The Australian Men’s Coxless Four ventured off the Europe a week ago at the start of a campaign to attempt to qualify this boat and crew for the Olympics. After a disappointing B final in last year’s World Championships the boat missed out on getting an automatic Olympic slot and had to qualify in 2008 just as the Men’s Eight would have had to except for the disqualification of the Russian Federation.
The crew, with SUBC members Francis Hegerty and Matt Ryan on board along with Cam McKenzie McCarg and James Marburg of Melbourne Uni and coached by former SUBC 1976 Olympic representative Tim Conrad ( now QAS Rowing Coach) opened their campaign in sensational fashion with a somewhat unexpected win in the final against the world’s best coxless fours at the Lucerne World Cup.
Starting on Saturday the crew led out in Heat 3 , only to be headed by USA during the middle 1000 metres and came home with a 1.28 last 500 to win and progress to the semi-final. Other heat winners were New Zealand ( the 2007 World Champions) and France.
In the second semi Australia slotted into second behind Germany and pushed through in the third 500 to take the lead and finish just under a second ahead of France.
The final was at 9.50 pm last night ( Sunday 1st June ) Australian time. This race saw the Aussies push out quickly and in 1.26.29 take a marginal break on USA at the 500. The Aussies extended this to only 0.5 secs at the 1000 and 1500 over the USA but in the final 500 it was the relatively new Australian combination that applied the pressure and grabbed another 1.3 seconds from the Americans as the French who had always been a close third matched the Aussies speed over the last quarter to push the USA back to third.
While the crew is excited and elated with their performance it won’t put them in the Olympic Games ? to achieve this they must win the qualifying race at Poznan 16-18th June. The result at Lucerne will make them strong contenders to take out a qualifying spot in two weeks and if they are successful they must be considered a definite chance of a medal in Beijing in August.