Day two at the Sea Forest Waterway featured some tight racing that gave the photo finish folks something to do now and then, with margins compressed a bit by the prevailing crosstail as well as the finality of some of the racing – with the A/B semi spots on the line in the reps, many crews kept alive their A final hopes, while others saw them come to an end only a couple days into the regatta.
Of the 10 US crews racing today, three advanced: the Men's Four took second in their heat after a rough start to advance directly to the A final and a shot at the medals; the women's quad advanced to the AB semis; and the women's double advanced to the AB semis with a squeaker of a race.
The US men's four had the fastest time to the 1500 meter mark of either heat, despite some steering problems about 100 meters into the race.
"We expected off the start to be down, because you never know what everyone is going to have, and we knew that our base would be stronger," stroke Erik Spinka said. "Surprisingly despite a pretty average start, we were able to get up a length on the field, and from there we were able to control the race."
"We were simply trying to execute a good start, and that didn't quite happen, coach Casey Galvanek said. "That is certainly something we hope to improve upon."
On how they will approach the days off ahead of the final, Galvanek described a straightforward approach. "We simply go at every run down the course with a focus or two."
We will be out here everyday working to get better until the final.
The women's quad made some pacing changes after the heat to advance today.
"We’ve done a few races before and we've had different strategies, so we tried out a new strategy today,” stroke Hailey Mead said. “We took risks, and it kind of paid off."
US Junior Women's Quad
"We want to be more risky because in the heat we thought our first half was too conservative," bow seat Audrey Lyda said. "For the semifinal, we definitely want to polish what we did today and build off of our sprint."
"Being a young boat, new to international racing, we went into the heat hoping to stay internal and execute a consistent race plan as we'd been practicing back home," coach Caitlin McClain said. "While we achieved that goal, we knew we needed to go faster in the rep to secure a spot in the A/B semi. We looked at our split profile and that of the competition and set out to put our bow ball in qualifying position early in the race. We were able to use the speed of the other boats to find a new level and we are excited to see what we can do in the semi!"
The women's double made some changes to their approach that seemed to take hold, and made a difference; in the two-to-advance rep, only 0.59 seconds separated first from third.
"After yesterday's race, we came away with a result that we weren’t really happy with," bow seat Delaney Evans said. "Today, we knew we wanted to make it through to the semis, and we knew what we had to do. We picked out some technical things to work on, some steering things, and we adjusted for the wind conditions. We went out there with a goal to make it through today."
"We went into the last little bit behind; we really wanted to advance so we kept fighting for it, and we were able to secure the spot," stroke Taylor English said.
US Junior Women's Double
Notes from the Course
There were only three Brits in the media room, and I confirmed that none could claim the #bollockstobrexit hotspot, hmm... maybe an expat?
We opened the first gallery with some photos from the walk to the venue, including kids on ergs at 7am with no one else around, food trucks that definitely were not selling Fried Oreos, and big blocks of ice that were fully melted within 90 minutes, whew.
Gallery two opens with photos of the shell dedicated to Mary Teti, a Rowing Mom great.
Most of the athletes on the line have displayed pretty solid poise; only two or three looked ready to lose it over the gunwales.
Of all the crews that went to the line today, the coxed fours had the toughest time getting into the starting system, go figure.
An athlete using an inhaler quickly and neatly tucked the canister under the unisuit thigh band and blasted off on the start.
Fish are still jumping all over the place, and there were even jellyfish today (and barnacled floating sneakers, but I won't link that up here, oof).
The course is in salt water, which simultaneously increases buoyancy and viscosity, probably resulting in a slight net negative on overall boat speed.
I am told there is an aircraft that flies into Haneda at least once daily that is painted with rowing shells; send a good pic before we get one and it's the Photo of the Day. (There's a Mickey Mouse plane as well, but the rowing content isn't there for a POTD, sorry.)
The splash from the starting system seems very minimal - compare the sequence at this link to this photo from 2007, and this one (even worse).
Today's Rowing Hack: packing peanuts to keep the "dead weight" from causing any damage.
Packing peanuts rowing hack
Finally, yesterday we had a couple examples of "when you're good you're good," and we have another today – see this epic 14-photo sequence of the Zimbabwe bowman losing his oar, having it jack knife, getting it back, and resuming rowing in the span of about a stroke – and yep, they won anyway.