Island rowers off to fast start at world championships

The resurgent Elk Lake-based Canadian team, held to a lone medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is making encouraging waves at the 2018 world rowing championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Caileigh Filmer of Victoria and Hillary Janssens of UBC won their preliminary race in the women’s pair to qualify for Thursday’s semifinals.

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“Both Hillary and I love working with each other and communicate really easily to each other,” said Filmer, a UVic Vikes rower and graduate of Mount Douglas Secondary.

“We are a very technical crew. There is a lot of trust in the boat. That’s so important in the pair. We both have a similar work ethic so I think we complement each other. We will continue to put in the work needed this week to set ourselves up well for semis.”

The Canadian women’s double of Gabrielle Smith from Knowlton Rowing Club and Andrea Proske from Victoria City Rowing Club have advanced to Friday’s semifinals. This newly created team has created quite a stir since winning the silver medal at the World Cup event in Lucerne over the summer. Proske is a graduate of the Row to Podium development program in Victoria.

“We’ve increased our training time significantly since Lucerne and that has definitely helped build our relationship and trust as a team,” said Proske, in a statement.

“It’s nice to get this first race done and focus on the plan for the rest of the week.”

The men’s lightweight pair of Patrick Keane from the UVic Vikes and Maxwell Lattimer of the UBC Thunderbirds, who have been fourth twice in World Cup regattas this summer, led wire to wire in their preliminary race at the worlds to also qualify for the semifinals.

Canadians Jennifer Cassons and Kate Haber are into the women’s lightweight double semifinals, as is Carling Zeeman with the third fastest time in the women’s singles. Canuck lightweight singles rowers Aaron Lattimer Jill Moffatt also advanced to the semifinals.

Canada entered the world championships after winning four medals at the last World Cup in Lucenre. The rebuild comes after Canadian rowing was held to the silver medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics by the retired Victoria lightweight women’s double crew of Lindsay Jennerich and Patricia Obee.

“We’ve been working hard while riding off the great results we’ve had this summer,” said Filmer, who won gold and silver in World Cup events.

“The team has the ball rolling. Expectations now are about getting into ‘A’ finals and being in the medal hunt.”

The defending world silver-medallist Canadian women’s eight — including Sydney Payne out of Brentwood College and Rebecca Zimmerman out of the UVic Vikes — begin their quest this week.

So does a revamped Canadian men’s eight, which is back after Rowing Canada passed on the event at Rio 2016 because of a lack of depth. That was a shocker after Canada’s storied history in the event, including Olympic gold medals at Los Angeles in 1984, Barcelona in 1992 and Beijing in 2008 and silver at London in 2012.

Conlin McCabe and Tim Schrijver join fellow Rio 2016 Olympic fours rower Kai Langerfeld of Parksville and coxswain Jane Gumley of UVic in the rebooted Canadian men’s eight under legendary former Kiwi Olympic coach Dick Tonks.

The world rowing championships run through Sunday in Plovdiv.

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