A slight head wind and on-and-off rain on the Rotsee regatta course in Lucerne, Switzerland, met rowers for the day of heats at the 2021 World Rowing Cup II. Some of these rowers raced last weekend on the Rotsee in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta and this was definitely more favourable weather.


Women’s pair (W2-) – Heats
Opening with two heats the goal was to finish first for a direct path to Sunday’s finals. In Heat One, Ireland 2 got off to a cracking pace with a 47 starting stroke rate. Spain’s Aina Cid and Virginia Diaz Rivas then took over in the lead and they continued to move ahead. The Spanish boat was fifth at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, qualifying them for the Olympic Games. Spain continued to lead with Ireland 1 in hot pursuit. These two boats broke away from the rest of the field. Ireland went to 39 to try and win, Spain at 37 held them off.

Romania was just ahead of Chile at the start of Heat Two. Chile’s Abraham twins just missed out on Olympic qualification last weekend. Romania then started to get a bit of a lead over Chile. Adriana Ailincai and Iuliana Buhis of Romania continued to lead and pull away from Chile. Rating at a 34, Romania crossed the line in 7:30.96.

Qualifiers: ESP, ROU

Men’s pair (M2-) – Heats
The winner only of these two heats would get to go directly to the final and in Heat One the leader at the start was France 1 with Italy and Great Britain in hot pursuit. The Turlan twins from France will have to prove themselves over France 2 at this regatta. France 2 raced in the following Heat. France 1 continued to lead and they looked great as they crossed the line in first with the other crews choosing not to sprint, saving themselves for the repechage.

Heat Two had the Onfroy brothers from France 2. But it was Serbia that had the lead. That lead was tiny as Romania was right on their tails. These two crews continued their own race at the head of the field with Serbia using a 39 stroke rate to just stay ahead. Martin Mackovic and Milos Vasic of Serbia were third at the European Championships last month. They then got a boat length ahead of Romania who went to a 40 stroke rate piece with 500m to go. Serbia crossed the line in first with the fastest qualifying time – 6:37.35.

Qualifiers: FRA1, SRB

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
This boat class had two heats and the top two boats from each heat would go directly to Sunday’s final. Romania took off at the fastest pace. Bodnar and Radis of Romania are young, but both are very experienced. By the half way point, Romania had an open water lead over Netherlands 2, who sat in second. It was a big fight, however, for the second spot with the Czech Republic challenging the Dutch and Italy also on pace. But at the front it was all about Romania. At the line a big sprint by the Czechs gave them second. Romania had the fastest qualifying time overall.

Netherlands 1 had the fastest start in Heat Two. The duo of Roos de Jong and Lisa Scheenaard still had the lead at the half way point. But it was very tight with the United States right with the Dutch and China 1 also on the pace. In the boat for the US was Gevvie Stone who medalled at the Rio Olympics in the single. She has partnered with Kristina Wagner as they prepare for Tokyo. Coming into the final 500 it was still neck and neck between the Netherlands and the US. China had dropped back. The US then took the lead and crossed the line in 7:04.42.

Qualifiers: ROU, CZE, USA, NED1

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats
Four Heats lined up and it was all about being in the top two for a direct path to tomorrow’s Semifinals. The World Champions from China were in Heat One but it was Germany who had the lead with Netherlands 2 closely behind them. China then got into second and at 36 strokes per minute looked very smooth. Zhiyu Liu and Liang Zhang of China took over in the lead with a great third 500 and they remained in front through to the end with an open water lead.

Heat Two had the United States in the lead at the start. But it was very close with Poland and Great Britain 1 right with them. Then Poland’s Zietarski and Biskup took the lead as the US dropped back. Great Britain 1 was at 36 strokes per minute and Poland was at 35 as these two crews pushed away from the rest of the field. It was then a game of cat and mouse between Poland and Great Britain 1 as they raced their own race at the head of the field. The British then brought it up with Poland doing the same. Neither let up as Poland crossed the line in first.

For Heat Three, it was a close one, with the Dutch just in the lead over Switzerland 1 who rated 37 strokes per minute to maintain their spot. Then came the Czechs, who had qualified for the Olympics last weekend. Melvin Twellaar and Stef Broenink of Netherlands 1 remained just in front of Switzerland 1. This remained the same at the finish line.

The Men’s Double finished off with Heat Four with four boats competing. Ireland had a really good start with Doyle and Byrne of Ireland having the lead over France’s 2018 World Champions Boucheron and Androdias. Ireland was rating 38 strokes per minute and looked back on form after a B-Final finish at the European Championships in April. France, in contrast, rated low. Ireland crossed the line in a very quick 6:16.31.

