Rowing Service Commentary: FISU Regatta 2002

WURC finals commentary

Saturday 24th August 2002


The A-finals were covered with live-written commentary on this page - read from the bottom up.

That concludes our live online commentary from the 7th World University Championships, although this page will remain in place, without the auto-refresh, as a record of the event. Thanks for reading, and see you in Seville mid-September 2002 for the Worlds (live commentary of all A-finals).

M8+, men's eights
Five minutes to go until the last race of the day. This tricky wind still in evidence, the stands slowly filling up as more athletes finish their racing, and the French kit-fest has now finished. What's the betting their kit gets exchanged within the next half-hour? The men's coxless fours earlier decided to play swapsies in their crews earlier, by the way, the French and Kiwis jumping ship to help row each others shells back, while the Poles didn't bother. Nice sign of international spirit.
The scoreboard for the lanes has now sorted itself out for the final few races, which is a blessing when we're trying to sort out who's where and how much they've caught up. The eights are on the start, just waiting for the signal and aligning in the cross-breeze. This is Canada's chance, like their women's four, should be able to convert Commonwealth silver to FISU gold in the absence of star-quality Australians. Hoping to stop them are Germany, amongst others, including a clutch of former internationals, and Poland's crew including six of this-year's Worlds squaddies. A slight delay with birds on the course - for Brookes-watchers they are in lane two, one away from GBR (aka OBU). The safety boats are trying to herd them, but that just encourages another few swans to come over and see what all the fuss is about. We can see wind-gusts in places down the course, but it's generally flat for the final race of the day. Swans over to lane five, now lane six, they must be ready soon. A massive posse of spectators (for that read coaches) on the start, waiting to cycle off furiously in pursuit of their eights.
We should be off in a moment, under orders, and.... they go. First bow to show is Germany, Canada matching them, but all the crews are close. A typical international eights race this, off in the 40's, everyone bulletting off like rockets, and nothing to choose between them. Beginning to settle, GER starting to show a little more, CAN also up at the front, NED also in contention. ITA/GBR/POL all level. 500 gone, Canada from the Dutch, Germany within a gnat's crotchet, and another second back, the other three. GBR just ahead of POL and ITA and half a length back from GER. Canada at 37, everyone well into race pace, GER pushing back towards NED to challenge for second place. POL pushing back on GBR, ITA starting to fall out of it, rowing a bit too short, here come the mid-race pushes, Canada 2/3 up on the Dutch, and extending. The commentator missed it a bit, now saying CAN 1.25 L up, GER just ahead of NED from a good solid push, and a bit further back, POL a few feet up on GBR. 500 to go, CAN look like stars, scattering swans as they go, GER fighting off a push from POL, GBR beginning to overhaul NED but only just overlapping. Here come the Poles again, refusing to give up, they want GER to pay for that good start, POL at 40, CAN leading easily, and the only battle is now NED versus POL versus GER for the minor medals. NED charging, POL have burnt their boats and most of their power with the last push, NED level with GER, it's going to be a photo for silver. Trevor thinks that the Dutch snatched silver on the line, but we'll wait to be sure. Yes, it's the Netherlands getting second by 0.22 over Germany. And with one bound the Dutch are up into ninth place on the medals table, which is won by Poland with Canada second and the Czechs third.
Gold CAN, silver NED, bronze GER.

