Crews arrived at the course on Sunday to find a light cross-headwind for the finals, but given that the weekend ended with 11 new "World Best Times" (out of 14 events), and a couple of those had multiple new records over the span of the week, everyone was probably okay with slightly slower conditions.
US crews had one for the books, with a first ever two golds, most-ever seven medals (with a medal by every crew that made the finals), and the top spot on the medals table.
row2k talked to members of all the US medalist crews; here is what they had to say, in order of racing.
US Women's Coxed Four
The US women placed started the race in fifth position, then among a lot of shifting pushed through to the front of the pack, eventually winning bronze. We asked the crew how they handled hanging in the back of the pack for the early stages of the race before pushing into the medal ranks.
Kaitlin Knifton: Going into our heat we had the opposite approach; we were trying to get quick off the line, get out in front, and then hold everyone else off. I think that we found that as a crew we do better as we negative split. We're a second half crew, and we do better when we can set ourselves up to stay with the pack in the first half, and then really hammer it home in the second half.
Noelle Amlicke: We really trusted base for that piece. We decided to do a nice strong start, but just to stay with the pack, and then be confident with our base and move up on everyone.
row2k: Was it scary at all to change tactics mid-regatta?
Julia Abbruzesse: No, because we've done it in the past as a crew in practice. So, I think we really felt comfortable with what we've done in the past.
Heidi Jacobson: It was an incredible race, it was an amazing feeling at that 1k mark and start walking through crews.
US Men's Coxed Four
The men's coxed four took the opposite approach, charging to the front and digging in to try to stay there, which earned them the lead until a tremendous lift by the Italian crew earned Italy the lead and the gold, with the US taking silver, which it had not done in the event since 1998.
Henry Bellew: Our boat really has a lot of chemistry together, an ability to communicate well. Our warm ups, the way we recover, how we kept mentally together, all of it all has really been about building off each other. So each race, we discuss and worked on everything together to get to this final and produce what we did.
row2k: We asked about the shifting conditions during the week, from extreme temps to high winds and chop.
Bellew: Well, when we train in Chula Vista, there's wind all over the place. I remember one day we had a terrible row in the wind, and Coach Chase said 'it's the world championships, you're not going to get the conditions you exactly want in all the races.' So, no matter what it was, we going to give our best, we're going to do our best, we're going to adjust.
US Women's Pair
The US women's pair, which capped a thrilling summer with a silver medal, came together from different clubs and having raced as competitors from different clubs and different coaches, but by season's end the whole lot of them had become one big team.
Caitlin Esse: Even before we went to trials in this boat, I was thinking to myself, even if we hadn't qualified for Worlds this still would have been the most rewarding experience ever. So to make it here, with an amazing coach and two amazing coaches back at home who were cheering us on over their livestreams was really special. It went by too fast, and I get emotional thinking about it, because there's nothing that I would have changed about that we did this summer, anything we accomplished. I can't imagine a better outcome. Obviously being competitive, we would have loved to win, but it was such an honor to race against these crews in the end.
Lucy Koven: We have an incredible support system at home. All summer we've been racing and rowing with people from both of our clubs. Coming from racing each other all year, and then being able to have both of our clubs supporting us this summer was just amazing. It helps so much, especially since we are somewhat rivals that rowing pairs together could have been tricky. But I think having such a positive environment around us, it wasn't a problem at all. We have the most amazing coaches, they have made this summer such an amazing experience. Yes, we're doing lots of volume, and lots of hard work, but they made every single moment of it so rewarding. We just really have to thank them for all the success.
row2k: Koven's dad Jamie had rowed to a bronze medal in Racice in the coxed four in 1993, and row2k asked if they had been inspired to beat Koven's placement, which they did, or if Esse had made any calls about it.
Koven: I watched his race yesterday, it was an inspiring race (laughing).
Esse: I usually go into these races thinking about all the things that are going to motivate me during the race. Then once we're on the start line, and once we go off the start, my mind just goes blank, and we're just going.
US Women's Four
The US women's four took its first gold since 2015 and ninth straight medal in the event by taking the lead fairly early on and never relinquishing it, despite another intense sprint by Italy. The crew credited practices back home with teammates for their ability to hold off the charge, as well as trust in each other.
Julia Braz: 1500 in, we knew we had to hold them off, so we called a stop move, and all of us pulled hard to keep them away. We just said 'Stop," and we all knew what it meant, and it worked.
