Only the winners in each of these two heats will progress, with the remainder going to the Repechage where one boat will be eliminated.
Heat 1: Germany, Great Britain, United States, Australia. Huge cheers as the GBR crew are announced in the role call. The USA are the favourites and reigning Champions. USA race off the start and Australia are sticking with them. USA have all eight seats in front of anyone else at 500m. USA rowing with a nice glide on the recovery and make it look easy. The USA cox is sat perfectly still, demonstrating the smoothness and efficiency of this crew. They look like they have another gear or more! Australia sit just over a length behind the USA with GB in third at halfway. The USA are hugely impressive and are pushing out for a length of clear water; a message to the Canadians in the next heat. GB and Australia fighting for second place. GB start to close but the Australians respond and up the rate. USA cross the line over a length clear. Australia finish next with GB third and Germany fourth. USA worked hard and heads go down briefly before sitting tall, victorious. Heads from crews either side turn to look at the crew from the USA; how can they be stopped?
Heat 2: Netherlands, Romania, Canada. Canada are looking to send a message back to their neighbours, the USA. They get a canvas ahead within 500m with the Netherlands a few feet up on Romania. The Canadians look slightly less refined than the USA. Lots of body movement in this boat, opening quickly into the finish as is common in the Canadian team’s technique. Into the second half the Romanians start to lift their boat and move a few feet ahead of the Netherlands. The Canadian stroke is opening up earlier than the rest of her crew. They’ll need to be more relaxed in the final to trouble the Americans. Canada can’t break free of the Romanians. Canada cross the line first, with Romania overlapping their stern canvas. The Netherlands get slightly closer to the Romanians at the finish. Canada didn’t send the message they were looking to. The Americans will be the happier crew today.