After a day where athletes were commenting about the challenges of racing in the heat on Wednesday, the problem was solved come Thursday morning as a steady, stinging rain bore down on the proceedings, carried by a headwind that came straight down the course at times, and quartered from the starboard side at others. The shifty wind gave the judges some challenges of their own, as they had to do some shifting of their own when it came to lanes; with some races having only three crews, and others six, the need to put the given number of crews in the fairest lanes had officials on their toes all day.
That said, conditions did not seem a major factor on the day, save perhaps to give some solace to the bigger crews out on the water; today wasn't a day where you wanted to be a tweenie light-heavyweight racing in the single, for example, whew. Winning times in the junior women's single ranged from 8:45 to a hair over nine minutes, if that helps get a sense of things.
For US crews, the highlight of the day had to be the women's four advancing directly to the A final with win in their heat over Germany; the US crew led wire-to-wire, and never really seemed to be pushed too hard. Defending world champ New Zealand won the other heats with a time that was 0.27 seconds faster than the US crew, but was pushed by the GB crew in the last 250 of the race, so may have had to dig a little deeper.
The US crew is the women's priority boat this year, composed of three veterans of the four, including one who is making her third appearance at junior worlds. Fourth crew member and two-seat Lia Broonquist is the newcomer to the boat, and the youngster of the entire US team at only 14 years old.
After the racing, crew members from the winning US and NZ fours had this to say:
Chandler Lally, USA
It went really well. We got off to a really great start and we really found confidence around the 1000 meter mark, which meant that we took control. It was awesome. Prior to the race, we knew we were going to go for it, no matter what. Last year, we knew the Germans had a great sprint so we knew we had to be ahead and just capitalized on that in the middle of the race and brought it home.
Lucy Grinalds, USA
That was awesome. Last year, we started off really too hard in the heats and lost it at the end. This year, we really tried to go at a more sustainable pace the entire time which really paid off. Going into it, you never really know how fast everyone is going to be, but we were pleasantly surprised at the speed we showed today.
Mia Croonquist, USA
We had a really good start. We were quick once ahead, we kept on strong, and were consistent once ahead with good power.
Jessica Eiffert, USA
That was a really good race. I am a little surprised at the time with such a strong headwind, but I'm really happy.
Frederika Archibald, New Zealand
We had a good start. We came out of the box first. We held it consistently throughout the middle K. We sort of wowed it towards the end. The Aussies pushed up on us, but it was really good as we held them off. We stuck to our race plan. We were right up there, it felt really rhythmic, nice flow, and we kept the rating up. We felt (the headwind), but it was not horrible.
Additionally for the US, the women's quad and double, the men's four, and single sculler Ryan Allen all advanced, the first three to the semis, and Allen to the quarterfinals.
The US eights had a somewhat disappointing first outing on the course, with the men's eight placing third in their heat behind GB and Spain; the GB eight has looked especially good in the training, and they showed they could lay it down in racing situation today as well, crossing the line a patch of open water ahead of the field.
The US women's eight placed third of three in a race for lanes; there are only three crews in the event this year, with the particularly jarring absence of a crew from host country Great Britain.
Following is a collection of quotes from a range of competitors in each event (in most cases, these are the race winners):
Haruna Sakakibara, Japan
I first pushed from 60 to 100m and again at 1400m, but it was very tough. Every race becomes harder and harder and I will have to push more and more
Holly Nixon, Ireland
I did not expect to win by such a margin. Juliette Jeannet from Switzerland beat me in Munich in May, so the changes in my program have obviously made a big difference.
Marco Calamaro, Italy
It has been a strong race, but we decided to start strong. We started well, but the Romanians were also strong. For me the weather conditions were good. We like these conditions, although the wind created some problems for the direction of the boat.
Abe Wiersma, Netherlands
We came pretty good out of the start. That's not usually what we do. Our strongest point is after the 1000m, so it was a big surprise that we had that much of a lead. Because we came so fast at the start, we didn't have to push too hard for the last 1000m. The weather is not too good for rowing. The rain is nice, but the wind is straight at the course so it makes it really hard to row.