Kelsey McGinley: That stop move is something we've been practicing against the eight, so we knew we had that in our back pockets, because if we could hold off an eight, we could hold off a four too. I think once that happened, and everyone stopped moving on us, we knew that we had it.
Margaret Hedeman: I trust these girls with all my heart. I just know when going into a race I can trust them to give their all. It feels really good.
Catherine Garrett: Knowing you put all that hard work together, crossing that finish line first is the most amazing feeling I've ever felt.
US Women's Eight
With five entries, the women's eight event was a "final only" event, although there was a "Preliminary" race for lanes on Friday. Those prelim races are often drama-less outings, with crews approaching it in very different ways - some do a full pull, while others hide their cards or maybe even very nearly paddle the whole way. This year it was a different story, with three crews, the Czech , US, and Romanian eights, in that order, going faster than Germany's 2011 junior world record.
The crew felt they learned a lot from the prelim race, and kept working to get better right up to launch time on Sunday.
Gabrielle Grace: We gained a lot of confidence in the first race. We just tried to build on that in the next one, focusing on what we could do internally rather than on other boats and worrying about the competition. We just figured out how to go fast as we could in the time that we had. We did a lot of tech work right to the end, even up to an hour before the race.
Samantha Hendrickson: All summer we knew what the standards were, and they were really competitive standards. We weren't afraid of approaching that, and trying to compete with that level of fitness and great rowing in practice. And then going into that (prelim) race, we just stayed with that, and it worked really well for us; we rapidly built momentum going into the final.
Larkin Brown: That race helped us build confidence up, because you can only do so much training by yourself. You can practice and practice, and you have times, but you don't know really what's going to happen until you get down into a race and do it. It ended up being really good for us, and it was great to build off that.
US Men's Single
US sculler Clark Dean got his money's worth this week; a world record in the heats, which was broken by German Moritz Wolff in the quarters, then another world record in the semis - and then in the final the much anticipated race-off between the two was cut short when Wolff flipped in the final with about 750 down.
But even at that point, Dean wasn't racing in the lead alone, as the early leader had been Cormac Kennedy-Leverett of Australia. Dean eventually moved out into a pretty solid lead, but with 500 to go Dean snagged a buoy himself and came to a standstill, and even looked for a moment possibly to be headed into the water as well. Yipes. Dean recalled the long moment when he hit the buoy after the race.
Clark Dean: When I hit it, as I came out of it it went through my mind "I hope that blade hits the water feathered, because if it hits it square, it's going to be a lot harder to recover. It felt like a really long recovery on that stroke. I was up when I hit it, but by the time I took my next stroke it looked like the positions hadn't changed, so I felt lucky and then I just moved over a little bit to get back in the center of the lane. It's pretty crazy. It's funny how it happens today, and not yesterday where the water was actually rough. It's pretty nice out there.
Even the world record efforts had their imperfect moments, as is often the case in sport.
Dean: As the year was progressing, people were asking what I was going to do, and I said I was probably going to end up in the single. They said, oh to go get the world record? I said that you can't really think that, but when the heats had that big tailwind, I thought, alright, I'm going to try to get it now, and after that I just have to worry about winning. Then the next day when I came down to the semis and saw and even bigger tail, I thought oh man, someone else is going to get it, and Moritz (Wolff) got it.
The next day, when I was in an even bigger tail, and I knew my semi-final was going to be a lot harder, I was pretty happy. But I actually went through that race blind. My stroke coach accidentally bumped something and showed stroke count instead of average split, so I had no idea what my time was. But yeah, I raced a good race, the last few hundred I still brought it (the rating) down, and then when I crossed I realized I shouldn't have brought it down, because the conditions were so fast, but I still ended up being able to get it.
US Men's Eight
The US men's eight had to row through the reps to make the final, but by Sunday was able to run the full course within tenths of a second of the British eight in a riveting race to take silver for the fourth year in a row. The crew had to make some midweek adjustments to get on track for the final.
Henry Long: In this race we were much more relaxed, much more internal, more focused on what we were doing than what everyone else was doing, and that carried us to last 750 meters.
Eli Kalfaian: We had a lot nerves in the first race. We were all over the place, so our coach took it down a notch, we all focused up and came up with a race plan that we know exactly how to execute, and we did it.
Harrison Scofield: We have a great coaching staff that we have with us. We put full confidence in them, and they know how to get us together. They do a great job at it every year.
Notes from the Course