After a fantastic few days at Henley Royal Regatta attention turns back to the regular 2K, 6 lane racing at the wonderful Rotsee in Lucerne for the third and final World Cup Regatta. As with the other World Cups this season I’ll have a look through the entries and pick out the likely front runners.
The single sculls
34 scullers. A big field as always at Lucerne and pretty much all the big names have entered. The only notable absentee is Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez. In 2013 and the start of 2014 it’s been all about Ondrej Synek. The Czech sculler went unbeaten all season and looked to be carrying on where he left off this season. A comfortable win at the European Championships meant he went into the 2nd World Cup as the strong favourite. However, everyone underestimated the Olympic champion, Mahe Drysdale from New Zealand. Even Mahe himself was surprised at how well he performed at Aiguebelette, 6th at the 500m mark he just worked his way through the field and with an awesome display of sprinting he sculled through Synek to win by over a second. This was followed up by an excellent win in the Diamonds at Henley (his 4th title in 8 years) and a similar race profile. The big Dutchman, Roel Braas (who’d already defeated GB’s Alan Campbell) jumped out to a considerable lead but the Olympic champion simply reeled him in went on to win by 5 lengths. I was lucky enough to interview Drysdale after the race for Regatta Radio and asked him if he was surprised at his speed both at Henley and Aigubelette…his simple answer was “yes!”
If Synek underestimated Drysdale in France he won’t make the same mistake again and the showdown between the two of them will be pretty epic.
But, it’s not just about these two. As mentioned above, the big Dutchman Roel Braas is having an excellent season. Winner of the “B” final at Aiguebelette, winner of the Holland Beker and runner up at Henley he is on the verge of regular “A” final positions and then medals. I predict he will be a major force by 2016.
3 other “A” finalists from the 2nd World Cup are also competing at Lucerne. The “old man” of the field is the enigmatic Marcel Hacker. The 37 year old German won the silver behind Synek at the Europeans and 4th at Aiguebelette. 5th at the lat World Cup was the Belorussian Stanislau Shcharbachenia. He’s been competing internationally since 2001 and started in crew sculling boats, making the Olympic final in the M4X at Athens before switching to sweep and making the “B” final in the M4- at London. This is his first season racing the M1X internationally and he’s made quite an impact with a 4th place at the Europeans and then 5th in Aigubelette.
Making his 2014 debut is Bulgaria’s Georgi Bozhilov. 8th at the world championships last year it’ll be interesting to see what speed he has in 2014.
One of the top scullers missing from the 2nd World Cup was Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania. He took silver in Sydney and bronze at the European’s he’ll be looking for a strong “A” final finish this week.
GB’s Alan Campbell has had a disappointing season so far. He missed the 2nd World Cup due to the arrival of his first child. He returned to competition at Henley and defeated Hamish Playfair of Australia but was blown away by Braas in the semi final. He needs a good performance at Lucerne otherwise more and more questions will be asked about whether he’d be better suited in a crew boat.
A sculler who’s definitely having an “interesting” season is Julien Bahain. Now racing for Canada he was 6th at Aigubelette. At the start of last week he was training in France ahead of the Lucerne World Cup when he got a call from his future brother in law, Mitchel Steenman from the Dutch M2-. Steenman’s regular partner, Rogier Blink, had been taken ill and they were due to compete in the Silver Goblets at Henley. He jumped on a plane and the two of their first ever row together on Wednesday….they clicked and not only beat the GB duo of Sinclair & Durant but also the South African pair of Keeling & Breet. So, Bahain will be jumping back into his single an a high with a brilliant and unexpected victory under his belt.
A final mention must go to the great Olaf Tufte. Making his comeback after the Olympics he’s taking a bit of time to find his speed but you can never discount a sculler of his skill.
My picks….having seen Drysdale race at the weekend I think he’s looking in tremendous form and I reckon he’ll get the better of Synek again.
