interviewed after Sydney, Swann spoke of how easy Glover made it for her to row at her best, whilst Glover heaped praise on her new partner. It was almost a case of “Heather who?”
Due to the lack of entries in the women’s 8 the British have split their 8 into a quad and 2 pairs with Katie Greves and Lou Reeves from the Olympic 8 racing as GB2, and Jess Eddie (also from the Olympic 8) joined by Olivia Carnegie-Brown (silver in the w2- at the 2012 Europeans) racing as GB3.
Again the Chinese have a couple of boats entered with 1 boat of juniors (CHN1, Shundi Liu 16, and Meng Yang 17) and a 2nd boat of experienced athletes (Jiayang Zhang & Yanjie Ding).
But, the main challenge to a GB clean sweep will come from the antipodeans. The Aussies, Tess Gerrand and Katrina Bateman were 3rd at the first World Cup. New Zealand’s Rebecca Scown is an Olympic bronze medallist in this event and she is joined by U23 W2- World Champion, Kayla Pratt.
The final pairing to highlight are the Germans; Kerstin Hartmann & Marlene Sinnig. They were “A” finalists at the Olympics, took silver at Essen and also at the Europeans.
My picks…GB1, NZ, GB2
6 entries. China have put out the juniors again with a crew that includes 2 15 year olds (Guoru Liang & Qianwen Yang). But I will be amazed if they are challenging for the medals. That is far more likely to be between the Olympic silver medal Germans and the Australians. The Aussies have their U23 world champion crew (3 of whom were in the quad that won the first World Cup). But, it’s the Germans who look by far the strongest, although they suffered a blip when being beaten by the Poles at Essen. It’ll be an interesting battle between to the two GB boats with the No.1 crew (Caragh McMurtry, Monica Relph, Rosamund Bradbury & Kristina Stiller) being half the crew that came 4th in Sydney earlier this year. The 2nd GB boat are out of the 8 and include Olympic finalist, Beth Rodford.
My picks…Germany, Poland, Australia (or possibly a GB boat)
Now for the lighties…
19 entries. 1 notable absentee is European and World Champion, Henrik Stephansen…but Denmark do have three boats entered, Steffen Jensen & Andrej Bendtsen were 12th in the LM2X at the Europeans and Christian Michaelsen was in the LM2- in 2011. Michaelsen & Bendtsen are also racing the double. The British have 2 boats , Jamie Kirkwood was 5th in Sydney and Chris Boddy was in the GB LM4- that picked up a silver medal in Sydney this year and narrowly missed out on an “A” final place at this year’s GB trials.
Germany have also entered 2 boats with the pick being Jonathan Koch who picked up a bronze medal at the European champs. The Portuguese Olympic double, Pedro Fraga & Nuno Mendes are racing each other, Fraga took silver at the Europeans and Mendes bronze at the first world cup, so not only will they be wanting to beat each other, they will be very strong medal contenders.
But, all eyes will be on triple World Champion, Duncan Grant of New Zealand. Grant dominated the field at the first world cup and must start as favourite to repeat the performance at Dorney.
The final sculler to highlight is one of the few US representatives at Dorney, Hugh Mc Adam is making his international debut and, like Graves in the M1X, earned his slot by winning the US trials. He may find the competition at Dorney a little hot.
My picks…It’s hard to look anywhere but Duncan Grant for the gold. Fraga in silver with the bronze being a three-way battle between Mendes and the two GB boats.
Just 4 entries (of which 2 are from GB). The Austrians, Michael Hager & Markus Lemp have the biggest international pedigree of the 4 boats. They were 9th at the European championships and 4th at Essen. Both GB boats are made up of development athletes. GB1 has Sam Scrimgeour and Mark Aldred. Scrimgeour has a silver medal from the 2012 European championships & was a very impressive 6th at the GB trials. Aldred is making his international debut but is a former lightweight Cambridge Blue and winner of the Wyfolds at Henley. The 2nd GB boat of Matthew Bedford and Wilf Kimberley raced together at the U23 World Championships where they finished 4th. The final entry are from Japan. Kosuke Mitsuoka was in the LM8 last year and is joined by international debutant, Hikaru Endo.
