The 2015 World Rowing Championships have now started on Lac d’Aiguebelette in France. This year’s event acts as the qualification regatta for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, so expect tension between the athletes who seeks to perform at their best. Here is a preview from FISA’s Worldrowing.com of whom to watch over these eight days of racing:
Women’s Pair (W2-)
This boat class remains the domain of the unstoppable British women’s pair of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover. The duo have not lost a single race together since their Olympic gold medal at London 2012 and they’ve created a race plan that sees them lead from start to finish. The only crew that looks able to rattle the British is the young New Zealand line up of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast. Their enthusiasm has shown that Stanning and Glover cannot sit back and relax.
Also regular medal contender is the United States. Although their line ups regularly change, the strength of the U.S. women’s sweep squad is well-known and for Aiguebelette head coach Tom Terhaar has put together two top rowers, Eleanor Logan and Felice Mueller to take on the British. Keep an eye out too for the Netherlands. At the European Rowing Championships Elisabeth Hogerwerf and Olivia Van Rooijen chased the British to the line.
Men’s Pair (M2-)
Unbeatable? Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, the New Zealand duo reign supreme. They are the Olympic Champions, multi-World Champions and World Best Time holders and at the 2015 World Rowing Cup in Lucerne recorded their 57th straight win.
Great Britain’s Matt Langdridge and James Foad may be the best bet to challenge the New Zealanders. They are last year’s world silver medallists and this year became the 2015 European Rowing Champions with a silver behind New Zealand at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Crossing the line on the heels of the British boat in Lucerne were the Serbs Milos Vasic and Nenad Bedik. They also won a bronze medal at the European champs this year. Watch out too for the Dutch boat of Mitchel Steenman and Roel Braas. The duo won the most World Cup points in 2015 in this event. They also took bronze at the World Rowing Cup in Varese and in Lucerne they finished fourth.
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x)
France’s Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre have dominated this season coming to Aiguebelette unbeaten. But after they finished with silver at the 2014 World Rowing Championships, everyone knows the unexpected can happen. The 2014 winners, John Smith and James Thompson of South Africa, have raced just once this season finishing second to the French. Their powerful sprint will no doubt be in the thoughts of Azou and Delayre.
Norwegians Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli are the 2013 World Champions and have since medalled at each World Rowing regatta that they entered. In Lucerne they took bronze. With 33 countries entered there will also be challenges coming from Germany, Great Britain and Denmark.
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x)
Great Britain’s Charlotte Taylor and Katherine Copeland set a new World Best Time at the World Rowing Cup in Varese, but in Lucerne the duo were overcome by New Zealand’s World Champion crew of Julia Edward and Sophie Mackenzie. These two boats are likely to form the leading clash.
Challenging them is likely to be South Africa and the United States. South Africans Ursula Grobler and Kirsten McCann finished fourth overall at the 2014 World Rowing Championships and this year in Lucerne they took silver behind New Zealand. United States rowers Devery Karz and Michelle Sechser won bronze at the final stage of this year’s World Rowing Cup in Lucerne. Also keep Germany’s Marie-Louise Draeger and Fini Sturm on the radar – they medalled twice this year so far.
Men’s Four (M4-)
Traditionally the domain of the British, when head coach Jürgen Gröbler decided to prioritise the men’s eight, the four became less of a focus. Still, Great Britain won the European Rowing Championships before the field opened up. Belarus won the first World Cup, United States won the second with Australia winning the third World Cup.
With this variety at the head of the field, it is anyone’s guess who will win in Aiguebelette. But the above countries will certainly stand out. Add Canada to the mix as well as the Italians and the Greeks and you will have a race where the fight to get into the final is likely to be incredibly tight.
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x)
Germany has been calling the shots recently in this boat class. They own the World Championship title from 2013 and 2014 and also own the World Best Time.