23 scullers. In 2012 Mirka Knapkova was unassailable and looked superb winning the gold medal at the Olympics, but last year she was eclipsed by Australia’s Kim Crowe who went unbeaten all season. Expectations were high that Crowe would carry on where she left off, but New Zealand’s Emma Twigg had other ideas. She produced an astonishing sprint at the first world cup to shock the World Champion. At the 2nd World Cup, with Crowe absent, Twigg won relatively comfortably from China’s Jingli Duan. So, it’s the Kiwi that enters the final World Cup as the holder of the yellow bib and undefeated. But, Lucerne looks as though it’s going to be an epic contest. All of the finalists from Aigubelette are racing except for Gevvie Stone of the USA. The match up between Crowe and Twigg is going to be fascinating. Knapkova had a comfortable win at Henley last weekend and will definitely be looking to get back amongst the medals.
Austria’s Magdelena Lobnig has also found some great speed this season. The 2012 U23 World Champion won her first World Cup medal with an excellent 3rd place at Aigubelette and will be hoping to replicate that sort of form in Lucerne. She is definitely one to watch in the next few years.
another sculler for whom 2014 is something of a breakthrough year is Sanita Puspure. The Latvian born Irishwoman won her first senior medal with bronze at the Europeans and made the “A” final at the last world cup. A repeat of that performance woul be a great achievement.
Germany have 2 scullers entered, with U23 Anne Beenken and the 2013 W4X World Champion Annekatrin Thiele (who is also doubling up in the quad). Beenken raced at the last world cup winning the “B” final. Thiele is more suited to crew sculling boats with her best performance in the single being a silver in the first world cup in 2011.
One sculler I’m very excited to see return is Denmark’s Olympic silver medalist Fie Udby Erichsen. She took time off after the Olympics to start a family and is making her competitive return at Lucerne. It remains to be seen what sort of speed she has.
Another sculler who is doubling up is GB’s Vicky Thornley. she and Fran Houghton have yet to really fire in racing in the W2X so perhaps this is a way of “testing the water” for Thornley in the single to see how competitive that boat is. She has good form in the 1X having won the “B” final at the World Championships. An “A” final finish would be a great result for the tall Brit.
Wherever you look in this event there are scullers of tremendous qulaity…Frida Svensson from Sweden, Julia Levina from Russia, Chantal Achterberg from the Netherlands, Iva Obradovic and Ivana Filipovic from Serbia. We are set for some cracking racing.
So who am I going to pick….I think it’ll be very, very close between Twigg and Crowe. The Kiwi is coming off the back of a World Cup win with the Aussie coming off the back of a win at the Holland Beker…..I think the Kiwi will take it with China’s Duan in bronze.
17 scullers. The most interesting entry in this event is South Africa’s Lawrence Ndlovu. The South Afican’s raced in the LM4- last year but failed to match the speed that took them to the Olympic title. So this season they have split the three remaining gold medalists into sculling boats. Smith and Thompson are in the LM2X (more on that later) and Ndlovu is in the single. He last raced this internationally back in 2009 when he finished 9th at the World Championships. It’s going to be very interesting to see him race the single again 5 years on.
Germany’s Daniel Lawitzke carries the best form into this world cup with a silver medal from Aigubelette with the Frenchman damien Piqueras in 4th and Dane Steffen Jensen in 5th.
Missing from Aigubelette was GB’s Adam Freeman-Pask. He’s got a wealth of experience in this event winning his first medal back at the first World Cup in 2009. So far this season he’s been a little off the pace managing “only” 5th at the European’s, but hopefully now he’s back to full fitness we will see him up amongst the medals again.
Michael Schmid of Switzerland has also shown good form this season taking 3rd at the Europeans. Other scullers to watch out for ar the Greek duo of Spyridion Giannaros and Panagiotis Magdanis and Italy’s Pietro Ruta (who was 4th in this event in 2012 and is doubling up in the LM2X).
My picks…another difficult one to call…I think it’ll be between Lawitzke of Germany, Schmid of Switzerland and Freeman-Pask of GB for the medals.