Qualifiers: CHN, GER, POL, GBR1, NED1, SUI1, IRL, FRA

Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Heats
Three heats contested this boat class with the top three boats in each heat going to the semifinals. In Heat One, Netherlands 1 got into an early lead. Martine Veldhuis of the Netherlands continued to hold the lead going through the middle of the race with Switzerland 2 of Eline Rol being the closest challenger. The race then really spread out, with Veldhuis at 34 strokes per minute, nicely in the lead.

China’s Huiru Li set off at a cracking pace in Heat Two and by the half way mark, she had nearly a boat length lead over France in second. Switzerland 1 followed closely in third. Li missed out on qualifying for the Olympics when she raced at the Qualification Regatta in the Double Sculls last weekend. At 32 strokes per minute, Li looked comfortable in the lead. Switzerland 1 had now got in front of France. Great Britain had the fastest closing sprint, but she didn’t get into a qualifying spot with China remaining in first and getting the fastest qualifying time.

The leading three crews remained tightly packed together in Heat Three. At the half way point it was just under a second between Italy 2, Ireland and Italy 1. Meanwhile Belarus 1 hit a buoy which put her at the back of the field. Lydia Heaphy of Ireland then got a very small lead and she held it to the line.

Qualifiers: NED1, SUI2, GER, CHN, SUI1, FRA, IRL, ITA2, ITA1

Lightweight Men’s Single Sculls (LM1x) – Heats
France 1 and Italy 1 left the start line together in the first of three heats. Their goal was to be in a top three position to go directly to the semifinals. These two went bow ball to bow ball through the middle of the race. Houin, the Olympic Champion from Rio crossed the line in first with Torre in second and Sid Ali Boudina of Algeria 2 qualifying from third.

The fastest boat at the start of Heat Two was Italy 2 of Martino Goretti. Goretti is the reigning World Champion in this boat class. Behind him a virtual line formed between Spain, France 2 and Germany 2. Goretti continued to move away from the field rating 33 strokes per minute. At the line Goretti recorded 7:09.35, an almost identical time with teammate Torre.

Chile shot out in Heat Three and still had the lead and the fastest pace in the middle of the race. Felipe Cardenas Morales of Chile was looking good, but then Gary O’Donovan of Ireland did a push. The Irish are known for their sprinting ability and O’Donovan had the lead going into the final sprint. Germany 1 now moved ahead of Chile and closed on O’Donovan. Recording 7:10.15, O’Donovan crossed the line in first.

Qualifiers: ITA1, FRA1, ALG2, ITA2, FRA2, GER2, IRL, GER1, CHI

Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
It was two heats in the Men’s Four with the top two boats in each heat earning a spot in Sunday’s final. The fastest pace at the start of Heat One went to Great Britain who are the current European Champions. But it was tight and it took until the middle of the race with Great Britain now earning a boat length lead over closest challenger Poland. The Netherlands 1 did not start this race due to an illness in the boat. Poland is the 2019 World Champions but Great Britain looked to be the dominating one today. Switzerland 2 and Ireland were back but still within striking distance. Great Britain finished first in a time of 6:03.65.

A very tight start greeted Heat Two rowers with the Netherlands 2 having an oh-so-small lead. The Dutch kept their pace hot as they tried to hold off Romania. It remained tight at the half way point but the Dutch looked great. Romania was 2nd back at the 2019 World Rowing Championships. South Africa, who qualified for the Olympics last weekend, remained on the pace as Romania went to 41 to take on the Dutch crew. Romania then snatched the lead as South Africa also overhauled the Netherlands. Romania then went to 43 but South Africa was flying. South Africa won in a time of 5:59.97.

Qualifiers: GBR, POL, RSA, ROU

Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Heats
This boat class had three heats and the aim for these scullers was a top three position to get to go directly to tomorrow’s semifinals. The Rotsee water was now flat & calm. In Heat One, the World Rowing Champion Sanita Puspure of Ireland was the one that everyone was watching. This is Puspure’s first international race since 2020, and she took off with Magdalena Lobnig of Austria right on Puspure’s pace. Lobnig is known for fast starts, so the question was how would she maintain it? Austria and Ireland had gained a good lead over the rest of the field as they battled each other Lobnig was unrelenting as these scullers received loud support from the Rotsee sidelines. Serbia was in third. Then Puspure got out of Lobnig’s grasp and went into the final sprint with a boat length lead.

Russia’s Hanna Prakhatsen looked dominating in Heat Two, taking off in the lead. Prakhatsen qualified for the Olympics earlier this year at the European Qualification Regatta and she still had the lead at the half way point. Following most closely was a virtual line between Great Britain, Belarus and Switzerland 1. Then Victoria Thornley of Great Britain moved up to challenge Prakhatsen. The Russian reacted and took her speed up to remain in the lead as Jeanine Gmelin of Switzerland 1 tried to challenge Thornley. Prakhatsen remained in first with a time of 7:33.52.

