Racing for the 2017 World Championships begins on Sunday, September 24, in Sarasota, Florida. Below, we preview the M2-, W2-, LM2-, and M2+ events. Check out our preview of the single sculls events here.
ENTRIES - 19
THE FAVORITE – Thomas Murray and James Hunter of New Zealand won World Cup III, defeating the Sinkovic brothers from Croatia by just over one second. Hunter and Murray are looking to fill the shoes of the Kiwi Pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond that went unbeaten in international competition for eight consecutive years. Thomas Murray raced in the NZL M8+ in Rio, and Hunter is a former lightweight making the move this season from the LM4-.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – Martin and Valent Sinkovic from Croatia placed second in Lucerne in their first international race in the pair. This was following their four year run of World and Olympic championships from 2013 to 2016 in the double. They will pose a serious challenge to the NZL pair and could very well win.
Other contending pairs are the French pair of brothers Valentin and Theophile Onfroy, who won in Poznan and finished third in Lucerne. The Serbian pair of Nenad Bedik and Milos Vasic has also shown to be quick this year, finishing second in both Poznan and Belgrade. Matteo Lodo and Giuseppe Vicino of Italy won the European championship but had to withdraw from the semifinal in Lucerne for medical reasons.
USA PROSPECTS – The USA Pair of Anders Weiss and Michael Colella won trials, but is untested in international competition. Previously, Weiss raced to an 11th place finish in the pair at the Rio Olympics. Colella's only international experience was finishing fourth in the 2016 U23 M4- in Rotterdam.
2016 OLYMPICS – The New Zealand pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond defeated South Africa and Italy to win their second straight Olympic Championship.
NZL W2- of Kerri Gowler and Grace Predergast
ENTRIES - 12
THE FAVORITE – The New Zealand pair of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast have dominated so far in 2017, winning both World Cups II and III as well as Henley. Their win in Poznan set the new World's Best Time for the event.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – The American pair of Megan Kalmoe and Tracy Eisser finished second to the Kiwis in both Poznan and Lucerne (more on them below). The Danish pair of Christina Johansen and Hedvig Rasmussen second at the European Championships and third in Lucerne.
The Romanian pair of Madalina Beres and Laura Oprea is the dark horse. The crew won the European championship but has yet to face off with New Zealand or the United States in 2017. The Romanians are also doubling into the eight in Sarasota, so will have a packed schedule.
USA PROSPECTS – The pair of Megan Kalmoe and Tracey Eisser won the USRowing NSR back in May, then based off their second place World Cup finishes elected to be the selected pair for 2017. Kalmoe is a veteran to the event, winning silver in 2014, and both were in the USA W4x in 2015 and 2016, including winning the 2015 World Championship in that event. In Sarasota, the crew should make the final and challenge for a spot on the podium.
2016 OLYMPICS – The British pair of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning led the field from the start to win their second straight Olympic championship. New Zealand won the silver over Denmark for the bronze.
IRL LM2- of Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll
MEN'S LIGHTWEIGHT PAIR
ENTRIES - 8
THE FAVORITE – The Irish pair of Mark O'Donovan and Shane O'Driscoll won the final in Lucerne at World Cup III and the European championship.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – The Italian pair of Giuseppe Di Mare and Alfonso and Scalzone won the U23 championship earlier this summer and finished third at the European championships. The pair of Nikita Bolozin and Aleksei Kiiashko from Russia finished second at World Cup III and Europeans and should compete for a spot on the podium. Another solid combination this season is the Brazilian crew of Xavier Vela Maggi and William Giaretton, who took bronze in both Poznan and Lucerne.
USA PROSPECTS – The USA men's lightweight pair of Josh Devlin and Alex Twist will race for the first time in the event after racing trials unopposed. Both rowers were members of the 2015 men's lightweight eight that won bronze in Aiguebelette. With only eight entries in the event, the pair should challenge for a spot in the A Final.
The GER M2+ winning World Cup III
MEN'S COXED PAIR
ENTRIES - 8
THE FAVORITE – The German coxed pair won in Lucerne but has since replaced one of its athletes, with Finn Schroeder (former UW rower) moving from the straight pair that raced in the C final in Lucerne into the coxed pair for Worlds. He also raced in the German straight four in Poznan that won the bronze.
MEDAL CONTENDERS – The Romanian pair has an athlete out of their eight and Tiganescu Mihaita-Vasile, who won the men's coxless pair event this year at the U23 championships. The British pair raced in the coxless pair in Lucerne and placed eighth, and raced in the eight for Poznan and won bronze.
USA PROSPECTS – The USA M2+ crew of Greg Davis, Julian Goldman, and coxswain William Hakim raced trials unopposed and then declined the bid to race in Sarasota. As a result, there is no USA M2+ at this regatta.