It was back to a racing in a headwind today, like clockwork just in time for the lightweight semis, oof.
Meghan Sarbanis in the USA LW1x apparently likes a headwind; the slower conditions seemed to suit her just fine as she methodically worked her way back into contention after being down early, then finished a strong 2nd in her semi to qualify for Sunday's A-final.
"At 4th of July this year I raced in these conditions, super headwind, against the heavyweights and they pushed me all the way," said an elated Sarbanis after the race. "I'm really fortunate to be a lightweight, because in the United States I can race up. I showed up to Olympic trials and finished second to Michelle [Guerette] last year! I'm more than thrilled to be in the final."
A quick look at the times today would suggest that Meghan could seriously challenge for a medal come Sunday.
Beyond Meghan, the US crews in action today in the A/B semis just fell short today, perhaps no more so than in the case of the US LM4-, who kept their cool in the faster of the two semis, made a decisive push to get into a qualifying position at halfway, then couldn't hold on and fell to fourth and a B-final spot at the line.
"I told them they did a great job today, and hope they can do it again tomorrow," said lightweight coach John Parker after the race. (editor's note: non-contextual typo from a different interview was removed from earlier edition of this feature)
It's tough to compare times anytime there's wind involved, but the US time in their semi was almost a full three seconds faster than the winning time in the other semifinal.
The Men's Quad also found the going rough today, finishing fifth in a loaded semi. The crew actually negative-split their race, but getting to the 500m mark in 6th was just too deep a hole to dig out of.
The USA Lightweight women's double of Kristin Hedstrom and Michelle Trannel unfortunately found out the hard way today that the Olympic lightweight events are just incredibly tough, year in year out. The USA crew just never seemed to get tracked in their semi today, finishing 6th. They are B-Final bound, and will race again tomorrow.
The Polish crews in action today gave the home crowd something to cheer about, qualifying for the medal races in the LM4-, LW2x and M4x, and the crews received the appropriate media attention. They also duly celebrated on the water, although we're not sure this guy in the Polish LM4- is flexing his muscles or flipping somebody off.
The Poles are definitely feeling the hometown pressure; quote of the day from the FISA quotes, below: "I'm only a human being and can't be programmed to win," from the stroke of the Polish M4x, Adam Korol.
The lightweights had it toughest today; per FISA rules, you can start weighing in for your race two hours before racetime; with the lightweight A/B semis starting at 1:30, that meant no weighing in before 11:30, and after 12:30 if you were in one of the LM4- semis. I'm not sure you wanted to go the route the German lightweights took however, who took a trip up the course wearing layers just about 2 hours before their semi, whew. The late sweat row didn't seem to bother the crew much, as they had enough juice to race to a photo finish for first with the Danes.
Quite a few US crews were in action in the lower level finals this morning; no one wants to be back on the truck on Friday at worlds, and some form of redemption is as good as you can do racing in the C-Final. Margot Shumway in the USA W1x and the USA M4- both won their C-Finals today, for 13th overall, while Cody Lowry in the USA LM1x came second for 14th, the LM2x of Shane Madden and Andy Quinn came 3rd for 15th overall, and Tom and Peter Graves in the US M2x ended their first trip to Worlds fourth in the C-Final, for 16th overall.
The USA Adaptive 4+ found themselves in a fierce race with the Irish crew in the B-Final of their event, and came up just short at the line for an 8th place finish overall.
Today's racing wrapped up the preliminary proceedings at the '09 Worlds; tomorrow we have our first 13 Senior and Adaptive A-Finals, with B-Finals for all the events making up the afternoon racing. In all, the US has 11 Senior crews and one adaptive boat racing for medals this weekend. Once again we have a ton of athlete quotes at the bottom of this article.
The adaptive folks here seem to be having fun; row2k saw a "train" of wheelchairs, made up of members of various countries' adaptive squads, rolling through the boatyard today.
The Romanian Women's 8+ was giving each other what looked like ear massages on the bus to the course this morning...hey, whatever works! They're a fairly young, loose group, and seem less dour than some of the Romanian teams of past years.
On to the finals!
