A Battle to Make Final, Saturday's Semis

The 2018 World Rowing Junior Championships in Racice started in the morning with Semifinal C/D round with great conditions of almost flat water and temperatures in low 20s. The race continued with Semifinals A/B at 10:50 with little swift tail wind which became stronger as the race was progresing and World Junior Best Time was challenged several times.

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First lined up at the start were two heats of Junior Men's Coxes Four (JM4+). At 500m Czech crew was well out in front. With 500m left to row they were challenged by Italy and Australia still looking good though holding safely the qualifying third position. United States in Semifinal One recorded the fastest time followed by Spain and Germany.

Next one up was Semifinal One of Junior Women's Pair (JW2-). Greece achieved the fastest time in heats so it was no surprise that they led the way at the start. They kept this lead all the way through with Canada coming up second and France third. Greece had set a new Junior World Best Time (7:15.53).
In Semifinal Two the racing was much tighter. United States managed to get away from the rest of the field and with Chile and Lithuania behing fighting for the secon and third spot.

Qualifiers in Junior Men's Pair (JM2-) were South Africa, Italy, Lithuania, Coratia, Romania and Germany. Croatia, the reigning junior champions, twins Patrik and Anton Loncaric won the Semifinal Two in this class setting the new Junior World Best Time (06:27.91).

Junior Women’s Four (JW4-)During the heats New Zealand had recorded the fastest qualifying time and they sat in the middle of the field in Semifinal One. But it was the Netherlands that came out in the lead at the start with New Zealand having a rather slow start. Then Italy picked up the pace and got into the lead. The Italian crew came from last year’s pair and eight and they had got a half boat length lead over the Netherlands coming into the third 500. Italy’s crew of Passini, Alajdi El Idrissi, Tonoli and Di Pede then broke clean away with New Zealand now up in second and moving away from the Netherlands in third. Italy was at 36 and held the lead over New Zealand. Italy had brought a new junior World Best Time. Their time of 6:37.89 was five seconds quicker than the time set in 2016.
Semifinal Two saw the United States out in front at the start. The US won their heat two days ago and they were trying to hold off Romania who was moving with them. Then Romania’s Druga, Mandrila, Onciu and Juncanariu moved into the lead and got a half boat length over the US crew with Australia on the pace in third. Then a cheer went up. The United States had grabbed back the lead with Romania holding on tightly. The US went to 38, then 39 to hold off Romania who sat on 35. Australia held on to third rating 36.

Junior Men’s Four (JM4-) – Spain had a fast few strokes in Semifinal One, but it was Italy that got to the first 500m mark in the lead. But it was Great Britain who came to these semis with by far the fastest qualifying time. Coming through the middle of the race the British, who are the reigining junior champions, had moved into the lead. The British have two members of their 2017 boat still remaining and they were able to move away from the rest of the field. Meanwhile Italy was under threat from Greece and Germany. Greece had moved to a 43 stroke rate and had overtaken Germany and were closing on Italy. Despite a couple of their crew stopping rowing just before the finish line, Greece had done enough to qualify. Great Britain had set a new junior World Best Time recording 5:47.73. This was a huge 11 seconds faster than the previous best time set two years ago.
The Czech boat took a flying start in Semifinal Two. The Czechs had won their heat two days ago and they were sitting alongside New Zealand who was back in fourth. Romania and Croatia were the closest threat to the Czech lead. New Zealand then did a second 500 push and closed on the Czech Republic with Romania very much on the pace in third. Then, from fourth, the United States came up to challenge in the third 500. This was turning into a four-boat fight for three spots. The tail wind continued to strengthen. Times were going to be fast.

