A steady stream of A/B semis that provided often thrilling racing today were followed by some similarly intense lower finals as the Tokyo Junior Rowing World Championships/Tokyo 2020 test event moved closer to crowning its first champions. If you look at the times, there were a number of beep-beep-beep-beep finishes mid-morning, whew.
Upon arrival in the morning, a SSE wind brought in a salty, wet, very aquatic breeze that was familiar to many folks from up and down the east coast of the US; by race time the wind had switched to the same southwest cross tail that is clearly the prevailing wind.
(Obviously enough at this point, the possibility of moving Sunday's finals to Saturday afternoon due to the approaching typhoon did not happen; conversation has mostly shifted to folks wondering whether their flights will get out this week._
For the US, only single sculler Katelin Gildersleeve advanced to the A final to round out a total of six crews in the medal hunt tomorrow.
"It was an okay race," Gildersleeve said. "I'm excited to build on it tomorrow, take better strokes than I took today and focus on the little technical things I'm trying to perfect," Gildersleeve said. "Just really (focus on) recovery and making sure my body feels rested and ready to go.
"The course reminds me a lot of the course in Oklahoma," said Gildersleeve. "I can't remember the last day I trained in Oklahoma that it was flat water. With the current and the crossing tailwind that happens every day in OKC, this water is just about the same. It makes me feel like I'm at home."
Canada's Abigail Dent also made the Women's Single A final after coming in third in her A/B semi-final behind the Netherlands and Germany. "I'm very happy with my race and the outcome; going forward, I'm excited to get back on the start line tomorrow and go at it one last time," Dent said. "I'm so grateful for the support staff and coaching that I've had for the past six weeks to help me get to where I am today, as well as the support coming from family and friends back home. Coming into my first ever international regatta, I was definitely very nervous and had no idea what to expect. In saying that, I have been staying open to surprises, and that has paid off."
Lots of crews finished up today, including the US women's pair of Heidi Jacobson and Kylie Oakes, who finished third in the B final for ninth overall. The crew gave it a solid go, leading the race through the midpoint. After the race, Oakes looked back over the week of racing.
"Coming into the regatta we were excited to see how we stacked up against the other countries," she said. "During the heats we were reminded that it was really important to get out and stay with the pack for the first 500 so you can make moves off other boats as the race goes on. We made it a focus of ours to make the first half of our race faster each time we went out on the course. In the final today we were even with Lithuania and Great Britain and felt that we executed the first 1k like we had planned to."
The end of racing for many was evidenced by riggers being bagged, oars being wrapped, and boats being threaded into shipping containers; it is always a bittersweet moment, with all kinds of emotions competing for primacy – though most who have been through it would not trade it for anything.
Notes from the Course
Last year we wrote a lot about crews flipping, including the German single sculler; well, this year a new German single sculler flipped in today's A/B semi, ouch.
It will be interesting to watch the Italian women's eight that won the prelim race tomorrow afternoon, as all nine athletes are doubling in other boats.
We had heard that some of the racing was sold out, but the grandstands don't seem to be showing the same; hopefully Sunday looks different.
The German fans rigged up an epic flag setup, wow.
The neighborhood near the main regatta transport hub is hosting a comic book convention, and lines of hopeful attendees were sitting on the pavement in the raised Daiba neighborhood. This week is also the Obon holiday, a Japanese Buddhist holiday to honor the spirits of one's ancestors.
This is pretty cool, whew.