Photo: Katie Steenman Images.
Photo: Katie Steenman Images.

Although the 2015 World Rowing Championships currently taking place in Aiguebelette, France is not a local event, Team Canada competes locally most of the year on Elk Lake just off the Pat Bay Highway. So the competition certainly provides an international as well as local

Mother Nature brought clouds, a chance of rain, and cooler temperatures on the first day of September in Aiguebelette.

None of this mattered however to the elite rowers who were fighting today for the remaining, coveted spots in the semifinals.

Three Canadian crews were in action this morning, having been given second chances to move onto the next round, otherwise known as the repechage.  The lightweight women’s single, the women’s pair, and the men’s quadruple sculls were all intent on dominating their reps in order to continue their quests for a podium finish,

As racing got underway at 10 AM local time, a gentle breeze was blowing down the course and a light rain proceeded to fall.

Katherine Sauks, in the lightweight women’s single, was the first racer to tackle the course for Canada.  Celebrating her birthday yesterday, Sauks was looking for a belated present in the rep today.

Rowing long strokes as she cruised past the midway mark, Sauks was sitting in 2nd place by just over 2.5 seconds behind the German.

The Canadian sculler knew she had to have a clean start because of the challenging conditions, and planned accordingly.

“It was choppy with a cross-tail wind blowing,” said a smiling Sauks after the race.  “I knew I had to stay internal and focus on clean strokes to set myself up well for the middle part of the race.”

Comfortably ahead of the rest of the field, Sauks crossed the line in second place behind Germany.  Both crews qualify for the semifinals on Thursday.

Jennifer Martins and Cristy Nurse, after winning the heat with their crewmates yesterday in the women’s eight, jumped back into the smaller boat today.

Just in time for their race, the skies opened and a heavy rain pummeled the racecourse.  However the conditions did not perturb the seasoned athletes in the least.

Ahead of the field and in control from pillar to post, the duo qualified for the semifinal, along with second place Poland.

“We had another solid race today,” explained Nurse.  “Everything is feeling more comfortable as the week progresses.”

Martins echoed those sentiments.

“We got out in front quickly and this enabled us to relax,” Martins said. “This was our plan and we executed it well.  It was a pretty good race.”

The two women now have more time to focus exclusively on the pair as the eight does not race again until Sunday’s final.  Martins and Nurse will contest the pair semifinal on Friday.

The last race on the program for Canada was undoubtedly the most exciting of the day.

The men’s quadruple sculls crew of Matthew Buie, Julien Bahain, Will Dean and Rob Gibson had a great race this morning on the waters of Aiguebelette.

Comprised of three Olympians, two of whom are Olympic medalists, this crew is accustomed to stepping onto the podium.  And after today’s display, these men showed once again that they are a force to be reckoned with.

Getting off to a good start and settling into a good rhythm through the middle of the course, the Canadians were sitting in first place at the ¾ marker.  However only 1 second separated four of the five boats at this point.

“We had a better rhythm in this race than our first one,” said Dean, who sits behind the stroke man.  “We stayed internal, and remained focused on the task at hand.  It’s not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about remembering what we do well and executing it as a unit.”

The foursome ended up crossing the line in third place, but only 3/10th of a second behind eventual winners Great Britain. Along with second place Ukraine, all three crews advance to Thursday’s semifinal.

And that concludes a wet third day of racing on Lac d’Aiguebelette.

Click here to see a complete list of results.

Racing resumes on Wednesday, September 2nd, at 10 AM local time.

For a list of Canadian crews and athletes competing in France, click here.

Click here for the schedule of racing.

Click here for individual athlete biographies.

Online streaming with audio commentary of the results throughout the week and live video streaming of the Olympic class events from September 3rd to the 6th will be available at www.worldrowing.com.

The semi-finals and finals are scheduled to air on Rogers SportsNet One from September 3 – 6.

To support and learn more about team members and to stay on top of developments within the Canadian National Rowing squad, follow the team on Twitter and Facebook.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.