At the 2nd World Cup it was New Zealand’s Julia Edwards who took the win ahead of GB’s Ruth Walczak. Walczak has now moved into the LW4X (racing the openweight division at Lucerne) so Edwards will possibly start as the clear favourite. The biggest challenge will probably come from the reigning world champion, Michaela Taupe-Traer of Austria. She’s making her 2014 debut and it’ll be a great showdown between her and Edwards. The Greek European Champion Aikaterini Nikolaidou will be a big challenger as will the runner up in Belgrade, Marie-Anne Frenken of the Netherlands.
The German pair of Leonie Pless (bronze at the European Championships) and Marie-Louise Draeger (5th in the W1X at the Olympics and 5th in the LW1X at the last world cup) will also pose a strong challenge.
My pick…I’m going for a Kiwi win with Taupe-Traer in silver and Nikolaidou in bronze.
The Double sculls
23 crews. The outstanding pairing in this event are the Sinkovic brothers from Croatia. Martin and Valent Sinkovic were part of the outstanding M4X that won silver at the Olympics and gold at the worlds last year. This season they have been racing in the double and taken the event by storm. Winners at the 2nd World Cup they will be the crew to beat at Lucerne. By contrast the reigning world Champions; Nils Jakob Hoff and Kjetil Borch of Norway have not had the best of seasons so far, 4th at the Europeans and 6th at Aiguebelette they will be hoping for better at Lucerne. But, this season looks to be mirroring last year when the Norwegians could only manage 5th at the 2nd and 3rd world Cups before storming to the title in Chungju…who knows, maybe this season will match that.
The silver medalists from Aiguebelette, Azerbajian, are not racing in Lucerne, so it’s the 3rd place Aussies james Mcrae and Alexander Belonogoff who will probably be the biggest challengers to the Croatians. They finished just 5/100ths sec behind silver after producing a stunning sprint finish. In 4th, over 4 seconds back were the new Kiwi combination, another set of brothers – Robbie and Karl Manson. The Kiwis have a strong tradition in this boat and this new combination has a lot of potential to get amongst the medals.
Another double that will pose a serious threat to the Croatians are the European Champions from Lithuania, Rolandas Mascinskas and Saulius Ritter. They were one of the few European crews to race at the Sydney World Cup taking the win and were runners-up to the Norwegians last year.
Croatia have a 2nd M2X entered of David Sain and Mario Vekic. Sain is a 3rd member of the world Championship winning quad and he and Vekic have been racing in the M4- so far this season (winning the “B” final at Aigubelette). For Lucerne they’ve both moved back to sculling and could be pretty quick – Vekic was Croatia’s representative in the M1X at the Olympics where he finished 15th. It’ll be interesting to see if the croatian’s continue with the 2X or whether they try and form a new quad.
The other doubles to mention are the Argentinians who were 4th at the Olympics and the new British duo of John Collins and Jonno Walton (who had an epic race against the French LM2X at Henley losing by a few feet).
My picks….The Sinkovic brothers are looking very good but they are going to be pushed very hard by the Lithuanians. Croatia for gold, Lithuania for silver and probably the Aussies or Kiwis for bronze.
18 crews. The Australians, Olympia Aldersey and Sally Kehoe looked superb at Aigubelette leading at every marker point. They’ve laid down a big challenge for the defending World Champions, Donata Vistartaite and Milda Valciukaite, whom they’ve already beaaten once this seson in Sydney. The Lithuanians were unbeaten in 2013 but their dominance has slipped a little so far this season. Not only did the Aussies beat them in Sydney but they also lost to the Poles (Magdalena Fularczyk and Natalia Madaj) at the Europeans. Will Lucerne see a return to form? The Poles were 3rd at Aigubelette behind the Australians and the Americans.
The US have a small team at Lucerne, but their double of Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek are a class crew. Silver medalists at the last world cup they were bronze medalists at Lucerne last year and as with all US women’s boats are incredibly strong and powerful.
The German’s have been interchanging their crews between the double and quad but it looks as though the have now settled on the combination of Julia Richter and Marieke Adams. Richter was part of the Olympic silver medal quad and Adams was in the quad that finished 2nd at the Europeans. This should be a fast combination but whether they will be quick enough to get a medal remains to be seen.
Belorussia have the great Ekaterina Kartsen onboard along with Yulia Bichyk. They were 6th at Aigubelette but winners in the quad at the Europeans and if they get it right they can beat anyone in the world.