Amos Keijser, Netherlands
On feeling ill at the end of the race: My stomach is not so good. I guess it was some food. The rowing was really tough, but I think I'll be okay for the next race.
Scott Green, New Zealand
It was a good race which went to plan. We knew we wanted a fast start and to be out there and take control at the front. We were pushed quite a bit, but you just have to respond and do what you can. Only when we crossed the line, we knew we had won. But in rowing, anything can happen, so you've never won it until you've corssed the finish line. We're from New Zealand so we're used to training in conditions like this, and it even worked in our favor a bit. It was a good hard race, and that's what it's all about. We've been on training camps and we got here nice and early to get used to the conditions. We prepare well and got the result we wanted. The lake is really good, but a bit different from New Zealand because it's nice and warm here. We've just come from winter in New Zealand, where the temperatures have been sub-zero, so it's good to have a change.
Kai Fuhrmann, Germany
Really happy with how the race went. We have a day longer time to train (before the semi), and it's good. We have better knowledge and we came together better. The weather is good. We often win with rain (laughs).
Denis Sittel, Germany
The race was good, but started not so good. We hope to be better in the next race. The river was not so good, but in Germany we have trained in this kind of bad weather. It is raining now in Germany.
Barnabe Delarze, Switzerland
So we started quite good. At the 500, we were quite ahead. Then in the middle part the other ones catch us a little bit. We made some bursts and came good, and at the end we know we were good at the finish. So we made it happen, so that was good. Our training camp was always raining, or not good weather, and the waves were bigger than this, so it was okay and doesn't affect us. Only the headwind slowed us a little bit and made it heavier, but we can manage it.
Roman Roeoesli, Switzerland
It was a very good, very good rhythm. We were first from the start and so we could control race. We are happy.
Jernej Markovc, Slovenia
Our race didn't actually go according to plan. We had a lot of problems against the wind as we haven't trained in those conditions. Our rhythm collapsed a bit but we somehow managed to race pretty well, even in those conditions. The rain wasn't really a problem, but we rowed against the wind and had a bit of a sidewind as well. If it rains again it is not a big problem for us, but the wind is. We had enough wind in the European Championship in Poland which was really strong against us.
Alberic Cormerais, France
The best part of our race was the start. We had a very good start and then during the 1000 we rowed well. After that we shortened up and then we rowed how we know. We were in first place from start to finish and think we can go faster still.
Jenienne Curr, South Africa
The conditions are what we are used to in South Africa, so it was nothing new to us. We are very happy with our result today, as we just came here hoping for the best. We are looking forward to a day off tomorrow before our semifinal on Saturday. Our coach told us to just go out there and race with our hearts and give it all, and that's what we did and we got what we wanted. Looking ahead, I think it would be silly if we were to do anything differently.
Hannah Solis-Cohen, USA
I love rowing in the rain because it means the water is very calm, although there was a bit of a headwind today. I zone out when the race starts and all I feel is pain and agony, not the rain. The facilities are so nice and everything is very efficient and we are well catered for. It is awesome having the opportunity to row on the Olympic race course.
Elodie Ravera-Scaramozzino, France
It was the first race of the competition for us and the conditions were good. It was not a very hard race, but I guess we could have started faster. We will be even better and work even harder in the semifinal.
Daphne Socha, France
On dealing with the rain: We much prefer sunshine.
Malte Daberkow, Germany
Our goal was to win this heat and we controlled the field at the start and brought it to our goal.
Konstantinos Christomanos, Germany
The conditions were not really that bad, just a little rain. We were very pleased with the way we performed. Our coach didn't give us any special advice, just to do our best, and that's what we did. Today was quite easy, but the semifinal will be very different.
Vasiliki Ntalamakga, Greece
It was very good for us. We had a good race pace for the first race. The conditions were pretty difficult, but the wind was not so strong. We have raced with stronger winds than this.
Nicholas Brezzi, Italy
We tried to win the race. We knew that we have a very fast start, and so we tried to do the race time on that, on the start, and then keep the big part of the race really light, I mean not pushing a lot. And then when we saw that Australia didn't go, so for the last 250 meters we pushed more in the water and we saw we came through and that was good. So it was a really nice race and we're happy about it.