LM1x, lightweight men's single sculls
One minute to go to the last singles race of the day, and the question is whether Vabrousek can beat Hartung to make it three out of three golds for the Czech scullers. They start, and after 20 strokes it's Vabrousek in front by a few feet, with Bernd Feuerstein of AUT running second and the rest level just behind. Roy Delis of NED beginning to show in third, then Nicolas Latt of SUI, but there isn't much to choose between them yet, and a way to go before anything is certain. Vabrousek pulls it out to 3/4 length as Germany's Hartung starts to pierce his way through the fading Austrian. He gets second by 400 gone, and now it's CZE against GER as expected, Vabrousek currently 2 lengths to the good at 33, 750 gone. AUT is being pushed by NED, with SUI only just back, and currently last, JPoland's Rafal Klimczewski. GER at 35 now, NED has gone through AUT and is closing down GER, this will bring them both back on CZE if he isn't careful. The wind's a medium cross-breeze, and as NED darts a look at POL, they come to 500 to go with CZE still in gold, rating 31 and saving his best push for when he's going to need it. He was world champion in Zagreb in 2000, and knows the score. Hartung at 33, now more than 2 lengths down on CZE, and NED another length plus down on GER, but not giving up. CZE at 30 now, showing off a bit, and GER coming back on ihm in the final sprint, but he's not prepared to worry when he knows he's got it in the bag. Nice one Michal, he turns himself quickly round, and if only Chalupa were a student they'd have bagged a full set of four today, not just a mere hat-trick. And the Dutch contingent are pretty happy, their first medal safely brought home.
Gold CZE, silver GER, bronze NED.

W2x, women's double sculls
The sun's out again, the wind sock is limp, and the men's eights are just going up the course to warm up. Earlier, we didn't have time to tell you about the entertaining antics of the lightweight women's doubles, who after their medals ceremony, decided to do some boat-swapping. Well, at least the French and Poles did, the Germans refusing to play such silly games as they rowed back to the dock.
The women's doubles are on the start, and favourites here are the automatic qualifiers Canada and Poland. While the men's singles medallists are exchanging pleasantries waiting for the fours to get off the dock, the women have started, and it's Canada as expected, Poland hot in pursuit, with Ireland and the Czechs vying for bronze. GBR are fifth, ITA sixth, and so far the crews are performing as expected. 1000 metres gone, Poland and Canada were stroke for stroke, but now Canada are edging past, Jane Rumball trying for her second medal and hoping to go one better and make it gold. She's giving it a good go too, out in lane 6, leading by 2 lengths coming into the last 400m. Quite close for the minor medals, Poland just holding the Czechs with 250m to go. Ireland are 4th but won't be able to come back into the medal hunt from there at tis late stage. Canada are clear, rating 35, and win by 4 lengths from Poland, in turn 2 lengths ahead of the Czech crew, then Ireland, then GB 5th and Italy a bit off the pace in 6th.
Gold Canada, silver Poland, bronze Czech Republic.

M1x, men's single sculls
While we wait for this singles race to go, watching the Poles do their stretches at the 500-to-go marker, the eight of them getting ready for what is going to be the most fantastic race finale at 5:30 pm. It's a solemn business, this warming up. Brits starting to get quite excited now, as their best medal hope goes in this race. Lining up we have Andre Vonarburg for SUI, who cites himself in the biog as 2001 World Cup runner-up, but fails to mention that he was also 5th at the Sydney Olympics in the Swiss quad. Pete Wells (GBR) is Under-23 and HRR champion, and goes off first, as he did in the heat, 1 length up on Vonarburg, who is about a length up on France's Frederic Perrier. Vonarburg hardens his sculling a bit, Italy's Giuseppe Grasso having steering difficulties but now straightened out, though still last. In between we have Micher Dzog (POL) and David Kucera (CZE), who is either someone I've written about before, or a younger brother of... 750 gone, GBR still leading, SUI stalking in second, FRA third, and these three are well clear of the pack. SUI at 34 and pushing back, more urgent than GBR who's at 31, but Well is going to have to match Vonarburg if he doesn't want to give away the lead. SUI now through, leading GBR by over half a length, Perrier still in third. The battle for gold has taken SUI and GBR away from the pack, GBR pushing at 500 to go, SUI very solid and strong, Vonarburg seeming to move away with every stroke. Doesn't look like much chance of change, and as we come to 250 to go, SUI is at 35, GBR at 33, the distance just over 1 length, FRA at 34 and not being pushed for bronze. GBR threatening to overlap, last 10 strokes, gets overlaps on the Swiss sculler, who knows he's got gold and isn't bothered. France adding to their collection of minor medals again, and that will be their lot, with no more chances to get gold. Britain on the table for the first time today. We now have 14 countries on the table out of 26.
Gold SUI, silver GBR, bronze FRA.

