Gale-force winds caused upsets and unpredictability galore at the 2016 European Rowing Championships in Brandenburg, Germany. Race organisers had already agreed to push race times forward by an hour, but most A-final competitors were still subject to a brutal cross-headwind. Racing became almost comical during the singles events, as Austrian Magdalena Lobnig finished twenty seconds ahead of the field, a margin she established in the opening 1000m.
Racing kicked off at 9:30 German time with a smattering of lightweight events, as the men’s pair was won by reigning European champions Great Britain. As expected, times were considerably slower than world record pace with Joel Cassells and Sam Scrimgeour winning in a time of seven minutes.
The lightweight single sculls saw Lukas Babac and Anja Noske take their respective titles with relative ease, whilst Great Britain’s Helen Glover and Heather Stanning added to their unbeaten run by wrapping up the women’s pair early on.
The men’s pair saw a cracking blanket finish between the Netherlands, Great Britain, Czech Republic and Hungary, with the latter coming out narrowly on top. Much had been made before the regatta of Jurgen Grobler’s new-look British four and they delivered in spades, producing a dominant row to win by just under a length.
The lightweight doubles provided some more entertaining racing, as the Irish men rowed down their Norwegian counterparts after a crab stalled the former. The women’s equivalent, notable for its absentees, was won by a fast crew from the Netherlands, who had a good overall regatta.
The lightweight men’s four finished where it left off last year, with the Swiss showing their class in the second thousand to ditch the attention of Great Britain and take a relatively comfortable win.
The quadruple sculls saw Germany reclaim the women’s throne after their blip in France last year; the favourites were rowed down by the USA, the surprise package of the regatta. As it was, Germany romped home ahead of Poland and reigning Olympic champions Ukraine.
The men’s race was teased by a fast Russian start before a methodical Estonian crew, who qualified via the repêchage, stole away in the third 500m. Mike Spracklen’s men finished a disappointing third.
As the weather worsened, the quality of racing inevitably followed suit. Both double sets were marred by the wind, although that din’t stop the rampant Sinkovic brothers; the Croatian duo took another international win to stretch their winning run which dates back to 2013. The women’s race was run by Belarus, with Germany following behind.
A cracking women’s eight final followed, with the Netherlands, Russia and a resurgent British crew battling it out to the line. In the end it was GB who prevailed, having under-rated the entire field to time their move to perfection.
The men’s singles saw Damir Martin continue his early season form, dominating a scattered field with world champion Ondrej Synek back in third place.
And so it came to the men’s eights; the regatta’s flagship offering and a resumption of the ongoing battle between Olympic champions Germany and world champions Great Britain. With strongman and double Olympic champion Andy Triggs Hodge returning to a British crew with multiple world champions, it was they who got off to the better start, trailing a fast-starting Russian crew. German class prevailed though, as the Deutschland-Achter rowed down their multi-national opposition to take a well-deserved title in front of an adoring home crowd.