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Junior Women’s Quadruple Sculls (JW4x) – It was a fast start for Denmark, but then the Czech Republic took over in the lead of Semifinal One. The Czechs recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats two days ago and they got to the 500m mark in the lead. The Netherlands followed in second with Denmark in third. All of these crews qualified directly from the heats so must have been well rested compared to the crews that went through yesterday’s repechages. The Czech Republic crew of Laznickova, Santruckova, Pospisilova and Podrazilova went through the middle of the race well below junior World Best Time pace. As the race progressed the Czech crew broke away a little with the Dutch being the closest threat to the lead with Canada quite a way back in third. The Czechs went from 31 to 33 to stay ahead of the Dutch with Canada in third. A time of 6:26.74 gave the Czechs the junior World Best Time, breaking a time set back in 2013.
Switzerland and Germany tussled at the head of the field in Semifinal Two. They both came through to this semifinal directly from the heats. Going through the middle of the race Germany was able to pull away from Switzerland with Great Britain and Italy moving up on the Swiss. The fight for second and third now looked to be the race to watch. Germany still had a good leading pace and went to 35. Switzerland went to 36 to get hold off Great Britain with Italy leaving their sprint too late. Germany had broken the junior World Best Time that the Czech Republic set in the previous semi. The new time was 6:23.85.

Junior Men’s Quadruple Sculls (JM4x) – Leading at the start of Semifinal One was the Czech Republic over Germany and Greece. The Czech crew were first at the European Rowing Junior Championships earlier this season and they finished second in their heat two days ago to qualify for this semifinal. The Czechs slowly pulled away from Germany in second with Chile now in third and right on Germany’s tail. Meanwhile Switzerland seemed to be struggling with the now choppy water. Germany and Chile closed on the Czech Republic, but the Czechs, rating 34, held them off. The Czechs had set a new junior World Best Time. The new time of 5:46.49 was six second faster than the previous time set yesterday.
Great Britain were out in front of Semifinal Two. Great Britain had recorded the fastest qualifying time in the heats two days ago and they remained ahead of New Zealand in second. Great Britain then managed to push away from the Kiwis with Poland and Romania moving up on New Zealand. This was going to be close for second as less than half a second separated three boats. Then two seat in the British boat took a bad stroke and the crew lost their rhythm. They got it back with Poland and Romania overtaking the New Zealand crew that looked like they’d run out of steam.

Junior Women’s Double Sculls (JW2x) - Greece got to the first 500m marker in first just as the German crew caught their oar in the water. They recovered and sat in third just behind New Zealand. Greece’s Ismini Noni and Eleni Agioti continued to stay in the lead. Then the British double took a bad stroke and it looked like they would remain at the back of the field. Now New Zealand and Greece were neck-and-neck with the Kiwi crew of Glen and Clayton-Greene doing a piece that pushed them into the lead. New Zealand had won their heat two days ago, as had Greece and today it looked like it would be about who could handle the water conditions the best. New Zealand now managed to pull away a little with Germany overtaking Greece and chasing the Kiwi crew. Going to 38, Germany managed to overtake New Zealand in the last three strokes of the race.
It was France in the lead of Semifinal Two and making the best of this water. China then had a bad stroke that dropped them from third into fourth with Belarus in second. Belarus had the fastest qualifying time from the heats. France, meanwhile, had come through from the repechage. But earlier this season France’s Valinducq and Ahyi took gold at the European Rowing Junior Championships. Belarus then did a push and was just down by a canvas as China really started to move. They were now coming into the final sprint and only a quarter of a second separated Belarus, France and China. Belarus’s Vyrupayeva and Ivarouskaya then took the lead with China’s Liu and Zhang moving with them. China went to 36, Belarus and France were on 35. Belarus took first.

