The first day of finals dawned cool, overcast and windy...back to the tailwind we had earlier in the week, but what a tailwind it was; decent water at the start, then increasingly bouncy all the way down the course.
The US Women's Pair of Erin Cafaro and Susan Francia accomplished the arguably more difficult half of their doubling goal today, winning a world title in what ended up being an incredibly tight race. Nobody was giving anything away in this one, as the Romanians led a tight pack for 1500m before Cafaro and Francia summoned up what looked like a quaddrenium's worth of experience to pull ahead for the win in the last 25 strokes or so.
"That was an awesome race," said Susan Francia. "We talked about going out there and killing it, but staying cool. We knew it was going to be tight, but that's what makes it exciting."
Given their doubling up into the eight, it's no surprise that this pair is paying extra attention to their hyradtion and recovery; the women's spares were waiting just after the finish line with "personalized" bananas and sports drinks.
Finally, a surprising stat: this is the first ever Gold medal for the US Women in this event at Worlds.
There was no rest for the weary, either; the crew went right back to work in the afternoon after their win, headed out for practice in the eight in preparation for tomorrow's final.
We'd remarked yesterday on the new, young Romanian women (on that topic, has anyone seen a Romanian men's team recently?), and the Romanian pair was ecstatic with their silver medal.
The US Women's Four kept it close for the first 1200m in their final but could not match the Dutch sprint and had to settle for silver, with Canada coming in for a surprising bronze.
"A great race...that was a blast!" said stroke Esther Lofgren after the race.
The US crew, Lofgren, Elle Logan, Jamie Redman and Amanda Polk, are fairly young and can draw on this experience down the road. Anytime you leave worlds with a medal it's a good thing!
Today was David Banks' birthday, and he might have wished for less difficult conditions; he and Charlie Cole in the USA M2- couldn't really match the speed in their field today, finishing fifth in a race that saw the New Zealand pair fulfill their early season promise despite a huge charge from a hugely experienced GB pair. For the US crew, who won bronze at Lucerne earlier this summer, 5th is disappointing but the result is nonetheless the one bright spot for the US men at the regatta, at least in the Olympic events.
Also a disappointing result for the US W2x of Megan Kalmoe and Ellen Tomek today, as the crew led to the 500, and was in contention at halfway before faltering badly and falling to 6th. For this crew, who won at Lucerne this year and had shown a lot of promise in staying together after a pretty terrific coming-out party in Beijing last summer, this will likely be a tough one to digest.
It's hard to say what the difference was today; a lingering injury to one of the crew may have contributed to an inability to rev it to the absolute redline here this week, but after two trips to the A-Finals in an Olympic event in as many years, you have to believe that this crew can definitely contend at this level.
There were plenty of fireworks in the other four medal finals today, and some surprises. The race of the day was the Men's 1x, where GB sculler Alan Campbell, who is known for his fast starts, proved that he has the goods over the second half of the race as well...well, almost. The Brit made New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale row an absolute hammer of a last 800m or so to win his 4th gold medal in five years in this event, rowing to a new world best time of 6:33 and change in the process, leaving Campbell to silver, his highest-ever placing at Worlds. The Czech Ondrej Synek took third in this race.
Check the evidence from our photo galleries as well; the sheer will required to go that speed in these conditions here are pretty phenomenal.
By now, it's an time-honored tradition that the medalists in the Men's Single give the new world champion a lift.
In the women's 1x, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus showed that winning never gets old, taking the 6th gold medal in the single of her impressive career. She also showed that every win is worth savoring, pumping her fist enthusiastically as she crossed the line.
Finishing a surprising second in the single was the GB's Kath Grainger, in her first year in the event. Grainger led this one for quite a bit, and it's safe to say that she'll be yet another challenge at the top of this event in the coming years.
A bit of an upset in the Men's Four as the GB, with only one returner from the Beijing Olympic championship crew didn't miss a beat and won here at Poznan, over the Australian crew that was returning intact.
Understatement of the day, from a member of the victorious GB men's four: "I'm tired." We have a big pile of athlete quotes at the bottom of this feature again today. Also see our Saturday Winners Reel, a video of all the winning crews from today.
