As the sunshine began to burn through the clouds, rowers were welcomed by perfect racing conditions on Slovenia’s Lake Bled this morning as the heats of the 2023 European Rowing Championships got underway. It was a packed morning of racing with heats completed in all boat classes except the PR3 Mixed Coxed Four, PR3 Mixed Double Sculls, and the Women’s Eight, which will be held tomorrow morning.

Skarstein sets standard

It was no surprise to see Norway’s Birgit Skarstein winning heat one of the PR1 women’s single sculls, and setting the fastest time (10:17.04) across the two heats. Skarstein is the reigning European, World and Paralympic Champion in this boat class. She will progress directly to the A-Final which will be held on Saturday. France’s Nathalie Benoit took the qualifying place from heat two. The remaining rowers will contest the repeachage tomorrow to see who will join Skarstein and Benoit in the final.

Dutch women’s pair dominate

It was a heat win for last year’s world silver medallists in the women’s pair, Ymkje Clevering and Veronique Meester of the Netherlands, setting the fastest time across the two heats. Their time of 7:08.01 was significantly faster than the time of 7:14.3 which was posted by Romania’s Ioana Vrinceeanu and Roxana Anghel in the second heat. Both boats will progress directly to Sunday’s final.

Tight margins in men’s pair

The first of three heats in the men’s pair was won in a time of 6:36.93 by the reigning World Champions in this boat class, Marius Cozmiuc and Sergiu Bejan of Romania, setting the standard. A few minutes later, Great Britain’s Ollie Wynne-Griffith, who took bronze at last year’s World Championships, won the second heat, posting a time just 0.07 seconds slower, clocking 6:37.00. However, the fastest time across the heats was set by Switzerland in heat three. Roman Roeoesli and Andrin Gulich raced in the four last season but have moved into the pair this year and have come here on the back of winning gold at World Rowing Cup I just a few weeks ago in Zagreb. With a time of 6:35.62, we’re looking forward to seeing what they can do in the final on Sunday.

All to play for in men’s double sculls

One of the largest boat classes of the regatta, requiring four heats. All eyes were on Martin and Valent Siknovic of Croatia in heat one as they look to repeat their victory from home waters at the World Rowing Cup a few weeks ago. The Sinkovic brothers took first place, with a time of 6:26.73. Despite a surge from Romania in the closing stages, the reigning Olympic and World champions from France, Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias just managed to hold on to the second qualifying place in heat two, finishing behind Ireland, who clocked 6:23.73. The Olympic silver medallists in this boat class, Stefan Broenink and Melvin Twellaar are back together having been in different boats last season. Their time of 6:23.26 won them the third heat and was the fastest time of the day in this boat class. Heat four was won by last year’s World silver medallists, Aleix Garci Garcia Pujolar and Rodrigo Conde Romero of Spain.

Trying to avoid the repechage

For the top two from each of the three heats of the lightweight men’s double sculls, it was progression though to the semifinls taking place tomorrow. However, the remainder will have to race again later today, in the repechage. Switzerland’s Jan Schaeuble and Racphael Ahumada Ireland won the first heat in 6:23.62 which resulted in being the fastest time across the three heats. Ireland won heat two, and Italy the third heat. We look forward to seeing which crews progress from the repechages!

Glover is back!

The GB women’s four were absolutely dominant last season and this year, double Olympic Champion Helen Glover has joined the crew. While Romania took the honours in heat one, and set the fastest team of 6:30.55, the British crew looked very comfortable in the second heat and weren’t pushed to their time of 6:35.19, crossing the line over five seconds ahead of Ireland. The rest of the crews will race the repechage tomorrow and the final will be the first medal race of the Championships, on Saturday.

Men’s four results replicate women’s four

Following on from their women’s four, the men’s four from Romania won heat one, in a time of 6:02.85. In heat two, the lead changed midway and eventually, the strong British crew overhauled the Netherlands, and took the win clocking 5:57.28 and suggesting they are the crew to beat in the final which will take place on Sunday. For the rest of the crews, it will be a repechage to decide who else will progress to the final.

Young Janzen sets fastest time.

She’s only 19 years old, but Swiss sculler Aurelia-Maxima Janzen set the fastest time in the three heats of the women’s single scull, with her time of 7:43.20. However, the margins were close, so we’re expecting exciting racing in the later rounds. The reigning World and European Champion Karolien Florijn of the Netherlands won heat two, in a time of 7:44.57. There was a promising performance from Jovana Arsic from Serbia winning the third heat in 7:48.62. Arsic only managed 10th place overall in the single scull at last year’s World Rowing Championships, but looks to be on good form this season.

Olympic and World Champions in biggest boat class

The men’s single sculls is the biggest boat class of the championships and with 23 entries, we had four heats. Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen took the win in the first heat, in a time of 7:00.65. Dovydas Nemeravicius of Lithuania has raced regularly in the double and quadruple scull, but is in the single scull this season looked very impressive in heat two. His time of 6:59.73 put him very comfortably ahead of the rest of the field. The third heat saw the reigning Olympic Champion in action and it was all about Greece’s Stefanos Ntouskos as he pushed all the way to the line. Ntouskos crossed the line in 6:54.72. From the reigning Olympic Champion, to the reigning World Champion, as Oliver Zeidler comfortably won the fourth heat. Zeidler was able to ease off towards the finish, crossing the line in 7:00.53.

France hold off Poland to qualify straight to final

There was absolutely no doubt about who would take the single qualifying place in heat one as Great Britain’s Emily Craig and Imogen Grant repeated the dominance from last season. Their time of 7:00.17 put them over six seconds ahead of the strong Greek crew. Heat two was a much closer affair and a final sprint from Poland forced France’s Olympic silver medallists Laura Tarantola and Claire Bove to sprint towards the line to claim the qualifying place. It will be the repechage for the rest of the crews and we’re excited for the final on Saturday.

GB post fastest time in women’s quad

The British women’s quad has just two returners from their bronze medal-winning crew from last year’s World Championships, but they proved that they were on form when they comfortably won the first heat, posting 6:21.35. Their time was faster than the Netherlands, who won heat two in 6:24.92. The Netherlands took silver at last year’s World Championships and have also had a couple of crew changes this year. With GB and the Netherlands safely through to the final, we look forward to seeing who will join them, the repechage will be raced tomorrow.

Netherlands hold off Polish sprint

Shortly after their women’s quad posted the fastest time, the GB men’s quad demonstrated they are looking to improve on last year’s world silver medal. Their time was 5:46.44, putting them comfortably ahead of Romania. The second heat was one of the most exciting races of the day with an epic battle between Poland and the Netherlands to take the single qualifying place. The crews were matching boat speeds and ratings as they sprinted towards the line, but it was the Netherlands that took the honours, clocking 5:42.48.

All about GB in the men’s eight

With six entries, it was just a preliminary race in the men’s eight, but Great Britain still looked absolutely dominant. The British eight crossed the line in 5:30.30, almost two seconds ahead of the Netherlands. They will race their final on Saturday afternoon and it’s bound to be epic!