National rowing coach Roger Barrow was feeling bullish ahead of Olympic gold medallists James Thompson and John Smith’s quarterfinals in the lightweight men’s double sculls on Wednesday.
“We had a good day of racing on Sunday with all four Olympic-class crews winning their heats and going through to the next round,” Barrow told Sapa on Tuesday.
“I am very happy as we beat crews we had not beaten in the past and it gives us some good confidence to set the week up.”
Also through to their semi-finals at Amsterdam’s Bosbaan regatta course were the men’s and women’s pairs, and the lightweight women’s double sculls.
Smith and Thompson set the second fastest time in their heats to give themselves a boost ahead of the quarterfinals.
Barrow said the duo faced a tough challenge but he believed they would be up to the task.
“Having more rounds (to reach the final), you get better seeding, so each semi-final should be more equal come Thursday. This boat class is tough as many crews are very close,” he said.
“The Netherlands and Germany have consistently been in the top-six this year, so it will be a good test for us. We have to be at our best tomorrow (Wednesday).”
If they advance to the next round, South Africa will have four Olympic-class boats vying for an A-final berth on Thursday.
South Africa’s women’s pair, Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse, sounded an early warning on Sunday when they qualified as the fastest boat of the three heats in their category.
“It was a great race for them and it will also give them confidence as it was the first time they’ve ever beaten New Zealand, Great Britain and United States, who all have fast crews,” Barrow said.
“It is more about putting a good race together and not worrying too much about the outcome yet.”
The men’s pairing of Vincent Breet and Shaun Keeling, along with the lightweight women’s double sculls — Kirsten McCann and Ursula Grobler — also won their heats progressing to their respective semi-finals.
“Both were very good. It is hard to separate any of the four crews and say who has a better chance.
“But no doubt both of these crews had great races. They showed good maturity and patience in the middle of the race to outlast their opposition.”
Barrow said that during their heats, all four crews proved they had the ability to advance to the finals but they needed to show the right temperament in the next rounds.
“After Sunday the chances must be good, especially when you look at the four Olympic-boat classes and the times they set,” he said.
“However, you have to hold your form for six days and ensure you keep it. The weather and conditions are tough with all the wind and rain.”