Canada’s men’s lightweight four crew, with Kingston’s Nicolas Pratt in the boat, finished third in its first race Monday at the world rowing championships on Lac d’Aiguebelette, in the foothills of the French Alps.
Rowing with Maxwell Lattimer, Bendan Hodge and Eric Woelfl, Pratt’s crew was fifth off the start but climbed to third place by the midway point of the race. That’s where the gold-medal crew from last month’s Pan American Games stayed, finishing behind crews from Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The Swiss advanced directly to the semifinals, while the Dutch and Canadians will race again in Wednesday’s repechage.
Also Monday, the Canadian women’s eight, with Napanee’s Lesley Thompson-Willie as coxswain, won its race to advance directly to Sunday’s final. Second off the start, the crew was leading the field by the halfway marker and controlled the remainder of the race.
The Canadians have designs on dethroning the defending world champion Americans, who also won their heat Monday, but they’re also aware that the New Zealand crew has been closing the gap in racing this summer, and finished just a second behind Canada in Monday’s race.
“Our goal was to win the heat, and that’s what we did,” Thompson-Willie said. “It was a solid start to the regatta and we will sharpen up for the final.”
On the opening day of racing Sunday, the Canadian men’s four, with Kingston’s Will Crothers in the crew, won its heat to advance directly to the semifinals Thursday. In the men’s quadruple sculls, Canada, with Rob Gibson of Kingston in the boat, finished third, and now must qualify for the semifinals through Tuesday’s repechage.
Both crews were gold medalists at the Pan American Games, and won bronze medals at the most recent World Cup regatta.
In the quad, Canada was second after a solid start but the Lithuanian crew powered through the Canadians in the final quarter on its way to a second-place finish and direct entry to the semifinals.
Germany, a perennial power in men’s sculling, led the race from start to finish and also will go straight to the semifinals.
The week long world championship event is the first opportunity for countries to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The Kingston rowers are among 1,300 athletes from 77 countries taking part.