Going out fast didn't work for John Mooney and Peter Newton on Tuesday morning, so they switched tactics for a must-win race a few hours later.
The change worked as Mooney and Newton won their repechage, or second-chance race, in the 1,000-meter kayak and qualified for Thursday's semifinal in the flatwater canoe and kayak competition.
"This morning we were chopping up water trying to get down the water," Mooney said. "This afternoon it was a little more, "Okay, let's think about the race here.' "
Of five U.S. boats racing Tuesday morning, three moved right into the semifinals because of the low number of entries. Like Mooney and Newton, Mike Harbold needed the repechage to qualify for the 1,000 canoe semifinal.
Newton, from Bellevue, Wash., and Mooney, from Eugene, Ore., started quickly in the preliminary race and even led briefly. But they faded and finished fourth behind defending champion Germany, Denmark and Britain.
That forced the duo into a quick turnaround, racing in the afternoon on less than three hours' rest. They stayed back and conserving their energy in a stiff head wind. They were in a pack of boats at the 500-meter mark before making their move down the stretch to edge Slovakia. The top four finishers moved onto the semifinal.
Harbold faced a tougher challenge in his repechage after finishing sixth out of seven kayakers in the first 1,000 race. The Honolulu resident needed to finish in the top four, and started slowly but finished second.
The four-man kayak team and Joseph Harper, of Ventura, Calif., each reached the semifinals despite finishing last in the 1,000 kayak and 1,000 canoe, respectively. The U.S. four-woman kayak team also is in the semifinals after finishing sixth out of eight crews.