The German Men's Eight, racing intact with the lineup that won silver in Rio in August, won the 12.7km SH Netz Cup race on Sunday, ahead of the Netherlands, the US men, and Poland. The race, now in its 16th year, bills itself as the "toughest rowing race in the world," has traditionally featured some of the worlds best men's rowers for a season wrapup.
The endurance race had a controversial moment early on this year, as the USA and Germany collided in the two middle lanes after aggressive steering from both coxswains, and stopped dead as the Polish and Dutch crews on either side charged on and into the lead. The US got the better end of the untangling and restarted quickly, leaving the German men running in last place for a time, in a race the Germans have won 12 times.
A 12k race definitely gives you some space to make up ground, and the Germans did just that, starting to pick crews off one by one over the body of the race, finally winning the race over the Netherlands by a reasonably safe margin of over 30 seconds. The US was third, and Poland was fourth.
Asked about the crash and the possibility of a restart, US coxswain Sam Ojserkis channelled his inner Ricky Bobby. "Rubbin' is racing," Ojserkis told German television with a smile after the race.
The German M8+, who due to retirements and such were celebrating their last-ever row in this lineup today, also treated the crash as a temporary setback. "In the first moment, when we stopped, I was shocked," said rower Maximilian Munski. "Then everything went well. Now that I have had a piece of cake I feel a little bit better. That was a hard bit of work."
Erg race on the big stage
The event has three components overall, a 500m team erg sprint on stage on Friday night, in which the winnining team gets to choose their lane for the 12.7k race. The erg sprint, which averages the scores of all eight rowers into a single time, was won by Poland in 1:20.5, followed by Germany in 1:21, the Netherlands in 1:21.7 and the USA in 1:22.5.
After the erg race, the teams compete in 400m sprint semis and finals on the following evening. The US men, racing a crew of Sam Dommer, Anders Weiss, Rob Munn, Tom Dethlefs, Stephen Kasprzyk, Seth Weil, Alex Karwoski, Tyler Nase and Ojserkis for the event this year, beat the Netherlands in the sprint semi, before falling to Germany by half a length in the sprint final.
The Germans edge out the US crew in the sprint final
The races are run on a stretch of the shipping canal linking the Baltic and North seas, which means that "big boat, little boat" juxtapositions are frequent.
Video from German TV: race highlights and full race replay
The US Men's Crew