Five crews into quarter or semi-finals on Day 1 of the World Rowing Championships

It was a jam-packed opening day for Australia at the 2018 World Rowing Championships, with nine crews in action in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. The defending World Champions, Australia’s Men’s Four, snapped up a win on the opening day to progress to the semi-finals, while the Lightweight Women’s Double Scull, Lightweight Women’s Single Scull, Men’s Pair and Women’s Quadruple Scull all progressed to either quarter-finals and or semi-finals.

Meanwhile, the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull, Men’s Single Scull, Women’s Pair and Men’s Quadruple Scull will contest repechages in the coming days.

Performance Director, Bernard Savage said, “It’s pleasing to have started the regatta on a positive note, with five out of the nine crews progressing through to their respective quarter or semi-finals. We’re still in the early stages of the regatta, with plenty more racing to come in what I’m sure will be an exciting week of racing for all.”

The reigning World Champions, Australia’s Men’s Four of Alexander Hill, Jack Hargreaves, Spencer Turrin and Joshua Hicks raced in warm and blustery conditions and lead their race from start to finish. Despite a spirited effort from the German Men’s Four, it was Australia who crossed the line in a swift time of 5 minutes 52 seconds, with Germany 2.11 seconds behind them.

The Men’s Pair of Jack O’Brien and Andrew Judge stepped up from the Under 23 team to race at the senior World Championships. The young Sydney University Boat Club duo took on Netherlands, Germany, USA and New Zealand in their heat and needed a top four finish to automatically make the quarter-finals.

Jack O’Brien and Andrew Judge (Copyright Rowing Australia)

The young combination, who are both from Sydney University Boat Club, have been training under the guidance of Men’s Head Coach, Ian Wright, came out firing on full cylinders in their heat. Sitting around 38 strokes per minute, the Australians lead for the first three quarters of the race, with the pair only overtaken in the final 200 metres by the German combination of Paul Schroeter and Laurits Follert who sprinted past them at the line.

Sarah Pound and Amy James opened proceedings for Australia post the lunchbreak with the Lightweight Women’s Double Scull drawn in Lane six, alongside the 2017 World Championship silver medalists, Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle of New Zealand. The combination, coached by Women’s Head Coach John Keogh, had a cracking start leading for the first three quarters of the race.

As the crews crossed into the final 500 metres, the Australians’ Trans-Tasman rivals, New Zealand, upped their stroke rate to sprint to the line and take the win, with the Austrailans holding off a late challenge from Canada to take the second semi-final berth.

The Women’s Quadruple Scull has had one change from the 2017 crew, with Olympia Aldersey coming in to join Caitlin Cronin, Genevieve Horton and Rowena Meredith.  Drawn in Lane four, the Australians needed a top three finish to make the semi-finals and took on the reigning World Champions, Netherlands, along with France, Ukraine and Romania.

While the Dutch led for the majority of the race, it was the Australians who put the most pressure on the reigning World Champions. With Aldersey in the stroke seat, the Ellen Randell coached crew pressed on the Dutch in the middle section of the race before crossing the line second and Ukraine in third.

The Men’s Quadruple Scull has had one seat change since the World Rowing Cups, with Campbell Watts coming in for Luke Letcher. The crew were drawn in six for their heat and took on Great Britain, Netherlands, Italy, New Zealand and Ukraine in their heat, with the British the 2017 silver medallists in the boat class.

However, the race was not to be for the 2017 World Champions, with the Netherlands taking the early lead and Australia sat back in fourth. As the crews approached the final 500 metres, David Watts upped the stroke rate of the Australians to take third, while Ukraine muscled past the Dutch to take the only A-Final spot.

The Men’s Single Scull, featuring Canberran Luke Letcher, needed a top three finish to book a quarter-final and avoid the repechage. The Australian, who is an U23 World Champion in the Men’s Quadruple Scull was sitting in third for the majority of the race but a sprint from Great Britain’s Harry Leask saw the Australian pushed into third and Monday’s repechage.

Hamish Parry had a slow start in his heat of the Lightweight Men’s Single Scull forcing him to put in some hard work in the middle of his race to catch up with the pack. The Toowong Rowing Club athlete, despite a sprint to the line, finished in third and will contest Monday’s repechage in a bid to make the semi-finals. Meanwhile, Victorian Alice Arch had a good start to her 2018 World Rowing Championships, with the Lightweight Women’s Single sculler finishing in second in her heat and booking a place in the semi-finals on Thursday.

Alice Arch (Copyright Rowing Australia)

The Women’s Pair of Addy Dunkley-Smith and Hannah Vermeersch, finished in fourth in their heat and will contest Tuesday’s repechage, with their heat won by the reigning World Champions from New Zealand.

Race Times for the Australian Rowing Team on Monday 10 September 10

PR3 Mixed Coxed Four (Ayers, Vuillermin, Gibson, Talbot and Domaschenz) – Heat: 9.30 local time (16:30 AEST)
Women’s Four (Stephan, Werry, Hawe and Goodman) – Heat: 10:34 local time (17:34 AEST)
Women’s Single Scull (M Edmunds) – Heat: 11:53 local time (18:53 AEST)
Men’s Single Scull (Letcher) – Repechage: 12:17 local time (19:17 AEST)