U23 World Championships – Preview Men’s Heavyweight events

Time for another major regatta, time for another preview…I’m running a bit behind schedule so I’ll start with the Heavyweight men and get the women’s and lightweight events done within a day or so..

First of all it’s worth noting that it’s a pretty stunning achievement that these championships are taking place at the original venue at all. The torrential rain in central Europe in early June left the course completely flooded and much of the infrastructure was swept away. The floods deposited over a quarter of a million cubic metres of mud on the course. You can read about the clean-up operation here: http://www.worldrowing.com/news/under-23-championships-cleaned-up-and-ready

So onto the events:

M1X
27 entries. For an age-group championships this is a very, very classy field. The leading contender will probably be Rolandas Mascinskas of Lithuania. He raced at the 3rd World Cup at Lucerne and won the “B” final. Earlier this season he raced the M2X at the European Championships picking up a silver medal (to go with the gold he won at the 2011 Europeans). Mascinskas is one of only three men in the field who competed at the London Olympics finishing 6th in the M2X (the other 2 being the Kazakh Vladislav Yakolev who was 28th in the M1X & Roberto Lopez of El Salvador who was one place behind him in 30th) . Another in-form sculler is Belgium’s Hannes Obrenno. 4th in this event last year he placed an excellent 2nd at the Holland Beker in June (beating the Olympic Champion, Mahe Drysdale, into 3rd).
Last year’s silver medallist, Hubert Trzybinski, is competing and hoping to repeat his win of 2011 (to go with his 2 world junior gold medals). Another medallist from last year is Dionysios Angelopoulos from Greece, the 2012 bronze medallist missed out on qualifying for the Olympics.
Mexico are starting to produce some quality scullers, Juan Carlos Cabrera was 7th at last year’s championships and finished 1 place behind Mascinskas at Lucerne. He may find the competition a little too strong for a medal but he won’t be far off. I would also pick out the Czech Republic’s Adam Sterbak. He was 12th at the European Championships this year and 5th in the M4X at last year’s Europeans.
My picks: Gold Mascinskas, Silver Trzybinski, bronze Angelopoulos.

M2X
17 entries. Another very strong field. Germany have reunited their 2010 JM2X world champions, Stephan Riemekasten and Timo Piontek. Riemekasten won gold in the JM1X in 2011 and silver in this event last year. Piontek was in the BM4X that picked up a bronze in 2011. These two will know eachother very well and will be a very fast double. Azerbaijan are producing a very talented group of scullers lead by Diamonds winner Aleksandar Aleksandrov. He’s too old for the U23’s now but he finished 4th at Dorney with 17 year old Boris Yotov. Yotov is joined in the double by Ivan Antov who raced as the 2nd Azerbaijan double at Eton finishing 10th. Together these two have huge potential and will be major players at Rio and beyond. One place behind Yotov and Aleksandrov at Eton were the Czech duo Michal Plocek and Jan Andrle. These two also raced together at the Europeans finishing 11th. in 2012 Plocek won the JM1X gold medal with his partner Andrle coming 5th in the BM4X.
Another experienced double to keep an eye on are the Romanians, Ioan Prundeanu & Marian Moraru. This pairing were 11th in the quad at Dorney and also 11th at the European Championships this year (following an 8th place finish in the same event the previous year).
The Ukrainians have a young double racing in Linz, Roman Matviychuk & Heorhii Verteletski are the reigning world junior champions and are making there first appearance outside of the junior ranks.
5th in this event last year were the Latvians Dominykas Jancionis & Aurimas Adomavicius, they will be hoping to finish closer to the medals this year with an extra year under their belts.
Another crew to watch are the Austrians Camillo Franek & Clemens Obrecht who raced together at the European championships making the “A” final
Finally, I’ve be told to keep an eye out for Canadian debutants Pascal Lussier & Paul Thiessen of Club D’Aviron Terebonne & Winnipeg.
My picks…gold Germany, silver Azerbaijan, bronze Czech republic

