Woah, it's hot; temps soared into the high 80s or low 90s by the end of the heats, just before 1 PM.
Conditions: there is still flow on the course, down to about half the volume current of 2-3 days ago, when the water was described as being "piss flat, but moving like the Schuylkill after heavy rains." As a result, the racing lanes were moved over one lane from the normal lanes 1-6 into lanes 0-5. (Note that the course lanes are numbered "backwards;" typically the lane nearest the finish tower is lane 1; here it is lane 8.) A puff of a tailwind did very little to mitigate the temps.
Save for two 12-minute breaks, racing took place on six-minute centers, causing there to be two races on the course at one time in some cases; it certainly didn't seem to cause any trouble. The only result was that, save for the two heats after the longer breaks, crews were not able to warm up in their lanes.
Additionally, a few crews were seconds late for the two-minute "false start" warning; no false start was issued. Nonetheless, when a few of the men's fours were more than just a few second late, warnings were issued, so it wasn't quite a carte blanche situation out there.
But the above comments are not entirely accurate, as FISA no longer issues "false starts" or "warnings;" as of this year, a crew late to the line is given a "yellow card." It certainly is a lot clearer than being "issued a warning;" most of the sporting world understands what a yellow card means.
Until late morning, the Grandstands were packed with hundreds of schoolchildren (all in matching yellow hats, natch) who'd been given the day off to come watch Worlds. Part of the deal, apparently, was that they picked (or were assigned) countries to cheer for; the kids came equipped with handmade banners urging on Chile, Belarus, and The Little Mermaid, among others.
The "Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi" cheer was in full effect on the grandstands today as well, with some local color; the Japanese in the stands enthusiastically joined in for the "Oi" part.
Folks definitely approach the heats in a variety of ways; some crews are definitely just happy to be here, some take a business-like approach, one race at a time, but row2k saw more than one heat winner shout or punch the air after crossing the line. A win at worlds to start the week ain't a bad thing, that's for sure.
US crews had mixed success on the day, but some positive rows from some younger or less experienced crews ought to give those folks confidence headed into the reps on Wednesday. US seeds: seeded crews for the US today included the men's four, and Wyatt Allen in the single.
Marika Page in the LW1x was the first US racer to head down the course. With the top two to advance, Marika rowed in a close third place for most of the race, just behind Mirna Rajle of Croatia, who has a good 6-7 years of experience on Marika in this event. Reps might be a tough place to be, but an extra race might be the ticket to break into the final; time-wise, Marika was on par with the winners of the other heats today.
You think this LW1x rower is Irish? Niamh Ni Cheilleacher gave it a good go today, coming third in her heat.
The Greek LM1x, Vasileios Polymeros, took a bronze in the LM2x at Athens last year, and kept right on going this year. He threw down the fastest time of day in the event. Palestinian/Lower Merion, PA sculler Mark Gerban finished a creditable fourth in the same race.
The LM1x also had the first entry from Cameroon I believe I've ever seen at a world champs.
My vote for the souvie of the regatta: one of the World Rowing Championships hardhats worn by the course staff.
The row of the day from the US perspective was turned in by Michelle Guerrete in her heat of the W1x. Rowing in the hardest heat of the event (Ekaterina Karsten, two time Olympic champion in the single, Yulya Levina, '00 Olympic finalist, and Australia's Kerry Hore, 2003 World Champ in the women's quad), Michelle kept her bow deck close enough to Karsten's stern for the first 1000m to where Karsten could never really shift into cruise control, then finished the job, coming in a solid second and punching her ticket to Thursday's semi.
The other two heat winners in the W1x were the Czech Republic's Mirka Knapkova, who finished her piece rowing in the low 20s, and France's Sophie Balmary, who was sporting the US collegiate-style knee-high socks in a very un-French yellow.
Also rowing in this heat was Serbia-Montenegro's Iva Obradovic, whose squeaking rigger could be heard across the course and up the press stand. Maybe you don't hear it when you're racing full bore, but WD-40 after the racing is definitely in order.
US Collegiate Connection: in the women's 1x, at least two US collegiates were racing: Rika Geyser, formerly of UW, for South Africa; Michelle was a former walk-on at Harvard.
