A forecast of the hottest day of the year in the Czech Republic led race officials to start racing one half hour earlier than previously scheduled, and to race on five-minute centers throughout, save for one 15-minute break in the late morning. A bit of a cloud cover and a bit of a head breeze kept the heat from smothering the proceedings in the morning (and any world records coming under threat), and conditions weren't that bad, but by mid-afternoon the sun was boring down pretty hard and temps were solidly in the mid-90s, so the change was well-considered. The heat wave (which has completely wiped out the supply of fans in mostly AC-less Czech Republic) is forecast to break overnight, with Friday highs predicted to be fully 20 degrees F lower than today. In the end 49 heats and eight reps were added to the junior world champs books for 2018 before lunchtime.
The US had 10 crews racing in the heats, with the three crews that advanced to avoid the reps also managing to win their heats. Women's single sculler Cassandra Reed placed second in her rep to advance to tomorrow's quarterfinal.
US Heat Winners
The women's four is the priority boat for the US women's camp, and the crew put the hammer down today in the early going, piling up a four-second lead by the 1000 meter mark. A couple bad strokes down the stretch caused them to surrender some of that lead, but the crew gathered themselves quickly enough to hold onto the lead for the win.
"The four was happy with their first international race together, and pleased with their base pace, and were confident of each other when we had the bobble and air strokes moving into the last 500m," coach Liz Trond said after the race. "The goal for the semis is clean racing start to finish."
The US women's pair of Lucy Koven and Caitlin Esse hammered out a superb heat, winning by over 17 seconds ahead of Canada and posting the fastest time by four and a half seconds. Not bad for a crew that is new to international racing.
"The pair's approach to racing is pretty simple - everyone is fast here, so I think they handled the unknown the way they would handle any race, which speaks to their love of racing," coach Catherine Starr said. "It's a solid start but lots more racing ahead."
The US men's coxed four led their heat for the full 2k and posted the fastest time by a couple seconds over defending champ Italy, probably in part by virtue of having the fastest heat by a patch of water; the three advancing crews in the heat posted three of the fastest four times across the three heats. The US also posted the fastest 500 meter split across all three heats in the first 500 of their race, and mounted a solid sprint as well; overall, a pretty put-together 2000 meters.
Coach Chris Chase said the crew took advantage of recent work they have been doing on the start of the race, then executed from there.
"The guys had a solid row; obviously, having a good start set them up to be a bit more relaxed," Chase said. "We worked on starts almost every day over the past 3 weeks. The biggest surprise was their composure in the middle 1000m. They kept to our race plan to stay at 35-36 and maximize each stroke. More importantly, we tried not to get too overwhelmed by racing at a World Championships. The guys stayed calm and very patient in their base rate. Being able to keep to our race plan, and against the defending Jr World Champs in the event, will certainly help with their confidence going into the semifinals."
Notes from the Course
-In a departure from the recent practice of having a yellow traffic cone placed behind the lanes of a crew issued a warning, whether it be for a false start, traffic pattern violation, being late to the line, etc)., the starting dock staff have one yellow and one red 'buoy on a stick' lollipop that the lane helper holds up behind the lane when a warning has been issued.
-As was the case yesterday, Lane 5 could still be moved out a bit if you ask me.
-It has been a while since I have seen a stern-coxed four at a Worlds; the coxswain also had a pretty formidable extra weight. The crew is pretty significantly off-pace, but they did seem to take it all in stride, and went off the line pretty darn hard as well.
-On a racecourse that is a pretty tight cut like this one, without a separate warmup channel like those at Dorney and Sarasota, the warmup lanes can get pretty congested. It looked at times that crews might have been able to row continuously for around 1000 meters before having to sit around, slowly poking their way up to the starting line, in most cases right up to race time due to the five-minute centers that did not allow for any warmup in the lanes. Ergs will be spinning before the racing the rest of the week for sure.
-Two crews flipped today, one right after the finish and another most of the way down the course. The ambulance-chaser photogs were nowhere near the flips though, sorry.