M2-
20 entries. Pick of the bunch for me are the South Africans; David Hunt & Vincent Breet. They were runners up to the mighty Murray & Bond at Henley and won the “B” final at Lucerne. They have the makings of becoming the best South African pair since Di Clemente & Cech. They raced in this event last year picking up the silver medal behind the British. Hunt also won silver in 2011….I have a sneaking suspicion they could go one better this year.
A big challenge will come from the Australians, Angus Moore & Alexander Hill. These two were 10th at Lucerne and were in the Aussie 1 M4- at the first World Cup in Sydney that won silver (behind the top Aussie crew racing as AUS2). They were also in the Aussie U23 8 last year that won bronze.
Another medal challenger will be the Azerbaijan pair of Igor Lucic and Luka Dordevic. These two have been rowing together since 2009. They were in the “A” final at Dorney and were in the gold medal M4+ at the U23’s last year, 6th in the BM4+ in 2011 and Junior World Champions in 2009. Lucic is one of the most experienced competitors at the whole regatta, He made his international debut at the tender age of 15 finishing 11th in the JM4X.
A fourth crew to watch are the Serbians; Milos Vasic & Radoje Deric. They have been racing in the 4- for the past couple of years and were 10th at the London Olympics following it up with a bronze at the European Championships last year and a 7th placed this year. Romania’s Florin Razvanta & Stefan Nica also raced in the M4- this season picking up a bronze at the Eton World Cup.
My picks…gold South Africa, silver Azerbaijan, bronze Australia

M4-
11 entries. This looks to be a very tasty battle. GB have put together a strong boat including US based Andrew Holmes and Marcus Bowyer. Holmes stroked the Harvard four to victory in the Visitors at Henley earlier this month and also stroked the Harvard Varsity 8 to silver at the IRA championships. With 3 U23 bronze medals to his name he’ll be hoping to improve the colour of his medal this year. The other US based GB oarsman is Marcus Bowyer, Although he’s yet to win an U23 medal he was a part of the awesome University of Washington Varsity 8, undefeated all season until they meant the top GB 8 in the final of the Grand at Henley. Joining these two are Ertan Hazine and Francis Highton. Hazine has a bronze from the U23 4+ in 2010 and raced with James Cook in the M2- at the Dorney World Cup finishing a very creditable 5th. Francis Highton of Durham was part of the crew that lost in the semi-finals of the Prince Albert at Henley this month. There are high hopes for a “big” medal from this crew.

Australia are also hoping for good things from their crew, all of whom are based at US universities. James Medway was crewmate to GB’s Andrew Holmes in the Harvard Varsity, Aaron Wright and Louis Snelson are both at University of California, Berkley and Tim Masters is at Princeton. Both Snelson and Masters raced this event last year collecting a silver medal with Snelson and Wright racing together to a World Junior JM4+ in 2011.

The Germans are always strong in this event and have half of last year’s gold medal crew, Clemens Kuhnert & Nils-Ole Bock. They are joined by 2009 world junior champion, Tobias Oppermann and Paul Habermann who raced in the JM2- in 2009.
The Romanians have 3 of the crew that raced at the Olympics (Marius-Vasile Cozmiuc, George Palamariu & Cristi-Ilie Pirghie). This trio have been racing together for 3 years picking up a silver medal at the 2010 Europeans and again in 2012. They are joined by double junior world champion Toader-Andrei Gontaru. This quartet look very formidable. Gontaru and Cozmiuc also raced together in the M2- at Dorney finishing 4th.
My picks…it’s going to be close but I think the Romanians will benefit from having rowed together so long and take gold with GB 2nd and Australia 3rd (just ahead of the Germans.

