South Africa’s rowers were in awesome form over the weekend winning two silver medals and having two more crews competing in the A-finals at the World Cup in Lucerne. Roger Barrow, head coach at Tuks/HPC, has no hesitation in describing it as the best performance by South Africans in Lucerne. However according to Barrow there is no time for the rowers to rest on their laurels as the World Championships are only six weeks away and that is the moment of truth for any rower with aspirations of competing at next year’s Olympic Games in Rio.
So there is still a lot of hard work to be done. John Smith and James Thompson lost out in the final of the lightweight men’s double sculls by a meagre two seconds to the French crew of Jeremie Azou and Stany Delayre. The French won in 6 minutes 12.95 seconds with the South African second in 6:14.62 and the Norwegian crew third in 6:16.00.
Barrow says: ‘It certainly was disappointing to John and James not being able to beat the French. However it was a great race. I am happy with the result because the lightweight doubles is one of the most closely contested events. John and James raced a poor first 1000 metres but put in a really top quality performance over the second 1000 metres which showed the hard work is starting to pay dividends.’ Smith said they might have lost out to the French due to not having the best of starts: ‘In our built-up to the World Championships we will have to improve our finish and start to beat the French.’ Barrow is quite impressed by the performance of Ursula Grobler and Kirsten McCann who finished second in the A-final of the lightweight women’s sculls.
New Zealand’s Sophie MacKenzie and Julia Edward won in 6:55.60 with McCann and Grobler second in 6:56.60 and the crew of the US third in 6:58.71. Barrow says: ‘It was really a good race. Ursula and Kirsten were leading until the last 250 metres. It was only then that the New Zealand crew managed to catch up and pass them.’ Shaun Keeling and David Hunt finished 6th in the final of the men’s pair. New Zealand’s Hamish Bond and Eric Murray won in 6:24.49.
The South Africans finished in 6:38.66. According to Barrow he expected a better performance from Keeling and Hunt: ‘They rowed strongly over the first 500 metres but then progressively slowed down which was disappointing.’ Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse finished 5th in the women’s pair final.
The race was won by Britain’s Helen Glover and Heather Stanning in a time of 6:57.59 with the Tuks/HPC-crew finishing in 7:11.30. Barrow says: ‘It was a good result. We will definitely push them harder when we back in South Africa to get the boat to move faster through the water so that they can be competitive by the time they get to compete at the World Championships.’