Another glorious day on Lago di Varese, as crews fought it out for the remaining spots in tomorrow’s A-Finals, and the first medals of the season were awarded in the lightweight single sculls.

Bates takes first international gold

In the first A-final of the regatta, five scullers set off in a pack with Tunisia’s Khadija Krimi leading the way. Krimi recently qualified the lightweight women’s double sculls for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, and that confidence was clearly showing. But Great Britain’s Olivia Bates, with a slightly lower stroke rate, had just got her bows in front by the 500m mark with Norway’s Maia Lund sitting in third.

Krimi’s fast start took its toll in the second half, as Tosca Kettler of the Netherlands moved alongside Lund to challenge for silver. But Bates kept moving out ahead of the field, and claimed gold. Lund took silver, racing in a boat borrowed from Swiss lightweight Olivia Nacht after her own was damaged when it was blown off a rack earlier in the week; Kettler won bronze.

Olivia Bates, GBR – gold

“It feels great, it’s my first international gold medal so it’s nice to start the season off strong. I just tried to execute my race plan yesterday a bit better today, and I feel like I was able to do that. But it’s easy when there’s great conditions out here in Varese to start off the year.”

Maia Lund, NOR – silver

“It was very good. It was very good conditions and everything was just perfect. I got everything that I could hope for.”

Tosca Kettler, NED – bronze

“It feels really nice to be able to race here. I was a bit distracted because the mountains are so beautiful, so it was really nice during the race when it felt a bit heavy on my legs, I just looked at the mountains and I thought OK, I’m really lucky to be here.”

Gold for hosts as Rocek wins

Young Slovakian Peter Strecansky was the fastest starter in the final of the lightweight men’s single sculls, but Italy 1, Patrick Rocek, was chasing hard and had taken the lead by 1000m with Italy 2, Matteo Tonelli, close behind.

While Rocek could extend his lead in front, Arno Gaus of Germany – who is doubling up in the men’s quadruple scull after Tim Ole Naske was withdrawn for medical reasons, and had raced the repechage only 40 minutes earlier – found some speed and moved through both Tonelli and Strecansky with the fastest second 1000m of the field. Gaus was four seconds quicker than all the other scullers in the final 500m, and almost closed up on Rocek. But the Italian had done enough early on to secure gold, with Gaus taking silver and the 18-year-old Strecansky securing bronze.

Patrick Rocek, ITA – gold

“I feel so good, a little tired, but now I’m OK. It was a good race – not a fantastic race, but a good one. During the race I was thinking OK, now I have to be more economical and more fast than them. In the last metres I was a little bit in control, but I was looking to the German guy [Arno Gaus].

Arno Gaus, GER – silver

“It was a little bit complicated with the race in the quad before. I’m not sure at the start how I’m feeling, but I felt over the 1000 and 1500m that I felt very good. I saw that the Italian on the left side [Tonelli] is struggling a little bit, so I attacked and I was in the flow. I’m a little bit sad for gold, that it doesn’t work, but it was a really good race.”

Peter Strecansky, SVK – bronze

“It’s awesome to win a medal at the World Rowing Cup when I’m 18 years old. It’s awesome, there are not words for that. It’s nice before Olympic Qualification.”

Irish miss out as Denmark progress

There was lots of quality in the repechages of the men’s pair, with the Olympic champions Croatia and bronze medallists Denmark, and world bronze medallists Ireland all competing for spots in the final. In repechage 1 it was the Danes who led out and crossed the line first, with Italy 1 second and the Irish unable to close the gap. Repechage 2 saw Great Britain 2 lead out ahead of Germany 1 and the Sinkovic brothers of Croatia. The Olympic champions moved into second by halfway and started putting pressure on the British duo, with Germany 1 also challenging – but the British held on for a win over Croatia.

Australian sprint sees them through in double sculls

There were two Norwegian crews in repechage 1 of the men’s double sculls, and it was Norway 2 who took the spot in the final behind a fast German combination as Jonas Juel and Erik Solbakken edged out their compatriots Jan Helvig and Kristoffer Brun, who last year qualified this boat for the Olympic Games. In repechage 2, world bronze medallists Daire Lynch and Philip Doyle of Ireland led the way, challenged in the early stages by Great Britain. But Australia 1’s Oscar McGuinness and Mitchell Reinhard were not content to let the British grab the second qualifying spot, and came through in the second half.

