Great Britain underway at World Rowing Cup II

World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne began in glorious sunshine, before the afternoon session was delayed by adverse weather conditions. Despite the storm, GB will race in eight finals on Sunday, with three crews racing in semi finals on Saturday.

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Credit: Benedict Tufnell

Emily Craig returned to join Imogen Grant in the Lightweight women’s double sculls (LW2x), after missing the European Championships on medical grounds. They picked up where they left off, winning their heat despite pressure from New Zealand through the middle of the race. “It was really good to get back out there.” Emily said, adding, “It always plays on your mind when you’ve missed a regatta for unexpected reasons, but I think one of the strengths of us as a crew and as a team with our coach, Darren, is dealing with the unexpected, coming up with a plan, sticking to the plan, and being pragmatic and systematic. No one ever suffered from a reset did they?” Imogen said: “It feels like some of the things over this past week have been the best ever. So getting out there in nice conditions was such a pleasure.”

Taking the one final spot in the Women’s four (W4-) with the fastest time across the heats were 2023 European and World Cup I winners Helen Glover, Esme Booth, Sam Redgrave and Rebecca Shorten. Helen said: “We were drawn in the heat with three nations we haven’t raced this year, so it was good to get that experience, stick to our race plan, not overcomplicate anything and still come away with something we can build from.” Rebecca added, “It was a solid race, a fast race. I think there’s more to come as well.”

Winning their heat and still unbeaten this season, having won European gold in Szeged and World Cup gold in Varese, are Ollie Wynne-Griffith and Tom George in the Men’s pair (M2-). Tom said: “We haven’t really thought about how we’re unbeaten this season. We just want to be the best we can be at every race. We had a massive mindset shift when we first started working with Christian (Felkel). Every time we race we’re trying hard to be really internal and trust ourselves but you’ve got to be putting out your best stuff all the time. It’s about improving gradually and ignoring what’s going on around us. I’m really happy with that race.”

The GBR2 Men’s pair of Will Stewart and James Robson finished just 0.82 behind Switzerland, the current World Champions, and will also be in the AB semi final. “We raced the Swiss in Varese so we had an idea of their race plan”, James said, “We thought if we could put them under pressure at the start and use their speed to take us out of competition for third place that was the most important thing. The main thing is we aren’t rowing this afternoon, we can get back and recover because I think tomorrow is going to be a pretty spicy race for us to get into the A Final. It’s going to take everything we’ve got.”

It was just a 0.03 margin which saw the Men’s four (M4-) of Oli Wilkes, David Ambler, Matt Aldridge and Freddie Davidson finish behind Australia. Matt said: “It was close at the finish. It was a good race with good race pace in the middle which went pretty well. In the past few weeks, we’ve been trying to work on getting faster and faster through the middle and keeping it really long and loose and I think we achieved that. The fiddly bits on either end aren’t quite there yet, but that’s fine because it doesn’t need to be right now. It’s a job done today. We got into the final and it’s all to play for again on Sunday.”

Chloe Brew and Rebecca Edwards were third in the Women’s pair (W2-) heat and are through to the AB semi final. Chloe said: “It was really good – we’ve stuck to the technical model we’ve been working on. We’ve worked so hard these last few weeks and it’s paid off. I think we’ve definitely stepped on since the last regatta. We’re excited to see what we can do tomorrow. I have had a tricky few years and it’s really exciting to be in this project with Becca, my housemate and best friend, and see it develop and get quicker. I’m enjoying it and Lucerne is beautiful even when it’s raining.”

World Cup I gold medallist Olivia Bates returned to the Lightweight women’s single sculls (LW1x). Racing twice in the day, it also felt like two different seasons as it was sunny and warm during the heat, where she placed second and then pouring with rain in the repechage in which she also placed second. Earlier, she had boated for the repechage when the course was closed due to adverse weather. She will race again in the A final on Saturday. She said: “Today has been a long day but it’s good to get the experience of having to go out and come back in again with the weather conditions. I think I managed the situation well and still got a good race out of it. It’s great to get back in the single again. The double was a good experience for me at the Europeans, especially racing with Imogen (Grant) who is so experienced. That’s helped me learn a bit more about racing. Hopefully I can take what I learnt there and here today into tomorrow and have an even better race in the final.”

Lucy Glover was fifth in the Women’s single sculls (W1x) heat and fourth in the afternoon repechage. She will race again in the C final on Saturday.

In the preliminary rounds, it was a win for the Women’s quadruple sculls (W4x) of Lauren Henry, Hannah Scott, Lola Anderson and Georgie Brayshaw and third place for the Men’s quadruple sculls (M4x) of John Collins, Callum Dixon, Tom Barras and Graeme Thomas. European silver medallists Heidi Long, Rowan McKellar, Holly Dunford, Emily Ford, Lauren Irwin, Eve Stewart, Hattie Taylor, Annie Campbell-Orde, and cox, Henry Fieldman were fourth in the Women’s eight (W8+).

The final GB preliminary race saw the Men’s eight (M8+) of Sholto Carnegie, Rory Gibbs, Morgan Bolding, Jacob Dawson, Charlie Elwes, Tom Digby, James Rudkin, Tom Ford and cox, Harry Brightmore finish second.

You can follow World Rowing Cup II across British Rowing social media channels, and here on our website. Racing will also be shown live on BBC iPlayer and the BBC website, with a highlights programme on BBC2 from 1.30pm-3pm on Sunday 26 May.

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