Project LA crews take centre stage on Day Two at World Rowing Cup III

With all GB Para crews through to finals on Sunday, the focus for day two at World Rowing Cup III in Poznan, Poland was firmly on the Project LA development squad


Credit: Benedict Tufnell

Many of these athletes are making their World Cup debuts and wearing their senior GB vests for the first time, but seven crews have progressed to tomorrow’s A finals.

The Men’s four (M4-) repechage featured both GBR crews and it was a phenomenal race with GBR1, Dan Graham, Douwe de Graaf, Sam Bannister and Matt Rowe finishing first and GBR2, James Vogel, Miles Beeson, Tom Ballinger and Jack Prior second, ahead of the French and taking the two A final spots.

Matt from the GBR1 crew said: “It’s good fun to race against your mates who you have been training with all year, especially seeing us both make the A final. Wearing GB colours is also very cool. For tomorrow, all we can do is try, not slip up and stay ahead. We did that today and so we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Miles from the GBR2 crew added: “It was great, we stepped on since our first race. Our aim was to make the A Final and we’ve done that now so we’re going to attack the final and see where we can come! It’s really incredible being part of Project LA, we’ve been watching all the other World Rowing Cups where the senior team has been competing, and it’s been so cool to see what they’ve been doing. It’s the first World Cup for quite a few of us. We’ve done U23s and juniors before, but it’s a different standard here. You are able to walk around and see some of your rowing heroes who you’ve grown up watching and it’s incredible to be going toe-to-toe with some of them.”

Talking more about his experience in Poznan so far and looking ahead to the final, Miles added: “Getting a chance to wear the GB kit and being part of the GB senior team is really cool. Seeing the Para squad in action has been one of the highlights as we don’t get to see that in U23, so seeing them racing and getting to know those guys has been brilliant. It’ll be a gutsy race tomorrow hopefully, we’ll pump the rate up a bit and finish it off. There’s still more to come from us, we’re yet to have a flat out race so watch this space.”

It will be another A final, this time for the Women’s four (W4-) of Juliette Perry, Amelia Standing, Eleanor Brinkhoff and Martha Birtles, after they finished third in their repechage. Martha said: “As a development crew, there’s not an enormous amount of pressure on us. For some of us, it’s our first senior international debut so we’re just trying to have fun with it and getting into the A Final is really good for us and really exciting. We’re even more motivated to race tomorrow now, it feels super surreal.”

George Bourne was third in the Men’s single sculls (M1x) semi final, booking his place in the A final on Sunday. “I’m definitely pleased, and definitely lucky,” he said, adding, “Sometimes the wind goes in your favour and sometimes it doesn’t. Today I did what I said I wanted to do and it’s great to be through to the final. It’s nice to have a little bit of luck but I’ve still got a lot of work to do, to try and be a bit more competitive with the guys who beat me today.”

The GBR1 Men’s double sculls (M2x) of Stephen Hughes and Cedol Dafydd were third in the semi final and progress to the A final. They were just ahead of the GBR2 crew of Rory Harris and Tobias Schroder who will now race in the B final tomorrow.

Cedol said: “The conditions out there were really hard, so it meant we couldn’t quite find our rhythm like yesterday. It was the most intense race I’ve ever been a part of. There were super difficult crews to race against, so it was the best experience I’ve had. We wanted to make the A final, and we knew we had a good chance of doing it, but we knew we had to put something special down. I’m very happy and very proud of Stephen as well, we back each other all the way. I know if I’m hurting then Stephen is hurting, and I’m not going to just let him take that pain by himself. Really well done to Tobias and Rory too. It was a crazy race and could have been anyone’s race out there. We’re not one crew, we’re one squad. We’re GB at the end of the day, and we want to get as many boats as we can to the top. Honestly, being here is the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life, and it will be for a long time. I’ve been saying this all week, but it’s so surreal to be here. I still can’t believe I have made the A final and I’m super proud of what we’ve done. My parents are here, and they’re very proud and happy to be here too.”

Stephen added: “We’re not in a double, we’re in a squad. There’s four of us here, not two of us, so it’s important to keep the morale up for the full team and not just your boat. We want to go out tomorrow and give our best for the whole squad.”

The GBR2 Men’s pair (M2-) of Jake Wincomb and Louis Nares were second in their repechage and also through to the A final. Jake said: “We were not really sure coming into the race whether we would make the A or B final, so we’re really happy to have made it. We got put together in early May and we had a couple of good results then but then had  some time off in our club eight so it’s really nice to get back into it, it’s been an awesome opportunity.

Louis added: “It’s a bit of a surprise, but it’s nice to do something different to our usual club rowing. We came into this regatta with no real expectation of anything and just wanted to go out and use it as a learning experience so it’s a bit of a shock to get into the A Final but we’ll give it our best shot tomorrow.”

The GBR1 Women’s double sculls (W2x) crew of Jenny Bates and Freya Keto put in an amazing sprint finish to win their repechage ahead of New Zealand and are another crew looking forward to the A final. Jenny said: “The Swiss really kept us on our toes, we were aiming to come top two to get into the A Final. The Swiss were rising so we responded and in doing so we overtook New Zealand, little did we know we had won! It was a really tough race. We’ve just come out here to see how fast we could go, we weren’t too focused on everyone else as we knew everyone would be fast. It’s been really cool to be amongst it and take on every opportunity and we’re really looking forward to the A Final tomorrow.”

The GBR1 Men’s pair (M2-), James Doran and Matt Heywood, raced in the B final finishing seventh overall. Earlier in the morning they narrowly missed out on the A final with a third place finish in the repechage. The GBR2 Women’s double sculls (W2x), Vwairé Obukohwo and Katie Mole were 10th overall in the B final, after they placed fourth in the repechage.

You can follow World Rowing Cup III across British Rowing social media channels and here on the website, and on the World Rowing website. Finals racing on Sunday will also be shown on BBC iPlayer and the BBC website.

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