It’s happening….it’s finally happening….there’s going to be a championship regatta! After a summer spent in lockdown the rowing world is finally emerging and there is the confidence to host an international championship regatta – the European U23 Championships.
Duisberg in Germany plays host to the first international regatta of 2020 and has attracted a large entry of 226 boats across 22 different classes, although notable by their absence are the British who have chosen not to enter this, or the Senior European Championships next month.
The Wedau course in Duisberg is no stranger to international competition, they host an international regatta each year, but this is the first full FISA event to be held there since the 2012 World Masters Regatta.
So, as always, I’ll cast my eye over the entries and pick out those to watch – although with no racing so far this year the form guide goes out the window!
The Irish rowing team have become something of a “Celtic Tiger” in the last couple of years, and representing the Emerald Isle in Duisberg is one of their emerging stars, Ronan Byrne. The man from Cork is the defending champion and last year formed an exceptional M2X with Philip Doyle that won a silver medal at the World Championships.
The home favourite is Moritz Wolff. The 2018 junior world champion is the rising star of German sculling and in 2019 won a silver medal in the U23 BM4X at the World Championships.
One of the most experienced competitors in the field is Armandas Kelmelis of Lithuania. The 2016 Junior World Champion also raced the single scull at the Rio Olympics finishing a creditable 19th. 2019 sees his first international competition since winning a bronze medal in the U23 BM2X in 2017.
Another name to watch is Romania’s Miha Chiruta. He was 4th in this event last year, and also raced at a senior level finishing 8th at the European Championships and 23rd at the Senior World’s.
A few other names to look out for are Jan Fleissner (Czech Republic) junior world champion in the JM4X in 2016, Italy’s Nicolo Carucci (bronze in the JM2X last year), Hungarian Marton Szabo won gold in the BM4X at the 2018 European U23’s and was 11th in the BM4X at the U23 World Championships last year. The final name to mention is Lukas Reim of Austria, he is in his 4th year on the U23 team and finished 5th in the world at last year’s World Championships, he also raced the M1X at the senior World Championships finishing 28th.
Anneta Kyridou of Greece is the standout entry in this event. She’s the defending champion and is also the reigning U23 BW2X World Champion. Along with partner Aikaterini Nikolaidou, she finished 6th in the W2x at the Senior European Championships and 18th at the Senior Worlds. One of the biggest challengers to Kyridou is home favourite Alexandra Foester. The 18 year-old is the reigning Junior world champion. The name Jaanson is well-known in the rowing world, Jueri was Olympic silver medallist in 2008. In Duisberg it’s his daughter, Greta, who flies the flag for Estonia. She was a bronze medallist in the JW1X at the 2018 Youth Olympics and finished 9th in the BW2X at the 2019 World Championships.
Ireland’s Claire Feerick is more known for her exploits in a sweep boat than a single. She was a member of the outstanding Irish BW4- that won a silver medal at the 2019 23 World Championships. She has also competed at a senior level, racing in the W2- with Eimear Lambe that finished 12th at the Poznan World Cup last year.
Italy’s Elisa Mondelli raced in this event last year finishing 5th. She also raced at the U23 World Championships in 2018 and 2019. In 2018 she placed 12th in the BW1X and last year switched to sweep, placing 10th in the BW4-.
Anne Larsen of Denmark has significant senior racing experience. In 2017 she finished 13th in the W2X at the World Championships and then in 2018 placed 4th in the W4-. In 2019 she again took 4th in the W4-, this time at the senior European Championships before moving to the W8 that finished 11th at the World Championships (the first time Denmark had boated a senior W8 since 1995).
Other names to look out for include junior world bronze medallist Alice-Elena Turcanu of Romania, Bettina Siskaof Hungary (4th in the JW1X last year) and Joanna Kristof of Austria (5th in the BW2X last season).
This has the makings of an extremely competitive event with the gold and silver medallists from last year (Yahor Shliupski and Ivan Brynza of Belarus and Emil Neykov and Stanimir Haladzhov of Bulgaria respectively) taking on the world U23 bronze medallists, Nikita Eskin and Aleksandr Mateev of Russia. Also in the mix will be a strong, young German double of Klas Ole Lass and Paul Krueger, both of whom are former Junior World medallists.
Romania have a strong pairing of Dumitru-Antonio Stoica who was 4th in the BM4X at last year’s World Championships and Alexandru Gherasim, junior world champion in the JM2-.
