The first piece of information to share tonight is probably the schedule change; as we suspected yesterday, all of Saturday's racing has been moved to Friday, and all of Sunday's racing has been moved to Saturday, so there will be no racing on Sunday.
That made for an odd day at a World Championships; the racing started with a single rep, continued with a long run of heats into midday, then resumed with quarterfinals and more reps, whew.
The most notable thing this morning up at the start – well, besides the absence of the bow-holder starting system, which the organizers decided to scrap entirely (I think wisely, as mid-regatta is no time to be testing a starting system) - was a palpable sense of nerves in the lanes. Perhaps the large looming changes to the schedule got into the heads of some young rowers, or arguably more probably the fact that a lot of them have had shaky training outings the past several days while fighting off stomach bugs, to the extent that there was discussion of alternates racing this morning (to my knowledge that didn't happen in the end, at least in the US squad).
For the US crews, perhaps the highlight was the women's eight advancing directly to the final after falling into fourth in the first 500 meters, almost a full length behind the leaders. By 500 to go, they were within a second, and at the finish line was just shy of clear water in the lead.
“We felt like our race went pretty well,” coxswain Hannah Malzahn told USRowing. “We executed what we wanted to execute. We know what we need to improve on now. We’re just trying to roll with the punches as they come for us just focus on recovering and getting mentally prepared for the next race.”
“The main goal was accomplished, and we’re happy about that, but we’re keeping it in stride because we know that there are definitely some things that we really need to improve on if we’re going to (accomplish our goals),” said women’s eight coach Susan Francia. “Honestly with the conditions coming in, we’re just going to have to row as clean as possible to get it done.”
Equally impressive was men's single Andrew Morley's win in his quarterfinal; after leading for the first half of the race, the field came through to put him in third, so Morley dug in and took back the lead (should be a photo in the PM gallery when it gets posted). That's two solid and pretty mature races so far for Morley; he really seems on track so far.
Returning to the eights, the US men's eight had to take a trip through the reps to get to the final, placing second in both their heat and the rep. Of all the crews that maybe could use a couple races before the final, it might be this one, so hopefully they are starting to feel their legs under them as the Saturday final approaches.
The US women's double took second place in their reps to advance to tomorrow's AB semi; back in the morning heat, though, at the start they had drifted off point during the starting sequence, and stroke Isabella Strickler pulled a very chill and slick little move to steer the boat for the first couple strokes to get the crew into the lane lines.
See more US results here in the USRowing release.
Course Conditions Redux
Conditions have been mostly a crosswind from the east, which produces an extremely flat, almost tranquil first third of the course, produces a very light chop in the third 500, and gets fairly bumpy in the last part of the racecourse where the lake gets wide. Winds were fairly light, so it is understandable why the specter of 25 mph winds after Saturday would inspire officials to alter the schedule.
I was out on a launch all afternoon and got a pretty good drenching taking photos up on the bow; the brackish water definitely left a bit of an uncomfortable, swampy sensation behind – this isn't surprising given Rio's location very nearly right on the Tropic of Capricorn. It's been a long day, and that clinches it that it's time to hit the shower.
Notes from the course
- The public walkway in front of the tower was closed just before the start of racing again today, but since the street behind the tower is a little intense, they were allowing people with babystrollers through.
- The stroke of the Brazilian W4x was sporting green braces that made her smile match the Brazilian blade design
- The New Zealand M4+ coxswain had their coxswain's extra weight taped to a pair of flip flops (called havaianas in Brazil)
- The Brazilian JM4x had about 15-20 water bottles in their hull; when they got to the line to unload them, they just kept coming and coming.
- With a fair number of three and four boat heats, there was a lot of shifting of lanes to get folks in the middle of the course; in the men's four, two boats showed up with Bow #1 bow markers, requiring a bow marker change that delayed the five-minute centers by a fair amount