men 4 rowing

The lightweight men’s four in action today in Aiguebelette. Photo: Katie Steenman Images

Day 4 – September 2, 2015

Low lying clouds hung over Aiguebelette on Day 4 of the World Championships as the air temperature cooled whilst the action heated up on the racecourse.

Repechages continued and the quarterfinals began as crews battled each other for a chance to contest the semifinals.

A semifinal spot is necessary if crews intend to qualify for the Rio Olympics next summer.  This regatta is the first chance to book passage to the prestigious multi-sport event in Brazil. Qualifying this week will allow crews to spend the ensuing 12 months preparing for the Games instead of having to focus on qualifying next year at a subsequent qualifier (see below for the number of qualifying places for the events contested at this regatta by Canadian crews).

The day commenced with the men’s pair, comprised of Michael Evans and Martin Barakso, which had a fantastic race in the quarterfinal this morning.  Needing a top three finish to progress, the British Columbian duo was pushed right to the finish line.  Sitting in third place for the entire 2000 meters, the men raised their game every time Belarus, the crew that was sitting in fourth place, mounted a challenge.

“The Belarusian boat found another gear in that last 500,” explained Evans.  “We were pushed hard right to the line.  We raised our game at the 1500 meters and then just held on for the last 250!”

Great Britain and Italy finished first and second respectively.  All three crews advance to the semifinal tomorrow.

The lightweight women’s double of Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee were nervous going into today’s quarterfinal.  Despite winning their heat convincingly on Sunday, memories of a poor performance last month at World Cup 3 still lingered.

“My last experience at a regatta was having to race the C-final,” explained Obee, a London Olympian and reigning silver medalist in this event.  “I did not want that to be repeated!”

The Vancouver Island duo appear to be on form in Aiguebelette, having secured themselves a place in the semifinals, and already bettering their previous result from mid-July.

China and New Zealand crossed the line in first and second positions ahead of Canada.  All three crews move onto the next round.

“I am now excited to race the semis!” said a more relaxed Obee.  “In the next round I am going to do a better job of setting the rhythm so that Lindsay can have an easier time following me.  If I do that, it will be another step in the right direction.”

Jennerich and Obee will have a little down time this afternoon, before refocusing for tomorrow’s race. 

There were four repechages in the women’s double event this afternoon, with two crews from each race moving onto the semifinal.  

Despite a valiant effort, Katharine Goodfellow and Antje von Seydlitz missed out on progressing to the subsequent round by only 0.73 seconds.

“We gave it everything we could,” said a clearly disappointed Goodfellow.  “We executed our plan and laid it all on the line.  We did our best.”

 The duo will race semifinal C/D tomorrow.  This will help determine their world ranking between 13thand 24th place.

The lightweight men’s four of Maxwell Lattimer, Brendan Hodge, Nicolas Pratt and Eric Woelfl were the next crew in action for Canada.  Stepping up to the plate, they got the job done in thrilling style. The Canadians are now one step closer to securing a berth to Rio.

Needing a top two performance to advance to the semifinals, the foursome remained in third place until the ¾ marker.  Challenging for that last semifinal spot, the lightweights clocked the fastest last 500 meters of the field to move into second position, only meters before the finish line.

An excited and relieved Hodge, 2-seat in the crew, was emotional after the race.

“I feel an incredible mix of feelings right now,” expressed Hodge.  “There was total commitment from all of us in that last 500 meters.  We knew that if we kept fighting the entire distance, we could do it.”

Along with winners Great Britain, Canada will race the semifinal on Friday.

Pascal Lussier, from Napierville, Quebec, was up next in the men’s single.

Racing for the first time in this event at this level, the relative newcomer to the national team found himself racing the Olympic Champion in his quarterfinal.

“I was leading at the ¼ mark,” said Lussier.  “I think that startled me.  I wasn’t expecting that.”

The Olympic Champion from New Zealand pulled ahead shortly thereafter, but Lussier remained a contender, battling it out for one of the top three qualifying spots with the other crews. 

“I felt good through the middle of the race, but Israel was too fast in the last quarter,” continued Lussier.  “I tried to sprint but it wasn’t enough.”

The 23 year old, who will celebrate a birthday in a couple of weeks, will race semifinal C/D on Friday to determine a world ranking between 13th and 24th place.  New Zealand, Belgium and Israel advance to the semifinal. 

Carling Zeeman took to the waters of Aiguebelette next, also in the single.

The powerhouse from Cambridge, Ontario, who has one of the fastest ergometer scores in the world, needed a top three finish to move onto the next round.

With a clear objective, Zeeman was focused on what needed to be done and how to get it accomplished.

“I knew it was going to be hard to beat Knapkova, the Czech sculler, so I stayed internal and didn’t worry about her,” explained Zeeman. “I needed to stay sharp and concentrate, and I did that.  I nailed it.”

Zeeman crossed the line in second place, behind the Czech and ahead of the Swede.  All three will race in the semifinal on Friday.

The last race of the day featured the legs/trunk/arms mixed coxed four crew of Victoria Nolan, Veronique Boucher, Curtis Halladay, Andrew Todd and coxswain Kristen Kit. 

Progressing directly to the semifinal from their Monday heat, the newly formed crew needed a top 3 finish today to progress to the final.

“I am very impressed with this crew,” said Nolan, the only athlete who competed at the London Paralympic regatta in 2012.  “They are a strong group and they are very committed.  I am proud to be a part of this team.”

Their commitment was evident as the foursome, listening to the commands of their coxswain, blasted down the racecourse on Lac d’Aiguebelette.

Solidly in second place for the entire race, the Canadians crossed the line behind the Americans and ahead of South Africa.  All three crews will contest the final tomorrow.

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