Another crew looking to find that spark are the British, Fran Houghton and Vicky Thornely. As mentioned above, Thornley is also entered in the W1X. Word is these two have been performing really well in training, but so far they have not been able to reproduce that in a race environment. They certainly have the talent to threaten the medals IF they can find that form in the race.
The final crew to highlight are the Liwis, Zoe Stevenson and Fiona Bourke. They were runners up to the Lithuanians at Chungju but were somewhat disappointing at Aigubelette where they missed out on the “A” final. If they can recapture their 2013 form they will be strong contenders for a medal.
My picks…I think the Aussies will win again, they looked so smooth last time out. I’ve got a feeling the Belorussians will surprise a few people and take the silver with the Lithuanians 3rd.
25 crews. This looks to be a fascinating contest. The French duo of Stany Delayre and Jeremie Azou looked outstanding in taking the win at Aiguebelette and they had an incredible race last weekend at Henley beating the British heavyweights in a truly epic final. They also defeated the Dutch heavyweights earlier in the regatta. The question is, how much did that race cost them? They were absolutely shattered after the race and took quite a while to land the boat and get out. No doubt they will have a good recovery plan but it does take time to get a race like that out of the legs. Perhaps Lucerne will see a chink of vulnerability in the French armour?
If there is it’ll probably be the Germans who will try and exploit it. The two German doubles had a great contest at Aigubelette with the youngsters Moritz Moos and Jason Osborne getting the better of their older countrymen Konstantin Steinhuebel and Lars Hartig. Osborne and Moos stunned the rest of the field at Aiguebelette and Martin Cross thought they were the crew of the whole regatta – who am I to disagree! The Lucerne World Cup will act as a final selection battle between these two crews with the winner getting the LM2x berth for Amsterdam and the losers moving to a likely berth in the LM4X. Rumour has it that there is very little love lost between these two doubles and their contest will be just as fascinating as the the main race.
As with the heavyweight M2X, the reigning world champions from Norway have not had it so easy this season. Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli were 3rd at both the Europeans and Aigubelette, but as with their heavyweight countrymen, their run-up to the Worlds last year wasn’t filled with gold either so they cannot be discounted either at Lucerne or next month at the World Championships.
The Muda brothers from the Netherlands switched from the LM4- to the double after the Olympics and have taken their time to find their feet, but 6th at the Europeans was followed by 5th at Aiguebelette the momentum is buliding for the men in orange.
Both the British and the Kiwis have a tremendous history in this boat class and both have new exciting young combinations this year. Jamie Kirkwood and Will Fletcher for GB finished 3rd in the “B” final at both the European’s and Aiguebelette. They are a long term project for Rio and beyond and an “A” final finish would be a major step forward in their development. Having spoken to the guys at Henley they are pleased with their speed in training and need to show this on the race course. The Kiwis are another young crew with heaps of potential with Adam Ling and Hamish Bond’s little brother Alistair. I’m not expecting too much from them this season but I reckon it’ll be a different matter in 2016.
Switzerland (Simon Schuerch and Mario Gyr) were runners up to the Norwegians last year but could only manage 5th on their sole outing so far this season at Belgrade. The final crew to mention are the South African’s, John Smith and James Thompson. As mentioned above the 3 remaining members of the South African Olympic champion LM4- have swapped one blade for 2 and Smith and Thompson are in the LM2X. They raced at Henley last week losing to the GB M2X but that would have been a good run out for them in preparation for Lucerne. I’ll be really interested to see how they get on against other lightweights. Look out too for the Greeks, Panagiotis Magdanis and Eleftherios Konsolas (winners in Sydney) and the Portuguese Pedro Fraga and Nuno Mendes
So who to pick….It’s a really open and really competitive field. If the French aren’t too fatigued from their heroics at Henley I think they’ll take the win but the silver and bronze could go to any one of half a dozen crews…the young Germans, the Norwegians, the Portuguese…the Sieber brothers from Austria who were 6th at Aiguebelette..the South Africans…it’s a really tough call. I’m going to plump for the Norwegians to take the silver with the young German double getting the bronze.