Australia 1’s Oscar McGuinness said: “Mitch and I are both former lightweights, Mitch from years and years ago, me from a few months ago. We knew high rate and a bit of passion and energy would have been good for us. Luckily Mitch had that on board.”

Britain rule in women’s four

Great Britain 3 made it three British crews in the final of the women’s four as they led out the repechage from start to finish in dominant fashion, able to control the last 500m as Denmark closed up. Australia 2 made a good effort to catch Denmark, but missed out on an A-final place.

Ukrainian sprint takes them into final

A spectacular finish from Ukraine gave them second and a place in the A-final by 0.05 seconds over Denmark in the men’s four repechage. Denmark started best, and led the Netherlands by a small margin at halfway, but the Dutch stretched out in the third quarter and had taken a narrow lead at 1500m. Ukraine were sitting in fourth place behind Ireland, but decided to move and their sprint took them into the crucial qualifying spot.

Ukraine’s Dmytro Hula said: “We just went for it, just to have a check, and then we saw that we were quite far behind and all the other guys are right next to us. So we thought maybe we should try some few strokes more, and it went on and was quite a good finish with a good feel. We were excited. It was pretty close, but we thought that we were really ahead.”

Florijn shining in single scull

Karolin Florijn continues to be the sculler to beat in the women’s single sculls; the Dutch world champion cruised to another win in her semifinal, five seconds ahead of Germany’s Alexandra Foester who in turn was comfortably up on Virginia Diaz Rivas of Spain in third. In semifinal 2 Norway’s Inger Seim Kavlie impressed to beat Ireland’s Sanita Puspure for the top qualifying spot, while Juliane Faralisch joined her teammate Foester in the final with a good third place.

Florijn said: “It’s fun, I’m very happy to be in Italy under the Italian sun with pasta and beautiful weather, it’s great. It’s nice to start the season, to be racing again.”

Zeidler bests van Dorp again

Germany’s Oliver Zeidler had a six-second lead over the Netherlands’ Simon van Dorp with 500m to go in the men’s single sculls semifinal and was able to take his rate down and look back at the field as he secured a place in the A-final. Behind Zeidler and van Dorp, Britain’s George Bourne had a superb second half to take the third qualifying place ahead of Ireland’s Konan Pazzaia. A closer race in the second semifinal was won by Croatia’s Damir Martin, just over half a second up on Italy’s Davide Mumolo, with Belgium’s Tim Brys coming in third by 0.19 seconds over Lucas Verthein of Brazil.

Bourne said: “I learned a lot about international singles racing yesterday in the quarterfinals, and I’m really pleased today most of all with executing a slightly shifted focus and a bit more concentration. I’m really excited to race tomorrow.”

Italy 2 triumph in doubles drama

Three crews held the lead at various points in the repechage of the lightweight women’s double sculls, but it was Italy 2 – Stefania Buttignon and Silvia Crosio – who finished in front after the best second half. They held off Switzerland’s Eline Rol and Olivia Nacht, a new combination brought together after Rol’s sister Frederique was ruled out of the regatta. Austria were third, out of the final.

More lightweight success for Italy

Wins for Italy 2 and Germany 1 in the lightweight men’s double sculls repechages, with Germany 2 finishing close behind their teammates, make Sunday’s final an interesting affair. Norway were second in the first repechage, as Portugal faded in the second half of the race and could not find the sprint to challenge the Norwegians.

Australia and Germany through in men’s quads

Just over four seconds split the top five crews in a thrilling men’s quadruple sculls repechage, but it was Australia who led from start to finish. In contrast Germany had a slow start, but found the extra gear to come through into the second qualifying spot in the last quarter as Spain faded. Italy 2 challenged for second, but could not quite get there.

Romania on top in women’s eights

Romania led throughout in the women’s eights repechage, followed by Germany. Denmark and Italy were close in third and fourth, while Australia’s development eight – doubling up in the women’s fours – were a little off the pace and will not race the final.

Italy find the extra gear

Italy 1 had the speed in the finish to claim victory over Germany in the men’s eights repechage, after a race in which the top four crews were tightly clustered in the first 500m before the field opened out a little. Romania were a close third, with Austria fourth and Italy 2 eliminated from the final.