Now for part 3…
Defending champions: The Netherlands
So far this season there’s only really been one crew in the frame for gold. The new look British four of Andy Hodge, George Nash, Mo Sbihi and Alex Gregory are the no.1 GB boat and so far they are unbeaten. They have not just won all their races, they have totally dominated them. At Aiguebelette they beat the Australians by a whopping 5 seconds. At Lucerne it was a little closer with the defending champions getting within 2 seconds. But the British had no need to unleash a sprint, their rate from 500m onwards stayed at 36-37 whilst those around them were up 40-42. I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that what I find so impressive about this crew is how smooth and efficient they are. As with a number of other events at this years World Championships the question is not whom will win gold, but who will win silver and bronze. In the M4- the battle for the lesser medals is going to be really interesting.
The defending champions from the Netherlands have had a mixed season so far. They have made one change to the line up as last year with Olivier Siegelaar coming in for Kaj Hendricks. They were 2nd in Sydney but missed the medals altogether at the Europeans. They returned to form at Lucerne with a silver medal behind the British.
One place behind the Dutch at Lucerne were the Canadians. The Canadians are an extremely experienced crew with 3 of the Olympic silver medal eight, Will Crothers, Rob Gibson and Conlin McCabe. These three also raced this event last year but were woefully under-prepared and ended up 14th. This year they are joined by World M2+ medalist, Kai Langerfeld. They’ve been gradually getting quicker all season, 4th at Aiguebelette they improved by one place at Lucerne. There are high hopes in Canada that this crew will deliver a good medal winning performance.
One of the strongest medal hopes are the Americans, Grant James, Mike Gennaro, Henrik Rummel and Seth Weil. This is the same line-up that won the bronze medal last year. This season they have only appeared once on the World Cup circuit, at Aiguebelette they took another bronze medal a fraction of a second behind the Australians.
The Aussies are another crew who have had a mixed season. Silver at Aiguebelette, the crew of Fergus Pragnell, Josh Dunkley-Smith, Spencer Turrin and Alex Lloyd, slumped to 7th at Lucerne. The Australians are a very talented, if inconsistent, crew. If they have a good regatta they could certainly be challenging for the medals.
The Germans, like the Canadians are an extremely experienced crew, and have Olympic champion Kristof Wilke at stroke. This season they’ve yet to get on the podium with a best finish of 4th at Lucerne. My instinct is that they will probably just miss out on the medals again in Amsterdam.
Another couple of crews to highlight are the Italians and the Greeks. The Italians were 5th at Lucerne, but have made a change to their line up since then with U23 World Champion, Vincenzo Abbagnale replacing Paolo Perino. Whether this change has given them the speed to win Italy’s first medal in this event since 2007 remains to be seen.
The Greeks, Ioannis Tsilis, Dionysios Angelopolous, Georgios Tziallas and Ioannis Christou, have only raced once this season taking the silver behind the British at the European championships.
As you can see from all of the above, the fight behind the British is very tight. So who will win what?
The British will take the gold and I think silver and bronze will go to the North Americans….the United States in silver and the Canadians in bronze.
Defending champions: USA
A good, healthy entry this year, up from the straight final at Chungju last year. The USA are the defending champions and they have a very strong, experienced crew again this year that includes Olympic Champion Zsuzsanna Francia, World Champions Emily Regan and Tessa Gobbo and Olympic bronze medalist Adrienne Martelli. A crew of this pedigree will be very hard to beat.
The New Zealanders have a new line up that includes the U23 World Champion W2- of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast. These two may feel slightly aggrieved that they are not in the Olympic class W2- boat as they beat the selected NZ W2- at Lucerne (and apparently several times in training as well). But, the Kiwi selectors have put them in the W4- where they are joined by Kelsey Bevan and Kayla Pratt. Bevan was in the NZ W8 that finished 7th last year and Pratt was in the W2- last year that won bronze. This has the potential to be a strong medal crew, but whether they have the firepower to beat the Americans….?
The French entered 2 crews in the 4 boat final at Lucerne and took gold and silver. For Amsterdam they have mixed the two crews – which, I assume, is the fastest combination. They are a very experienced quartet of Helene Lefebvre, Noemie Kober, Melanie Cornille and Marie Le Nepvou. Le Nepvou has been part of the senior French team for 10 years and they should be hoping for a medal. But, they are doubling up in the W8 and that may stretch them against the fresher crews.
The German crew includes the Davids sisters, Sara and Miriam. Sara was in the U23 8 this year and Miriam in the W4- that finished behind the 2 French boats at Lucerne. I have a feeling a medal will be beyond them.
The home crew have 3 of the W8 that finished 4th at the Europeans, Kirsten Wielaard, Lies Rustenburg & Janneke Van Der Muelen. They are joined by the 18 year old debutante Joe Van Veen. The home support will be huge for this crew but an “A” final finish would be a good performance for these women.
My picks…USA for the gold ahead of the Kiwis in silver and the French in bronze.
Defending Champions: Denmark
This event has been epic this season. The battle between the Kiwis and the Danes has been awesome to watch. We are used to nail-biting finishes in this event, results decided by feet and inches. But, this season the Kiwis have thrown the rule book out the window, winning at Aiguebelette and Lucerne by a whopping 2.5 seconds. They are a beautiful crew to watch with a lovely length despite the high ratings associated with the LM4-.
The Danes have a fantastic reputation in this event. They sprint for the whole 2000 meters and are always exciting to watch. The British have been 3rd at both the World Cups this season and finished behind the Danes at the Europeans. These three crews have been clear of the rest of the field and it’ll take something special for any other crew to get among the medals.
The French finished 4th at Lucerne and 5th at Aiguebelette. They had a good battle with the Americans at Aiguebelette and I’m expecting the same result at Amsterdam. Whether this will get them among the top three remains to be seen.
My picks….Fairly boring…but I’m going for the same 1,2,3 as at Aiguebelette and Lucerne…the Kiwis ahead of the Danes ahead of the British.
Next up are the quads….