20 doubles. The British dominated this event at Aiguebelette taking a 1-2. The silver medal double of Ruth Walczak and Charlotte Taylor have moved to a LW4X leaving Kat Copeland and Imogen Walsh as the sole representatives. These two are a new combination this season and have gelled beautifully. They have a tendency so far to start slowly but have a fearsome middle thousand which few crews can live with. If they are within a length of the leaders at half way then they will win.
The Germans have made a change to their crew that finished 3rd behind the two GB boats at Aiguebelette, with Lena Mueller replacing Leonie Pless in the boat with Anja Noske. This is the combination that beat the British into 3rd at the Europeans (a result they’ll be hoping to repeat). Missing from Aiguebelette were the European Champions, Laura Milani and Elisabetta Sancassani from Italy. The battle between the European champions and the new GB double will be fascinating.
The Kiwi double of Julia edward and Lucy Strack haven’t raced so far in europe this season but did race at the first World Cup where they finished 2nd to the Australians. Again, it’ll be interesting to see the sort of speed this experienced combination bring to European racing.
Some other interesting combinations to mention are the South Africans Kirsten Mccann and former US rower Ursula Grobler who are also a new combination for this season. also look out for the Canadian’s Patricia Obee and Lindsay Jennerich, 5th at Aiguebelette and with a wealth of experience under their belts.
My picks…I’m going for a GB gold ahead of the Italians with the Germans in 3rd.
25 pairs. the Kiwis win….moving on…..
right…so who’s going to get the silver and bronze. Taking the Kiwis out of the equation this is another really open field. The Dutch Rogier Blink and Mitchel Steenman looked to be the pick of the bunch at the start of the season with a win in sydney and silver in Belgrade. This duo were due to race at Henley but Blink withdrew due to illness. rather than scratch Steenman called up Julien Bahain of Canada and the two of them duly won the Silver Goblets having never rowed together before! it shows what an exceptional pairs rower Steenman is and with his regulare partner (assuming Blink is fit again) they should make the silver medal their own this season. But, they were somewhat surprisingly beaten at Belgrade by the home pairing of Veselin Savic and Dusan Bogicevic. It remains to be seen if the Serbians can replicate that sort of speed away from their home waters. I’ve a seaking suspicion it might have been a bit of a one off.
The British have 2 new pairs entered as a result of reshuffling their M8. The no.1 boat have the hugely experienced Olympic bronze medalists James Foad and Matt Langridge. The no.2 boat is Oliver Cook and Phil Congdon. Foad was in the pair last season with Oli Cook and were a little disappointed not to make the “A” final. If he and Langridge gell quickly they have the makings of a “banker” medal.
The German’s, Anton Braun and Bastian Bechler, won the “best of the rest” race at Aiguebelette picking up the silver following a 3rd place at the Europeans.
The Greeks also have two boats entered with Georgios Tziallas and Konstantinos Christomanos and Apostolas Lampridis partnered by Dionysios Angelopoulos. at the Europeans Lampridis partnered Christomanos and missed the “A” final. Tziallas and Angelopoulos were in the M4- that finished 2nd to the British. Looks like the Greeks are trying different combinations to find the medal challenging boat.
Obviously the Kiwis will win….but the silver and bronze…..?? The Dutch for the silver and I reckon the GB1 boat for the bronze.
16 crews. The British are beginning to dominate this event. Not only are they Olympic champions but they are also world Champions. what makes it more special is that helen Glover won the Olympics and worlds with different partners. Glover’s Olympic partner, Heather Stanning missed the Europeans due to fatigue but it made no difference to the result…they still won with Glover’s 2013 partner Polly swann jumping back in. Stanning returned for the World Cup and they picked up where they left off at the Olympics. They have a beautiful, almost effortless style very similar to the Kiwi M2- and are a joy to watch. This event is becoming a little like the men’s pair….it becomes a question of who will get the silver and bronze because the gold is British.
But, there are two very experienced names lining up against the British. Racing as Romania 2 are Roxana Cogianu and Nicoleta Albu. They are doubling up in the W8 (which is usual for the Romanian women) this pair were 2nd to the British at Chungju and will be looking to rattle the British and break their winning run.