Anja Noske, Marie-Louise Draeger (GER) – Semi A/B One – 1st
"This was a much better race for us than the others so far. Our aim was to stay with the British in the first 500, as we knew this would be our only chance to fight them down. And our aim today was to win and to give the British a shake-up so they will have some respect for us. For the final everything is open, I guess. In the lightweight races everything is possible and the final has always rules of its own. Our intention is to win a medal though. Today it was a great feeling to finally be ahead of the British." Marie-Louise Draeger
Christina Giazitzidou, Alexandra Tsiavou (GRE) – Semi A/B Two – 1st
"We are very happy with our race, especially as we are a new crew. We really look forward to the final" Alexandra Tsiavou
Lindsay Jennerich, Sheryl Preston (CAN) – Semi A/B 2 – 2nd
"It was a challenging race. We worked excellently through the 3rd 500. We did what we had to do and know the final will be very tight". Lindsay Jennerich
Bronwen Watson, Alice McNamara (AUS) – Semi A/B 2 – 3rd
"We are quite happy with our race and it’s going to be a tight final. We were surprised by the wind conditions that are changing all the time." Alice McNamara
Storm Uru, Peter Taylor (NZL) – Semi A/B One – 1st
"After our results this season we expected this and wanted to win. We kept to our race plan and strategy and it all work out. Now we’ll step it up again in the final." Peter Taylor
Christian Hochbruck, Lars Hartig (GER) – Semi A/B One – 2nd
"We wanted to start this race offensively as this is our strength and that worked out. We were one length ahead at the beginning. Then the New Zealanders, who are the strongest went past, then also the British but we managed to catch the British in the final sprint. We didn’t expect that it would all go so well. We wanted to get to the final, but didn’t expect to do it being so close to the New Zealanders." Christian Hochbruck
Rob Williams, Paul Mattick (GBR) – Semi A/B One – 3rd
"It was good enough to get through. It was very cross-windy in the middle and at the end of the race, but we have made it to start line of the final which is great. We’ll see what we can do there." Rob Williams
Marcello Miani, Elia Luini (ITA) – Semi A/B Two – 1st
"We controlled the race. The finish of our stroke was very powerful, which enabled us to cope with the wind. We were just taking the boat with us. For the final I want to do a beautiful race, a fantastic race but I’ll only know my place when I will cross the line." Elia Luini
Jeremie Azou, Frederic Dufour (FRA) – Semi A/B Two – 2nd
"It’s very hard to row as there are lots of waves. We feel good". Frederic Dufour
Douglas Vandor, Cameron Sylvester (CAN) – Semi A/B Two - 3rd
"We feel good, we made the final. It’s windy but it’s the same for everybody, you just have to make the best of it. We are really excited about the final" Douglas Vandor
Lukasz Pawlowski, Lukasz Siemion, Milosz Bernatajtys, Pawel Randa (POL) – Semi A/B One, 1st
"This is my first start in an Olympic boat class at a real World Championship event and I’m only in this four since Lucerne and this is a dream come true for me. We’ll fight for a medal on Sunday. It will be great – the heart is bigger when you race in your own country." Lukasz Siemion
Salvatore Di Somma, Catello Amarante, Luca Motta, Giorgio Tuccinardi (ITA) – Semi A/B One, 3rd
"Our start wasn’t good and the others got away straight away. It was quite exciting at the end to have four crews within two seconds. I’m happy it ended like this. Of course the aim for the final will always be to win." Giorgio Tuccinardi
Christian Pedersen, Jens Vilhelmsen, Kasper Winther, Morten Joergensen (DEN) – Semi A/B Two - 1st equal with GER
"It was a weird race. With the side wind our boat was not aligned at the start. Our start is normally strong but not today. We took a bad start and had to catch up. We are not at all used to this but just raced our race and as we could feel the Germans, we gave a last push." Jens Vilhelmsen
Matthias Schoemann-Finck, Jost Schoemann-Finck, Jochen Kuehner, Martin Kuehner (GER) – Semi A/B One 2nd (same time as 1st)
"It will be a tight and exciting race on Sunday with Denmark and us both racing in lane three, considering we clocked the same time (laughs). We could also suggest a re-row... Just kidding, but this definitely was an exciting race and really fun too. We knew the Spanish would start fast and wanted to stay with them. Also our intention was to have a lead on the Danish because we know they are especially strong at the finish. And it both worked. It’ll be a hot fight on Sunday, but we are really looking forward to it. And we still have some reserves which we will make sure to use." Jost Schoemann-Finck
Vincent Muda, Roeland Lievens, Timothee Heijbrock, Tycho Muda (NED) – Semi A/B Two - 2nd
"It was hard but good. Coming from the pair to the four is so fast and I like it more and more. Spain did start very fast and I sometimes had difficulties to keep my concentration. We managed to come back in the field and in the final sprint take over USA to get into the final." Vincent Muda
Konrad Wasielewski, Marek Kolbowicz, Michal Jelinski, Adam Korol (POL) – Semi A/B 1, 1st
"Australia was in the lucky lane today. And Estonia and Slovenia were on the bad side. I'm only a human being and can't be programmed to win. Therefore I don't know what will happen in the Final on Sunday." Adam Korol
Adrien Hardy, Jonathan Coeffic, Jean-Baptiste Macquet, Pierre-Jean Peltier (FRA) – Semi A/B Two – 3rd
"There was a lot more pressure. It was hard, we move on thanks to our physical condition but we cannot repeat this pace in the final, it wouldn’t be sufficient. We will put all counters back to zero for this final and see." Adrien Hardy
Tim Grohmann, Karsten Brodowski, Marcel Hacker, Tim Bartels (GER) – Semi A/B 2, 1st
"We are happy with our race. It was a definite improvement to our heat, where we had a few problems. It's good now to have won the heat and the semi. We were quite nervous today, even though we know we are a good crew. We know who's in the Final, but we won't subordinate ourselves and will row as hard as we can." Karsten Brodowski
"This was a great team effort. It will be a tough race on Sunday, but we hope we'll be in there racing for the medals." Marcel Hacker