The tail wind conditions saw fast times in Sabaudia, Italy for the final day at World Rowing Cup III, and the last chance for these crews to race internationally before the Tokyo Olympic Games. In the lightweight women’s double sculls Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands set a new World Best Time and set the scene for Tokyo potential.

Women’s Pair (W2-) – Final
With the slightest of tailwinds, there were expectations for good finishing times. In the test race two days ago Denmark had won, and by a handy margin. Hedvig Rasmussen and Fie Udby Erichsen of Denmark came together just this year and competed in the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta, where they finished first to earn an Olympic spot. Rasmussen medalled in the pair at the Rio Olympic Games, while Erichsen took a medal in London in the single sculls. The Danes had a bit of a sluggish start but were the first to the 500m mark, just a fraction before Croatia’s Ivana and Josipa Jurkovic.  The Jurkovic twins won at World Rowing Cup I in front of their home crowd and they remained second to Denmark going through the middle of the race.

But there was a lot of racing to go, and the two British development crews and the Czech Republic were moving with Croatia. At the front of the field Denmark looked relaxed rating 35, with Croatia up at 38 strokes per minute. Denmark is the only crew in this final that will go to the Tokyo Olympics. Rasmussen and Erichsen then managed to get more than a boat length lead with the race going on behind them oh so close. Denmark took the gold as four boats came flying.

Results: DEN, CRO, GBR2, GBR1, CZE, ITA1

Hedvig Laerke Berg Rasmussen (b), Fie Udby Erichsen (s), Women’s Pair, Denmark, 2021 World Rowing Cup III, Sabaudia, Italy / World Rowing / Benedict Tufnell

Men’s Pair (M2-) – Final
Croatia’s Martin and Valent Sinkovic look to be taking over from the Kiwi Pair who dominated this event up to the Rio Olympics. These Croatian brothers won their heat convincingly on Friday, and went directly to today’s race. Italy 1 powered out at a 52 stroke rate pace at the start. Giovanni Abagnale and Marco di Costanzo took bronze at the Rio Olympics and they are back for another Olympic shot. But the Sinkovic’s had managed to take a boat length lead within the first 200 metres. It was Great Britain One of Calvin Tarczy and Douwe de Graaf that looked to be holding the Croatian brothers. From one lane over, the British were giving it their all.

But then the final sprint came into view, and Croatia had managed to shake off the Brits with a 39 stroke rate pace. Tarczy and de Graaf looked good though, and remained in second with the scrap going on for third. Germany, Croatia 2 and Italy 1 were going for it. Croatia 2 (Patrick and Anton Loncaric) managed to add another Croatian crew to the podium. The Sinkovic’s winning time was just half a second outside the World Cup Best Time at 6:16.79.

Results: CRO1, GBR1, CRO2, ITA1, GER, GBR2

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Final
In the heats on Friday the Netherlands’ Roos de Jong and Lisa Scheenaard had recorded the fastest time.  Today they lined up against the German crew of Leonie Menzel and Olympic Champion from the quad, Annekatrin Thiele. At the start Italy 2 shot out quickly. The Italian boats are also using this regatta for internal country selection, and Italy 1 must have been watching their fellow-country crew very closely. Germany got to the first 500m mark just a fraction ahead of Italy 2 with the entire field remaining packed together.

Italy 2 pushed on at a 35 stroke rate pace as the Dutch moved into a push and got just ahead of Italy Two and Germany with less than a second separating the top three boats. Alessandra Patelli and Chiara Ondoli of Italy 2 still looked strong against the more experienced crews as they came through the third 500. The Dutch then pushed to nearly a boat length lead. This left Germany and Italy 2 to battle it for silver. Then Thiele and Menzel then showed their experience and got ahead of Italy 2. The win had gone to de Jong and Scheenaard.

Results: NED, GER1, ITA2, ITA1, SUI, GER2

Roos De Jong (b), Lisa Scheenaard (s), Women’s Double Sculls, Netherlands, 2021 World Rowing Cup III, Sabaudia, Italy / World Rowing/Benedict Tufnell

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Final
The heats put Switzerland into the spot of favourites as they won their race in the fastest time. Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli of Switzerland had taken World Championship bronze in 2019, but their results since have been mixed. The best start came from Italy 1 going out at 53 strokes per minute, but it was Poland that got to the 500m mark in the lead. Miroslaw Zietarski and Mateusz Biskup of Poland won their heat on Friday and they were looking great. Zietarski and Biskup have taken two medals from the World Championships in the past quadrennial.

Switzerland followed in second. They were moving with Poland and separating themselves away from the rest of the field. The fight for bronze looked to be going the way of Italy 1. Poland looked comfortable as they came into the final sprint with more than a length back to Switzerland. Poland were at 39 which they had maintained for most of the race, but they still looked smooth. The Netherlands and Italy 2 were head to head for the bronze medal. At the line Poland had taken gold. But what an incredible sprint from Great Britain. They came flying through to snatch the bronze out of the hands of Italy 2 and the Netherlands.