As we'd remarked here earlier this week, the GB crews seemed amped up with London 2012 looming, and today seemed to confirm that as the GB scooped 7 medals on the day in the Senior and Adaptive events.
The day kicked off with the five A-Finals of the adaptive rowing events. Ron Harvey in the US ASM1x was the only american in action today, and finished a close fourth in his event. As we reporeted earlier in the week, following the adaptive events was a little less easy here this year, as they were run on the first 1000m of the racecourse, away from the grandstands, with the competitors then paddling to the medals dock for the awards ceremony.
It was a long day of finals today, as the 17 B-Finals on the program were all run this afternoon after the medals racing. In tough water at the end of a long week, the US crews in action had mixed results in their B-final races, with the Men's 8+ finishing third behind Australia and Ukraine, and Warren Anderson in the Single, the LW2x, the LM2-, the LM4- and the M4x all finishing last.
It's a different kind of event but similar context; we spotted several athletes wearing "Yes we can!" shirts in the boatyard today. An infectious sentiment, for sure...
Well played: when there was a problem with the sound system during the medal ceremony of the final adaptive race of the morning, won by the GB, the Brit fans in the stands stepped into the breach, with a few dozen GB supporters belting out a full-throated rendition of "God save the Queen."
As the regatta wanes, a new favorite pasttime here in the media center appears to be journalists taking pictures of each other working.
There are 14 more races at the 2009 World Championships tomorrow, all A-Finals.
Chantal Achterberg, Nienke Kingma, Carline Bouw, Femke Dekker (NED) – Gold
"This is my first World Championship medal and I'm very happy about it. The wind was a bit difficult. But the result was great. We have some great talents in the boat. The eight will be next, which is the Olympic boat. This is motivating and if the other girls from the second four go strong too, we can do well tomorrow." Femke Dekker
Amanda Polk, Jamie Redman, Eleanor Logan, Esther Lofgren (USA)– Silver
"There were some really fast crews out there. The Dutch set the bar pretty high, and we put in a solid effort and left it all on the course. I'm excited to come back next year."
Sarah Waterfield, Sandra Kisil, Jennifer Tuters, Emma Darling (CAN) – Bronze
"It was a really good race, it is actually the first victory for us all! We've been in rowing for about three years." Jennifer Tuters
Zsuzsanna Francia, Erin Cafaro (USA) – Gold
"In terms of tomorrow's race, muscle milk, rinse and repeat. I knew today was going to be close, but I have one of the best athletes in the world behind me, Zsuzsanna Francia, and if she's behind you, everything will turn out good." Erin Cafaro
Camelia LUPASCU, Nicoleta ALBU (ROU) – Silver
"It is our first victory, a lot of emotions are coming out. It was a hard race, but we were strong until the end. I'm very proud of us." Nicoleta Albu
Emma-Jane Feathery, Rebecca Scown (NZL) – Bronze
"This is bitter sweet and not want we wanted. But it's our first year in this combination and there is still a lot we can work on." Emma-Jane Feathery
Eric Murray, Hamish Bond (NZL) – Gold
"It was really good. The tail wind is good to go quick. We've done some good tail wind stuff in the past, but were a bit worried. We kept pushing and pushing to get into the lead and used a lot of energy doing that. Then we put as much effort as possible in it to stay in front. And the British kept coming back. We were just pushing to make it to the final line. But you don't really feel the pain as there's so much adrenalin." Eric Murray
Peter Reed, Andrew Triggs Hodge (GBR) – Silver
"We worked really hard for the last seven weeks, developed a great confidence and technique. None of us had an injury which is great. Andrew is an amazing partner, we had like THE perfect race, gained inches all along the race. It would be great to continue rowing together." Peter Reed
Nikolaos Gkountoulas, Apostolos Gkountoulas (GRE) – Bronze
"We hoped to come third and we made it! Gold medallists last year [in the lightweight pair], we tried to be realistic this year. The wind helped us all along which is great for the lightweights. Overall it was a great race, we are good partners." Nikolaos Gkountoulas
Magdalena Fularczyk, Julia Michalska (POL) – Gold
"I would like to be an inspiration for young athletes to follow their dream. We are a good example that with hard work you can fulfil your dream. I also thank the city of Poznan and everybody here for all their help and support." Julia Michalska
Anna Bebington, Annabel Vernon (GBR) – Silver
"I'm really proud of us. We did what we set out to do. We are pleased with silver." Anna Bebington
