Hot temperatures and perfect racing conditions greeted rowers from around the world on the first day of the World Championships in France.
With temperatures climbing to 30 degrees Celsius and above, athletes tried to remain hydrated and cool when they were not racing down the sweltering racecourse.
The Canadian team had eight crews in action today on the aqua blue waters of lac d’Aiguebelette.
Up first for Canada was Katherine Sauks in the lightweight women’s single. Sauks, who won a gold medal in the lightweight women’s double at the Pan American regatta earlier this summer in St.Catharines, needed to finish first in her race in order to qualify directly for the semi-final. In second place at the halfway mark, Sauks fought hard until the end but slipped to 3rd place.
“It was a solid first race,” explained Sauks of her first World Championship appearance. “An extra race is a good thing for me. I will be able to build from this race. I will be more aggressive in the next round.”
Sauks will race the repechage (the second chance to make the semi-final) on Tuesday and try to secure herself a spot in the next round. New Zealand qualified directly for the semifinal.
Jennifer Martins and Cristy Nurse raced the pair in Canada’s next appearance on Lac d’Aiguebelette.
With one boat going through to the semi-final, the Canadians needed to beat another strong New Zealand crew in order to qualify directly for the semifinal.
“We had a really solid first race our there,” said Nurse while cooling down on the bikes. “We have not raced the full distance in the pair since the last World Cup in July. We have to be prepared to push hard all the way down the course. We have to be more aggressive.”
Martins and Nurse finished second to the Kiwis and will race the repechage on Tuesday. The duo is also racing in the women’s eight event, which starts tomorrow.
In the men’s pair event, newcomers Michael Evans and Martin Barakso had a solid race together. Racing at their first World Championships, the British Columbia duo was nervous for their international debut.
“We had a good first half,” said Barakso, who also raced the pair with Evans at the Pan American regatta last month.
“We have to relax more in the next round though,” he continued. “If we do that, we will better maximize the power we are putting into each stroke.”
The pair finished third behind Serbia and the United States. They progress directly to the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Vancouver Islander’s Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee raced the never dull lightweight women’s double event.
Struggling for most of the season, the duo seems to have found their form just in time. Sitting in 4th place at the halfway mark, the World silver medalists from 2014 powered through the field to win their heat convincingly.
“Training has been going well and all we did was execute what we have been working on in practice,” said a happy and relieved Jennerich. “We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. We just have to relax and let the boat work for us.”
This win will help increase the confidence of the world-class duo. They can now bury their 14th place finish at last months World Cup race and start looking ahead. Jennerich and Obee move directly into the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The men’s four of Will Crothers, Tim Schrijver, Kai Langerfeld and Conlin McCabe raced next for Canada. Bronze medalists at World Cup 2 in Varese, Italy, at the beginning of the summer, the foursome is hungry for some French hardware.
“We had a good start and a got into a solid middle race rhythm,” said Kai Langerfeld, 3-seat in the crew. “We were strong through the middle and that is what we have to do. We will do the same thing in the next round but be a little more sharp.”
The four crossed the line in first place and secured themselves a spot in the semi-final.
The men’s quadruple sculls crew was the next event on the program. Matthew Buie, Julien Bahain, Will Dean and Rob Gibson are also bronze medalists from World Cup 2 and are equally eager to cement their world ranking here in France.
The Canadians got out to a solid start and were sitting in the second qualifying spot for most of the race. However, the Lithuanian crew powered through the Canadians in the last quarter, relegating Canada to third. The foursome must now qualify for the semi-final through the repechage. Germany, always a powerhouse in men’s sculling, led the race from beginning to end and progresses, with Lithuania, directly to the semifinal.
Pascal Lussier, from Napierville, Quebec, raced the single in the next race featuring a Canadian. With 41 entries, the men’s single event has the most entries this week. Lussier put down a valiant effort, at this his first World Championships in the single.
Leading at the halfway mark, the Canadian just missed out on qualifying directly for the quarterfinals, crossing the line in third place. Lussier must now qualify through the repechage. Belgium and Norway will move directly to the quarterfinal.
The last race of the day for Canada featured powerhouse Carling Zeeman, from Cambridge, Ontario, racing the single.
In one of the closest and most exciting races of the day, Zeeman worked her way up to first place in the third quarter of the 2000 meter distance, only to have Lithuania squeak by her in the last couple of strokes. Canada ended up finishing 2/100th behind Lithuania. Zimbabwe placed third. All three crews progress directly into the quarterfinals.