My picks…GB1, GB2, AUT
16 entries. Again, this event is notable more for who hasn’t entered, than who has. The European champions, France are absent as are the Chinese (runners up at the first World Cup). The crew that looks set to dominate are the Chambers brothers for GB. Both were in the LM4- that won silver at the Olympics. This season, older brother Richard as been taking a break from the 4- by racing the double. At Sydney he was partnered by Adam Freeman-Pask and they produced a superb performance to take gold. At Dorney, Freeman-Pask is in the 4-. His place in the double is taken by the younger Chambers brother, Peter. It’s the first time the two brothers have raced a double internationally and they make a very exciting prospect.
The main challenge to the British is likely to come from Norway and Austria. Austria have another set of brothers racing, Paul & Bernhard Sieber came 5th at the Europeans and won at Essen. For Norway, Kristoffer Brun & Are Strandli were in the “B” final at the Olympics and this season took a silver medal at the Europeans.
Two more doubles to highlight are yet another set of brothers, Tycho & Vincent Muda from the Netherlands. They were in the 6th placed LM4- at the Olympics, but this season are racing the double. So far they haven’t yet shown medal speed (finishing 9th at the Europeans), but they are a talented pair and will be improving throughout the season.
The last boat to highlight are the final US representatives at the regatta. Colin Ethridge & Peter Alter are both making their international debuts, and like the other male US representatives, earned their place by winning the national trials.
My picks…GB to win comfortably with Norway 2nd and Austria 3rd.
8 entries. At the first World Cup New Zealand (James Lassche, James Hunter, Peter Taylor & Curtis Rapley) produced a stunning performance winning by almost 4 seconds (which in this event is a “country mile”). They will be looking for a repeat performance at Dorney. But they will face a stiff challenge from the Danes. Denmark has a huge tradition in this event and have 3 of the crew who won bronze in London (Kaspar Winther, Jacob Barsoe & Morten Joergensen) These three are joined by Jacob Larsen (himself a world bronze medallist from the LM8). This new combination took gold at the Europeans and will be relishing a crack at the Kiwis.
The British have only 1 of the silver medal Olympic crew; Chris Bartley leads the crew and is joined by world LM2- champion, Adam Freeman-Pask. As was mentioned above, Adam was in the LM2X with Richard Chambers at Sydney but has swapped places with the younger Chambers brother for Dorney. Retaining his seat in the crew from Sydney is Jonno Clegg who has U23 gold and bronze medals to his name. The final seat in the boat is taken by Will Fletcher who won U23 gold (with Clegg) in 2010.
The final crew to point out are the Austrians (Alexander Chernikov, Dominik Sigl, Florian Berg & Joschka Hellmeier) were 5th at the Europeans and 2nd at Essen.
My picks…it’s going to be an epic thee-way battle. If the Kiwis row like they did in Sydney then they will be very hard to beat, but you can never discount the Danes in this boat, nor indeed the new GB combination. NZ for the win with Denmark 2nd and GB 3rd.
13 entries. Brazil’s Fabiana Beltrame was world champion in this event in 2011 but slipped to 9th in 2012 (having focussed on racing the LW2x at the Olympics). The form so far this season has come from Austria’s Michaela Taupe-Traer, she finished 2nd at the European Championships. Germany have entered 3 boats with U23 gold medallists Wiebke Hein and Fabienne Knoke being joined by the Germany 3rd boat, Leonie Pless (2nd in Essen). GB’s Ruth Walczak was 4th in the 1st World Cup and she has a bronze medal from the European Championships in 2012.
My picks, Beltrame gold, GB 2nd, Austria 3rd
10 entries. This will probably come down to an Anglo-German battle. The German’s (Lena Mueller & Anja Noske) were 6th at the Olympics and this season they have a silver medal from the Europeans. The British, Imogen Walsh and Kathryn Twyman raced at the first World cup taking a bronze medal behind the Kiwis and Australians (neither of whom are racing at Dorney).
The Danes will also be hoping to take a medal, their double of Christina Pulz & Helene Olsen are world LW4X silver medallists and came 4th this season at the Europeans. Finishing 1 place ahead of the Danes at Seville were the Poles, Katarzyna Welna & Weronika Deresz. Keep an eye out also for the Argentineans; Maria Clara Rohner & Lucia Palermo both have Olympic experience.
My picks…Germany, GB, Denmark.
That’s it; I hope you have found it interesting! I’m really excited to be back at Dorney for some World Cup action. All we have to hope now is that the weather is kind, and certainly better than at Marlow Regatta last weekend which saw torrential rain, and a wicked cross-tail wind that was gusting to 40mph!