Other crews to note are the Swiss, Kai Schaetzle and Tim Roth. Schaetzle was 8th in the U23 BM4X last year and Roth was junior world bronze medallist in the single. Stepping up from the junior ranks are the Italians, Sebastiano Carrettin and Edoardo Rocchi, Carrettin finished 4th in the Jm2x in 2018 and Rocchi won silver in the JM4X last season.
Romania are the crew to beat in this event, Nicoleta-Ancuta Bodnar and Simona Geanina Radis are the reigning senior World W2X silver medallists. They also took silver at the senior European Championships last season and won gold at the 3rd World Cup, they are also the defending champions in this event. Their main rivals will most likely be the Italians, Clara Guerra and Alessandra Montesano. Guerra was a senior world silver medallist in the LW1X in 2018 and both she and Montessano have U23 World Championship medals to their credit.
Germany have Lisa Gutfleisch at bow and Marie-Sophie Zeidler at stroke. Marie-Sophie is the younger sister of senior M1X World Champion Ollie, she has a number of junior world medals to her credit and also raced in the U23 BW8 that finished 5th in 2018. Her partner, Gutfleisch finished 4th in the BW2X last season.
The Netherlands have strong hopes for their new pairing of U23 BW8 World Champion Benthe Boonstra and former junior world finalist Isabel Van Opzeeland.
Switzerland have a strong combination of lightweights moving up into the open-weight category, Eline Rol and Sofia Meakin are the reigning U23 BLW2X champions, with Rol also being the defending U23 European BLW1X champion.
Other doubles to look out for are the Croatian twins Josipa and Ivana Jurkovic, junior world champions in the JW4- in 2017 and 14th in the W4- at the senior World championships last year. Also watch for the Lithuanians, Ugne Juzenaite and Dovile Rimkute who make their U23 debuts having won bronze together in the JW2X at last year’s Junior World Championships.
Overwhelming favourites in this event are the Romanian pairing of Dumitru-Alexandru Ciobica and Florin-Sorin Lehachi. They are the reigning U23 BM2- world champions and also won this event at last year’s U23 European Championships. They are a well-established pairing having competed together at the U23 World championships in 2018 where they took silver.
Another well-established pairing are the Croatian brothers, Patrik and Anton Loncaric. They were junior world champions in 2017 and competed together at U23 level last season finishing 10th in the BM4- at the World championships and taking silver at the Europeans.
Lithuania won bronze in this event last year with the crew of Povilas Stankunas and Mantas Juskevicius. This year’s crew has Povilas’ younger twin brothers Domantas and Dovydas. This pairing raced at both the junior and U23 World Championships in 2018 finishing 6th and 11th respectively.
The home crowd will be supporting Simon Schubert and Constantin Conrad, the Dresden pairing finished 4th at the recent German U23 trials to win their spot.
Greece will be strong favourites in this event, their crew of Maria Kyridou and Christina Bourmpou are the reigning U23 European and World Champions. They’ve been a pairing for a number of years and also won the junior world title and Youth Olympic Games title in 2018. They also raced at the senior World Championships in 2019 finishing a creditable 11th.
Ireland have a strong combination, Tara Hanlon and Emily Hegarty. They raced as a pair at the 2108 U23 World championships finishing 12th and in 2019 raced in the W4- that won silver at the U23 World Championships and went on to finish 10th at the senior Worlds.
The Czech Republic had intended to enter with their reigning junior world champion pairing, but unfortunately Eliza Podrazilova is out sick. So her partner from 2018, Anna Santruckova is joined by Pavlina Flamikova who was a member of the U23 quad that finished 4th at last yea’rs European U23 championships.
Romania are always strong in this event. This year they are represented by the pairing of Adriana Ailincai and Alina-Maria Baletchi. Both these women have won medal at junior level. Ailincai raced with Maria Tivodariu last season, winning a bronze medal at the U23 European championships and then going one better with a silver at the Senior European’s. She was a member of the Romanian W8 at the World Championships that finished 6th. Baletchi has yet to race at senior level but won silver in the JW4- at the 2017 Junior World’s and followed that with a bronze at the 2018 Youth Olympics.
Romania, again, are the stand-out crew in this event. Their crew of Mihaita-Vasile Tiganescu, Mugurel Vasile Semciuc, Stefan-Constantin Berariu and Cosmin Pascari are the reigning champions in this event. This quartet were also U23 World Champions and senior European Champions in 2018. In 2019 they won a superb silver medal at the Senior World Championships and will be strong contenders for a medal at next year’s Olympics.
Switzerland were bronze medallists in this event last year and have two of that crew (Nils Schneider and Patrick Brunner) back this year. They are joined by Dominic Condrau and Jan Jonah Plock. Condrau was junior world champion in 107 and finished 9th in the BW2X at last year’s U23 Worlds. Plock makes his first appearance at U23 level having been a member of the junior world championship team in 2016.