M4-, men's coxless fours
The LM2x medal ceremony is taking place while the next race lines up, and the Hungarians, as well as being national champions, turn out to have been at the World Cup, since they're wearing Zurich t-shirts. Not that their team manager told us... Of the next race on the card, M4-, nearly everyone in it (bar the dark horse Poles, who aren't telling), went to the Junior Worlds or Under-23's in recent years. The standard is good here, without a doubt, and with today's organising committee meeting confirming the future plans for the next eight years, this competition should continue to grow. Off they go, and it's Poland from France from New Zealand, only half a length off Ireland, the same from Switzerland, the same from the Russians. While we watch, the French team manager is rather belatedly handing out kit on the raft to the previous medallists. OK, back to the race, Poland still leading, France and New Zealand now well up on Ireland, so nothing is changing. POL only have 3/4 length lead from the French, but this may be enough, they can clearly see they are in control. 750 to go, New Zealand pushing up to the French, these three will be the medallists, nobody else anywhere near, POL still up front, and now NZL at 35 drawing further ahead of FRA. NZL looking very good, black blades smacking into the water, while the French are a bit more laid back, and although they won't mean to, are letting the Kiwis slip away. NZL are gunning for the Poles, but they won't make it, 250 to go and it's a length plus between silver and gold. Poland going for their third gold medal, NZL not giving up, FRA droopping right back but unthreatened by the minor places. A spirited race not to be last between SUI and RUS will require a photofinish.
Gold POL, silver NZL, bronze FRA.

LW2x, lightweight women's double sculls
Mike Williams' exhortations for the spectators to stand for the FISU anthem appear to be falling on deaf ears, as they all sit stolidly in their grandstand seats despite it's enticing "girl scouts on camp" sound. As they line up, again lane six isn't being used, for this is a five-boat final, in which the Germans won the race for lanes on Thursday. The race has just started, Germany showing their canvas ahead first, feet ahead of FRA who just lead POL, NOR and NZL. The Norwegian double has Oxford lightweight Blue Sunniva Engh at bow, her second race of the day, and her doubel is in fourth at present but battling Poland. The first timing point, and GER show still well on top, over France with New Zealand moving into bronze medal position. Poland pushing through to challenge France, Norway at 30 looking sluggish in this company. Half way, at present GER are in command, POL pushing FRA but not managing to get past them, the surge taking both crews away from NZL and NOR. GER are comfortable at 31.5, FRA at 35, but not making any headway. The echelon is in full flow, so perhaps the race for lanes was no fake, as the wind has now nearly dropped for this race. 500 to go, can't see any of the medals changing hands at this stage, France's under-23's not managing to get past the Germany duo. Germany finally get their second gold, for no lack of trying, and it's several lengths between most crews at the line.
That puts Germany back on top of the medals, but Poland are second and only one medal behind. In fact Poland have representation in every final left (five races) while Germany only have two, so it's looking good for the Warsaw Pact.
Gold GER, silver FRA, bronze POL.

