A tail wind provided fast conditions on Lake Bled for the first of our finals at the 2023 European Rowing Championships enabling the setting European Championship Best Times to set during some epic racing. The session was rounded off in what was described as one of the closest European races seen in many years as Great Britain’s men’s eight held of a charge by Romania to take gold by just 0.05 seconds.
Women’s Four (W4-) – Final
After a slight delay to the start caused by a loose banner, the crews got underway for the first medal race of the 2023 European Rowing Championships. Romania went off at 51 strokes per minute and took the early advantage, ahead of Denmark and Great Britain. Spain soon came into the mix too, and there was nothing to split the crews in the early stages. Approaching 500m, Great Britain had established a lead with the Netherlands hot on their heels and Romania now sitting in third. The British had the highest boat speed in the second quarter of the race and began to open up more of a lead. Coming into the final 500m, Great Britain was looking really comfortable and holding off any challenge. Meanwhile, Romania had moved in front of the Netherlands and were working their way towards the front of the field. Romania really started to put the pressure on Great Britain in the final stages of the race and the Brits had to respond. The crews drew level and then Romania moved into the lead. The final sprint from Romania enabled them to set a new European Championship Best Time in the process.
Result: ROU, GBR, NED, DEN, IRL, ESP
PR1 men’s single sculls (PR1 M1x) – Final
Last year’s World silver medallist Giacamo Pernini took the early lead in this one, ahead of reigning Paralympic and World Champion Roman Polianskyi. Were the results from last year’s World Championships going to be reversed? Perini was struggling to break away, with just over 3 seconds between him and Polianskyi at the 500m marker. Into the second quarter of the race, the Ukrainian began to eat into the Italian’s lead – had Perini gone out too fast, or could he defend his title as European Champion? Germany’s Marcus Klemp was sitting in bronze medal position, narrowly ahead of Israael’s Shmuel Daniel. Inside the final quarter of the race, it looked like Perini was set for the gold as he continued to pull away from Polianskyi.
Result: ITA, UKE, GER, ISR, GBR, NED
PR1 women’s single sculls (PR1 W1x) – Final
The French sculler Nathalie Benoit was the early leader but Israel’s Moran Samuel then moved into the lead. The reigning Paralympic Champion Birgit Skarstein of Norway was sat in third place, but gradually started to make her move and work her way through the pack. In the second half of the race Skarstein really started to put the pressure on and then moved into the lead ahead of Samuel. Skarstein looked in a solid position but the race was on for silver between Samuel and Benoit. Skarstein was able to defend her title as European Champion whilst, in the closing stages, Benoit almost stole the silver from Samuel, but just ran out of water.
Result: NOR, ISR, FRA, GER, UKR, SUI
PR3 mixed double sculls (PR3 Mix 2x) – Final
500m into the race, Great Britain was in the lead, narrowly ahead of France and Ukraine was also in the mix. The Ukraine crew, as bronze medallists from last year’s World Championships, were keeping the pressure on France all of the way. At the halfway marker, there was less than two seconds between the top three boats, and Great Britain were soon overhauled by France. There was nothing between Great Britain and Ukraine in the third quarter of the race and, with 500m to go, Ukraine had moved into silver medal position. Ukraine made a big push in the last stages of the race, but it just wasn’t quite enough to overhaul France.
Result: FRA, UKR, GBR, ISR, ESP, ITA
Women’s Quadruple Sculls (W4x) – Final
The six women’s quads shot out the blocks and the Netherlands took a canvas lead in the early stages. 500m in, the Netherlands still led, but Ukraine and then Great Britain were hot on their heels. Into the second quarter of the race, Ukraine and Great Britain were really starting to lift their boat speed, especially Ukraine. By halfway, Ukraine had taken the lead and Great Britain made a big move too. The top three looked fairly set with clear water back to the rest of the field, but the order of the medals was certainly still all to play for. Into the final 500m, Ukraine has started to look comfortable for gold, but the fight was still on for silver, and Italy was starting to close the gap from fourth place too. What a race! The Netherlands started to wind up, taking the stroke rate to 39 and Ukraine had to respond to try and hold on to gold. It was looking like bronze for Great Britain despite the rest of the field closing up in the final stages.
Result: UKR, NED, GBR, ITA, GER, SUI
Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x) – Final
In a field of high-calibre athletes, the reigning European Champions from Italy took the early lead. However, by 500m, Poland had moved in front of Italy with the Netherlands in bronze medal position Ukraine and Great Britain were exchanging places every stroke for fourth place, and neither were out of contention for a medal. The top 3 was unchanged at halfway, but Great Britain still wasn’t out of contention either. With 500m to go, Poland had nearly three seconds lead ahead of the Netherlands with Italy sitting in third, and both Great Britain and Ukraine still with overlap. The race was far from over! Great Britain was really trying to close the gap on Italy for the bronze medal inside the final 250, but it looked like they just didn’t have enough to give Poland was continuing to lead and the race for silver really hotted up as Italy wound to the line, but they just couldn’t quite overhaul the strong Dutch crew.
Result: POL, NED, ITA, GBR, ROU, UKR
Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Final
With hot competition in this boat class, we were expecting fierce racing. Ireland had the highest rating off the start, at 50 strokes per minute, and they were holding level with Greece in the early stages. However, the reigning World and European Championships soon made their move and Great Britain took the lead. GB had just under a second lead over Poland by 500m with France sitting in bronze medal position. Similar to the heat, the Brits were underrating the rest of the field, but had the highest boat speed as they continued to open up more of a lead over Poland. Meanwhile, it was so close for bronze with Ireland also into the mix. Great Britain really started to look dominant towards halfway and they had over two seconds lead over Greece with France continuing in bronze medal position. In the third quarter of the race, GB looked comfortable for gold, but the battle for silver was on between Greece and France. There was absolutely no catching the Brits as they crossed the line with clear water over the rest of the field. Greece took the silver and France the Bronze.
Result: GBR, GRE, FRA, POL, IRL, SUI
Lightweight Men’s Double Sculls (LM2x) – Final
As the crews settled into their rhythms, Greece had the early lead, but Ireland and Switzerland were up with them. The Swiss crew then moved into the lead and Italy were also in the mix By 500m, Greece had re-established gold medal position, and were trading places every stroke with Switzerland. While Ireland had slipped back to sixth place, Ukraine were sitting in fourth, narrowly behind Italy. The Swiss had taken gold at the recent World Cup and that experience was starting to show as they maintained their lead over Greece and into the second half of the race, the field started to open up, Italy still sat in bronze medal position. With 500m left to go, the Swiss duo were looking impressive and in strong position whilst Italy had moved in front of Greece and had their eyes on the silver. With 200m to go, the battle for silver was really on. As Italy and Greece battled for the silver, they were closing the gap on the Swiss who had to respond.
Result: SUI, ITA, GRE, CZE, UKR, IRL
Men’s Eight (M8+) – Final
It was no surprise to see Great Britain out in front early on in this race. The Netherlands were sat in silver medal position, just narrowly ahead of Romania. By halfway, the Dutch started to eat into the lead that the Brits had established – the gold medal certainly wasn’t secure! The Netherlands had the highest boat speed and they were really starting to pile the pressure on GB. The British eight was really having to respond as the Netherlands pushed again inside the final 500m and Romania was closing up too. Inside the last 100m, the Romanian sprint was incredible. We had to wait for the official results and it was confirmed that Great Britain had held off Romania and become European Champions by just 0.05 seconds! What an incredible race to round off the first day of finals.
Result: GBR, ROU, NED, GER, ITA, POL
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