On semi-final day at the Rowing World Cup in Lucerne, Switzerland, the men’s lightweight four fared best of the Irish in action, finishing third in their semi-finals to advance to tomorrow’s A final.
The men’s heavyweight pair and the men’s heavyweight four both finished sixth in their respective semi-finals to progress to tomorrow’s B finals for places seven to twelve.
The lightweight men’s double finished third in the C final; an overall placing of fifteenth at the regatta.
The heavens opened on the Rotsee lake this afternoon and, for a time a headwind came into play, but the worst of the weather had abated by the time the lightweight four took to the water.
Lining up alongside the Irish quartet for three ‘A’ final places were world champions Great Britain, world silver medalists France, crews that finished fourth and seventh at last year’s world championships respectively; Canada and Australia, as well as another boat not yet qualified for the Olympics; the Swiss, on their home territory.
In the semi-final the British and Australians led out the field with the Irish four, the French and the other two crews close behind.
With 500 metres of to go, at the head of the pack world champions Great Britain were narrowly leading the Australians, with the Irish four having moved into third ahead of the French.
It was all change by the time the crews reached the line, with the French, in typical style, having made a big push to take the top spot a mere 0.05 of a second ahead of Great Britain who headed the Irish four by 0.63 of a second.
The Irish boat had over a second to spare over the Australians at the line, with Switzerland fifth and Canada sixth.
Ireland’s stroke man Paul Griffin spoke of their race plan: “We said last night that our first thousand wasn’t good, after the heat, so we said we’d spend a bit more energy in the first thousand, and try and replicate the second thousand we had yesterday.”
“We still feel there are one or two phases that aren’t good, the first 250m today wasn’t good; it isn’t great yet but it’s incremental, we’re definitely getting there. We were definitely much better than yesterday as everything showed; the result and times”, he continued.
In tomorrow's final Ireland will face Denmark, China, France, Germany and Great Britain.
Looking to that final Griffin said: “Training has been going really well, and we are delighted with it, delighted that we’ve put it all together today. Of course tomorrow is another day again and we’ll have to replicate again, and improve again so that’s going to be a big test, so every race is a test really.”
In their semi-final the men’s heavyweight four, who had already qualified for Beijing, needed a top three finish to progress to tomorrow’s A final.
Heat winners Australia, bronze medalists at last year’s world championships; the Dutch four, and one of the two German crews were favoured to progress.
With the Australians and the Dutch leading the way, the Irish quartet of Alan Martin, Cormac Folan, Sean O’Neill and James Wall were consistently occupying fourth up until the halfway point, when the second string German crew made a decisive push that saw the Irish slip back to sixth behind Argentina, where they finished.
They will contest tomorrow’s B final for places seven to twelve.
The men’s heavyweight pair of Sean Casey and Jonno Devlin faced into a semi-final packed full of top class crews including world number two; New Zealand, number four; France, and yesterday’s heat winners; Canada.
Only the top three crews progressed to the A final, and for this Irish pairing - still a relatively new combination - achieving one of those places was going to be a tall order.
Racing during the worst of the rain and wind, they didn’t manage to find their rhythm throughout the 2000 metre test, and finished in sixth to progress to tomorrow’s B final for places seven to twelve.
The men’s lightweight double of Cathal Moynihan and Richard Coakley were first of the Irish out on the water in their C final (places 13-18) this morning.
The duo recovered from a poor start to put in a strong performance over the second half of the race to cross the line in third; an overall placing at this regatta of 15th, which represents an improvement of ten places on the last World Cup in Munich.