The Kiwis, Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt were bronze medalists last year but could only make the “B” final at Aigubelette. They will be looking for a stronger performance this week.
Final at Aiguebelette was dominated by the US with 4 pairs making the “A” final, but the American women are staying away from Lucerne so the lesser medals are definitely up for grabs.
The Dutch, Aletta Jorritsma and Heleen Boers were bronze medalists at the Europeans and will be hoping for a strong “A” final finish on the Rottsee.
The Canadians have a new pairing with Jennifer Martins and Kristin Bauder, these two were in the W4- that finished 2nd at Aiguebelette.
So the British for the win with Romania 2 in silver and the Kiwis in bronze
18 pairs. The Swiss, Lucas tramer and Simon Neipmann are the reigning World and Olympic champions. they skipped the 2nd World Cup but will start as strong favourites for their home world cup.
The British, Jonno Clegg and Sam Scrimgeour were 2nd to the Swiss in Belgrade but were a disappointing 4th at Aiguebelette where they were beaten by the talented Czech pairing of Jiri Kopec and Miroslav Vrastil and the French duo of Clement Duret and Theophile Onfroy, both of whom the British had beaten at Belgrade.
3rd at Belgrade, just 1/10th sec behind the British were the Dutch Tim Weerkamp and Ivo de Graaf. The didn’t race the last World Cup and will be looking to medal at Luerne.
The Poles have 2 crews entered with identical twins Patryk and Bartsz Pszczolkowski coming out of the LM4- that finished 6th at the Europeans. The 2nd boat is the U23 pairing of Lukasz Makowski and Radoslaw Krymski.
My picks…the Swiss look pretty dominate so I’m going for them just ahead of the British (if they get their mojo back) with the Czechs in bronze.
4 pairs. for the first time in 10 years the British have entered a coxed pair. Alan Sinclair and Scott Durant (coxed by Henry Fieldman) have been part of the GB M8’s group but have moved out in favour of Stan Louloudis and Paul Bennett. They lost at Henley to the Dutch/French combo but will be wanting to uphold the British tradition in this boat…the last time the British entered they won!
They’ll have to get past the Germans, Dutch and Russians to take the gold.
The German pair are Peter Kluge and Alexander Egler (coxed by Jonas Wiesen). These two raced as Ger2 in the 2- at Aiguebelette finishing 8th.
The Dutch line up is Stefan Broenink and Thomas Doornbos (with Tim Van den Ende seering). Broenink was in the Dutch 8 at the Europeans and Doornbos was in the 8 that finished 5th at Chungju.
The Russian pairing is Viktor Misyutkin and Lev Gritsenko (coxed by Pavel Safonkin). Both Misyutkin and Gritsenko were in the Russian 8 that missed the “A” final in Chungju.
On paper you’d have to go with the British to win but the coxed pair is a funny old boat…I’m still going to pick the British ahead of the Dutch with the Germans in 3rd.
14 crews. The British are beginning to become the force to be reckoned with in this event. 2nd to the Ukrainians at Belgrade they were winners at Aiguebelette and also at Henley last weekend. The crew of Pete Lambert, Sam Townsend, Charlie Cousins & Graeme Thomas are the best men’s quad that GB have ever produced and will probably go into Lucerne as favourites. They were given a tough run in the heat at Henley by the new US combination of Peter and John Graves, Steve Whelpley and Ben Dann. I think even the Americans themselves were surprised at the speed they showed. It remains to be seen if they can continue this at Lucerne.
The German’s used to dominate this event but they’ve been beaten by the British both times they’ve met so far this season. At Aiguebelette they led the British to the first 3 markers before GB hit the gas pedal and sculled through them to win by 2 seconds.
The Canadians (Pascal Lussier, Michael Braithwaite, Will Dean and Matt Buie) have been quietly putting together a very rapid quad. They picked up the bronze at Aiguebelette just ahead of a very fast finishing Chinese crew (who aren’t at Lucerne) and will be wanting to get amongst the medals again at Lucerne.