Results: POL, SUI, GBR, ITA2, NED, ITA1

Women’s Four (W4-) – Final
The test race on Friday saw the Dutch dominate. Today they raced as the rain began to fall. At the start Poland jumped put quickly getting their stroke rate into the low 50’s. Then the Netherlands began to move. The Dutch had taken silver at the 2019 World Rowing Championships and were the European Champions in 2020 and 2021. With the Dutch out in front, Poland chased hard as Great Britain and Denmark followed closely.

The wind was now a cross-tail as the Dutch charged on at 39 strokes per minute. Poland took fourth at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, but they haven’t showed much winning potential since. Coming through the middle of the race the Dutch had a boat length lead over a very tight battle between Denmark and Poland. Then Great Britain took charge and moved up on Poland and Denmark. As the Dutch remained in front, three boats fought for the remaining two medals.

It came down to the final strokes as the Netherlands crossed the line in first with open water, Denmark, Poland and Great Britain charged. The Danes got there first.

Results: NED, DEN, POL, GBR, ITA

Elisabeth Hogerwerf (b), Karolien Florijn, Ymkje Clevering, Veronique Meester (s), Women’s Four, Netherlands, 2021 World Rowing Cup III, Sabaudia, Italy / World Rowing/Benedict Tufnell

Men’s Four (M4-) – Final
Italy 1 and Poland recorded almost identical times in their respective heats on Friday. They faced for the first time today in the final. Poland are the reigning World Champions and must have been the favourites. It was the young British crew of Great Britain 1 that took the lead at the 500m mark. Italy 1 had slotted into second with Poland closely pacing behind them. The Netherlands and Great Britain 2 followed very closely. Great Britain 1 charged on and had nearly a boat length lead at the half way point. Called the ‘Project Paris’ team, Great Britain 1 was giving it their all.

Italy 1 had got the better of the battle with Poland and moved into second with the Dutch now overtaking Poland. Italy 1 then did a huge piece and took the lead. They didn’t stop as they charged through the final 500m. Then the Netherlands started to sprint and moved past Poland and into third. Italy 1 was at 43 strokes per minute to hold the lead. The British fought back and got silver with Poland holding on to bronze.

Results: ITA1, GBR1, POL, NED, GBR2, SUI

Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Final
The test race had Italy finish first. The Italian crew of Pietro Ruta and Stefano Oppo are the 2019 silver medallists and they finished fourth at World Rowing Cup II last month. In second in the test race was Norway 1 of Kristoffer Brun and Are Strandli who took second at World Rowing Cup II. Italy jumped out very quickly and got to the 500m mark just ahead of Norway 1. Italy and Norway continued to pace each other through the middle of the race which pulled them clean away from the rest of the field. These are two of the top doubles in the world and they were giving all they could in their last shot before the Olympics. Norway 1 underrated Italy and was still holding the pace. What would happen in the final sprint?

The charge came from Brun and Strandli who did a move at the 1500m mark going to 36 strokes per minute. There was more to come. Italy responded as Norway kept on coming. The Italian commentator said it well – ‘Mama Mia!’: Norway went to 40 strokes per minute and won on the surge. A photo finish with Italy.

Results: NOR1, ITA, NOR2, ALG

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Final
It was a convincing win to Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands during the test race on Friday. This is the Dutch crew for the Tokyo Olympics and there is a lot riding on Paulis, who took gold in this boat class at the Rio Olympics. Now with Keijser they have been racing regularly together through the last quadrennial. Earlier this season Keijser and Paulis took bronze at the European Rowing Championships. The Dutch jumped out quickly at the start but got to the 500m mark just behind France’s Susannah Duncan and Aurelie Morizot with Silvia Crosio and Federica Cesarini of Italy One right with them. Crosio is the substitute for Valentina Rodini in this boat for today’s race.

Coming through the middle of the race Paulis and Keijser had moved away with only Crosio and Cesarini looking to be a potential threat. France now had Switzerland coming up along beside them. The Dutch looked great as they continued to lead and move further and further away from Italy One. Paulis, in stroke, kept it long and strong. Italy One remained in second as a full on fight went on between France and Switzerland. The Swiss crew qualified just last month at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta for the Tokyo Olympics and they had now moved ahead of France. At the line it was the Dutch, then Italy with Switzerland taking third. Paulis and Keijser had set a new World Cup and World Best Time. Their time of 6:43.79 was a huge four seconds faster than the former time set in 2016 by Maike Head and Ilse Paulis.