LM2x, lightweight men's double sculls
Three minutes to go until this race, Still on the alternative lane draw, and this race has the Swiss as favourites, Hungary's national champions Vanczek and Neisz the other heat winners. While we wait for the off, one of the Polish double is being interviewed for "quick quotes" and waving his arms volubly on the medals dock. The lightweights are now off, and the wind freshens a little just in time for the lighter crews. A blanket start, all the crews within feet of each other, Germany and France fast-starting and slightly ahead of Switzerland. The first marker reached, and it's Switzerland now over Hungary over Germany. Russia and Germany look in danger of collision, veering towards their mutual buoy line. Russia being pushed by the Poles in the adjacent lane, Switerland losing ground steadily to Hungary, and their push gets through, by halfway the Hungarians are in control. It's HUN from SUI from GER/RUS, FRA lagging but beginning to mount an attack. This is a great race, everyone in reach of some kind of medal, Hungary looking good for the gold, FRA now challenging hard for bronze, having edged out RUS and now pushing GER. GER at 35 with 250 to go, just hanging on to bronze by their toenails, SUI at 37 solid in silver, GER raising to 39, to crowd chants. It's going to be neck and neck for the bronze, FRA and GER, could be anyone's, that's on the nod, although FRA were slightly ahead on each finish, both were catching through the line, so it must be checked by a photo. We'll update here when we get more on that one. Well it's France from Germany by 0.4 seconds, on that last stroke.
Gold HUN, silver SUI, bronze FRA.

LM4-, lightweight men's coxless fours
They're on the start now, and the sun has come out, probably smiling on happy Czech scullers, but the wind is now nearly all cross. Off in a pack, not much between Poland, France, Ukraine and South Africa, with the Dutch rating 40 in the least favoured lane. South Africa down to 37 as they all settle, Poland now edging to half a length lead over RSA, while France and Ukraine are scrapping for third. Dutch spending some time over their stroke side buoys and now correcting, POL increasing their lead, and spectators still bemused by the scoreboard showing everyone in entirely the wrong lanes (and therefore positions). Ireland just up on the Dutch at the back. South Africa just coming off a push, Poland beginning to go at halfway, rating 36 and still holding on to the lead. We have no biographical info on any of the Poles, but they are an impressive bunch, and this lot particularly. France challenging RSA for silver, they push effectively and just seem to sneak through. 250 to go, Poland have it sewn up, FRA ar 40 intent on getting that silver, RSA responding, UK trying to match them and nearly up to the South Africans for the bronze, UKR at 43, RSA tiring, FRA secure for silver, UKR go through. A wallopping sprint from Ukraine there, gets them their first medal. Polish 3-man stands up, celebrating, Dutch despondent after finishing sixth behind IRL.
That puts Poland on top of the medals table for now, ahead of the Czech Republic and then Germany. Shame they aren't playing the national anthems.
Gold POL, silver FRA, bronze UKR.

M2x, men's double sculls
The wind is getting less strong but more of a direct headwind. The draw put the Germans in lane 5, which seems a bit odd given that they won the race for lanes by 5s. Swiss in bronze, they have competed in the World Cup, and are chasing the Poles and Germans. The Italian double raced at the World U23 championships earlier this year. Germans lead but the Poles have pushed and are almost level, barely 2ft behind. Things changing behind the leading pair, but these two are out in front rating 37 and level. Estonians are trying to make amends and it looks like it's working, but they have a lot to make up. Poland have just come through the Germans with 500m to go. Germany at 36.5, the Poles under-rating them by 1. Poles have it at the 250m by half a length, Estonia have surged thruogh the Swiss and look safe for the bronze. Poland look strong and win by 1.5 lengths, very happy, Germany 2nd, Estonia a spirited bronze by 1.5 lengths. Fourth was Switzerland, last was Italy.
Gold Poland, silver Germany, bronze Estonia.