Junior Men’s Double Sculls (JM2x) – Greece and Italy got the best two starts in Semifinal One with Greece’s Gkaidatzis and Schizodimos getting to the first 500m mark in the lead. The Greek duo was then able to pull away slightly from Italy in the next 500m with Poland coming up to challenge Italy for second. Greece kept their strokes long and strong to stay in the lead. The duo rowed in the quad last year and finished outside of the medals. Poland continued to close on Italy but it looked like the top three crews was pretty much set by this stage. Only Lithuania was close. They went to 37 to try and get into a qualifying spot. Poland was now being challenged. Lithuania ran out of water. The time for Greece: 6:18.19 was a new junior World Best Time. They broke the former time by three seconds, set back in 2013.
The wind had dropped a bit, but it was still a very handy tail wind pushing these crews down the course and Germany led the way in Semifinal Two. Much to the crowd’s delight, the Czech Republic followed closely in second. Germany’s Paul Krueger and Klas Ole Lass had the Czechs moving up on them with every stroke and they went through the middle of the race neck-and-neck. Then Kyncl and Vacek of the Czech Republic pulled ahead of Germany as the crews came through to the close of the race. Now France and Belarus started to sprint and both crews were closing on the leaders. The Czechs got to the line first. Germany held on to second.

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Junior Men’s Single Sculls (JM1x) – Yesterday during the quarterfinals Moritz Wolff of Germany set a new junior World Best Time. Wolff lined up again today and was the fastest out of the blocks in Semifinal One. Moldova’s Ivan Corsunov followed in second. Wolff is the silver medallist from 2017 but he wasn’t able to break away today and at the half way point just two seconds separated all six boats. Wolff continued to push on with Corsunov holding onto a small second and Italy in third. New Zealand’s James Hall then did a big push in the third 500 and moved into second, sitting just behind Wolff. Then disaster for Hall. In the last 200m Hall flipped. Wolff took the win with Belarus and Italy taking the remaining two spots.
The reigning junior champion, Clark Dean of the United States was racing in Semifinal Two with Australia’s Cormac Kennedy-Leverett sitting in the lane next door after a very good quarterfinal.  Kennedy-Leverett took gold last year in the double and he’s successfully moved to the single this season. Kennedy-Leverett took the lead at the start with Dean in second and Belgium’s Tristan Vandenbussche in third. Then Dean did a push going through the 750m mark and got into the lead, but the Australian held on with these two scullers breaking free of the rest of the field. Dean then managed to push away to a one length lead and then clear water. Was Kennedy-Leverett foxing? Was he just happy to qualify from second? Vandenbussche held on to third as Dean decided to sprint for the finish. Was he after setting a World Best Time? Dean had. A time of 6:45.45 knocked five seconds off the time Wolff set yesterday.

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Junior Women’s Single Sculls (JW1x) – Germany decided to give it her all at the start of Semifinal One. Tabea Kuhnert of Germany got away just ahead of Australia’s Taylor McCarthy-Smith. The field then began to open up with Maria Sol Ordas of Argentina taking over in the lead. Kuhnert tried to hold on through the middle of the race as Italy’s Greta Martinelli moved up into third. Ordas raced in the 2015 Junior Championships, but has done no international races since. Martinelli then pushed ahead of Kuhnert and into second with a bit of a gap back to Canada. Ordas continued to lead with Canada going to 39 in the last 20m to try and catch Kuhnert. Kuhnert held her off – just. Ordas had set a new junior World Best Time. Her time of 7:31.50 was three and a half seconds faster than the former time set two years ago in Rotterdam.
The junior champion, Esther Briz Zamorano of Spain was in the lead at the start of Semifinal Two. In second was China’s Jiaqi Zou with Romania in third. Briz Zamorano was then able to get a small margin over Zou as Zou had to keep and eye on Veronica Wall of New Zealand with Romania very much on the pace. Romania’s Tabita Maftei then pushed into second. But a bad stroke with 50m left to row saw Maftei fall back into third. Maftei went to 38 to try and get back up as China was right there as well. Romania managed to get to the line before Zou.

Afternoon races were posponed due to strong wind and restarted at 16:48 when the conditions improved and were getting better and better. All Finals F - C went nice and smooth. Look here for all today's results.

Stay with us also tomorrow for more junior World Rowing. Finals B are starting at 9:30, Finals A at 11:00.