2023 is set to be a pivotal year in the rowing calendar as this year’s World Championships in Belgrade will determine who qualifies for next year’s Olympic Games.
The road to Belgrade begins in Zagreb, as the World Rowing Cup series kicks off at the home of the Croatian national team.
Arguably rowing’s most famous pair of siblings, Martin and Valent Sinković have recently returned to the double scull after winning gold in Tokyo in the Men’s Pair. They will be dreaming of replicating the successes of seven years ago which saw them win gold under the eyes of Christ the Redeemer and set a World Best Time in the same Olympiad.
The Sinkovićs and sporting domination go hand in hand. The other constant amongst their gold medals? A powerful partnership with Filippi, one of the most instantly recognisable rowing boat brands in the world.
“Since 2009 we have been rowing in Filippis,” said Martin Sinković. “We try to show everyone that you can win in Filippis in every boat class and I’m very happy that New Zealand won the men’s Eight at the Tokyo Olympics in a Filippi.
“I can honestly say that Filippi are the best boats in every class. I think the biggest thing I appreciate is the customer support we have at every regatta whenever we need it. I think that the biggest advantage of Filippi is that he [David] is doing a lot to get customer support as best as they can.
“Of course, we have also shown many times that the boat is more than good enough,” added the double Olympic champion.
Speaking on The End of The Island Podcast in advance of the Croatian national championships and World Rowing Cup 1, The Sinković brothers were joined by 2017 Junior World Champions Patrik & Anton Lončarić as well as 2021 U23 World Champions Ivana & Josipa Jurković who made history by becoming the first female Croatians to reach the A Final at the World Championships in an Olympic boat class.
“Filippis are really good and we feel better in their boats,” said Josipa when describing the difference between Filippi shells and other competitors.
“When we row in a Filippi, it just goes and it will go until you are passed the finish line and we just love to row in them,” she went on to say.
The sisters, who previously started their sporting careers playing handball, have raced in doubles and fours but have been fine-tuning the pair since the 2021 European Championships where they placed fifth overall.
With the Sinković brothers picking up an extra blade and returning to sculling, this left a vacancy that needed to be filled in the Men’s Pair. Step forward the Lončarić bothers.
They started rowing at the age of 11 and have raced the pair on the world stage since 2017, where they set a World Best Time on their way to their first World Championship title in Trakai, Lithuania.
Reflecting on his career so far, Patrik emphasised the enormous challenge of following on from the Sinkovićs who have left an incredible legacy in the Men’s Pair.
He said: “We look at them every single day and it is a pleasure to see people so good in this sport, probably some of the best there ever was and learn from them.
“We started they had already got their silver medals at the Olympics in London. At that time, rowing was just fun for me but later on when we were juniors we started to realise how much effort they put in and at that point, they were in the pair.
We were also in the junior pair and we saw that it is not really a game, it’s not too easy and for the last two or three years we have been working together with them.”
Anton echoed his brother’s sentiment: “There is also a responsibility because everyone is expecting us to perform just as well, so that means we have got big shoes to fill.
“We are just coming in and everyone is saying, ‘Why can’t you do it like they do?’ So, it is a challenge. It is a challenge to be as good as them and try to catch up.”
At this point, Valent helpfully pipes up and jokes: “It’s really easy, you just need to come to regattas, beat everyone and go home.”
The six brothers and sisters will all be in action this weekend as the rowing world descends on Zagreb for the first World Cup of 2023.