HTBS’s Greg Denieffe reports from Eton Dorney:
Dorney Lake, Eton, has just hosted its third international rowing regatta in as many years and once again the weather has been a major talking point. World Rowing’s ‘Fairness Committee’, led by Thor Nielsen worked overtime and both Saturday’s and Sunday’s lane positions were re-drawn. There were some exciting races and some crews pushed out into the less favourable lanes exceeded expectations whilst some of those in the more sheltered lanes (lanes one and two) like Marcel Hacker and the British men’s quad, struggled. Why? Well, I think that the cross/cross-tail wind was finding its way through the access gaps from the warm-up lake and lane one wasn’t always the calmest on the course. It’s a tough decision but personally I would have preferred if they had kept the chevron system.
There were plenty of crab-catchers on finals day, with the Chinese W2x and the Great Britain W4x catching boat-stoppers in their sprints for the line. Even Ondřej Synek, gold medalist in the men’s single was guilty of catching one and that in a favourable lane in the early stages of his race.
The results and race reports for Sunday’s finals are on the World Rowing website.
Keen eyed spectators would have noticed that the Great Britain men’s eight who took the gold medal from Poland in the final 100m were not all wearing their yellow bibs as World Cup leaders in their row-past after collecting their medals.
Moe Sbihi, the tall (6 ft. 8 inch) powerhouse in the five-seat, was missing his after handing it to a lucky spectator. As usual, I watched the racing from the 1,750m mark and after the last race of the day I thought it would be a good idea to see what the view from the grand-stand was like. The presentation for the men’s eights had just finished and Moe walked past on his way to see his family. On his way back to the pontoon for the traditional row up the course for the medallists to be acknowledged by the spectators he kindly handed his bib to my daughters; a very kind gesture that they won’t forget. In truth, even the large bib came up a bit short on him (2nd left back row, picture on top) and Pete Reed (bottom right)!
So, what crews caught my eye? The New Zealand men’s pair was phenomenal, again! They took five seconds out of the rest of the crews in each of the splits from 500m to the finish setting a new World Cup best time of 6 min 16.01 sec. The Croatian men’s quad beat the German Olympic champions in magnificent style and bossed the last 500m with power and precision that was a joy to watch.
Race of the day was the men’s lightweight-four final between Denmark and New Zealand. New Zealand led by 0.29 at 500m, 0.20 at 1,000m and 0.90 at 1,500m and then the Danes started their charge but fell just short by 0.04.
The final World Cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland, is less than three weeks away and it should be the regatta of the year. With the World Championships at the end of August in faraway Chungju, South Korea, only crews that step up at Lucerne can expect to be sent. But before that we have Henley Royal Regatta to look forward to and it is nice to see such a high calibre entry in the Diamond Sculls. Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale (NZL) races in this weekend’s Holland Beker in Amsterdam and is joined in the Diamonds by Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers School and GBR) and Geordi Bozhilov (Nacional Sport Akademi and BUL), silver and bronze medallists at Eton Dorney.