Germany have a crew that includes their 2019 JM2- bronze medallists, Tom Tewes and Kasper Virnekeas. They are joined by Leon Schandl and Henry Hopmann, both of whom were members of the U23 BM4+ that finished 4that the U23 World Championships in 2018.
Greece’s crew is based around the 2019 U23 world Bronze medallists, Ioannis Kalandaridis and Athanasios Palaiopanos. They are joined by Athanasios’ younger brother, Leonidas (5th in the JM4- last year) and 18 year-old debutant Zsis Boukouvalas.
The other crew to watch are the Italians. They have a couple of World U23 bronze medallists on-board, Nunzio Di Colandrea and Edoardo Lanzavecchia along with World junior medallist Alessandro Bonamontea and fellow former junior Volodymr Kuflyk.
Another event where Romania are the strong favourites. They have two senior European champions on-board, Maria Tivodariu from the 2018 W8 and Maria-Magdalena Rusu from the 2019 W8. They are joined by two members of U23 BW8 that finished 4th at last year’s World Championships, Andreea Popa and Dumitrita Juncanariu.
The Netherlands crew is one of the strongest in their team, Lisa Goossens and Iris Klok are reigning U23 World Champions from the BW8. They are joined 2018 BW8 world silver medallist Eve Stewart and former Junior bronze medallist Susanna Temming.
Italy also have two reigning U23 World Champions, Benedetta Faravelli and Giorgia Pelacchi along with former Junior medallist Khadija Alajdi El Idrissi and fellow junior team member Veronica Bumbaca.
Belarus have a crew of experienced U23 internationals, three of whom were in the BW4- in 2018 that finished 4th at the World Championships (Hanna Tsishkova, Tatsiana Filipava & Darya Novikava). The 4th member of the crew is Dzina Haluts who finished 6th in the BW2- in 2018.
Spain also have a crew containing three former U23 BW4- rowers, Aitzpea Gonzalez, Nuria Puig Aguilo and Esther Briz Zamorano were in the crew that finished 5th last year. The final member of the crew is former junior Iria jarama Diaz.
Belarus are the reigning champions in this event and have the same quartet racing in Duisberg, Uladzislau Lokun, Artsem Laputsin, Yauheni Zalaty and Kiryl Tsikhanovich.
But, it’s the Netherlands, coached by two-time Olympian Rogier Blink, that may well start as favourites. They have three of the crew that won bronze in the BW8 at the World Championships last season, Olav Molenaar, Joris Moerman and Wibout Rustenburg. The 4th member of the crew is former junior international, Wietse Morreau.
Germany will also have a strong crew for Duisberg, Franz Werner and Anton Finger are both U23 World Championship medallists. They are joined by two former Junior World Medallists, Aaron Erfanian (who won silver in the JM2X) and Paul Berghoff (junior world champion in the JM4X).
The 4th crew to mention are Italy. Two of their crew, Gustavo Ferrio and Emanuele Giarri were members of the BM4X that won bronze at the 2019 World Championships. They are joined by international debutant Riccardo Mattana and former junior international Lorenzo Gaione.
The final crew to look out for are the Czechs, with three of the 5th place BM4X from the 2019 World Championships (Vaclav Baldrian, Tomas Sisma and Filip Zima) with the 4th member of the crew, Marek Diblik (who finished 4thin the JM4X last season).
Romania are the defending champions in this event, they have three of that crew returning, Larisa Elena Rosu, Andrea-Ioana Budeanu and Georgiana-Simona Tataru. Rosu won bronze in the BW4X at the U23 World Championships with Budeanu and Tataru having raced to a 4th place in the BW8 last season. The final member of the crew is former junior international Cristina Druga.
The Netherlands have put together a crew containing three former Junior World Championship medallists who raced together to a bronze medal in the JW4X in 2018, Lisa Bruijinnicx, Jacbien Van Westreenen and Femke Paulis. Bruijinnicz and Van Westreenen also raced together in the JW2X at the 2019 World Championships winning a gold medal. The 4th member of the crew is U23 world championship silver medallist Nika Vos. The Dutch have high hopes for this quartet and they will strong contenders with the Romanians.
German women’s quads are traditionally very strong. This year they have half of the crew that won silver at the U23 World Championships last season, Maren Voelz and Tabea Kuhnert. They are joined by Sophie Leupold who finished 4th in the BW4X at the 2018 World Championships and Lena Osterkamp who raced in the U23 BW8 last season.
