Day 3 started with repechages for the events from day one. The drama of these races, where Olympic dreams continue or collapse, would prove for terrific day of racing.
W2-: I missed this race due to a radio interview previewing the Women’s Quads. Romania lead from start to finish with Germany less than two seconds behind throughout. These two crews swapped fastest and second fastest splits down the course, carving a path to the two A-Final slots. With such great dreams on the line there was no let-up from any crew, although the rest of the field were unable to catch the two leaders. It finished with Romania and Germany claiming places in the A-Final. China, Italy, South Africa and Argentina finished in that order to race the B-Final.
W4x: There was family involvement for me in this race with my sister, Beth, stroking the GB boat. Four A-Final places were at stake. Australia moved just in front with China, USA and Poland following closely. Slow-starters New Zealand and GB were getting left behind and shared the last two places until after half way. Poland began to fade in the second half of the race and China were also slipping back as GB and New Zealand raised their rates for a long run to the finish. In the third 500m New Zealand were moving into third and looked good to qualify for the A-Final. Poland had slipped to 6th, China 4th. GB remained in 5th but were powering through and driving hard for the line. Disaster struck the New Zealand boat when they crabbed in the choppy water of the last 300m. Any hope of recovery was gone as the New Zealand crew realised they had lost a spoon in the crab. The home crowd hit record levels of noise and passion at this regatta, urging their crew ‘Up, Up, Up’. GB finished in the second fastest 500m of the race; rating high with length and power. They carried speed into the last 100m against which China could not respond. It finished Australia, USA, Great Britain, China, with Poland 1.2 seconds behind and New Zealand limping home. This was an example of the contrast which the repechage has the power to inflict. Jubilation and relief for GB after fighting to the end. For the Kiwis, heartache after a glimmer of hope. The home crowd take a breath.
M8+: Six boats for four places. Great Britain get ahead quickly with Canada just behind and Australia in third. The Netherlands are lagging behind at 500m but pick up the pace and start to move on Poland in fourth. Ukraine have been out the back from the start. At the 1000m mark the Dutch have overtaken Poland. GB start to ease back and flow, rowing long and relaxed. Fast first 1000m from the Brits; perhaps trying a new race profile to take it to the Germans in the final. GB and Canada maintain their lead over Australia. The fight now is not to be the fifth boat over the line. The Dutch and the Poles stay about a third of a length apart. The Polish crew need to make a massive move to get to the A-Final. Ukraine well back now. The Netherlands are charging to break free from the Polish eight and give themselves a margin. GB and Canada put in a small lift but are confident of qualification. The Netherlands put in a lot to get out of the dangerous fifth position and just pass Australia into the finish. The Polish crew are almost half a length back and can’t make up that much in the final strokes. It’s GB, Canada, Netherlands, Australia. The Polish and Ukraine miss out. GB and Canada sit tall. The other crews gave more and collapse.
M4x: Three from four. New Zealand look strong as they move to an early lead. Italy and Switzerland level through 500m. USA were slow off the stakeboats and a length behind in fourth. Switzerland press on to maintain their advantage over the Americans who are now finding their rhythm. Italy closing on New Zealand and the USA really moving towards the Swiss boat. The USA are charging from 750m out, desperate not to be last. The Swiss let them get to within a few metres before winding for their finish which brings them to within a canvas of Italy. New Zealand lift to stay ahead of the charging field. Italy finish a canvas ahead of Switzerland. The USA were bringing good speed into the line but look to have hit a few waves in the rougher water, slowing slightly and finishing fourth.
M2-: Three from four again in the paris. The USA go out hard and take an early lead. Serbia are almost a length behind and currently in fourth. The USA carry their lead to 1000m with Serbia and Germany neck-and-neck and it’s now Hungary who are at the back of the field. Serbia and Germany are racing each other and moving through the American pair. The USA may be paying for their fast start, or just content to sit in the top three. Germany wind for the finish and pull out a length of clear water. Serbia and the USA are cruising but need to be ready to respond to a fast-finishing Hungary. The Hungarians aren’t giving up and put down some big strokes to close the gap. The USA come through 250m with the stroke’s spoon over the buoys. He clips one but they recover well. They’re still taking a dangerous line but just have clear water over Hungary. Hungary run out of lake as the crews cross the line with them still closing on the USA. Germany, Serbia and the USA go to the semifinals. Hungary are eliminated.
The repechages are brutal. Crews are on the absolute limit in slightly rough conditions and mistakes can be costly.