The first day of the newly created Rowing World Cup in Munich, Germany, showed that 1997 is Year One for most national rowing federations. Few crews from last year are still intact, and the results after the heats and repechages Friday differ in many boat types from results of the Olympic Games in Atlanta. Head-wind on the Olympic rowing course made times slow in most races.
Germany dominated the day with 14 boats qualifying directly to either the finals or the semi-finals and another four going through to the semi-finals after the repechages. The German women in their parade discipline, the quadruple sculls, had two boats winning each of the two heats and qualifying directly for the final, one being a new constellation of known rowers and the other a new team. Also two German men's quads went straight to the semi-final with relatively unknown rowers as well as two men's doubles and the single with Andre Willms, the Olympic champion in the quad of last year. The German men's eight continued its traditional dominance but with a different crew than the one winning silver last year.
Great Britain also performed well. The focus was on the new coxless four with four times Olympic champion Steve Redgrave, his partner in the coxless pair and their new partners James Cracknell and Tim Foster. The four won their heat ahead of Poland and the Czech Republic. Greg Searle, Olympic bronze winner in the coxless four, won his heat in the men's single sculls as did Guin Batten, last year's number five in Atlanta, in the women's single.
In the men's single, Frederik Bekken (NOR), sixth in Atlanta, won his heat and looks set to make a mark this year. Also qualifying for the semi-finals were Nicolae Taga of Romania, who is back after an Olympic season in the eight, and Iztok Cop from Slovenia, fourth in Atlanta. A lot of new faces are present in the event. Olympic champion, Xeno Mueller (SUI) is taking a year off, the renowned German rower Thomas Lange has retired after his Olympic bronze medal, and silver medallist Derek Porter of Canada is not taking part in this leg of the World Cup.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the women's single sculls, and the regatta enjoyed the participation of Belarus's Olympic champion Katya Khodotovich, Trine Hansen, Olympic bronze winner of Denmark, and Romiana Neikova of Bulgaria (8th in Atlanta). All three won their heats. Last year's number four in Atlanta and world champion of 1995, Maria Brandin (SWE), qualified for the semi-finals in the repechage.