The Australians raced at Henley but were beaten in the final by a length by the British.
The Poles have made 2 changes to the crew that finished 9th at Aiguebelette but they will have to significantly improve to make the “A” final.
The Kiwis narrowly missed out on the “A” final spot at the last world cup but they are a hugely talented crew (Jade Uru, John Storey, Nathan Flannery & Chris Harris) and I fully expect them to be in the top final this time round.
My picks…I think the British will win again with Germany in silver and the bronze being a battle between the North Americans which, I think the Canucks will win.
10 crews.The Germans were fairly dominant at Aiguebelette winning by 4 seconds ahead of the Americans (who aren’t at Lucerne) although they were beaten by the Belorussians at the Europeans. They will definitely start as favourites in Lucerne.
The Australians (Jessica Hall, Kerry Hore, Maddy Edmunds and Jennifer Cleary) are making their debut in Europe, but they raced at the first World Cup in Sydney and took the gold ahead of a very strong German combination.
The Kiwis have a very strong quad with Sarah Gray, Georgia Perry, Lucy Spoors and Erin-Monique Shelton. They took bronze at Aiguebelette just ahead of the Canadians.
The British have been steadily improving with a 5th place finish at the last World Cup and won at Henley last weekend (although they only their LW4X and U23 quads), but it will be a morale boost and they will be looking to move up the field at Lucerne. The British have also entered their new lightweight quad which is a very exciting combination of U23 world champions Ellie Piggott and Brianna Stubbs along with world medalist Ruth Walczak and World cup silver medalist Charlotte Taylor. They will be looking to take as many openweight scalps as they can.
The final quad to mention are the Dutch, they were 7th at Aiguebelette and will be looking to step up to the main final at Lucerne.
My picks….I can’t see anyone beating the Germans but the lesser medals are really open. Possibly the Kiwis with the bronze going to any one of the Aussies, Brits or Canadians. I think the Aussies will get it.
5 crews. This looks to be a straight battle between the Germans and the Danes (the other three crews in the event are 2 Hong Kong crews and 1 from India). The Germans have the Schoemann-Fink brothers Jost and Matthias. Jost won the bronze in the LM1X at Aiguebelette. They are joined by Max Roeger and Michael Weiler. Wieler won silver in this event in 2012 and Roeger last raced internationally as an U23 in 2010.
The Danes have the same line up that finished 4th in Chungju. My money is on the Germans for gold with the Danes in 2nd and Hong Kong 1 some way back in 3rd.
The Coxless 4’s
13 crews. When the GB line up of Andy Triggs-Hodge, George Nash, Moe Sbihi and Alex Gregory was announced the rest of the world must have gulped, and then when they saw them race they must have broken into a cold sweat. The latest iteration of GB’s flagship boat are possibly the best 4- I’ve ever seen. They combine huge amounts of power with a beautifully effortless style. They won in Belgrade, Aiguebelette and Henley.
The Australians have high hopes for their crew and have made one change to that which finished 5 seconds behind the British at Aiguebelette. Spencer Turrin returns from injury and replaces Chris Cunningham-Reid. This will, undoubtedly make the Aussies faster but I cannot see them closing a 5 second gap. There is also the feeling that the British had at least one extra gear to go.
The Dutch are the reigning world champions, but have been a bit shell shocked so far this season and only managing 4th at the European Championships and being beaten by the US on home water at the Holland Beker.
The Greeks finished 2nd, 5 seconds behind the British, at Belgrade and in the absence of the Americans will be the main challenge to the Australians for silver.
The Italians have made a number of changes to the crew that finished 3rd at the Europeans with Matteo Lodo and Mario Paonessa joining Giuseppe Vicino and Paolo Perino. This is the same line up that finished 4th at Chungju in 2013.
The Germans have the same line up (Bjoern Birkner, Max Munski, Toni Seifert and Kristof Wilke) that finished 5th in Aiguebelette and will be hoping for a significant improvement.
The Canadians have a very strong line up with Olympic medalists Conlin McCabe, Will Crothers and Rob Gibson. They haven’t really fired yet, finishing 4th at the 2nd World Cup. If they do start firing they will be strong medal challengers.
