In the last chance for rowing crews to test themselves internationally before the Tokyo Olympics, many of the world’s best rowers gathered this weekend for the final World Rowing Cup, the 2021 World Rowing Cup III, which took place in Sabaudia, Italy.

Despite many countries from outside of Europe not able or choosing not to travel before Tokyo, racing still represented a slice of what the Olympics may offer in many events today. The men’s single sculls looked like the Olympic final with the world’s leading scullers at the start and, in the lightweight women’s double sculls, with the Dutch setting a new World Best Time.

The men’s single sculls final had the world’s five leading scullers preparing to go to the Tokyo Olympic Games. In a tight race the 2018 World Champion Kjetil Borch of Norway led for the entire race to win gold. Sverri Nielsen of Denmark, 2019 World Championships silver medal winner, challenged constantly and hung on to take the silver with 2019 World Champion Oliver Zeidler of Germany taking third.

In the lightweight women’s double sculls, Marieke Keijser and Ilse Paulis of the Netherlands set the standard when they knocked four seconds off the World Best Time with the new time clocked at 6:43.79. Paulis, with another partner, set the previous best time in 2016 and with Keijser, Paulis has proved they are now faster. They will go to the Tokyo Olympics with confidence. Silver in the lightweight double went to Italy’s Silvia Crosio and Federica Cesarini with the newly qualified Olympic crew, Switzerland in third.

Italy won two key Olympic events – the men’s four and the men’s quadruple sculls – and topped the World Rowing Cup III medals table by earning a total of 14 medals, six total gold. Italy also earned gold in the lightweight men’s and women’s quadruple sculls, lightweight men’s pair and lightweight men’s single sculls.

Finishing second on the World Rowing Cup III medals table was the Netherlands with seven medals, four of them gold. The Dutch golds came in the women’s double sculls, women’s four, lightweight women’s double sculls and lightweight women’s single sculls. Germany finished third on the Sabaudia medals table with a total of five medals including the men’s eight gold and women’s quadruple sculls gold.

The overall winners of the 2021 World Rowing Cup series was Germany with 99 points. Italy took second with 88 points and the Netherlands finished third with 80 points.
The event was staged with strict Covid-19 protocols being followed. This included limited movement around the venue and no spectators. Everyone at the venue had to wear a mask and practice social distancing.

This was the first international rowing event in Sabaudia for 43 years. Sabaudia is the home of the Italian national rowing team and the rowing centre here was created in 1958, in preparation for the 1960 Rome Olympic Games. A major renovation has taken place with a big investment in a short amount of time. Sabaudia was scheduled for the first World Cup of 2020 which had to be cancelled but stepped in at short notice to stage this event, and looks forward to hosting the 2022 European Rowing Junior Championships, the 2023 World Rowing Coastal Championships and the 2024 European Rowing Championships.

The World Rowing Cup series was launched in 1997 and consists of a series of three events. This year, the three stages of the series were Zagreb, Croatia (30 April-2 May), Lucerne, Switzerland (21-23 May) and Sabaudia, Italy (4-6 June).