Palm trees scattered around the edge of the venue by the departed Hurricane Irma helped distinguish the Florida location of Sarasota-Bradenton, where the 2017 World Rowing Championships got underway today with the first round of heats on the Nathan Benderson Park regatta course.
Croatia’s Rio 2016 double sculls champions Martin and Valent Sinkovic, who have switched to a pairs event now lacking the all-conquering, but now retired, New Zealanders Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, produced a resounding warning for their rivals as they won their heat by a huge margin in 6min 22sec, the fastest qualifying time.
It was a similar story for France’s Olympic champions in the lightweight double sculls, Pierre Houin and Jeremie Azou, as they won their heat easily and finished the day seven seconds in front of any other pair.
A hugely competitive opening heat in the men’s four saw Britain’s Olympic champions - who had won the last preceding World Cup in July - dominating from the 500 metre mark, with Germany second.
Australia and Rio bronze medallists Italy won the other two heats.
Despite making changes from the crew that won the European title this year, Lithuania still won their heat in the men’s quadruple sculls.
Poland and The Netherlands were heat winners in the women’s quadruple sculls.