The 2016 international rowing season got off to an intense start at World Rowing Cup I in Varese, Italy. Rowers from 47 nations raced for World Rowing Cup medals and points in this first of the series of three World Rowing Cup regattas. Overall 18 countries won medals. The Netherlands topped the medals table with seven medals, including gold in the men’s and women’s eights. The Dutch men’s eight held off Italy to earn gold and the Dutch women‘s eight had to out-row the 2015 bronze medallists, Canada, to take gold. The Dutch also won three silver medals, including the women’s double and quadruple sculls, and one bronze.
South Africa showed its strength in small boats by medalling in both the men’s and women’s pair as well as the lightweight men’s and women’s double sculls. This included putting the 2014 World Champions from the lightweight men’s double, James Thompson and John Smith, back into gold medal position.
The women’s single sculls took women’s rowing to a new level with a very tight race the whole 2,000 metres. Canada’s Carling Zeeman sprinted in the end to win gold, the multiple Olympic and World Champion Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus took silver and Olympian Sanita Puspure of Ireland got the bronze.
The men’s single sculls saw an absolutely dominating performance by Croatia’s Damir Martin who easily held off formidable Angel Fournier Rodriguez of Cuba who had to settle for silver. Relative newcomer to the single sculling scene Hannes Obreno of Belgium was third.
The 2015 World Champions in the lightweight men’s four, Switzerland were back on top. They dominated their race finishing with clear water over China and the United States. The Chinese won four medals overall including finishing first and second in the lightweight women’s double sculls.
Overall the Netherlands earned the highest number of World Rowing Cup points with 51. Poland was second with 38 and South Africa was third with 28 points.
The World Rowing Cup series was launched in 1997 and consists of a series of three events. The overall World Rowing Cup winners are determined after the third event. This year, the three stages of the series include Varese, Italy (15-17 April), Lucerne, Switzerland (27-29 May), and Poznan, Poland (16-19 June). The Poznan World Cup will include para-rowing races.
Next up in World Rowing will be the Final Paralympic Qualification Regatta in Gavirate, Italy from 21 to 23 April followed by the European Rowing Championships in Brandenburg, Germany from 6 to 8 May 2016.
Results, race reports, photos and videos are available on www.worldrowing.com.