September 7, 2011

Cole ’07 Finishes Fourth at World Rowing Championships

Johnson '11 Takes Sixth in Coxed Pair

BLED, Slovenia – The 2011 World Rowing Championships came to a close this Sunday on Slovenia's scenic Lake Bled with two former Yale heavyweights finishing among the top spots in their respective events.  Charlie Cole '07 (New Canaan, Conn.) finished fourth for the U.S. in the straight four, while Derek Johnson '11 (Hillsborough, Calif.) finished sixth in the coxed pair, also for the U.S.  Johnson will now return to the USRowing Training Center in Oklahoma City, Okla., while Cole's top-10 finish earns his crew a qualifying spot for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Johnson, Yale's captain for the 2010-11 season, began racing on the second day of competition.  The coxed pair is one of the smaller, non-Olympic events and as such the field was split into just two heats.  Johnson's crew finished in second place in their heat, sending them to the repechage two days later.  The top four finishers in the rep would go on to the A final, and with a third-place finish in a time of 7:04.40 ahead of the crew from Croatia (7:04.41) Johnson and his mates made it through.  In Friday's A final Johnson's crew finished sixth with a time of 7:07.56 in a race won by the Italians (6:56.45).

In one of the larger fields at the regatta with 22 crews, Cole and his teammates began their bid for a world championship title and a qualifying spot at the Olympics on the first day of competition.  The U.S. straight four took second in the third of four heats with a time of 5:50.98.  The U.S. sat close behind New Zealand for the first 1500 meters of the race but both boats were sprinted through at the end by the crew from Belarus, who clocked in at 5:50.96.  Three days later Cole's four won the second repechage over the Italians by a margin of more than two seconds.  After another two days the U.S. raced in the second A/B semifinal, finishing less than two seconds behind the British crew that had won gold at the 2011 Samsung World Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland, in July.  With that, the U.S. men's team's best hope for a medal was alive and strong heading into Sunday's finals.

The Americans led the Germans for the better part of the straight four A final, but a three-boat pack of Australia, Great Britain and Greece could not be caught after passing through the 500-meter mark.  The British made a big push in the third 500 meters and would go on to take the gold (5:55.18), while Cole and the Americans held off the Germans as they did in Lucerne to finish fourth (6:01.39).  By finishing so solidly in the top 10, Cole's crew earned the U.S. a qualifying spot at next year's Olympics in the straight four event.  But with another year to go until convening in London, it is unclear whether Cole, along with teammates Scott Gault (Piedmont, Calif.), Brett Newlin (Riverton, Wyo.) and Giuseppe Lanzone (Annandale, Va.), will be the lineup that competes in the event.

The 2011 World Rowing Championships is Johnson's first at the senior level, having only graduated from Yale just three months ago.  The regatta is Cole's third at the senior level, and fourth place is his best result to date having finished fifth in the pair in 2009 and sixth in the eight in 2010.

Report filed by Yale Sports Publicity