The British will win the gold by clear water but behind them I think it’ll be a real bun-fight….I reckon the Aussies will take the silver and the Greeks the bronze.
15 crews. The Denmark v New Zealand story continues. These two have been slugging it out with eachother since the Olympics. The Kiwis got the better of the Danes at Aiguebelette overturning the result from Chungju. it’s going to be great to see two such fantastic crews going toe-to-toe again. The British have been snapping out the heels of the Danes and Kiwis – 3rd in Chungju and 3rd in Aiguebelette. The question is can they get between the top 2?
The French have had a great week. They were 5th at the World Cup but raced really well at Henley going down to the British heavyweight M4-. They will be buoyed by that result and will be looking for a medal in Lucerne.
The Italians have 2 boats entered packed full of talent. The no.1 boat, Jiri Vlcek, Giorgio Tuccardini, Livio La Padula and Armando Dell’Aquilla won the “B” final at Aiguebelette. The No.2 crew is Stefano Oppo, Martino Goretti,Elia Luini and Paolo Di Girolamo who were 10th at the Europeans.
My picks….I think it’ll be the same 3 crews taking the medals as at Aiguebelette.
10 crews. The British have been chopping and changing their line up all season but look to have finally settled on a good combination. world champion Tom Ransley returns as does the talismanic OUBC President-elect Stan Louloudis. Paul Bennett is the final addition getting his first run in the boat at Henley last week. The reigning world champions won a straight final against a decent French crew and are beginning to bulid momentum in defence of their title.
However it’s the Germans who will go into Lucerne as favourites. They are desperate to reclaim their world title in Amsterdam and so far this season were winners at the Europeans and have an unchanged line-up for Lucerne. The Germans have also entered a 2nd boat which is their Lightweight 8 for the World Championships.
The surprise result at the European championships was the emergence of a strong Russian 8 under the guidance of Mike Spracklen. He’s put together a crew that up till now have been mid “B” final performers and moulded them into a European silver medal winning crew. The test will be whether they can replicate this sort of pace in Lucerne or whether Belgrade was a “one-off”. I’ve got a feeling Spracklen has worked a near miracle with the Russians.
The Belorussians have also made good progress this season, 6th in Belgrade they stormed through to take the bronze in Aiguebelette.
The Dutch are another country with 2 boats entered. The no.1 boat raced at the European’s but missed out on the “A” final. The 2nd boat is also the Lightweights so they will be having their own “race within a race” with the German lighties.
the Aussies have put together a new crew with 3 of the crew who were 7th last year (Angus Moore, Alex Hill and Scott Laidler). They are joined by the highly experienced Olympic and world silver medalists Will Lockwood and James Champman and also Olympian David Crawshay (along with U23 silver medalist Josh Hicks and Tom Larkins who was in the 2- last year). This looks to be a quick combination so it’ll be very interesting to see them race for the first time.
It’s always great to see a Kiwi M8 race and this year’s crew is the same line up that won the U23 World Championships last year. They will be relishing the opportunity to go up against the Germans, British and Aussies.
The final crew in the event are the Poles. They have been competing at all the main regattas in Europe this season and are always “there or thereabouts”.
My picks…lots of unkowns with crews changing their line-ups. The Germans must start as favourites for the gold but I’ve got a feeling that the British are building momentum and will challenge for a medal so I’m going for them in silver just ahead of the Russians and Aussies.
6 crews. With the US staying away the field opens up for a very tight contest. The Canadians took silver in Aiguebelette but must have been totally shell shocked by the way the USA just rowed through them having been over a length down. The British have beaten the Dutch and Australians at Henley last week and will take great confidence into Lucerne. But it’s the Romanians who will be the main challengers to the Canadians for the gold. They beat the British into 2nd to win the Euriopean Championships and have an extremely experienced line-up.
For my money the 3 likely medalists – Canada, Romania and GB, will be well clear of the rest of the field. I’m going for that to be the 1,2,3.
So that’s my preview of the entries….it’s shaping up to be a fascinating regatta and Lucerne always produces some wonderful racing. Just wish I was there in person!