LW1x, lightweight women's single scull
Sooty, otherwise known to masquerade as David Biddulph, is on the start at the moment and can be heard on the radio being a bit concerned about the number of swans on the course. These have been a feature all week but I don't think there have actually been any incidents yet. They are playing the FISA anthem rather than National anthems, much to the amusement and surprise of the German pair. Anyway, they're off. Nachazelova has a lead over Fluri of Switzerland. The wind has dropped a bit so the French sculler Gourdin is not too disadvantaged. Nachazelova won silver at the U23s, and is in the thick of a central European race here. Fluri was 9th in the LW2x last year so has pedigree. Looks quite open between the Czech, German, Swiss and Austrian scullers, with only the Dutch and French scullers looking to be out of touch at the moment. The rates are quite nippy, in the wind, Lutz pushing at 33 but Fluri at 36. These scullers close but Nachazelova has a clear lead and can watch the race unfold. Lutz relying more on rate than length. Czech from from Switzerland, Germany from Austria. Swiss girl pushing it hard but isn't going to get to the Czech girl, wo takes it by just over 2 lengths at a cruise, Swiss silver by an increasing 3 lengths, Germany settling for bronze before the line. What price a Czech hat-trick in the sculling events, with Vabrusek in the lightweight men' event to come? Martin Brandon-Bravo presenting the medals and warning them it's heavy...hopefully these medals have the year on them unlike the Commonwealth medals awarded last week.
Gold Czech Republic, silver Switzerland, bronze Germany.

W4-, women's coxless fours
We have been told that they're switching to the alternative lane draw for this, although the wind is no stronger than for other races. They're off, Canada and Germany were the heat winners and race off hard, the commentator erroneously describing GBR as "England" (tut tut). The crews settle, AUS overlap the Germans at the front, CAN in the mix, and GBR just behind. AUS are rating very low, down at 30 or so, but strongly sending their shell along and making good headway. The scoreboard has the whole lot confused, so spectators are scratching their heads, while AUS pick up their rate a bit to 34, and now Canada are in the lead by half a length, no two-thirds of a length over Germany. Poland look to be in third, with AUS and GBR behind them. Canada look pretty confident now, can they do better than the silver medals all four got in different crews last weekend? Poland pushing Germany hard for the silver, GBR are pushing through AUS, who hold them off, while Hungary trail right at the back. 300 to go, CAN now at 37 as GER increase the power, it's getting tighter for the gold medal, POL are way ahead of AUS and GBR, GBR now sprinting to try for fourth. GER have just a canvas to go before they get CAN, CAN respond again, 50 metres to go, CAN should should just hold on, GBR at 39.5 trying to get the Aussies, they just about do it, and we'll bring that photofinish later tonight if we can.
Gold CAN, silver GER, bronze POL.

W1x, women's single scull
This race has already begun as we pick it up with 500 gone, Miroslava Knapkova establishing a solid 2-length lead over Jane Rumball of Canada, who is doubling up later. Rumball's at 29.5, Knapkova at 30, with Peta Estens of Australia in third. The Dutch sculler, Myke Mol, is so far over to bowside that she's nearly in lane three, but not troubling Jane Rumball who is well ahead of her. Knapkova looks great, she is World Cup champion this year, and 4 lengths clear of the field, well into cruise mode. 500 to go, Knapkova effortlessly increasing her lead, and Estens is being chased by Katrin Ots of Estonia for the bronze medal, Rumball looking just about OK for silver. The race for bronze is pulling AUS along a bit, pressing CAN, but it's clear she can hold off Estonia if she keeps her head. The pity is that so few spectators (about usual for Nottingham) are here to see a world-class performance from Knapkova.
Gold CZE, silver CAN, bronze AUS.

