Having survived the "interesting" opening ceremony reasonably intact, rowers turned to the actual business of competing today. When row2k arrived this morning, painters were putting the finishing touches on the awards dock.
Today's racing went mostly without a hitch; there was a false start when the little steam engine choo-choo train that runs on tracks around the outside perimeter of the racecourse tooted just before the starting horn, and the race was held at the blocks and restarted, sans steam engine.
A lot of folks are doubling here this week, but you can't go much hairier than the schedule that 42 year old Czech Vaclav Chalupa and his partner Jakub Makovicka have worked up for themselves; the Czechs won their heat in the Coxed Pair at 9:42 am, then turned around and raced again in the heats of the Straight Pair at 11:00am, finishing 5th. The crew blazed out of the blocks like a house on fire in the early race and made sure they won that one; the alternative would have been the potential for two reps just about an hour apart on the same day, whew.
Stretching the definition of "a year off" after the Olympics, the Bronze medal-winning Lightweight Women's Double from Finland is rowing in the Open event this year, and they seem to be doing well enough, advancing directly to the semis in their event. Maybe they meant a year "off the scales?"
From the "leaving it for the last minute" department, the Uzbekistan team rep requested to swap their entry in the Men's Single for one in the Men's Double at 6pm on the evening before the heats, citing a paperwork error; FISA determined that they could be added to a heat without redrawing the event or affecting the progression, so it was allowed.
The Men's Light Eight opened the regatta nicely from a US perspective, winning their heat in the fastest time of the event. The crew scooted ahead early, then hardly looked bothered over the second half of the piece. "We have executed our race plan well. We were not sure where we sit. But we had a strong race," John Dise told FISA after the race. "We have rowed in this combination since a month, but have been working together as a group since March."
Oversight or new identity? Where his crew mates all have full listings on the official FISA results and start lists, Matt Muffelman is listed only as single-identity "Muffelman."
The Men's Coxed Pair of Henrik Rummel, Troy Kepper and Marcus McIlhenny started fast and never looked back for a solid win in their heat, and the direct route to Saturday's final. The crew didn't seem to mind that it was only a heat, when they crossed the line there was some definite fist-pumping, these guys were pretty obviously psyched with their result.
The other heat win on the day from the US came from Susan Francia and Erin Cafaro in the Women's Pair. All business, the two W8+ Gold medallists from Beijing are also rowing the eight here in Poznan.
Their counterparts, Dave Banks and Charlie Cole in the Men's Pair also took care of business and qualified directly to the semi, finishing second from their three-to-advance heat; the Women's Double of Megan Kalmoe and Ellen Tomek did the same, taking second to advance from their heat.
All four US singles are first-timers in their events at Worlds, and the lack of direct experience may have showed a little as all four are headed to the reps after today's heats. Meghan Sarbanis, in the LW1x, competed in the fastest heat and is headed to the reps with a time that would have won in both of the other Lightweight Women's Single heats. The trip to the reps probably is not a disaster for her.
Cody Lowry in the LM1x, Warren Anderson in the M1x and Margot Shumway in the W1x are also headed to the reps on Monday.
The other two US crews in action on Sunday, the Men's Four and the Graves brothers, Peter and Tom in Men's Double, had somewhat "off" rows today and will look to regroup in the reps.
row2k saw a rig today that looks like one of those jokes you sometimes make when there's time to kill at the boathouse; one of the adaptive 4+ is rowing a double-bucket: stern pair both on starboard and bow pair on port. We'll definitely post photographic evidence of that one when we get it, for sure, and for those who are wondering, yeah, the boat was actually not moving badly.
One of the nice things at worlds is always the proximity that folks from different countries get to one another; on the bus ride back from the course last night, a pair of Cuban rowers was sharing the latest in cellphone ringtones with the Belarus rowers seated across from them.
Finally, row2k usually burns the candle at both ends in terms of media center hours logged, but yesterday was another first, as we were actually locked INTO the media center at the end of the day.