The 2017 Junior World Championships is a big one, with record entries in both singles (39 men's and 29 women's) as well as both doubles (28 women's and 27 men's), and participant numbers landing at 742 driven in part by high entry counts in the big boats, with nine women's eights (an event that had withered to three entries not long ago) and 10 men's eights.
As a result of the small boat entry boom, the first day of racing was entirely singles and doubles racing to advance to Friday's quarterfinals (thus avoiding Thursday's reps). In all but the men's single it was top four to advance, so much of the racing was lacking in drama as margins opened up, favored entries shut down in many cases, and twenty crews skipped the reps in the three events.
The men's single offered up the surprise of the day, and it was a good one for US rowing fans, as US sculler Clark Dean dispatched German sculler Moritz Wolff (who in the past year was both the CRASH-B Junior Men's runner-up and 15-16 age group world record holder on the C2) while posting the fastest time of the day by a healthy patch of water.
Dean doesn't get tomorrow off, however, as he is doubling into the USA men's coxed four, which rows in the heats tomorrow; no doubt it provided some incentive to place top two today, but Dean's time might indicate that there is more going on here than just an attempt to skip the reps.
The level of sculling in the men's single seems high this year overall; row2k was posted at the start taking photos so saw only the first 25 strokes or so, but the top scullers look more skilled and more athletic in larger numbers than I can recall.
USA JW1x Claire Campbell also advanced...
That said, there were a few scullers who are clearly still learning the sport, certainly as part of FISA's outreach to non-traditional rowing countries. They're getting there; a couple countries that a few years ago could barely get down the course are now boating very competent and even good crews; good to see.
...as did the USA JW2x of Jenna Hardman and Sarah Brunsberg...
The other three US crews advanced, with the women's single and double placing third, and the men's double placing fourth; times on the day were all over the place, as were ratings and race plans, so we will probably have to wait until Friday to see who is who in these events.
Conditions were very good, if a bit warm (low 80s), with light winds on the racecourse proper making for fair and almost easy conditions. For race by race reports, see FISA's recap here.
...as well as the USA JM2x of Gregory Cain and Thomas Satterthwaite
Notes from the Course:
- An official entry in the day's schedule was "Rescue Rehearsal," which took place with little fanfare at 10 AM using a live subject (link photo in AM gallery). Several coaches were on the dock where we were taking photos, and one of the rescue team let us know it would occur in ten minutes' time, noting that "the Lithuanian way is to say 10 minutes until something like a storm is happening, do not panic. Five minutes, do not panic. Two minutes – okay, now you can panic."
- The last starter of the day was polling crews from Macedonia using the phrase "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," its official UN name; haven't heard that one before.
- One of the men's doubles got a mention from a starter due to the uni colors not quite matching; the official did not give an official warning, but asked that they fix the problem before their next race, maybe by "doing their laundry differently."
- I always wonder; are junior rowers at their first Worlds freaked out at all by showing up at the start and staring into the kaleidoscope-ish glass of giant cameras? I don't recall noticing them at all back in the day, and I know they were out there due to the existence of photos, but still wonder.
- The Trakai start line is without question the most colorful starting line crowd I have ever witnessed; typically no bright colors are allowed, as they can get mistaken for the starter's flag, or the light system, or whatever; here, the stakeboat kids were in brightly colored bibs, and the photographers were given fluorescent orange photo bibs. Then again, save for the Sri Lankan men's sculler being about five minutes late to the start, there were no false starts or confused scullers.
The Trakai rowing venue is nothing if not iconic