Other podium contenders include The Netherlands, who took silver at the European Rowing Championships this year and bronze in Lucerne, as well as Poland who took bronze at the Europeans and silver in Varese. Look out too for Australia and the United States who were also in the mix of medals during the World Rowing Cup season.
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)
When Great Britain beat Germany earlier this season, it opened the door to excitement and uncertainly in this boat class. The Germans are the Olympic Champions and after finishing third in 2014 they will be aiming to be back on top.
But watch out for the reigning World Champions, Ukraine. They raced once only this season, at the European Rowing Championships, and took silver behind Russia who took the European title. Look out for Estonia, too. They were fourth at the 2012 Olympics and have been rebuilding their boat ever since. They took bronze in Lucerne while another medal contender, Canada, claimed bronze in Varese.
Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)
At the start of the season, Germany’s top single scullers Marcel Hacker and Stephan Krueger were united to form their nation’s double sculls combination. They won gold at the first leg of the World Rowing Cup in Bled and at the European Rowing Championships. But at the second and third stages of the World Rowing Cup in Varese and in Lucerne the Croatian Sinkovic brothers won the gold. Martin and Valent Sinkovic are the reigning World Champions and World Best Time holders in the double and favourites to retain the title as so far this season their wins have been a picture of domination.
But there are three medals to be had so look out for Australia. They medalled twice this season, with James McRae and Alexander Belonogoff taking silver in Varese and bronze in Lucerne. They are last year’s world bronze medallists. Keep an eye out for the powerful duo of Aleksandar Aleksandrov and Boris Yotov of Azerbaijan as well as Norway and Lithuania.
Women’s Double Sculls (W2x)
New Zealand took gold at both regattas that they entered this year: World Rowing Cup II in Varese and World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Zoe Stevenson was part of the 2014 World Champion boat, and Eve Macfarlane joined her in the double this year. The United States crew of Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek finished sixth last year at the World Rowing Championships and seems on track to do well in Aiguebelette. They raced once so far this season, at World Rowing Cup II in Varese, and took silver behind New Zealand.
Australia’s Sally Kehoe and Olympia Aldersey set a World Best Time at the 2014 World Rowing Championships and won bronze overall. This year, they finished fifth at World Rowing Cup II in Varese and then took silver at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne. Other boats to look out for include Poland, last year’s world silver medallists, who earned the European Championship title this year. Lithuania, Great Britain and Belarus will also be aiming for medals.
Lightweight Men’s Four (LM4-)
The dynamic of the Danish-New Zealand rivalry that built up last year is different. Both boats have had one crew change with New Zealand now looking to be the top boat. The New Zealanders won both races that they entered and found their greatest challenge coming from Switzerland who have brought their 2012 Olympic boat back together. Denmark is still in the mix and France and Great Britain will also be vying for the medals.
Women’s Eight (W8+)
The United States have not lost a single race in the women’s eight in nine years. They set two World Best Times during this time and remain the clear favourites. Canada, however, will do all that they can to knock the Americans off the top spot. They are regularly the silver medallists. Watch out for New Zealand. They formed a new crew in this event and created quite a stir at the World Rowing Cup in Lucerne when they won silver behind Canada.
Russia presented a talented line-up at the European Rowing Championships where they crossed the line in gold ahead of The Netherlands and Romania. When racing at their best, Great Britain are podium contenders too.
Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)
Mahe Drysdale, the reigning Olympic Champion, showed his ongoing form by winning gold in Varese and then dominating in Lucerne. In Varese, Drysdale won ahead of Cuba’s Angel Fournier Rodriguez and in Lucerne ahead of Lithuanian Mindaugas Griskonis. Fournier has seen increasing success in the single since the London 2012 Olympic Games. Griskonis is a three-time European Champion and this year he took silver in Lucerne ahead of two-time Olympic silver medallist and three-time World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. This has not been a great season for Synek, but his experience should pay off at the right time.
