by Melissa Bray
© Peter Spurrier
The new British men’s four with (l to r) Peter Reed, Alex Partridge, Steve Williams
and Andy Twiggs-Hodge / Le nouveau quatre de pointe britannique, avec de
gauche à droite: Peter Reed, Alex Partridge, Steve Williams et Andy Twiggs-Hodge
© Detlev Seyb
The Bulgarian double Rumyana Neykova (l) and Miglena Markova / Le deux
de couple bulgare composé de Rumyana Neykova (g) et de Miglena Markova
Athens Olympic stars were either
hiding, far away from the rowing
season, or concealing themselves
inside all varieties of boats.
The first of three in the Rowing World
Cup series began at the site of the 2012
Olympic Games at Dorney Lake in Eton,
Great Britain. The brand new facility, which
will also host the 2006 World Rowing
Championships, exuded an atmosphere
that reflected the long history and tradition that is entrenched in British rowing.
Athletes had to face challenging crosswind conditions on finals day which saw
lightweight single sculler Daniela
Nachazelova of the Czech Republic
continue racing despite getting blown
into the adjacent lane.
Leaving her single back in Bulgaria,
Rumyana Neykova teamed up with
Miglena Markova in the women's double
and won convincingly at Eton. After a
repeat performance at Munich the double
concluded dramatically at the third
BearingPoint Rowing World Cup. In the
last stroke of the Lucerne race the
Bulgarians broke the three-year winning
streak of New Zealand Olympic
Champions, Georgina and Caroline
Evers-Swindell. Trying a new tactic the
Evers-Swindell twins had raced at
Munich in singles with Georgina
winning bronze just ahead of her sister.
Completing the season undefeated was
Great Britain's men's four. They felt the
love at Eton in front of their home crowd
when they romped to the finish with a
clear water margin at the line. They did
the same at the second Rowing World
Cup in Munich, but toned it down at
Lucerne choosing instead, under the
instruction of coach Jürgen Grobler, to
work on "technique and harmony."
Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus finished
three for three and barely broke a sweat
in the women's single as the field was
whittled away in the absence of semi-retired
Katrin Rutschow-Stomporowski of Germany
and Neykova getting busy in the double.
Mirka Knapkova of the Czech Republic
tried to fill the singles gap and in the
process took away silver at Eton and
Munich. She also caught the eye of
Karsten who commented on her
improving boat speed.
Four-time Olympic Champion Kathrin
Boron stepped out of the quad and back
in the single, winning bronze at Eton.
Not being satisfied with this, Boron left
the racing scene to focus on getting
faster, only to return and finish outside
of the medals at Lucerne.
Shaking up the men's single was 22-year-
old Czech Ondrej Synek who left his
Olympic doubles partner to go solo this
season. Winning at Eton and then again
at Lucerne not only gave Synek two
World Cup gold medals but also
dethroned fellow countryman Vaclav
Chalupa from his country's top spot - a
spot Chalupa has held for over a decade.
This pushed Chalupa out of the single
and into the quad. At Lucerne Chalupa's
quad raced Estonia to a very tight finish.
Although the Czechs had led for most of
the race, Estonia took the gold in the
closing metres. Tucked into the bow of
Estonia's boat was Olympic silver
medallist from the single Jueri Jaanson,
who has been racing Chalupa in the
single internationally for 16 years.
Spicing up the men's quad competition at
Munich, Slovenia's multiple Olympians
Iztok Cop and Luka Spik led their crew
to a win before returning to the double at
Lucerne in one of the biggest events of
26 boats. Their superior boat speed was
crystal clear when they led from the start >>