M4+
9 crews. The Australians have gone for another all-US based crew with yet another Harvard Varsity, Jay Ditmarsch joined by Ben Coombs (Columbia), Michael Bernerius (Cal) Simon Keenan (Yale) with cox Stuart Sim (UW). Ditmarsch won bronze in the quad at last year’s U23 championships.
GB have 3 debutants James Martyn-Smith was in the Oxford Brookes 1st 8 that lost to the Dutch of Laga at Henley & Ed Williams is from Molesey Boat Club & William Hakim of Harvard in the coxes seat. The 2 internationally experienced members of the crew are Callum McBrierty who won a silver medal in the JM4- in 2010 and Aberdeen’s Lewis McCue who narrowly missed out on a medal at last year’s Junior World Championships.
The Italians probably have the most experienced crew in this event with just cox Andrea Kiraz making his debut. Matteo Borsini is a current world junior champion in the JM8 along with Junior world medallists Mario Cuomo (bronze JM4+ 2011) and Massimiliano Rocchi (silver JM4+ 2010). The final member of the crew is Cesare Gabbia who raced in the U23 M8 in 2011 finishing in the “B” final.
Whereas the Italians have an experienced crew, the US have a crew of debutants hoping to make an impact on the international stage. The crew of Charles Anderson, Michael Slopsema, Mark Tubergen, Michal Davidson and cox John Gould are all members of Penn AC and won medals at the US National Championships.
France have alsoput together an experienced crew which includes Arnaud Petitjean & Valentin Onfroy who raved in the pair at Eton finishing 10th. They are joined by two former junior internationals; Romain Garcia and Adrien Pyskir with Robin Le Barreau who coxed the French to a 4th place finish in this event last year.
The Ukranians have gone with consistency and have a crew, the majority of whom have been rowing together for a few years. Oleksandr Poddubnyy, Dmytro Zhelyeznyy, Oleksandr Byelogurov & cox Borys Shevchenko all raced together at the 2011 World Junior Championships finishing 4th in the JM4+. They are joined by another former junior international Denis Zasimenko. They will be hoping that this consistency will bring them a medal.
My picks…gold Australia, silver Italy bronze France (just ahead of GB)

M4X
17 entries. Another extremely competitive event which includes 4 scullers who competed at London 2012. Possibly starting as favourites will be the Ukranians. They have 3 of the crew that won this event last year (Andrii Mykhailov, Anton Bondarenko & Artem Verestiuk) They are joined by 2011 U23 champion Yuriy Ivanov who also picked up a European silver medal in the quad last year. This looks to be a very formidible combination who are very used to racing with eachother, which, in a boat like the quad is very important.

The Swiss have also put together an experienced line-up which includes London Olympians Augustin Maillefer and Nico Stahlberg. These two were joined by Barnabe Delarze at the Europeans where they finished 5th. The final member of the cerw is Roman Roeoesli who raced the M1X at the Europeans.

Another country hoping that consistency will bring results are the Kiwis. Giacomo Thomas, Jeffrey Francis & Karl Manson all raced together in this event last year finishing 6th. They are joined by Christopher Morrison who raced in the M4- at last year’s U23’s.

Italy have a long tradition in this event and have two of the crew that wn the JM4X last year (Tiziano Evangelisti & Davide Mumolo). Also in the crew are U23 silver medallist Michele Manzoli and 2011 U23 international Corrado Verita.

The Norwegian’s raced well in the Prince of Wales Challenge Cupat Henley reaching the final before losing to Leander. The crew of Martin Helseth, Ole Andreassen, Erik Solbakken & Halvor West will be hoping to get the better of the British who have half of the Leander boat racing.

Jack Beaumont & Stewart Innes were undefeated in the quad with Leander this year (with South African James Johnson and U23 World Champion Keiren Emery). In Linz they are joined bu the Durham University pair of Angus Groom & Barney Stentiford. As a double these two won the British University Championships and were semi finalists at Henley losing out to the Kiwis. The big question for the British is how quickly they can gell as a crew to compete with the likes of Ukraine and Switzerland who have very settled line-ups.

At Lucerne the Australians raced their senior and U23 quads with the U23’s finishing a slightly disappointing 14th. The crew of Peter Koster, Tim Cleary, Hamish Playfair & Michael Poulter will be hoping to be challenging in the “A” final at Linz.

