Sunday, 25th August 2019 was the first day of the 2019 World Rowing Championships, this event is the pinnacle of the season and the all-important Olympic and Paralympic qualification regatta. Athletes will strive to take the top spots throughout the event in order to qualify their boats for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Races in Olympic, International and para-rowing boat classes are contested over 2000m. Depending upon the number of entries in each event, there will be heats, repechages, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

Rowing follows a unique format in that crews have the benefit of a second chance if they are not successful in their first-round heat. The repechage is the name for the second round of competition which ensures that every crew has a second chance to advance from the preliminary races to the next round.

Lanes here are normally eight buoyed lanes, of which six are used at one time for racing. Each lane is 13.5m wide. A draw is conducted before the beginning of racing to determine the allocation of crews to heats and to lane positions within each heat.

A seeding panel determines in advance which crews will be seeded. The purpose of seeding is to avoid having all the faster boats in a boat class being drawn into the same heat in the first round.


Women’s Pair (W2-) – Heats

This boat class had a huge entry with 25 nations entered. They were divided into five heats and the goal was a top four position for a direct path to the quarterfinals.

Heat Four was very tight at the start between Ireland, Chile and South Africa, represented by Tayla-May Bentley and Jessica Schoonbee.  It remained tight through the middle of the race with the United States moving up and showing their stamina, moved to the lead and held off the Ireland attack.  South Africa were qualifiers in this heat.

Men’s Pair (M2-) – Heats

Five heats lined up with the aim of being in a top four position.  Heat Five saw Romania jump out into the lead but South Africa was going with them and in going into the middle of the race South Africa’s John Smith and Lawrence Brittain found the lead. Smith has an Olympic gold medal from the 2012 Olympics where he raced as a lightweight. Now in the open boat class, Smith is proving his worth. The South Africans remained in the lead through to the end with Serbia overtaking Romania to come in at second.

Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls (LW2x) – Heats

There were five heats for the lightweight women’s double sculls.  France led the way in Heat Four with South Africa chasing hard. The two boats then moved away from the rest of the field with only China looking like they could hold the leading pace. Coming into the final sprint South Africa, represented by Kirsten MacDonald and Ursula Grobler, and France were equal. A better sprint France gave them the win. 

Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls (LW1x) – Heats

This boat class had three heats and the goal for these scullers was to finish in a top two position for a direct path to the semifinals. In Heat One it was South Africa that had the early lead. Italy and Norway followed closely. Then the United States sculler started to steadily work her way through the field. But Nicola van Wyk of South Africa continued to lead and with open water, she won with United States second on the line. 

Men’s Double Sculls (M2x) – Heats

It was China in the lead of Heat Six. China had a flying start and got a boat length over the rest of the field. Switzerland started to move and got up level with China. The Chinese saw the Swiss coming and moved away again by increasing their stroke rate. These two boats were now far ahead of the rest of the field. China, at 34 strokes per minute, came through to the end with the Swiss looking content to be in second. South Africa represented by Mzwandile Sotsaka and Bradley Betts, took third.

Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats In Heat Four Romania had the fastest start with South Africa coming out in second. But then Poland did a huge push and they got into first by the halfway point. They didn’t stop there. Poland then moved half a length ahead of Romania. Poland had more to give and then moved clean away from the rest of the field for an easy win.  The South African Men’s Four represented by David Hunt, Sandro Torrente, Kyle Schoonbee and Jake Green will participate in the repechage R3 on 27th August.

You can view the full schedule here.

Here are few of the images from Championships in Linz Ottensheim, Austria.

Saturday 24th August Training Day
Tayla-May Bentley and Jessica Schoonbee
Saturday 24th August Training Day
Tayla-May Bentley and Jessica Schoonbee
Opening Ceremony of the Rowing World Championships 2019
Opening Ceremony
Sunday 25th – Day One Heats
Nicole van Wyk
Sunday 25th – Day One Heats
Nicole van Wyk
Linz Rowing Lanes
The Linz Rowing Lanes