Martin Sinkovic (b), Valent Sinkovic (s), Men's Double Sculls, Croatia, 2023 European Rowing Championships, Bled, Slovenia / Maren Derlien/MyRowingPhoto.com

The 2023 World Rowing Championships are almost upon us, and this week we’re previewing the crews to keep an eye on in Belgrade. Today, we look at the men’s openweight events.

Men’s Pair (M2-)

Entries: 28
Reigning World Champions: Marius Cozmiuc, Sergiu Bejan (ROU)

Last year’s World Champions, Marius Cozmiuc and Sergiu Bejan of Romania, have built through the 2023 season in the Men’s Pair. A fifth-place finish at the 2023 European Rowing Championships was perhaps a surprise, but they secured silver at World Rowing Cup III to show they remain among the favourites. At the European Championships, the new Swiss pairing of Roman Roeoesli and Andrin Gulich won the sprint to the line ahead of 2022 World sSlver medallists Oliver Wynne-Griffith and Tom George (GBR). But the British found more speed into the second half of the season and took gold at both World Rowing Cup II and III. Other crews that will definitely be in the mix for the medals include Spain’s Jaime Canalejo Pazos and Javier Garcia Ordonez. The Men’s Pair also features two sets of 23-year-old twins: Croatia’s Patrik and Anton Loncaric, and Lithuania’s Domantas and Dovydas Stankunas, who could make the A-Final if they have good regattas.

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x)

Melvin Twellaar (b), Stefan Broenink (s), Men’s Double Sculls, Netherlands, 2023 World Rowing Cup III, Lucerne, Switzerland / Detlev Seyb/MyRowingPhoto.com

Entries: 30
Reigning World Champions: Hugo Boucheron, Matthieu Androdias (FRA)

The experienced French duo of Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias were perhaps unexpected winners of the men’s double sculls in Racice, after a lackluster season which suggested the reigning Olympic champions had not rediscovered the form which took them to Tokyo gold. For this year’s World Rowing Championships, with Androdias injured, Boucheron is partnered with Valentin Onfroy as he was at World Rowing Cup III, and both have some speed to find after finishing eighth in Lucerne. Across the rest of the field, it is always hard to look past Croatia’s Martin and Valent Sinkovic; the brothers were only fourth in Racice, but won the European Championships and added World Rowing Cup I gold and World Rowing Cup III silver to their extensive collection this year. Dutch Olympic silver medallists Stef Broenink and Melvin Twellaar beat the Sinkovics to gold in Lucerne, and, after a year in different boats, are looking strong. Also keep an eye on Spain’s Aleix Garcia Pujolar and Rodrigo Conde Romero – they were fifth at both the European Championships and World Rowing Cup III, but the 2022 World Silver medallists know how to peak when it matters.

Men’s Four (M4-)

Entries: 17
Reigning World Champions: William Stewart, Sam Nunn, David Ambler, Freddie Davidson (GBR)

Britain’s Matt Aldridge missed out on winning the World Championships last year after being substituted for medical reasons before the regatta began. David Ambler proved an able replacement, and this year both Aldridge and Ambler are in the crew. As usual, Great Britain have put together a powerful four, with Oliver Wilkes and Freddie Davidson in bow and stern, and they are undefeated this year. But Australia are chasing hard: the Aussie quartet were a close second to the British at both World Rowing Cup II and III, and have the most international medals of any of the entrants. The Netherlands and France, silver and bronze medallists at the European Championships, are also up there, and don’t discount the newer crews from New Zealand or the USA either.

Men’s Single Sculls (M1x)

Entries: 48
Reigning World Champion: Oliver Zeidler (GER)

The men’s single sculls field is often the biggest entry of a World Rowing Championships and this year is no exception, with 48 nations represented in a fascinating field. At the head of that field is undoubtedly reigning World Champion Oliver Zeidler. The German has had a good season with a World Rowing Cup Hat Trick, bronze at the European Rowing Championships, and a second consecutive victory in the Diamond Challenge Sculls at Henley Royal Regatta. Dane Sverri Nielsen has been consistently on Zeidler’s heels all season after returning from a year’s break; Olympic Champion Stefanos Ntouskos (GRE) was second at the European Championships, and sixth at World Rowing Cup III. Ryuta Arakawa became the first-ever Japanese sculler to stand on a World Rowing Cup podium with his bronze in Varese, and Thomas Mackintosh, New Zealand Olympic Champion in the men’s eight, made his sculling debut at World Rowing Cup III and claimed an excellent bronze. But Olympic medallists Kjetil Borch (NOR) and Damir Martin (CRO) both face an uphill struggle to claim one of the nine qualifying spots for Paris 2024; Borch, particularly, has admitted he has been well off the pace so far this season.

Dominik Czaja (b), Mateusz Biskup, Miroslaw Zietarski, Fabian Baranski (s), Men’s Quadruple Sculls, Poland, Gold, 2023 European Rowing Championships, Bled, Slovenia / World Rowing/Benedict Tufnell

 Men’s Quadruple Sculls (M4x)

Entries: 17
Reigning World Champions: Dominik Czaja, Mateusz Biskup, Miroslaw Zietarkski, Fabian Baranski (POL)

With several nations experimenting with crews so far this season, the men’s quadruple sculls title could go in a number of directions. Poland are reigning champions, and have arguably been the form crew of the season again with victory at the European Championships and World Rowing Cup II. The Netherlands were among their chief rivals last year, and could well be again; the Dutch tried a couple of different combinations so far in 2023, with silver in Bled and gold at World Rowing Cup III (in Poland’s absence) their reward. Meanwhile 2022 World Silver medallists Great Britain also have a new-look line-up this year. They finished off the podium at the European Championships, but improved for bronze and silver at the last two World Rowing Cups. Italy, Romania and Australia are all also well in contention for medals.

Men’s Eight (M8+)

Entries: 10
Reigning World Champions: Rory Gibbs, Morgan Bolding, David Bewicke-Copley, Sholto Carnegie, Charlie Elwes, Tom Digby, James Rudkin, Tom Ford, Harry Brightmore (GBR)

The men’s eight is shaping up to be one of the most hotly contested events at this year’s World Rowing Championships. At the European Rowing Championships, Great Britain beat Romania in a nailbiting sprint finish by just 0.05 seconds, with the Netherlands less than half a second back in third place. The British looked stronger at World Rowing Cup II, taking an almost three-second victory over Australia – but, after a couple of weeks’ training in Europe, Australia overturned Britain at World Rowing Cup III in a shock result. The Dutch are also in good form, and Romania, Italy and Canada should all also be expecting to reach the final and fight for one of the five Olympic qualification places on offer, based on their showing so far this season. The USA are usually in contention, but have not raced so far in 2023; Germany continue to rebuild their flagship boat, and it will be fascinating to see what they can bring to Belgrade.


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