They came, they rowed, they won
With their first ever start at Basel Head the Germany eight sent a challenge to all those top nations in rowing that so far have stayed away from this unique against-the-clock race.
By Martin Pütter
Shortly after the start the Germany eight (white shirts) is closing in on last year’s winners, the Swiss leightweight eight (under the bridge). Picture courtesy of Basel Head
The figures are impressive: 37 seconds ahead of the second-placed boat, and pulverising the previous course record by more than eleven seconds – the German eight confirmed their role as favourites at the at Basel Head, held for the seventh time last Saturday. They finished the 6.4 km long course, with a turn just below the hydro-electric power station at Birsfelden, in 18:48,84 – having just won the first ever sprint held at this event as a kind of competitive warm-up. Thus the flagship of rowing in the “large canton” (how Baslers sometimes describe their neighbouring country) set a marker at their first-ever start at this regatta.
“Come and do it better than we did”, could be a message the German rowers are sending out to all their rivals, especially to their rivals in the United Kingdom. At this year’s Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, the Great Britain eight won Gold ahead of Germany and the Netherlands (who on Saturday again finished in third place). However, so far British boats have stayed away from Basel Head, although this competition, with 126 registered boats at the start on Saturday, is now – without a shadow of a doubt – one of Europe’s most prestigious regattas for eights. And a Great Britain eight participating at Basel Head would certainly make a few of the expats living in Basel come and watch this race as well.