The 31st CRASH-B Sprints, the world championships of indoor rowing, took place on Sunday, February 19, once again at the Agganis Arena in Boston. Nearly 2000 people turned up to race on the day, including 50 adaptive athletes.
The Men’s Open Heavyweight race was won for the first time by someone from Mexico, as Juan Cabrera raced competitively in 5:55.1, pulling away at the end from Michael DiSanto of the USA, who won silver in 5:57.4. In a fierce battle for third, the USA’s Alex Fleming had just enough left in the tank to finish ahead of Spain’s Lars Gumprecht.
The Women’s Open Heavyweight race saw Estonia’s Kaisa Pajusalu accomplish a threepeat, adding to her 2011 and 2009 crowns with a time of 6:37.3, well ahead of Lauren Schmetterling of the USA and Jenny van Dobben de Bruijn of the Netherlands in second and third place respectively.
The Men’s Open Lightweight race was once again won by a Dane, but this time rather than world record holder Henrik Stephansen, who couldn’t make the trip in an Olympic year, it was Steffen Bonde Jensen who dominated the race from start to finish, winning in 6:04.5. Nearly 12 seconds later, Andrew Hashway of the USA edged out his fellow countryman Ben Perry to take silver in 6:16.1.
Nienke van Hoogenhuyze had almost as comfortable a race in winning the Women’s Open Lightweight, finishing strongly to win in the impressive time of 7:06.3. Sarah Schwegman and Nikki Bourassa made it yet another USA silver and bronze in 7:13.3 and 7:14.1.
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the championships came from Great Britain’s Jen Howse, racing in the Women’s 30-39 Lightweight event. Lying in a close second place just after the 1500m mark, she found herself stranded when her monitor unfortunately died. With no option other than to row again two and a half hours later, some enthusiastic coaching by British team manager Kimberley Naylor-Perrott helped her dig deep enough to take the gold medal in 7:22.6.
It’s been great to see that the biggest growth in the last few years has come in the Junior events, and this year over 900 juniors raced on the day. There was a strong international flavor in these races as well, with Marcos Ipiapina of Brazil and Janina Scholz of Germany winning the Men and Women’s Heavyweight races. The Lightweight trophies both stayed in North America, however, as Matthew Segal of Canada and Christine Cavallo of the USA brought home the bacon in their races.
At the other end of the scale, a special mention should go to Stephen Richardson, the oldest competitor at the age of 91, who won the Men’s 90-94 Heavyweight race in 11:58.2.
There are still a number of indoor races left this season. For details of these, check out the race calendar.