Three more crews into World Championships Finals

Three more British crews qualified today for the weekend’s finals at the BearingPoint Rowing World Championships in Gifu, Japan.

The British men’s four of Steve Williams, Peter Reed, Alex Partridge and Andy Hodge, who are sponsored by Camelot, converted an early lead to an eventual win in their semi-final in which Canada were second.  The Netherlands won the opposite but slightly slower semi-final with the USA in second.

Both of Britain’s lightweight single scullers, Jo Hammond and Zac Purchase, moved into the finals with third places in their respective semi-finals.  Each of their semis produced some exciting racing.

The men’s pair and both open weight single scullers will now contest B Finals after just missing out today.

Britain now has eight crews through to the finals with another five racing in semi-finals tomorrow. Further finalists could come from the two adaptive (disability) crews who begin their campaign tomorrow.

The finals of the event are this Saturday and Sunday (3rd and 4th September).

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The British men’s four were semi-finals winners at the World Championships in Gifu, Japan, on a hot day in a tailwind which had lessened as the morning progressed.

The British quartet, sponsored by Camelot, were tracked at the start by Canada.  By 250m they had their nose in front.  At 500m they had a length. That allowed them to ease off the pace a little. Canada, meanwhile, gradually closed the gap until, at the line, the difference was just 1.26 seconds. Britain’s time at the finish was 5:45.46.  Denmark were third in 5:47.80.

"I thought we moved pretty well for the first 1250m today", said Steve Williams afterwards.  "I could see that there were several boats fighting it out behind us. Towards the end we had to pick up our pace a little but we didn’t need to go into a full dress rehearsal for the final".

"We take confidence from our strength as a crew", added Andy Hodge looking forward to the final.  "It doesn’t matter what the other crews are doing. We just need to get out there and race our fastest race yet".

Jo Hammond made sure of her place in Saturday’s final of the lightweight women’s single scull by finishing third – in 7:29.05 – a fraction of a second behind France in a race won by Marit van Eupen of the Netherlands in 7:26.34. Marika Page of the USA was fourth.

Austria took the early lead in the race but the French and Dutch, tracked by Hammond, soon picked up the pace. In the final 500m the fourth-placed American tried but failed to catch Hammond.

"I was very aware of the American in that last 500m of the race and that’s when I got a bit defensive.  I’m relieved now to have got into the final not that I ever contemplated not making it", said Hammond afterwards.

Zac Purchase, at 19 the youngest member of the GB team here, was also third in a blanket finish to his single scull semi-final – enough to see him through. This was a strange race. Portugal’s Paulo Periera Dos Santos sprinted to a very early lead but was soon caught. Then Tim Eichmann of Switzerland surged ahead. The difference was that he clung onto the lead – just – at the line. Gerard van der Linden of the Netherlands was second and Purchase’s time was 6:43.69 .

"Everyone in today’s race knew it would be very, very quick. Some guys took the opportunity to go out as fast as they could and then see if they could hold on.  I was just trying to concentrate on making my boat go quicker rather than worrying about everyone else", said Gloucester’s Purchase afterwards.

"It’s great to have the opportunity to be in the final and race all the best people in the world.  I’m sure it’s going to be fun but also very hard work".

Annie Vernon, in the open weight women’s single was not as lucky as she might have hoped on her 23rd birthday. She finished a creditable fourth in her semi-final but out of the qualifying zone.  Yet the World Class Start programme graduate can reflect on a great season in  which she won world cup finals silver in Lucerne as a substitute in the women’s quadruple scull.

"At this level I feel relatively inexperienced", she said. "It is a hard place to make your senior debut in a single and obviously I feel a little disappointed today.  If anything, I think I tensed up a little in the first 750m but I have learnt an awful lot from being here and being in that race today", she said afterwards.  

After his thrilling race in yesterday’s repechage Colin Smith came back down to earth today in the semi-finals of the men’s open single scull in which he was fifth in a time of 6:49.67.

Taking a quick start it seemed as if he might not be feeling either the strain of yesterday’s effort or the heavy presence of Olympic and world medallists all around him.

By the 1000m mark, however, the field – led by Olaf Tufte of Norway – had brought him back in  line and the top three contenders soon began to stretch out ahead of him.  Now Smith has his sights set on making his target of the top ten in the world. That means he must finish in the top four of Saturday’s B Final.

"I didn’t feel as if I had a bad race", he said.  "I did my normal start and raced from the very first stroke.  Today’s winner, however, posted an incredible time. World championships semi-finals are never easy and I can’t complain about today", said Smith.

The men’s pair of Tom Broadway and Phil Simmons had previously done well to reach the semi-finals. Today, after so few weeks of preparation exacerbated by Broadway’s pre event virus, was a step too far.  The duo were fifth in a time of 6:26.10.

In the early part of the race they hunted with the chasing pack before falling behind in a race won by South Africa in 6:14.50.

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(Races involving British crews only)




Single scull

Semi-final 1
1.  Mirka Knapkova (Czech Republic)  7:07.44
2.  Michelle Guerette (USA)  7:12.59
3.  Sophie Balmary (France)  7:14.29
4.  Annie Vernon (GREAT BRITAIN)  7:25.00
5.  Iva Obradovic (Serbia Montenegro)  7:27.60
6.  Adriana Geyser (South Africa)  7:45.11


Single scull

Semi-final 1
1.  Olaf Tufte (Norway)  6:29.65
2.  Tim Maeyens (Belgium)  6:30.64
3.  Marcel Hacker (Germany)  6:32.22
4.  Sjoerd Hamburger (Netherlands)  6:49.67
5.  Nikola Stojic (Serbia & Montenegro)  7:01.24


Semi-final 1
1.  Ramon di Clemente/Cech Donovan (Czech Republic)
2.  Sinisa & Niksa Skelin (Croatia)  6:16.30
3.  Malcolm Howard/Chris Jarvis (Canada)  6:16.60
4.  Tobias Kuehne/Jan Herzog (Germany)  6:25.10
5.  Tom Broadway/Phil Simmons (GREAT BRITAIN)  6:26.10
6.  Germain Chardin/Benjamin Rondeau (France)  6:32.20


Semi-final 2

1.  Steve Williams/Peter Reed/Alex Partridge/
     Andrew Triggs Hodge (GREAT BRITAIN)  5:45.46
2.  Canada 5:46.72
3.  Denmark 5:47.80
4.  Italy 5:50.35
5.  Ireland 5:57.34
6.  Poland 6:03.57



Single scull:

Semi-final 2
1.  Marit van Eupen (Netherlands)  7:26.34
2.  Benedicte Luzuy-Dorfman (France) 7:29.05
3.  Jo Hammond (GREAT BRITAIN)  7:29.13
4.  Marika Page (USA)  7:31.03
5.  Michaela Taupe (Austria)  7:34.08
6.  Mirna Rajle (Croatia)  7;37.31


Single scull

Semi-final 1
1.  Tim Eichmann (Switzerland)  6:43.69
2.  Gerard van der Linden (Netherlands)  6:43.86
3.  Zac Purchase (GREAT BRITAIN)  6:44.19
4.  Ura Kazushige (Japan)  6:45.29
5.  Marcello Miani (Italy)  6:52.28
6.  Paulo Pereira dos Santos (Portugal)  7:03.40
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