womens 8 rowing

The women’s eight on Lac d’Aiguebelette.  Photo: Katie Steenman Images.

Day 2 – August 31st, 2015.

Rowers woke up to another hot day in the foothills of the French Alps as the preliminary rounds continued on Day 2 at the World Championships.

Five Canadian crews were in action today on Lac d’Aiguebelette. 

Katharine Goodfellow and Antje von Seydlitz started off the day for Canada in the women’s double.

This was the first international race for the duo in this particular event, having previously raced the quadruple sculls with two of their teammates at the Pan American regatta last month.

The Canadians needed to finish first in their heat in order to qualify directly for the semifinal.  The duo was with the leaders off of the start before slipping to fifth at the midway mark.

“It was good to get the first race under our belts,” said Goodfellow, who won Pan American gold last month in the quad with von Seydlitz.

“But we have to go harder off the start in order to set ourselves up for a better position in the middle of the race,” she continued.  “We have to row with more confidence in the next round.”

The Canadian crew crossed the line in fourth position with only New Zealand, the eventual winners, qualifying directly for the semifinal.  The remaining crews were relegated to Wednesday’s repechage.

In the ultra competitive lightweight men’s four event, Maxwell Lattimer, Brendan Hodge, Nicolas Pratt and Eric Woelfl backed into the starting blocks for Canada.

Once again, only the top crew from each of the four heats would secure themselves direct passage to the semifinal.

After sitting in fifth place off of the start, the foursome climbed their way back into third position by the halfway mark.

“This was our best international race so far,” explained Lattimer, bow seat in the boat.  “We stayed sharp and focused and responded well to Brendan’s calls.  We just have to do a better job of holding our pace in the second half.”

The Canadians remained in third for the remainder of the race, crossing the line behind Switzerland and The Netherlands.  Only the Swiss booked a ticket directly to the semifinal.  Canada will get a second chance in the repechage on Wednesday.

The much anticipated women’s eight of Lisa Roman, Cristy Nurse, Jennifer Martins, Ashley Brzozowicz, Christine Roper, Susanne Grainger, Natalie Mastracci, Lauren Wilkinson and coxswain Lesley Thompson-Willie lined up on the start line next.

The crew, under the direction of John Keogh, has been eyeing the gold medal for the last couple of years, but they first must knock the dominant Americans out of the top spot if they are to claim their prize. 

Second off of the start, the crew was in first place by the halfway marker and was able to control the remainder of the race, crossing the line ahead of the field.

“The race felt focused, purposeful and in control,” said Mastracci, who sits in 7 seat.  “Everyone is fighting for those Olympic qualification spots so we can’t take any country for granted.”

Indeed, a steadily improving New Zealand crew has been decreasing the margin between themselves and the Canadians all summer.  They finished only a second behind Canada on Lac d’Aiguebelette, something that does not go unnoticed.

“Our goal was to win the heat, and that’s what we did,” said coxswain Thompson-Willie.  “It was a solid start to the regatta, and we will sharpen up for the final.”

The Americans, the reigning world champions, won the second heat.  The stage is now set for another North American invasion on French territory next Sunday.

Pascal Lussier, who raced the heat in the men’s single yesterday, was back in action today in the repechage.

Controlling the race from beginning to end, Lussier easily qualified for the quarterfinals.

“My goal was to get out in front at the start so that I could control the race,” explained a happy Lussier following the race.  “I knew if I did this I would be able to relax and save as much energy as possible for the next round.”

Lussier races the next on Wednesday.

The last race of the day for Canada featured the combination of Victoria Nolan, Veronique Boucher, Curtis Halladay, Andrew Todd and coxswain Kristen Kit in the legs/trunk/arms mixed coxed four (LTAMix4+).

Canada has not had an entry in this event since the London Paralympic Games in 2012, where the crew finished 7th. 

Following a solid start, the foursome settled into a good rhythm as they followed the guidance from their coxswain.  By the midway mark of the race, they were in second position. 

Looking relaxed and confident as they raced down the course in their first international outing this quadrennial, the crew crossed the line in second position behind Great Britain. 

Both crews qualify directly for the semifinal.

And that concludes the second day of racing on Lac d’Aiguebelette.