The morning started with a pleasant temperature which the U23 men were rather pleased about. They had 5 laps of the course to do and lower temperatures would make it more manageable.
Russia took the lead from the start and kept stretching it. Brazil and Czech maintained their seconds and thirds respectively. Slovenia, who were fastest in the second batch found themselves in fifth.
The next to attack the gruelling course were the Masters Women. They had 4 laps to do with all 7 of them starting in one batch. It was New Zealand who were fastest off the start and they kept a steady rhythm which saw them pulling away to a solid lead, through to the Gold. Japan started well behind New Zealand with Norway on their tails, but there must have been a problem either on the run up or on the top part of the course because they dropped down to 5th. Norway kept storming on to a comfortable second and to the Silver medal, and Czech Rep took the Bronze.
Masters Men were lead out by the legendary Team Bober of Slovenia and slowly they extend their lead, all the way to the Gold. Czech started off second, but caught some tricky eddies which allowed other teams passed. They fought back into second place with Japan close on their heels. As much as they tried, Japan could not get around Czech. But in the second batch the USA came on strongly and unexpectedly, beating Czech and so gaining the Silver.
In the Open Women the USA do a great job in Group B and are first across the line there. But their time is not good enough for a medal and places them 5th. Group A sees the Great Britain women off to a fast start but they lose it to the Czechs early on and then the Czechs get caught in and eddy allowing Great Britain to get ahead again! This time they take full advantage of it and keep out front for the rest of the race and to the Gold. The Czechs keep their second place and it is good enough for the Silver. Storming along in the second batch is the Netherlands who are fast enough to take the Bronze.
In the Open Men’s Group B we saw the USA pulling out a huge lead on everyone else. Sadly it was not enough for a medal and puts them 8th overall. The grand finale began in a predictable way – Brazil out front and seemed to gently maintain their pace so as to keep Russia just behind them. After the first round both batches are so close to each other, showing how close these top 10 teams are. On the last flat stretch Russia pulls out all their guns and challenges Brazil to a flat sprint across the waters. It is head to head all the way. And then Brazil catch the faster stream on the extreme end and are whisked ahead. They are out the water for the running leg first and Russia sees the Gold slipping away from them. Behind them Argentina has paddled a solid race for the Bronze.
The races are finished for the day – an incredibly gruelling course – not only is it a very fast, technical course to do once, but to add in the flat water section and then uphill run WITH a raft AND in the dessert heat – one has to have immense respect for all these competitors.
Now the can relax, go play in the wave pool and enjoy the comraderie of the last evening of the event.