Germany are the Olympic champions in this event and are “blooding” some new junior talent at U23 level. All four of the crew are former world junior champions with Patrick Leineweber & Ruben Steinhardt winners of the JM4X in 2010 and Kai Fuhrmann & Ole Daberkow being the reigning wolrd junior 2X champions. Great things are expected from Fuhrmann who was named in the senior German M4X for the European Championships but didn’t race through injury.
My picks…this is going to be very tight, I think the Ukranians will win gold with Germany silver and GB or Switzerland bronze.

M8
12 entries. The USA just seem to “get” this event. They know how to put together fast U23 8’s. They won in 2012 and 2011 (and were runners-up in 2010) and will be looking to secure the hattrick this year. If they are going to do it then it will be with a relatively inexperienced crew. Only 3 of the boat (Harvard’s Max Meyer-Bosse, Theodore Baumgardner of the Navy & Brown’s Hunter Leeming) have raced internationally. The rest of the crew are from some of the powerhouses of US collegiate rowing with the Universities of California, Brown, Penn, Dartmouth & Princeton all represented by the international debutants. On paper this crew doesn’t look as strong as some of its competitors but given the US’s dominance in this event they cannot be discounted.
One of the strongest crews based on recent results are the Australians. They have 5 of the crew that raced in the first World Cup in Sydney picking up the bronze medal behind the British and Americans.
The Germans are the last crew to have beaten the Americans in this event and will hope that their 2013 crew can repeat the victory. They have 2 of the crew from last year which came 2nd to the US (Alexander Thierfelder & Arne Schwietal) The rest of the crew is made up of experienced U23 and Junior world medallists, with only 1 member of the crew, Eike Kutzki yet to win a junior or U23 medal.

The Kiwis have the most consistency in their line-up with the entire crew having raced to a 4th place finish at the first world cup. 4 of the crew (Shaun Kirkham, George Howard, Jon Wright & Alex Kennedy) also raced at the U23’s last year
The Dutch have a full boatload of debutants. But they have already proved their speed. Half of the crew (Sjors De Rooij, Leon Van der Spek, Jurjan de Graaf & Thijs Lengkeek) were part of the Laga crew that won the Temple Challenge Cup at Henley earlier this month.

Spainn could well mount a strong challenge for medals with all of the crew having raced at this year’s European Championships. 6 of the crew were in the M8 that finished 7th with Javier Garcia Ordonez and Ismael Montes Caamano finishing 5th in the M4-. The whole crew have also raced at the U23’s before and have a wealth of experience.

Another nation with a full boatload of U23 experienced athletes are Belarus. They have a mix of last year’s 8 and 4+ all of whom finished 7th in their respective events. Uladzimir Vrubleuski and Mikalai Sharlap were also in the M8 that raced at the Europeans.

GB are lead by Newcastle University’s George Rossiter. Rossiter has two U23 bronze medals to his name and will be desperate to get a hattrick of medals with the hopr of improving the colour this year. He is backed up by a strong Newcastle University contingent – winners of the British University Championships this year. 3 of the crew (James Cook, Sam Arnot & Ed James) were in the GB 8 that just missed out on a medal in this event last year. Cook and james have also got senior international vests with Cook coming 5th in the M2- at Eton and James 4th in the GB2 M8 at the same world Cup.

If the Americans dominate the U23 M8 then Italy do the same at Junior level having won in both 2011 and 2012. All of the Italian crew are doubling up in other U23 events so may suffer depending on how their races go.
Finally the Polish. They have 5 of the crew that were 5th in this event last year and will be hoping for another “A” final finish.
So who to pick…. This really is a very open field, but it’s hard to not pick the US for gold even though on paper they do not look the strongest. Silver New Zealand and bronze between GB and Germany…although anyone of the crews mentioned above could be in the medals so I’m probably completely wrong!
Anyway, that’s it for the heavyweight men’s events. I’ll move onto the women and the lightweights later…..

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