M2-, men's coxless pairs
The Russian pair are called several times, with just 10 minutes to go until racetime, resulting in a delay to the first race. No idea why they're not in their boat, but as they rush to the rack, umpires clucking about the situation, it's discovered that their heel restraints aren't in place (naughty Brookes, who are lending them the boat), so they have to sort that out too. Anyway they boat, eventually, with racing held and them getting a warning. The rest sit in their lanes waiting, as the Russians get up to 1000m. Meanwhile we have heard that the Hungarian women's four, being lent a boat by Durham University, came down this afternoon to discover it already derigged and loaded onto the trailer, 'cos Durham thought it wasn't being used in the final. Misunderstanding corrected, the Hungarians are now on their way to the start for the third race of the afternoon. Russia still not yet at the start, and the rest of the crews will be enchanted by the freshening breeze (not).
Eight minutes late, the Russians get to the start and maneouvre onto their stake boat. The umpire's launch goes off behind Australia, then Russia, busy as the pairs all push away. Germany went off fastest, South Africa warned away from bowside in the first few hundred metres, Germany still leading at 500 gone. Now South Africa's pushing on Germany, with Great Britain's lightweights nicely holding the big boys in third. RSA still moving, the German lead down to 2/3 length at 650 gone, and GER pushing to 39 to hold them off. All the pairs lower in rate now, RSA at half a length down and pushing again, mid-race there are two battles developing as GBR and AUS drop behind the two leaders. AUS now just 3/4 L behind GBR, as the umpire comes to take another look at their steering. RSA have Germany back down to a canvas, at 750 to go, Germany responding with a well-timed power push to 34-35. South Africa going one more time, the lake is beginning to run out, and AUS also start their wind in, trying to bag bronze off GBR as the Russians begin to surge forward to challenge for third. RSA at 38, 300 to go, GER look fairly secure for the gold, RSA flagging now, and it's all to go for the Brits, Russians and Aussies. AUS at 37, 50 to go, GBR pushing again, RUS have come through AUS now and are overtaking the Brits.
Gold GER, silver RSA, bronze RUS.

We start the afternoon with the cross-head wind having freshened a little, resulting in the starter/umpire team organising contingency lane draws which they will use if the wind becomes more unfair. It's coming in from lane 6 at the moment, favouring that side, but is gusty, varying in strength.


A brief summary of each race, not written live. Read bottom to top.

M8+, men's eights
Apparently the Croatians have been in the pub every night this week - you couldn't tell, as they lead the pack off and maintain a solid lead right to the finish. France pushing them hard, get within half a length just before the end, but sprinting frenetically at 300 to go can't make any impression. Croatia finish first, delighted, and sing their way down the lake on their warm-down paddle. Meanwhile Chinese Taipei, nearly two lengths back on their neighbours China in mid-race, come bursting back, encouraged by spirited drumming and cymbal action on the bank, and almost catch the Chinese on the line. The result, first quoted as 1 second, then amended to 0.25, illustrates just how much you can't trust this lake's timing system - or should I say those pressing the buttons to mark the finishes. We'll be putting the photofinish up later - that's much more reliable.

LM1x, lightweight men's single sculls
Australia trying desperately to salvage a good result from this surprising crop of B-final appearances, but rather in the fly-and-die slot, failing to stay with Hungary and France.
7th HUN, 8th FRA, 9th AUS.

W2x, women's double sculls
France not bothered in the slightest by Ukraine, sculling steadily along in front from first to last.
7th FRA, 8th UKR.

M4-, men's coxless fours
Hotly contested, this one, Hungary and Italy scrapping to start with, then Italy fading and letting Estonia through into second. The wind is cross-head, slight but holding, and times aren't fast.
7th HUN, 8th EST, 9th ITA.

LM2x, lightweight men's double sculls
The Czechs got an early slight lead, which they stretched to well over a length by 750 gone. In the few hundred their bowside sculls started to clip the buoys, but they were well in charge and could relax.
7th CZE, 8th AUS, 9th AUT.

M2-, men's coxless pairs
Pretty simple stuff for New Zealand this time, glad to win a race from early on.
7th NZL, 8th HUN.

LW1x, lightweight women's single sculls
A walk-over for Allison Downey, who had a length advantage by 300 gone and pulled that out to 15 seconds by the finish.
7th IRL, 8th RUS.

W4-, women's coxless fours
New Zealand and the Netherlands were stroke for stroke right up the course until about 750 to go. Here it appeared that the Dutch had been struggling with steering problems, and with a tremendous tug they hauled themselves back onto course. This gave them the impetus they needed to start edging ahead, which they did despite New Zealand's above-40 final sprint.
7th NED, 8th NZL, 9th FRA, 10th NOR.

Commentary copyright Trevor Chambers, Rachel Quarrell and Ed Hawkins, for the Rowing Service.

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