Wyatt Allen, the USA M1x, also did not have an easy draw today, lining up next to the Czech Republic's Ondrej Synek, this years world cup champ. From a distance, Synek looks a little like Derek Porter, and rows a little like him as well, stroke a little boxy, rough edges, etc. It's not slow though, Synek won the heat handily. Wyatt gave it a game 1500m before shutting down to conserve for Wednesday's rep.
Starting sequence for wonk-types: I checked out Tufte's start; he stays at short slide for a long time, maybe half slide for 4-5 strokes; then lengthens out to around 3/4 slide for another 3-4, and doesn't stride out until he's pretty far down the racecourse.
Guts row: relatively unknown Lassi Karonen of Sweden gave co-favorite Marcel Hacker of Germany all he could handle for the middle 1000m of the heat before Hacker finally pulled through him.
Hacker did his part to keep the course clean: instead of throwing his water bottle to the folks on his own starting pontoon, the Hungarian sculler tried to toss his to the person working one lane over, which was Hacker's lane. The bottle was caught on the light tailwind, and by the time the crews were inside the two-minute mark, the bottle was out at Hacker's bowball. He called out to the starting official "Stop!", paddled out and over to the bottle, picked it up, and handed it to the dock folks, saying "Sorry guys, sorry guys" to all the other scullers in his heat.
In the W2-, the US crew of Caroline Lind and Lindsay Shoop had pushed out to a pretty solid lead at the 1000m mark, but it could be that their fast start cost them a little as the Aussie crew first caught, and then passed the US crew in the third 500. Still, it's a good row in the bag for the rookies.
Experience definitely pays: in a field of pretty new combinations, the only unchanged twosome from the Athens Olympics, the NZ crew of Haigh and Coles, looked very competent in winning the second heat of the W2-.
In what looked like almost a carbon-copy of the women's race, the US M2- of Matt Schnobrich and Pat O'Dunne led the pack to the 1000, rowing a little higher than the field, were caught by Italy, then couldn't respond when the Canadian pair took it up, and past, the US crew in the last 300m. The power is definitely there; another race and the crew may yet have a shot at a lane in the final.
The GB M2- bowseat's name is Tom Broadway; no word on whether "Broadway Tom" guaranteed a victory or was seen around the boatyard in a fur coat, but his crew looked pretty good today.
A lot of the Athens specialty boat gear is floating around the regatta; many crews have adopted the ice-vest-after-the-race approach, and most of the NZ flotilla has some form of enhanced splashguard attached to their boats.
The US women's double got the party started today alright, pulling into their lane right next to the defending Olympic and multiple World champion double the Evers-Swindell twins. Despite the NZ dominance, and the presence of a couple of other stacked crews in the race (only the US and the Korea crew did not have a rower with Athens Olympic experience in the crew), the USA crew put up a solid fight all the way down the racecourse to come third. They'll row in the rep Wednesday for a shot at the semis and finals.
Accessory of the day: the Japanese women's double was outfitted with some black sculling gloves; never saw anyone do this at a World Championships.
Like their counterparts, the USM2x of Sloan Du Ross and Sam Stitt rowed against a pretty stacked field. They were game early, and looked good to go for a qualifying spot in their heat, behind Germany. Coming into the third 500m, Hungary was rowing the higher ratings just a bit better than the USA crew, Sloan and Sam just couldn't counter, finishing third with two to advance. They will also be in the reps on Wednesday.
The Hungarians had two-time M2x world champ Tibor Petoe aboard...does that make him a 2x 2x champ?
The word on the street about the GB M4- is that, despite being anointed "better than Pinsent, et al," they're smart enough to know that they need to win a big one before they can lay claim to the title of "the next big thing." The crew had a little bit of a bumpy row enroute to their heats win today; they'll see at least one of the other fast crews in this event in the Semi on Thursday.
The USA crew of Volp, Hoopman, Beery and Deakin got ahead and stayed ahead in their race, not letting a pretty good fight between the Canada crew and the Danes for the second qualifying spot spook them. The USA crew definitely has the know-how in this event; it'll be interesting to watch how doubling into the eight plays out for this group.
Folks have been paying a lot of attention to the GB and USA crews, but the Dutch crew in the event actually posted the fastest time this morning. They're not entirely newbies; the core of the crew rowed in the Dutch silver medal 8+ at Athens last summer. The idea of a fast NED M4- might still be new to a lot of people, tho' not likely after this morning.
That's it from the course for Monday; we're back tomorrow morning for the second round of heats.
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