Watch out too for Alan Campbell of Great Britain and Damir Martin of Croatia. Both have medalled this season.
Women’s Single Sculls (W1x)
Australia’s Kim Crow has been absolutely dominating the field this season. The 2013 World Champion and 2014 silver medallist won both World Rowing Cup regattas that she entered in 2015. Crow’s main challengers include 2012 Olympic Champion from the Czech Republic, Mirka Knapkova, and Genevra Stone from the United States. Both have picked up medals this season.
Men’s Eight (M8+)
Germany are the reigning Olympic Champions in this event, while Great Britain took World Championship gold twice in a row, in 2013 and 2014. They have been facing off all season and will do it again at Aiguebelette.
Hoping to get in on this two-way battle is the Poland and Russia with the young crews from New Zealand and the United States, who each took World Cup bronze, also knocking on the door.
International Boat Classes
Watch out for New Zealand’s 20-year-old Zoe McBride in the lightweight women’s single sculls (LW1x). She established a new World Best Time this year at World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland. McBride’s toughest challenge is likely to come from European Champion, Imogen Walsh (GBR) and Brazil’s Fabiana Beltrame.
Slovakia’s Lukas Babac has collected two silvers and a gold this season and is looking in a prime position in the lightweight men’s single sculls (LM1x). He will face 2014 World Champion, Marcello Miani of Italy. Watch out too for the promising Luka Radonic of Croatia and Great Britain’s Jamie Kirkwood.
Great Britain has entered Joel Cassells and Sam Scrimgeour to push for medals in the lightweight men’s pair (LM2-). They will face tough competition from Theophile Onfroy and Augustin Mouterde of France who have already medalled twice this season. Watch out too for Armando Dell’Aquila and Petru Zaharia of Italy. Germany, Italy and Turkey took out the medals last year in the lightweight men’s eight (LM8+). They will do battle again this year.
It will be hard to look past the United States in the women’s four (W4-) with names like Grace Latz and Grace Luczak in the boat. Great Britain may be the crew to challenge. In the men’s coxed pair (M2+) the British crew of Nathaniel Reilly-O’Donnell and Matthew Tarrant with coxswain Henry Fieldman will be hard to beat.
France has slotted top sculler Pierre Houin into their lightweight men’s quadruple sculls (LM4x). This will boost their boat as they face a crew from Great Britain who are made up mainly of their under-23 silver medal crew. Watch out too for Italy who regularly do well in this boat class. For the lightweight women’s quadruple sculls (LW4x) Germany looks to be the crew to beat with Anja Noske and Lena Mueller sitting in the boat. But watch out too for reigning World Champions, the Netherlands.
Para-Rowing Boat Classes
This year at World Rowing Cup II in Varese, Italy it was Israel’s Moran Samuel who took the top spot in the para women’s single sculls (ASW1x). Samuel already has world silver (from 2013) and world bronze (from 2011) to her name but she will be up against reigning World Champion, Birgit Skarstein of Norway. Look out too for Claudia Santos of Brazil who has been competing since 2007.
Reigning World Champion Erik Horrie of Australia currently dominates the para men’s single sculls (ASM1x). He took gold this year at World Rowing Cup II ahead of Russia’s Alexey Chuvashev and 2008 Paralympic Champion, Tom Aggar of Great Britain. Also watch out for the return to rowing of 2012 Paralympic Champion, Cheng Huang of China.
Australia is also looking good in the para mixed double sculls (TAMix2x) with Kathryn Ross and Gavin Bellis the winners at Varese. They also have two World Championship titles. Challenging hard will be Josiane Lima and Michel Gomes Pessanha of Brazil. They finished with bronze last year. Also watch out for regular medallists, Perle Bouge and Stephane Tardieu of France.
The British have been the ones to beat in the para mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+), having not lost a race since 2011. Italy finished second in Varese and are also the 2014 world silver medallists. They will challenge Great Britain along with France who have a bronze medal from Varese.