Canada's lightweight crews raced in several nail-biting semi-finals today at the 2002 FISA World Rowing Championships in Seville, Spain (Sept. 15 to 22).
It was a tight race, but the lightweight four of Gavin Hassett of Victoria, B.C., Jon Mandick of Edmonton, Alta., Iain Brambell of Brentwood Bay, B.C., and Doug Vandor of Dewittville, Que. managed to finish in the top three and qualify for the A final.
There was .01 of a second separating the Canadians from the second-place German crew. Australia won the semi in 5:55.81, with Germany finishing in 5:57.13 and Canada getting the last finals' berth in this semi in 5:57.14.
"It was not exactly what we had planned, so it was a bit of a wake-up call," said Doug Vandor, who is rowing in his first Worlds in the lightweight four. "Australia was able to get ahead, so we have to be a bit more aggressive. We have three or four training rows left before the final, so our goal is to be sharper and be our best on Sunday."
Powerful crews from Denmark, Italy and France qualified in the other semi-final, which will make for an exciting race for the medals in the final. Canada won this event at the 2002 World Cup in Lucerne, but Denmark missed that regatta due to injury.
Past members of the lightweight four, Jon Beare of Toronto, Ont. and Chris Davidson of Oakville, Ont. now rowing as a pair, also finished third in their semi, capturing a place in the medal race. Canada’s time was 6:37.14.
"We made our big push after the 1000-metre mark (half way). We knew it was going to be tough, but based on everything we've done, we deserve to be in the finals," said Jon Beare. "In the final, we're looking at everyone as competition - four out of the six pairs (in the final) have guys who were 2000 Olympians." Chris and Jon were part of Canada's lightweight four that finished seventh in Sydney.
In a heartbreaking semi, the lightweight women's double of Fiona Milne of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont. and Shona McLaren of Victoria, B.C. finished less than a second away from third place and will now row in the B final for positions seven to 12. Although Milne and McLaren maintained third place for a major part of the semi, the crew from Denmark overtook them in the final few strokes of the race.
The lightweight men's double of Matt McCarthy of Peterborough, Ont. and Brent Borbridge of Winnipeg, Man. made it into the C final (for places 13 to 18), and this afternoon raced again to finish 16th overall at this Worlds.
Canadian Head Coach Brian Richardson is optimistic going into the weekend's medal races (A finals). "This year, we have six boats in the A finals, last year we had four (with the women's pair bringing home a bronze)," said Richardson. Both the women's and men's eights, the lightweight men's four and pair, and the women's four and pair will have a chance to reach the podium. "Several of the crews have genuine shots at medals, and all are very competitive. So we are building on last year's performance."
Canadian Results (in order of racing) - Sept. 20/02 FISA World Rowing Championships - Seville, Spain
Lightweight men's double (semi C/D) 1. USA 06:40.81 2. BEL 06:43.85 3. CAN 06:44.53 4. MEX 06:53.01 5. TUN 06:58.92
Lightweight men's pair (semi A/B) 1. IRL 06:34.03 2. GBR 06:34.58 3. CAN 06:37.14 4. NED 06:37.76 5. ROM 06:43.18 6. RUS 06:46.99
Lightweight women's double (semi A/B) 1. AUS 07:03.17 2. POL 07:05.32 3. DEN 07:06.27 4. CAN 07:06.43 5. ROM 07:14.16 6. FIN 07:16.82
Lightweight men's four (semi A/B) 1. AUS 05:55.81 2. GER 05:57.13 3. CAN 05:57.14 4. IRL 05:59.70 5. YUG 06:00.83 6. USA 06:03.13
Lightweight men's double (final C) 1. BEL 06:18.29 2. IRL 06:21.15 3. FRA 06:22.69 4. CAN 06:23.42 5. TUR 06:24.94 6. USA 06:25.47
-- Jackie Skender - Rowing Canada Aviron