Golden Blades of St Petersburg City Sprints
Over 600 rowers took part in the inaugural 2011 Golden Blades of St Petersburg City Sprints, held on the Fontanka River last Sunday, 12 June.
Blessed with perfect weather, the sun shone throughout, enhancing the party atmosphere for spectators. On the water international crews competed in eights and singles, racing one-on-one over 250m, through quarterfinals, semis and finals.
Olympic silver medallist and FISA Council member Guin Batten found herself subbing in the Dutch women’s eight beating Canada in the women’s eights final.
British interest also included Oxford University Boat Club and an Oxford alumni women’s crew, who lost to crews from Hamburg in their respective events for student eights. Barnes Bridge Ladies were successful in the women’s masters D coxed fours.
The single sculls attracted a high quality field including New Zealand’s Mahe Drysdale and Olympic gold medallist Luka Spik from Slovenia. But, fittingly, the home crowd were treated to an all-Russian final with local talent Denis Kleshnev bettering Mikhail Fedorov.
In the women’s single sculls, world champion Frida Svensson had her strategy sussed out. The Swede’s decision “to rate as high as possible” paid off as she ‘out-dashed’ Czech Republic’s Mirka Knapkova in the final.
In the men’s eights, supporters cheered on local favourites St Petersburg who overcame Germany in the final.
The party element continued into the evening with patron Sir Steve Redgrave presenting the prizes as the champagne flowed and the rowers danced the night away to a live band.
Organised by the Russian Amateur Rowing Association and sanctioned by FISA, it is hoped that the City Sprints rowing regatta will take place next year.
For more details, visit www.worldrowing.com
Report by Hilary Cook.