Rumyana Neykova, Miglena Markova (BUL) – Bronze
"It was a very difficult race with a lot of wind from different directions. But we kept the tempo, stayed concentrated on our technique. I am not planning on going back into a single scull for now, the double suits me well. With Miglena we make a good team." Rumyana Neykova
Eric Knittel, Stephan Krueger (GER) – Gold
"Everything turned black in front of my eyes at the finish line, so I didn't even know that we came first. Second would have been great also, but this is wonderful. A World Championship win is a very fine thing. We will have a big party tonight after all the abstinence." Stephan Krueger
"Our start wasn't very good, but we had a strong piece from 500 to 1,500 and were able to save some power. When I last looked across I saw the Estonians a little bit ahead and told my stroke to give it all now. I still can't comprehend this. It's like waking up from a dream. We have been unbeaten over twelve races this season – it's really been a dream season." Eric Knittel
Julien Bahain, Cedric Berrest (FRA) – Silver
"Good race overall, a couple of mistakes in the beginning, which slowed us down a little, the wind was tough as well. We were surprised by the Estonians whom we thought would slow down on the second half, but they kept the rhythm and it was a very intense race. The fact of having made mistakes is reassuring in a way because we know that we can do better, it encourages us to keep fighting and constructing this boat on a long term basis. Looking forward to London!" Julien Bahain
Allar Raja, Kaspar Taimsoo (EST) – Bronze
"The finish was very difficult. The wind and the conditions made it especially hard. But Kaspar kept me going. We didn't expect this result earlier this season." Allar Raja
"The conditions were difficult, but the tail wind was good for us too. Like in Lucerne it was very close with the French, but this medal is great too. We would definitely like to continue in the double and maybe even until 2012." Kaspar Taimsoo
Ekatarina Karsten-Khodotovitch (BLR) – Gold
"Incredible race. I honestly didn't realise I was leading for the second half, I just didn't see it. This last season wasn't easy, I missed a lot of training and competitions because of my shoulder issue due to a bike accident. But every training that took place led me here. In the future I haven't decided yet whether I am going to continue in the single sculls or in a double, but I am for sure looking forward to the Olympics in London!"
Katherine Grainger (GBR) – Silver
"I knew it would be very fast conditions and that I needed to get ahead. I didn't want to look out too much, but you kind of have a feeling who is fast and I knew that nobody had really gone ahead too much. There are probably twelve years behind this medal. I was very disappointed after Beijing and wanted to have a change. You got to love racing like this and in the single you continue learning a lot about yourself. If I'll stay in the single? I don't know - 2012 is still a long way off,"
Mahe Drysdale, NZL – Gold
"I am glad to be here, the last 500 meters were rough because of the conditions, but I made it. This year has really been a dream year for me. It's been one of the best ever years and this is a great way to finish it. It was really tough at the end. I had few bad strokes and every time that happened Alan moved up. Alan really stepped up this season. I rate him as one of the toughest after this year and he's definitely hungry. I look forward to next year and the home crowd, which hopefully will bring me down the last 500 metres. It definitely won't be easy. Everybody is getting better all the time and us two beating the world best time shows it. I started this season with little expectations. I took three months off after Beijing, I have a new coach and it's a new team around me. But today was a great day for New Zealand and a great start to the next cycle. "
Alan Campbell (GBR) – Silver
"I'm very disappointed. There were just too many crabs in the last bit. We both broke the World Best Time and I still only came second. I didn't come here for silver. I know, we played it down, but I wanted gold. I will just have to go back now and work even harder. I don't know why I'm disappointed. This was my first World Championship medal, so I can't be disappointed, but I got to sniff gold and just missed it."
Ondrej Synek (CZE) – Bronze
"I'm happy with bronze. The conditions today were very difficult. I don't like this kind of weather, there were just too many waves. But this is my first medal this season, so I'm happy."
2009 World Championships: USA W2- takes Gold!
The US W2- of Erin Cafaro and Susan Francia captures the World Championship with a strong sprint over Romania and New Zealand at the 2009 World Rowing Championships in Poznan, Poland. (www.row2k.com)