Ones to watch during the 2019 rowing season 

The Sinkovic brothers, Ekaterina Karsten and Hamish Bond highlight the World Cup series kicking off in Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

The return of Hamish Bond, the new challenge of the Sinkovic brothers and Ekaterina Karsten's quest for her seventh Olympic Games are just some of the main talking points during the 2019 rowing season.

The first big international regatta in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, kicks off the World Cup series (10-12 May) and is live on the Olympic Channel.

300 athletes from 24 countries are expected to compete at last year’s World Champs' venue, with China, Romania and Poland sending the largest contingents.

The second and third stops will be held respectively in Poznan, Poland (21-23 June), and Rotterdam, Netherlands (12-14 July).

Lucerne was left out of the calendar as Rotsee lake will host the European Championships (29 May - 2 June).

The grand finale will take place in Linz, Austria, with the World Championships (25 August - 1 September), where most of the Tokyo 2020 passes will be given out.

The World Rowing Junior Championships will serve as the Olympic test event and will run from 7-11 August at the Sea Forest Waterway in the Japanese capital.

Unstoppable Karsten

In the women's single, with Ireland's reigning world champ Sanita Puspure out of the event, the focus will be on Ekaterina Karsten facing off against fellow Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova.

46-year-old Karsten, who won gold at the Atlanta and Sydney Games, is back in the single after spending a season in the quad and the double.

Ekaterina Karsten competing at Beijing 2008
Ekaterina Karsten competing at Beijing 2008Ekaterina Karsten competing at Beijing 2008

The Belarus legend is starting her 29th international season and, after missing qualification for Rio 2016, is determined to go to her seventh Games.

London 2012 champion Knapkova, who had a short spell in the Czech’s women’s quad last year, is coming back from a two-year break after Rio.

Competitive fields

In the men’s single sculls, all eyes are on the return of Rio silver medallist, Damir Martin from Croatia, after an injury cut short his 2018 season.

The contenders for Olympic qualification include Norway’s world champion Kjetil Borch, Czech Republic’s Ondrej Synek, Lithuanian Mindaugas Griskonis, and Robbie Manson, holder of the world best time.

The 29-year-old Kiwi is one of the favourites for this event after twice defeating Rio 2016 champion Mahe Drysdale.

Another one to watch is 22-year-old Oliver Zeidler, who stepped on a boat for the first time only two years ago and managed to win the prestigious German national small boat championships.

In the women’s eight, team USA will be the crew to beat.

The reigning world and Olympic champions will have to fight against Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Great Britain.

Also, in the contention for a medal are 2017 world champions Romania, who have a great tradition in women’s eights.

GB's rowing team win gold in Men's Eight

GB's rowing team win gold in Men's Eight

Hamish Bond is back!

After a successful stint on the bike, double Olympic rowing champion Hamish Bond is back in the boat and is aiming for Tokyo 2020.

The 33-year-old proved to be competitive on the two wheels by clinching a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 and a national record in the individual pursuit.

However the London 2012 and Rio 2016 coxless pair gold medallist decided to return to the water and joined New Zealand's men's eights, along with two-time Olympic single scull champ Mahe Drysdale.

In the last two years the event has been dominated by the German crew, which is undefeated since Rio 2016 when team GB managed to take victory.

Will the 'Dick Tonks effect' continue?

The women's pairs World Championships final last year saw the Canadian duo of Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssens claim a surprise win. Since three-time FISA Coach of the Year Dick Tonks took over the Canadian national team in 2017, the results have improved significantly.

By winning the title, the Canada pair managed to beat the holders of the world best time and 2017 world champions, New Zealand’s Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast.

The United States have entered four women’s pairs in Plovdiv with their number one crew consisting of women’s eight world champ Tracy Eisser and three-time Olympian Megan Kalmoe.

History makers?

The men’s pairs in 2019 will be all about the Sinkovic brothers.

The famous Croatian duo are on personal quest: after winning gold in the double sculls at the Rio Games, they're chasing another title at Tokyo 2020 but in a different event, for the first time in history.

They will find a stiff competition from crews from Italy, Czech Republic, France and New Zealand.

Martin and Valent Sinkovic will open their season in Plovdiv and they will face there last year’s silver world medallists Marius Cozmiuc and Ciprian Tudosa from Romania.

O'Donovan brothers set to defend their title

In women's doubles, Lisa Scheenaard and Roos de Jong won several medals in the 2018 season including a European Championship silver. With another year rowing together, they are likely to be front-runners in this early phase of the 2019 season.

The Dutch duo will be challenged by Poland’s Krystyna Lemanczyk-Dobrzelak and Martyna Mikolajczak, who finished sixth at last year’s Europeans and eighth at the Worlds.

Men's doubles World and European champions, Matthieu Androdias and Hugo Boucheron from France, appear to have filled the gap created by the Sinkovic brothers, and will be the ones to watch again this season.

Meanwhile Rio 2016 silver medallists Paul and Gary O’Donovan of Ireland are back in action in the men's lightweight doubles and will fight to defend their world title against the fast crews coming from Italy, Belgium, Norway, Poland and France, the reigning Olympic champions.

"You just kind of pull on the oars and race other people!"

The schedule

10-12 May 2019, World Rowing Cup I - Plovdiv, Bulgaria

31 May-2 June 2019, European Rowing Championships - Lucerne, Switzerland

21-23 June 2019, World Rowing Cup II - Poznan, Poland

12-14 July 2019, World Rowing Cup III - Rotterdam, Netherlands

7-11 August 2019, World Rowing Junior Championships - Tokyo, Japan (Olympic Test Event)

25 August-1 September, World Rowing Championships - Linz-Ottensheim, Austria

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