Germany won the overall title at the first regatta of the new Rowing World Cup which ended today at the Olympic regatta course in Munich. Crews from the host nation won five of the fourteen boat classes. Britain finished second overall with one win and two second places, and Denmark third with two victories. Unexpectedly cold weather and a strong head wind created difficult conditions for the rowers.
Former world champion Iztok Cop (SLO) won the men's single sculls ahead of Egypt's Ibrahim Ali, who became the first rower from the African continent to win a major international regatta medal. Double Olympic quad sculls champion Andre Willms (GER) surprisingly finished last but probably suffered from the weather conditions. The USA also have a new star in the single sculls in Jamie Koven, a world champion in the eight in 1994. He finished third, just one second behind the Egyptian.
Olympic champion Katya Khotodovich (BLR) comfortable won the women's single sculls ahead of Atlanta bronze medallist Trine Hansen (DEN). Maria Brandin (SWE) pushed hard in the last 500 metres but had to settle for third place.
After five years of total domination by Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, the men's coxless pair is now open for a new champion. Igor Borsaka and Tihomir Francovic, the 1994 coxed pair world champions, won in Munich ahead of the very promising new British duo of Robert Thatcher and Ben Hunt-Davis. The French brothers Antoine and Laurent Beghin, 1995 world champions in the coxed pair, placed third.
As expected, Olympic silver medallists Kjetil Undset and Steffen Storseth won the men's double sculls comfortably ahead of Ukraine and more surprisingly clearly ahead of the German favourites Stephan Volkert and Andreas Hajek, who won Olympic gold in the quad. The Italians, winners of the Olympic gold, have now retired, leaving the stage to the Norwegians of whom we're sure to hear more.
The women's quad was completely dominatd by the Germans as has been the case for the last seven years. With Olympic gold medallist Kerstin Koeppen and former world champions Jana Thieme, Manuela Luetze and Meike Evers aboard, the German boat still seems unreachable to the crews from Ukraine, Russia and Denmark.
Markus and Michael Gier (SUI), the Olympic champions in the lightweight men's double sculls, fell victim to a bad lane and finished fifth, eleven seconds behind the winners Ingo Euler and Bernhard Ruehling (GER). Austria, France and Sweden filled the next three places with Great Britain finishing last.
The Danish lightweight four, Olympic champions in Atlanta, seems set to continue its unbroken streak of victories from last year. The rowers Feddersen, Ebbesen, Poulsen and Ebert are apparently stronger than ever and did not have problems fighting off strong attacks from France and Great Britain. They won by a length with France coming second and Great Britain third.
The new British coxless four with four times Olympic champion Steve Redgrave and his partner in the coxless pair Pinsent, now teamed up with James Cracknell and Tim Foster, got a head start in Munich and won the final convincingly. They were slightly pressed by a strong new Germany crew of Stefan Heinze, Uwe Steenblock, Stefan Forster and Kai Hort. But the British will also meet relatively hard competition this season from a Croatian team who finished third, only centimetres behind the Germans.
The new look German men's eight won ahead of the new young British crew, who just edged out the second German boat. In a three boat final, Romania won the women's eights ahead of Germany and Belarus.
Matt Smith, Executive Director of FISA, commented: "Our goals were to produce a top series of events outside our World Championships, thus providing world class competition for our athletes, and to promote our sport. We have achieved the first and made huge strides forward with the second. This really is the beginning of a new era for rowing."