The United States Kara Kohler had a great start in Heat Three. Kohler was third at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and this is her first international race since then. Kohler still had the lead at the half way point with China the closest challenger. These two boats now had a good lead over the rest of the field. Greece now slotted into third place. Yan Jiang of China tried to challenge Kohler in the final sprint, but Kohler held off Jiang.

Qualifiers: IRL, AUT, SRB, RUS, GBR, SUI1, USA, CHN, GRE

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Heats
The biggest boat class of this regatta, the men’s single had six heats lined up and the goal here was to not be last for a direct path to the quarterfinals. The progression had slightly changed due to the withdrawal of the Dutch sculler, Amos Keijser.  Belarus and Italy 2 went head-to-head in Heat One. Gennaro di Mauro of Italy finished first in a time of 7:04. Germany 1 of Oliver Zeidler led the way in Heat Two. This was no surprise as Zeidler is the reigning World Champion and European Champion. By the half way point Zeidler had a hand lead as Ireland followed the closest in second. Zeidler was enjoying the flat conditions at 32 strokes per minute under no pressure.

Heat Three saw a very fast start by John Graves of the United States. Graves kept the heat on and had open water by the middle of the race. Unfortunately, Graves was unable to qualify for the Olympics when he raced last weekend at the Qualification Regatta. But he was making the most of this race today. At 32 strokes per minute Graves crossed the line in first.

Out in the lead of Heat Four was Kjetil Borch of Norway 1. But Lithuania 1 of Saulius Ritter was hot on Borch’s heels. Ritter is very experienced internationally but not often seen in the single. Ritter still had Borch in his sights coming through the third 500. But Borch looked relaxed, rating 32 strokes per minute. Belgium was back in third. Borch went to 34 to just stay ahead of Ritter.

Heat Five opened with an incredibly fast start by Stefanos Ntouskos of Greece. Ntouskos, 24, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at the European Qualification Regatta earlier this year. Ntouskos then broke completely away from the field which included Olympic medallist and five-time World Champion Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic. Synek was in second with Egypt 1 challenging the Czech. Ntouskos had no pressure and dropped his rating in the final part of the race.

The final heat, Heat Six was no surprise when Sverri Nielsen of Denmark took the lead. Lithuania 2, Mindaugas Griskonis, was in second and keeping up with Nielsen. At 31 strokes per minute Nielsen, who took silver at the European Championships, moved further ahead of Griskonis. There was no sprint finish with Nielsen crossing the line in first.


Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Heats
Three heats lined up with the aim for these crews to be in a top two position to get a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One Italy shot out with Norway 1 in hot pursuit. Italy’s Pietro Ruta and Stefano Oppo have loads of experience and were third at the European Championships, but so do Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli of Norway 1 who were fourth at the 2019 World Rowing Champs and medalled at Rio. This front tussle moved Italy and Norway away from the rest of the field. Then Italy showed a better second half and got a bit of an edge over Norway.

The fastest starter in Heat Two was Ireland’s Fintan McCarthy and Paul O’Donovan, the World and European Rowing Champions. But there was not a lot in it with Poland and Switzerland right on the pace. But the Swiss then proved they didn’t have the speed as Ireland move clean away. Poland tried to hold on to McCarthy and O’Donovan. The Irish, however, looked pure class and at 37 strokes per minute they moved away from Poland and crossed the line in 6:24.98 – the fastest qualifying time.

Four boats went out neck-and-neck in Heat Three and at the first 500m mark only just over a second separated them. Germany’s Osborne and Rommelmann had the best pace and got a very slight lead. But Belgium 1 of Brys and van Zandweghe was right there and these two boats went together through the middle of the race. Germany took silver at the European Championships and they were at 39 strokes per minute with Belgium 1 at 37.

Qualifiers: ITA, NOR1, IRL, POL, GER, BEL1

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Heats
Two heats in this boat class meant that the winner only would get to go directly to the final on Sunday. In Heat One all boats got off the line together with China to first to drop back. Italy was proving to have the best speed with Germany following closely. Italy came first at the European Championships last month and they must be looking good for Tokyo success. Great Britain and Germany were going stroke for stroke as they came through the third 500 as China came back to make it a three-way tussle. Italy went to 39, Great Britain went to 39. No one was letting up. The British went to 43 with Italy at 42. Italy finished first – just.

The Netherlands and the Czech Republic moved away the fastest in Heat Two. The Dutch are the reigning World Rowing Champions and they were enjoying nice flat conditions. It was just the rain to contend with. But the Dutch didn’t win at the 2021 European Rowing Championships and they must want to show themselves at this regatta. The Netherlands, at 36 strokes per minute, were now well out in front and they took an easy win.

Qualifiers: ITA, NED