Day 6 of the 2016 World Rowing Championships greeted the athletes with different conditions to those seen so far this week – slightly hazy, slightly cooler, and a cross head wind as opposed to the cross tail that has prevailed. This caused the Fairness Committee to shuffle lanes accordingly, which had no adverse effect on the results in the morning for the two Australian Junior crews in action.
Harriet Hudson in the Junior Women’s Single Scull repechage was first up, and required a top two finish to progress to the semi-finals. This proved to be no difficulty at all for the Sydney Rowing Club athlete, who had a comfortable all the way victory and crossed the line 5 second ahead of the Chinese sculler in second place. Next up was the quarter-finals of the Junior Men’s Quad, requiring a top three place to progress to the semi-finals on Saturday. For the majority of the race this looked like a done deal – sitting in clear third with 500m to go crew coach Lachlan Carter would have felt that the job was almost done. The Italian crew in fourth had other ideas and went on the attack with the finish line in sight. The young Aussies had just done enough however and hung on for a tight third place by less than a second, and will progress to Saturday’s semi-finals.
A-Finals from the Under 23 events filled out the remainder of the day. Four crews had progressed this far from Australia, and it was the Under 23 Lightweight Women’s Double of Alice Arch and India McKenzie who first took to the water. The Dutch and New Zealand crews had placed a dead heat for the win in the semi-final and would prove to again be the pace setters. The Australians were left behind off the start but staged a great fight back in the second half of the race to overtake the German’s and push hard at the Chinese. In the end the Chinese just pipped out for fourth by just 0.03 seconds, with Australia in a very commendable fifth.
The Under 23 Men’s Quad were next up, and Australia had been looking good through the lesser rounds. Getting away the quickest was Germany along with Poland and Australia. The Australian crew of Tom Schramko, Luke Letcher, Caleb Antill and Rob Black had earned a small lead off the start, and first to the 500m mark was Australia with Poland and Germany right there. Through the middle of the race Australia held the lead with New Zealand now moving up. The crowd was on their feet as crews closed on Australia. Australia still had the lead, but New Zealand was absolutely flying. Poland had no answer and were now under threat from Italy. In a photo finish Australia had scored gold by just 0.41 of a second in one of the best races of the day.
To round out the day the Under Women’s Eight and Women’s Single Scull followed. The Australian eight of Hedda Cooper, Olivia Sibillin, Fiona Ewing, Jacinta Edmunds, Georgia Wheeler, Katherine Mitchelmore Rachel Engel, Stephanie Williams and cox Daniella Serra were always going to be under pressure from an electric USA crew, and so it proved with the USA dominating from start to finish. The final margin to second was a huge 8 seconds, and the Annabelle Eaton-coached Australians fought hard to move from sixth after the first 500m to fifth into the last 500m. The gap to make up into a medal position was sadly too great and they remained in fifth, a great effort after only coming together in July. A similar race followed for Cara Grzeskowiak in the Under 23 Women’s Single Scull; her coach Vicky Spencer would have had high hopes as Cara with was improving her position and moving through the field through the middle of the race, but the push from the leading three scullers from Lithuania, Sweden and Germany was too great and Cara crossed the line in fifth place, a great learning experience in her first Australian Under 23 team.
Rob Black from the Under 23 Men’s Quad commented to World Rowing after the race: “We knew that Poland was going to go out fast in the start, but we focused on a fast rhythm at 38. We really worked on getting out front in the first thousand and stay focused on us. It was just a beautiful rhythm. All the other crews really came for us!”. The Antonio Maurogiovanni coached crew became Australia’s first Under 23 World Champions since the Women’s Four in 2013, a fantastic result!
Day 7 of the 2016 World Rowing Championships will bring the semi-finals of the Junior events and Georgia Nesbitt in the Lightweight Women’s Single B-Final. As always you can watch all of the racing with draws and race reports on the World Rowing website, www.worldrowing.com.