The Canadian women’s eight racing the heat today at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Photo credit: Katie Steenman Images, courtesy of Rowing Canada Aviron.
August 27, 2014
The Dutch Golden Age of the 17th century may be over, but the world’s best rowers remained persistent in their hunt for gold in Amsterdam, as the regatta cruised into midweek.
Perhaps foreshadowing what is yet to come, the weather heated up for the first time this week, with warm sunny conditions prevailing.
A packed schedule was in order on Day 4. In addition to the regular repechage and quarterfinal races that were originally scheduled, yesterday’s cancellations (due to unfair wind conditions), started off the afternoon of competition.
The men’s quad began the day for Canada. Cruising down the Bosbaan and straight into the semifinal was Pascal Lussier, Michael Braithwaite, Will Dean and Matthew Buie.
“We were more aggressive off the line and wanted to keep the same boat speed all the way down the course,” explained a relieved Lussier, bow seat of the crew. “We have not had a perfect race yet, we are still searching for that perfect race.”
Both Switzerland and Canada led the field from start to finish.
The Canadians were not able to overtake the Swiss but nonetheless gained confidence from their repechage.
“Overall is was better,” commented Buie, the man who dictates the rhythm in the crew, “but we still have to work on the last quarter.”
The quad won a bronze medal at World Cup 2 in Aiguebelette, France in June.
The women’s eight were next to race. Their goal this week is to unseat the Americans, who have been the dominant crew in this boat class for the better part of the last decade.
The Americans were in heat number one. Leading from pillar to post, they finished with a time of 6:20.96 minutes.
The Canadian eight of Cristy Nurse, Lisa Roman, Natalie Mastracci, Rosie DeBoef, Susanne Grainger, Christine Roper, Ashley Brzozowicz, Lauren Wilkinson and veteran coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie were in heat number two.
“Everyone was really eager to race,” said a happy Wilkinson (who sits in the stroke position) following their impressive run down the course, “especially with the delay yesterday, we were all really excited to get going.”
And going they did. Like the Americans, the Canadians also led from start to finish, completing the 2000 meter distance, incredibly, with the exact same time as their southern neighbors. Both crews move directly to the final, setting the stage for an epic North American showdown on Sunday, in the Dutch capital.
The lightweight and heavyweight men’s doubles were the next crews to compete.
Both boats struggled in very competitive fields, finishing 6th and 4th respectively. Neither crew will progress to the semifinal and hence will finish out of the top 12 at this year’s Championships. Racing later in the week will determine their world ranking in positions 13th onwards.
The lightweight men’s four crew of Brendan Hodge, Max Lattimer, Eric Woelfl, and Evan Cheng also had a disappointing repechage. In a race led by Germany and Italy, the young Canadian crew finished 5th and will not progress to the semifinal.
“We have an opportunity on Saturday to end the season on a high note,” said Woelfl, while cooling down on the stationary bike following the race, “we just have to row a solid rhythm and have a good one.”
Like their teammates in the lightweight double, the four will race later this week to determine their world ranking.
The women’s four, the only crew in a non-Olympic boat class competing today, also raced the repechage.
Kerry Shaffer, Jennifer Martins, Kristin Bauder and Sarah Black were disappointed with their first race on Monday. Looking strong today, Canada crept into the lead after the halfway mark and never looked back. Looking relaxed and confident, the Canadians crossed the line first and booked their place into Friday’s final.
Julien Bahain, the French transplant with a Canadian passport, had a great quarterfinal race to end the day for Canada. Finishing second in a deep field and progressing to the semifinal, Bahain was critical of his race.
“I didn’t feel in control,” he said, “I felt flat”.
The Beijing Olympic bronze medalist in the men’s quad, Bahain is racing the single internationally for the first time this summer.
“I have to be more aggressive, I have to drink more coffee before the race!” he joked.
The jovial Bahain is attempting to make the Canadian Olympic team and compete in Rio in 2016.
A big day of semifinals begins tomorrow. Racing resumes at 14:01 local time.
Online streaming with audio commentary for the racing is available throughout the week of competition at www.worldrowing.com.
Live video streaming for the Olympic class events is available from August 28 – 31 at www.worldrowing.com.
The semi-finals and finals are scheduled to air on Rogers SportsNet One from August 28 – 31.
Athlete biographies of Canada’s national rowing team are available at www.rowingcanada.org.
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