US Junior Mixed Double Sculls wins Silver World Beach Sprint – coverage of regattas and events


The junior mixed double sculls tandem made up of Britt Wotovich (Redington Beach, Florida / Berkeley Preparatory School) and Brian O’Leary (Port Charlotte, Florida / Jesuit High School) won the silver medal on Sunday, giving the USA the best result at World Rowing Beach Sprint Final 2021 in Oeiras, Portugal.

The USA set up their very first beach sprint national team and won two medals this weekend and also won bronze in the mixed quadruple scull with helmsman on Saturday.

Wotovich and O’Leary opened the race on Sunday with a victory over Germany in the quarter-finals with a margin of just over a second and advanced to the semi-finals against the home favorites from Portugal.

The duo then rowed a great race against the Portuguese crew in the second semi-final and took a perfect turn when Portugal missed the buoy. The Americans drove home in a straight line to secure a medal and advance to the gold medal race.

“The semifinals were definitely an experience,” said Wotovich. “We were behind at the start line and then pulled it through at the finish line. To be honest, it was crazy for me to race for gold or silver in the A final.”

In the final, France was able to lay a clean course to take home gold in 2: 49.87. Wotovich and O’Leary finished in 3: 06.33.

“In our race against France we knew they were really fast,” said O’Leary. “Our team had only won one bronze medal and we knew we had at least one medal and that was our goal. When we got to the beach, I wasn’t disappointed at all with the race. A silver medal – that’s pretty awesome. (It’s) the first silver medal the US has ever won in Beach Sprints, so I was very happy even though we were close to the finish line. ”

The silver medal was the culmination of a great summer of training for Florida high schools.

“We heard about it in May this year and we said, ‘Well, let’s try,'” said O’Leary. “States, regional and national teams were coming to an end and it was going to be a summer of long training. That really gave us a direction to take our training in. It was a great experience that was fun.”

In the junior double sculls, Aidan Ehrismann (Portland, Ore./Leodis V. McDaniel High School) and Joshua Li (Lake Oswego, Ore./Lakeridge High School) failed in the quarter-finals against France. France was slightly in the lead at the start from the beach, but the American boat was able to fill that gap in the race to the corner. The US had difficulty turning the buoy, however, and France was able to cover a few boat lengths as the crews drove back to the beach. Ehrismann and Li tried to get close to the French lead but couldn’t make up the time and ended up just over six seconds behind. The US finished the race in 2: 44.96 while France finished in 2: 38.44. France would win the silver medal and lose the final to Spain. Italy won the bronze medal.

For men, Christopher Bak (Cincinnati, Ohio / University of Cincinnati) was eliminated in the quarterfinals against the Italian Giovanni Ficarra. Bak held a small lead as the two rowers worked their way towards the corner, but Bak missed the buoy and had to circle back around the corner to avoid the 1-minute penalty. Ficarra was able to drive a clean home race to advance to the semi-finals. Bak reached the quarter-finals with an easy win over Ireland in his round of 16 game earlier in the day.

Ficarro won the gold medal in front of the Olympic runner-up Kjetil Borch from Norway. The Greek Ioannis Kalandaridis won the bronze medal.

In the women’s category, Cassidy Norton (Hamilton, Ohio / Robert Morris University) also fell in the quarter-finals and landed just a few steps behind the Spaniard Ainoha Casanova. Norton got off to a solid start and was close to even finishing at halftime. However, around the buoy, the Spaniard was able to take the lead and Norton was unable to catch up. Casanova hit the beach just before Norton and finished winning the sprint up the beach. Norton finished the race with a time of 2: 57.31 while Casanova got a time of 2: 55.50.

The Canadian Brienne Miller won gold over the French Maya Cornut, while the Greek Zoi Fitsiou won bronze against Casanova.

Beach sprint races are held in a run, row, run combination over a 250 meter long buoyed course and use a time trial and a knockout progress system. The format debuted at the Mediterranean Beach Games in 2015 and the first global event was the 2019 World Rowing Beach Sprint Final in Shenzhen, China.

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