Andrew Potter, New Zealand
We just followed our training, just doing what we trained to do. We race our own race, we don't worry too much about what they're doing.
Caleb Shepherd, New Zealand
We got off to a pretty good start, and got faster. The headwinds were alright.
Paul Donovan, Ireland
Well, I just rowed by onw race for the first 1000 then kept my own pace and I just looked around me and said "I'll go for it," and I felt good and started to push on. After the halfway I kept picking away at them, and eventually I passed them, moved in an kept it solid in until the finish. It was good, you get a great feeling of adrenalin and you start to push ona bit harder then. I prefer a tailwind, but I felt good in the headwind today. I felt strong and confident as the boat was moving away. It worked out for me I think. I'll look at times that other people posted when they won their heats and I'll work out my race plan after that.
Stephan Riemekasten, Germany
It was really quite, quite easy. So I knew I had to start very quick, but after the half of 2000 meters I know that I could win the race and I could do a little bit of my own thing. It feels good. But I still think I need some help on something. I'm quite at the moment where I want to be for the final, so it's okay, I'm happy now, but it could be better. I just keeping cracking a little bit, and yeah, it's more mentally I think. Concentrating and focus. That would be perfect.
Anne Beenken, Germany
It was great. I did not expect to be in the first position. I thought it will be hard, I never did an international race before. It was fantastic. This was my first international race, and I didn't even plan to go to the World Championship. I won the German championship, and they told me I would take part in the World Championship, and I thought "whoa," and I didn't expect that, but it was really great. I felt lucky. It was better than I expected and I am exhausted, too, of course. I'm terribly happy.
Henrik Thistrip, Denmark coach
The race plan went very well. She did exactly what we had agreed on. It was a tough race for the first 1500 meters and then she took advantage in the late part of the race. It's a headwind. It's, of course, rough and the Bulgarian was doing very well in the first 1500 meters, but it was a good race. This is her first junior championship. She went to the Baltic Cup last year and had a good result there, so now she is here.
Nancy Miles, USA
It was a hard race for us because of the headwind. It nearly killed us, but we stayed together and tucked our backs in and it was great.
Elizabeth Youngling, USA
We came off from a really frustrating race yesterday when we didn't do as well as we wanted to. But today we decided to ourselves that the past is the past and today is where we make our future. We'll probably change our moves, but what we'll do is a secret.
Erin Reelick, USA
Yesterday happened, but today was about what we're really here do to, which is to be competitive.
John Carter, GB
We knew all the crews were going to go out fast, but we stuck to our rhythm and knew we could come through. We had a good start and were up, and then stuck to our rhythm. Our start was better than we had hoped for, which obviously helped us with our confidence getting into the rac. Then once we hit our rhythm we were fine and just cruised away.
Ed Bosson, GB
Our plan was to do the same as we did in training and to time trial it. We wanted to make sure we could row in these conditions, and we did what we needed to do. We got more than we expected.
Cameron MacRitchie, GB
We got more speed in the last 250 meters, but we have even more speed to come for the race. We suit any conditions, so the weather didn't matter. The wind wasn't too strong for us, and I've rowed here for five years so it feels like home.
Bernardo Nannini, Italy
We won the race in the second 1000 meters. In the first we were together with Germany.
Pietro Zileri, Italy
It was a difficult race. The conditions weren't so good because there was a little bit of rain and some waves from the side. It's my first time at Dorney lake and it's good, but I prefer it when the weather is good and sunny. We have to prepare for the final on Saturday, and we will do our best race. The British and USA are both strong competitors, but Germany may also be strong too.
Deborah Walter, Germany
It was an amazing race. We were all in one line until 1000 meters, and the Romania managed to get in front, so we pushed really hard and gave it our all to win the race. It's a bit windy, and we would prefer wind from the other direction, instead of rowing into the wind.
Nadine Seehaus, Germany
I always said we can manage and we can. I will remind the crew not to lose our head because the USA and Romanian crews can be better, and we must do more than we did today because we know the Americans will push us harder in the next race.