Three Olympic-class crews raced bearing Ireland colours on day four of the World Rowing Championships in Belgrade, and all three did what was needed to keep them on track for qualifying for Paris 2024.
The men’s lightweight double notched up their second race win. There were changeable and sometimes choppy conditions on the course, and the lanes were redrawn so that the top-performing crews raced in lane one. Italy, in lane two, took the lead early, and even when caught by Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy before 900 metres, Stefano Oppo and Gabriel Soares pushed back and disputed the lead. Ireland pulled out a very fast third 500 metres – 1:39.13 – to vanquish this challenge. They also had the fastest time of the four quarter-finals (6:46.53).
Switzerland came closest as they joined Ireland in the semi-finals with a quarter-final win. They look set to be the main rivals as O’Donovan and McCarthy go for gold, all going well, on Saturday. France, who beat Ireland with a late surge at the World Cup in Lucerne in July, did not make it into the A/B semi-finals. 
The men’s double and men’s pair raced well and both finished second in their quarter-finals.
The Netherlands have an outstanding double in Melvin Twellar and Stefan Broenink. They were imperious in their win. Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch tracked them well to take second. Germany, who started badly, took over that place with a good middle third, but Ireland sprinted past them to regain their spot and secure a better lane draw in the semi-finals.
Italy tried to break the hegemony of lanes one to three in the first quarter-final of the men’s pair. Racing from lane four, Davide Comini and Giovanni Codato grabbed hold of the lead. Ross Corrigan and Nathan Timoney, in the more-favoured lane two, kept their heads. When Switzerland took over the lead, Ireland moved into second and they held it to the end. Italy’s gamble paid off, as they finished third and will compete in the semi-finals.
By qualifying for semi-finals, the Ireland double and pair are within touching distance of lifting their boats into the Olympic spots. They are now in the top 12. Eleven crews (the A Finalists and all but one of the B Finalists) will qualify their boats for Paris 2024 from these classes.
The lightweight double will qualify the boat if they finish seventh or better.
Jake McCarthy took fifth in his quarter-final of the lightweight single. He must compete in the C/D semi-finals.