Results: NED, ITA1, SUI, FRA, CZE, EGY

Marieke Keijser (b), Ilse Paulis (s), Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls, Netherlands, 2021 World Rowing Cup III, Sabaudia, Italy / World Rowing / Benedict Tufnell

Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Final
Italy 1 and Germany won their respective heats on Friday and they met today for the first time at this regatta. Italy was third at World Rowing Cup II while the Germany finished second. The Netherlands went out hard and they got to the first 500m mark just in the lead. Germany followed in second with Poland right with them in third. The Dutch, rating 38, continued to lead going through the 1000m mark, but they could not feel safe as Germany, Poland, and Italy were pacing each other and charging down the course.

Poland are the former World Champions in this event and they finished fourth at World Rowing Cup II. As the final sprint began, Germany had nearly caught the Dutch with Poland and Italy still neck-and-neck. There were four crews still in contention for the gold. Germany had the lead as the Dutch looked like they were starting to fade. At the line it was a four-crew finish. Germany had done it with Italy grabbing silver and Poland finishing just 0.01 of a second ahead of the Netherlands.

Results: GER, ITA1, POL1, NED1, HUN

Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Final
Poland led the way in the test race two days ago. They were back today and aiming for that World Cup gold medal. Germany 1 jumped out quickly at the start. They came third at World Rowing Cup I and then sixth at World Rowing Cup II. Could they medal again today? Italy 1 then began to pick up the pace and it was the Italians at the first 500m mark in the lead. Italy are the European Champions for 2021 and they were moving at 40 strokes per minute.

Going through the middle of the race Italy had a small lead over Germany with Norway now sitting in third. The Norwegian boat included the 6 time (soon to be 7) Olympian Olaf Tufte. The third 500 looked to be sorting things out as Italy showed their speed to going into the final sprint, a length clear of the rest of the field. Norway had pushed into second with Germany slipping back into third. Poland, who came second at the 2019 World Rowing Championships, sat in fourth and within striking distance. Italy got to the finish line in first with Norway finishing a fraction ahead of Germany.

Results: ITA, NOR, GER1, POL, GER2, CZE

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x) – Final
All season it’s been tight between World Champion Oliver Zeidler of Germany and Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen. After the semifinal times it looked like today would remain close. Just over a second separated the two boats with Nielsen the faster one. Of the six boats in this final, only Poland had not qualified for the Olympics. All of these scullers are over two metres tall, and using his height at the start was Italy 2 of Gennaro di Mauro. Di Mauro, 19, rated 45 strokes per minute for the first 250m. But it was Kjetil Borch of Norway in the lead at the 500m mark. Borch was the World Champion in 2018, and is known as a fast starter. Now Nielsen began to emerge and was the one closest to Borch with Zeidler in third.

Di Mauro was starting to slip back having gone out too fast as Nielsen got is bow ball ahead of Borch. Then Zeidler went to 38 strokes per minute and tried to get out of third and into the lead. Borch and Nielsen looked to be ready and held off Zeidler who didn’t look so comfortable in this bouncy water. Zeidler went to 40 with Borch at 41. Borch got there first. Nielsen was second with Zeidler getting third. Just 0.35 of a second separated the top three boats.


Women’s Single Sculls (W1x) – Final
Could Sophie Souwer of the Netherlands do it today? In yesterday’s semifinals, Souwer recorded the fastest qualifying time when she won her race. Off to the best start was Diana Dymchenko of Ukraine, with Germany’s Pia Greiten also starting well. Dymchenko is based in Sabaudia, and must have felt comfortable. Greiten made it to the 500m mark out in front with the Netherlands, Ukraine and Great Britain 1 (Lola Anderson) practically equal. Dymchenko had now gone into the lead as Souwer began to push. Greiten remained in second, but Souwer looked to be closing on this silver medal position.

Souwer had now got ahead of Greiten, but coming into the final sprint Dymchenko still had the lead in these cross-tail wind conditions. Souwer tried to close on Dymchenko, but the Ukraine was taking advantage of her local knowledge to stay in front. Dymchenko is a World Champion in coastal rowing and must enjoy the different facets of rowing. Coming into the final sprint Dymchenko kept her speed up to get to the finish line ahead of Souwer with Greiten under threat from Anderson.

Results: UKR, NED, GBR1, GER, SWE, NAM

Men’s Eight (M8+) – Final
The World Champions Germany easily stayed in front of Italy during Friday’s test race. Today the two boats lined up again. This will be Germany’s last race before they head to Tokyo and they must have decided that they would give it their all today. They had a sub on board but still got to the first 500m mark in the lead. Italy was already down a boat length as Germany charged on rating 39. Italy, though, was making a great effort and the Italians were matching the German speed through the middle of the race, bringing the two boats closer together. Italy continued to keep the heat on Germany with just three seconds separating the crews as they went into the final sprint.

Italy started sprinting before Germany and that kept them in contact with Germany and kept the Germans honest. Germany finished in 5:24.87.

Results: GER, ITA