An interesting weekend is right, starting with the semis today in which new junior "World Best Times" (as the official parlance goes) were set in fully nine events, one of them twice:
-JM2- (by the Croatians, who reached the semis through the reps)
-JM4- (5:47, yipes)
-JW4x (twice; it was broken in the first semi by the host Czech Republic, then that record was broken in the second semi by Germany)
-JM4x (again by the Czechs; pretty serious quad skills going hereabouts)
-JM1x (by Clark Dean, his second WR this week in an event in which a new record has been set daily)
It probably would have been easier to make a list of which events did not have new world records, whew.
Obviously the conditions were mostly favorable – a direct tailwind that crept up toward white-capping levels but held off barely (at first at least) let crews with both power and skill get up and over the waves to get some serious speed. By the end of the proceedings, however, there were rolling waves on the course, and things got a bit dicey resulting in a dramatic flip by the New Zealand men's single sculler. He was unable to finish the race due to a snapped oarlock, so we will have to see if he is allowed to race in the B final tomorrow.
The United States qualified for four A finals today, again by winning in each semifinal as we reported on heats day; it is definitely a fun way to advance, and a lot of fun to watch as well.
The US men's four got things started in the first A/B semi of the day with a race that went from strength to strength down the course, resulting in the fastest qualifying time of the two semis.
The guys are really having a good run; so many great boats and close races here," coach Chris Chase said. "Today we really worked on getting off the line clean, then the goal was to transition into our base as smoothly as possible and stay relaxed. Not knowing if/when the winds would increase, I left it up to Michael (stroke) to find what rate produced the best rhythm, and gave us the lowest sustainable split. We planned on not planning set numbers to force us into anything. They just needed to find the comfortable pace that felt best to them. The guys have been communicating well within the boat, and today they put together a piece where everyone was on the same page.
"Things only get harder from here; we recognize there are 5 quality crews that want the same thing we want We will have to be even better tomorrow."
A few races later the US women's pair won their semi rowing away with a time a little under two seconds slower than the world record set by Greece in the first semi.
"It's exciting to watch people just lay out incredibly fast, brave races in these conditions, because they are both fast and challenging," pairs coach Catherine Starr said, noting that the record pace wasn't really a factor in their approach. "For this pair, WR pace doesn't really seem to be the forefront of their mind. They are a blast to coach and watch race because they stay internal and really complement each other, so I think the next step is to just make sure they magnify each other's strengths against a very fast, talented field in the final."
A half hour later it was the women's four's turn, and their win achieved an ambitious goal for the US women's squad.
"All four women's sweep boats from the US earning a spot in the A Finals was a goal of ours all season," coach Liz Trond said. "After the 4+, 8 and 2- races, the 4- was the final boat to meet the goal, with a steady and exciting race."
Then fully 90 minutes later, with the texture of the water more artsy than rowing-friendly, Clark Dean won his semi with his second world record of the week, having set a new record by five second in the heats, having it broken by two seconds by Moritz Wolff in the quarterfinals, then taking another five seconds off that record in the semis today, leaving it standing at 6:45.45, for today at least.
"Clark rowed well today; it certainly appears that the other A finalist rowed well within themselves," coach Casey Galvanak said. "I am sure they will be uncorked in the final, showing their best; I have never witnessed such a group of true competitors. Clark is proud being among this group. We will continue to help Clark manage his efforts as he recovers this afternoon and tomorrow morning."
As Dean rowed back up the course to warm down (barely moving on his first stroke due to the headwind), Wolff yelled to congratulate him from all the way across the course as he finished his warmdown. International rowing fans have seen the camaraderie among the top scullers on the senior level; looks like it is the case among the younger cohort as well.
Tomorrow's finals are pretty much a lock to be exciting and surprising; be sure to check it out via the How To Watch information here.
Notes from the Course
-Some of the most emotional racing of any championships takes place in the semis; the galleries are punctuated with a heap of celebrations, breakdowns, and more, with athletes on both sides of the qualifying cutoffs crying while others just shake hands, and still others absolutely losing it
-A couple New Zealand fans were swinging giant bells in the stands
-The Brits must like this
-A regatta dog at Worlds, wow
-The police dog was pretty cool too
-FISA Photographer Detlev Seyb took a flight in a, well, kite? Chitty chitty bang bang copy? Circus plane? Looks like some leg-shaking fun tho
-row2k supporter in the house, thank you!