Switzerland finished 3rd in this event last season and they have one returner, Lisa Loetscher, from that crew. Loetscher, and crewmate Celia Dupre, were both members of the JW4X that won gold at the World Championships in 2018. Loetscher also raced in the BW4X at last year’s World Championships with Eloise Von Der Schulenburg, who strokes the boat in Duisberg. The 4th member of the crew is former junior international Salome Ulrich who finished 8th in the JW4- in 2018.
Poland finished 2nd in this event last year and went on to take 10th at the U23 Worlds. They have three of that crew racing in Duisberg, Izabela Galek, Paulina Grzella & Barbara Streng. The final member of the boat is Katarzyna Boruch who sculled in the U23 quad in 2018.
Romania are the defending champions in this event and they have three of the crew returning. Stroking the crew is Ciprian Huc, winner of a silver medal in the M4- at the Senior European Championships in 2018 and who also finished 5th at the Senior World Championships that year. One seat behind Huc is 2019 Junior World Champion Florin Artini-Fintinariu.
Runners-up to Romania at last year’s event were Ukraine. They have four of that crew returning, with the remainder of the crew consisting of former junior internationals stepping up an age-group.
Germany are always strong in the M8 and the core of the crew for Duisberg are members of the BM8 that finished 5th at the U23 World Championships last year. They are joined by a number of former Junior world championship medallists, including junior world champions Mark Hinrichs at bow and Julian Garth in the seven seat.
The Netherlands are another nation renowned for producing fast U23 M8’s. This year’s crew is a mix of former junior internationals and a number of athletes making their international debuts. It remains to be seen (as it does with all the 8’s) just how fast the crew are with so little water time together.
Yet another event where Romania are the defending champions. This year sees four of that crew return. The crew includes Madalina-Gabriela Casu and Roxana-Iuliana Anghel who won gold in the W8 at the senior European Championships and then placed 6th at the senior Worlds.
The Netherlands are another nation known for producing strong women’s 8’s. The Dutch look to be using Duisberg as a development opportunity for a young 8, all but one of the crew are making their international debuts at this regatta.
Germany are also boating a young and relatively inexperienced crew, only stroke, Katja Fuhrmann has raced at U23 level before (5ht in the BW8 last year). But the crew contains a couple of junior world championship medallists and three members of the JW8 that finished 4th in 2018.
The Czech Republic are also boating a crew with just one rower with U23 experience, 5 seat Marie Jurkova was in the BW4X that finished 8th last year. But the Czech’s have a number of talented former junior internationals including 3members of their gold medal Junior 8 from 2017.
For most countries it looks as though they are using this event as a development opportunity. 12 of the 17 entries have at least one athlete making their international debuts.
From those crews who do have an international pedigree it’s the French (Paul Tixier and Ferdinand Ludwig) who look to be the stand-out combination. They raced in this event last year picking up a silver medal.
The Netherlands also look to be serious contenders with world U23 BLM1X silver medallist Obbe Durk Tibben at stroke. He’s joined by David Van Velden who finished 9th in the JM4X last year.
Russia, Kiril Goriachev and Artur Kunka, finished 6th in this event last year and are back this year to see if they can get among the medals.
Belgium have also entered a strong and established double. Tibo Vyvey and Marlon Colpaert raced at the U23 World Championships last year finishing in 5th place.
Spain are another crew to watch, bowman Dennis Carracedo was 4th at the U23 World Championships last year and he’s joined by debutant Gerard Andreu Gallisa.
Despite the small entry this is possibly one of the highest quality events at the regatta, and the only one that includes reigning senior World Champions (see below).
Switzerland are the defending champions in this event and they have the same duo, Chiara Canton and Olivia Nacht, back to defend their title.
But, the Swiss will have their work cut out to retain the gold medal. Favourites on paper must be the Italians, Giulia Mignemi and Silvia Crosio. They were both members of the LW4X that won Senior World Championship gold last season, they also won the U23 BLW4X in both 2019 and 2018. As a LW2X they reached the A Final at the Senior European Championships last year.
Germany also have the same crew that raced at the U23 World Championships last season, Luise Asmussen and Cosina Clotten. This duo picked up a bronze medal in Sarasota.
The 4th crew entered are Ireland. They have Aofie Casey at bow and Margaret Cremen at stroke. Casey raced in this boat class at the U23 World Championships last season, just missing out on a medal. Cremen raced at the U23 Worlds in 2018 in this boat class finishing 11th.
That’s all I have time for, but it’s fantastic to see any sort of international racing take place after such a horrible year. Here’s to many more as we build towards the Tokyo Olympics next July!