Italy, France and Portugal each won two semi-finals as action began at the World University Canoe Sprint Championships in Szolnok in Hungary.
Andrea Dal Bianco recorded the first Italian triumph of the opening day as he comfortably won the men's K1 1,000 metres semi-final in 3min 39.766sec.
The Italian athlete beat Pawel Czaja of Poland and Japan's Taishi Tanada to book his place in the final in style.
Bianco's team-mates Roberta Gennaro and Francesca Capodimonte later emerged victorious in the women's K2 500m event in 1:50.095 as they defeated crews from Canada and France.
Pierrick Bayle of France led the way in a hotly-contested men's K1 500m semi-final, clocking 1:44.440 to edge Anton Novak of Belarus and Tanada.
Bayle then returned to spearhead the French K4 500m team to victory in the last race of the day, joining joined Bayle Quilian Koch, Hector Henot and Robin Saliba to cross the line in 1:27.639.
Italy finished second and Britain came through to take third.
Portugal were also in good form on the first day of the competition, where no medals were awarded, as Sara Sotero topped the standings in the women's K1 500m in 1:57.033.
Canada's Anna Negulic and Japan's Ayame Hara were second and third respectively.
The other Portuguese victory came in the men's K2 500m semi-final as Hugo Figueiras and Tiago Viegas clocked 1:39.408.
The French duo of Nicolas Boursier Theo Marecaux took second and Wojciech Chrzaszcz Kacper Miszczak of Poland were streets ahead of the rest of the field in third.
The event is due to continue tomorrow, where the first gold medals will be claimed.