On the opening day of the World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia, Canada saw three of its crews win heats, with two other boats advancing to the semi-finals from second place. This regatta also serves as the qualifier for Olympic events to be held next year in London, England.
"It was pretty tough (windy) conditions out there on the course and I thought our crews handled it really well," said Rowing Canada Aviron High Performance Director Peter Cookson. "The men's pair, men's eight and light men's double rowed incredibly well and showed they are on track for the rest of the week. And I think we are going to see more from the other Canadian crews we saw out there today."
Olympic silver and 2011 World Cup bronze medalists David Calder (Victoria, BC) and Scott Frandsen (Kelowna, BC) took an early lead in today's heat and maintained it to win in 6:32.88. The pair advances directly to the semifinal. Only the top finisher in each heat advanced in this event - with Great Britain, Italy and New Zealand winning the other heats.
Calder and Frandsen renewed their partnership this year, with the World Cup in Lucerne being their first major international race together since Beijing. "Since Lucerne, we changed the lineup and Dave's in stroke and I'm in bow, and it seems to be working really well," said Frandsen. "Today was good, but it wasn't great and I think the conditions affected us more than we would have liked. It was a decent race and it's something to build off of as we move forward."
Later in the day, the lightweight men's double of Doug Vandor (Dewittville, QC) and Cam Sylvester (Caledon, ON) were dominant in their heat, winning in 6:21.94.
"The first race went well. We went into it not taking any other crews for granted because at this regatta, with so many crews in our event, you never know who's going to be fast," said Sylvester. "It was the icebreaker and it's nice to get it out of the way, and now we have our eyes set on the quarterfinal." Switzerland and the Netherlands also moved forward from this heat. Events, such as the light men's double, with a large number of entries have a quarterfinal round.
The Canadian men's eight crossed the line in first this morning to advance to the semifinals. This year's lineup is Brian Price (Belleville, ON), Will Crothers (Kingston, ON), Rob Gibson (Kingston, ON), Andrew Byrnes (Toronto, ON), Malcolm Howard (Victoria, BC), Conlin McCabe (Brockville, ON), Jeremiah Brown (Cobourg, ON), Doug Csima (Oakville, ON), and Gabe Bergen (100 Mile House, BC).
The three qualifiers from this men's eight heat were Canada (5:29.83), maintaining a lead down the 2000-metre course, followed by the Netherlands (05:30.37) and the Ukraine in 05:32.75.
Women's lightweight single sculler Tracy Cameron of Shubenacadie, NS, also qualified for the semi-final after finishing second in her heat. Cameron, a World Champion in the lightweight women's double, had to pull out of that Olympic event due to her ongoing recovery from a rib injury.
"It was a tough assignment for Tracy to jump in the single, but she rowed a really smart race today, keeping it under control and qualifying for the semi," said Peter Cookson.
The lightweight men's pair of Morgan Jarvis (Winnipeg, MB) and Tim Myers (Penticton, BC) also finished second in the heat and move to the semifinal. Great Britain was first in 6:38.08, with the Canadian pair in 6:40.75.
Although they got off to a solid start of the race, the Canadian men's four finished second in 05:54.41 to the Germans (05:52.78), with only the first-place finisher moving directly to the semi. The four is Derek O'Farrell (Montreal, QC), Will Dean (Kelowna, BC), Kevin Kowalyk (Winnipeg, MB) and Anthony Jacob (Vancouver, BC).
Earlier today, Fraser Berkhout (St. Catharines, ON) and Mike Wilkinson (North Vancouver, BC) were third in a heat of the men's double event in 6:28.02. The double also goes to the repechage round.
The lightweight men's four was fifth in its heat in 6:11.20, and will have to row in a rep to advance. The light four is John Sasi (North Delta, BC), Mike Lewis (Victoria, BC), Rares Crisan (Mississauga, ON) and Matt Jensen (Innerkip, ON)
In the women's pair, Carolyn Ganes (Saskatoon, SK) and Larissa Lagzdins (Burlington, ON) were fourth this morning in 7:24.15 - they will row in a rep to attempt to move forward to the semifinals.
The women's double of Kerry Shaffer (Welland, ON) and Emily Cameron (Summerside, PEI) crossed the line in fourth in the heat in 07:08.90. Canada will row in a rep, while the top two (Great Britain and Germany from this heat) move directly to the semifinals.
Canada had a busy day at the Worlds, with a total of 10 crews racing on the picturesque Lake Bled. The remainder of the Canadian entries will race in heats on Monday - including the reigning World Champions in the adaptive mixed four, the lightweight double and the World silver medalist women's eights, as well as the coxed pair, who are also alternates for the men's heavyweight program.
Full results at www.worldrowing.com