Four more crews ticked the required box today, winning their finals at the NSR II. These crews, plus the two Lightweight Doubles that qualified unopposed on Tuesday, can now either opt to race at the World Cup II event in Poznan, Poland from June 4-6, or accept an invite to the big boat selection camps. The athletes and coaches have until May 7th to decide.
For the crews that finished behind the winners today, there were invites to selection camps on the line. Close finishes today meant that most crews were within the required 3% margin of the winners to earn an invite; what remains to shake out are whether the winning crews accept their World Cup bid (in which case today's 3rd place finishers in the event would earn an automatic invite to camp).
Additionally, all of today's 2nd place finishers were within the 1% gap to the winning time, so that if any of the winning crews opted not to compete at the World Cup, that bid would roll down to the second place finishers.
Claire Collins and Maddie Wanamaker made it three-for-three today, having won the time trial, the semi and today's final.
"Claire and I had a great race today," said Wanamaker. "We got progressively better throughout the regatta so to finish with our best piece is a confidence boost as we look to international racing this summer. We plan to race the pair in Poznan, gauge our speed and decide how the rest of the summer will go from there."
Collins & Wanamaker
"Winning today means we're on the right track, but there's still fitness, technical expertise and experience to gain in the coming weeks and months. Our goal is to continue to gain speed and see how fast we can make our pair."
Collins' and Wanamaker's Tokyo teammates Charlotte Buck and Jess Thoennes finished second, followed by their PTC training partners Kelsey Reelick and Allyson Baker.
Likewise, California Rowing Club's Justin Best and Michael Grady made it a perfect three today, with a solid four second win, the largest margin in today's finals.
"I felt like we went out on the course and executed the plan we wanted to: take the lead from the start, find a strong and long rhythm, take a few moves in the middle, and bring the split down in the closing 300 meters or so," said Best. "We had a better race each time we got to the starting line this week. Overall satisfied with the performance but knowing there is still improvements to be made."
Best & Grady
"This was a nice win, reaffirming our initial thoughts that Grady and I could be competitive domestically. The goal is medals in Paris 2024, so knowing the standard only goes up from here and holding ourselves accountable to that. It's good to be moving in the right direction."
Best is looking forward to racing the pair in Poznan: "Worlds is very late this year, so continuing to train and see the improvements we can make is priority number 1."
Green Racing Project's Ezra Carlson and Alexander Hedge were the runners-up in the event.
"I thought was a great week of racing, and it was really good to see, especially at the top end, how tight the field was," said Hedge. "That just gives me a ton of confidence for us making the fastest Team USA squad possible."
For Carlson, the priority was also on getting the best possible setup for the athletes.
"I'm really looking forward to this new USRowing setup where it's all the clubs and then we get to come together at camps and races to put everything together as a bigger national team," he said. "I think that gives us a lot of freedom to work really hard and we have an awesome spot up in Vermont with the Craftsbury Outdoor Center. The support that they and ConceptII give us as a team [allows us] to work to the best of our abilities."
Kara Kohler and Sophia Vitas, representing the Texas Rowing Center, took the W2x, but the lightweight duo of Sophia Luwis and Audrey Boerson made it really interesting, spotting Kohler and Vitas less than one second at the line.
Kohler & Vitas
"I'm very happy, of course, that we could win the heavyweight, the women and men, doubles," said Texas Rowing Center coach Peter Mansfeld. "It was great. I think the margin on the women's side was a little bit surprising: we hoped to be a little bit faster ahead of our national competition there, but it was a suspenseful race down to the line. That was a bit more of a surprise than we expected but at the end of the day, the girls showed that they are great racers and it didn't matter: they can always pull up another gear and decide the race basically on the finish line. That's what they had to do today and that's what they did."
"We are going to go to World Cup 2 with all three doubles that qualified here: the lightweight men, [heavyweight] men and open women. And that's our big next step: going back home and doing our homework and to compete as good as we can against the overseas nations that will there for World Cup 2."
Kohler, who raced the 1x at the Tokyo Olympics, is looking ahead to getting back to international racing. "Sophia and I will get back to work in the 2x with sights set on testing our speed at World Cup 2 in Poland. We are also planning to race singles at Royal Henley to see how we stack up there."
"My goal for Paris is to race in the single or the double, whichever boat looks to have the best medal potential," Kohler added. "I still have a lot of fire left to race the single but have been open to seeing if there is a possibility that I can contribute more to the 2x."
The Texas Rowing Center went two for two in the doubles (three for three if you count the Light Men's Double earlier in the week), with Kevin Cardno and Jonathan Kirkegaard finishing a length clear of the Vesper/Green Racing composite crew of Dominique Williams and Jacob Plihal.
"It was a good week!" said Cardno. "In the early stages of racing just doing what we needed to do to progress and staying very internal throughout the regatta. Today again was about executing and finding the rhythm we've been working on in practice. We're very pleased it brought us the win today!"
Cardno & Kirkegaard
"It's hopefully just the first step. Ideally we need to start being more and more competitive internationally. Getting to go race internationally is the first step in that. I respect all of the athletes here racing this week, but winning NSR2 is not the only hurdle we need to clear to go to Paris."
The lightweight double of Jasper Liu and Zach Heese finished fourth, having doubled into the heavyweight event after contesting the lightweight double unopposed earlier this week.
On the heavyweight side, Ben Davison and partner Chris Carlson finished third. For Davison, who won NSR I in the M1x, it will be back to the single for the racing in Poznan.
"We are excited that Ben is going to race the single and Mike and Justin will race the pair at the World Cup in Poland," said Mike Teti, the California Rowing Club's Head Coach. "Another group of our athletes will go to the first selection camp in Sacramento where they will have the opportunity to make the 4- or the 4x that will also go compete in Europe."
Overall, Teti added, "We feel it was a solid week of racing. All 10 of our athletes made it into the A final which is a good step especially since we were battling some injuries and illness leading up to the regatta."
The World Cup racing in Poznan, Poland gets underway on June 4, and Henley Royal will also be on the slate for many of the athletes in the selection camps this year.
The next round of Trials will be for the non-Olympic events, and will be held July 6-9, while the final round of Trials for any Olympic events that do not qualify in Poznan will be held August 8-10.