France led the way with the fastest boats in the C2M and K1W on day one of the 2015 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships in London, whilst reigning World Champion Jessica Fox required a second run to secure her semifinal spot.

World number one C2M crew, Gauthier Klauss and Matthieu Peche (FRA), lived up to their billing with a clean run that stopped the clock just ahead of their compatriots, Pierre Picco and Hugo Bisco, in the opening heat on the London Olympic course.

In the K1W, London 2012 Olympic Champion, Emilie Fer (FRA), also secured a safe passage to the semifinal edging ahead of the in-form Corina Kuhnle (AUT).

"It was a good run. I know it was qualification but it was not easy entering the race,” said 32-year-old Fer who plans to make this her last world championships but hopes to compete in next year’s Olympic Games.

Alluding to the pressure faced by the favourites in the preliminary runs, Fer continued, "I prefer the final because you know what you have to do. Qualification is more difficult mentally."

Second fastest, Kuhnle, appeared equally tentative about her opening run. "It was a safe run, I was going for a safe line.  It’s not what I usually do, going wide lines around the pole, going for the safe lines, but it was necessary to do that today." 

Meanwhile the sport’s leading light, Jessica Fox (AUS) needed a second attempt to progress to the semifinals.

"I was pretty nervous this morning but ready to go and had a pretty good first run up until that section where I had to paddle back for a gate," said the 21-year-old Australian. 

“It was fast despite that but not enough to make it so the second had to be on line everywhere, and I had to make sure I qualified into the top ten.  I was a bit shaky but it was enough for a third so I was safely in."

“This is the first time I have had to do a second run this season so it was a little bit different to deal with that pressure." 

“Maybe that was my nervous run and tomorrow I have the C1 heats to focus on, then I can reframe for the K1 semi.”

London Olympic C2M silver medallists, David Florence and Richard Hounslow (GBR), used their local knowledge to good effect and also moved to the semifinal stage, finishing the morning’s run in third.

A pragmatic Hounslow commented, “Today was just about getting the job done. You don’t win medals from today but I am really happy to have got through on first run and we now have a few days before the semifinals.”

World Champions, Luka Bozic (SLO) and Saso Taljat (SLO), who are looking to kick start their season following a disappointing World Cup campaign, cruised in behind the Skantar cousins, Ladislav and Peter, rounding out the top five.

"Fifth place in the qualification was quite ok, it’s enough for the semifinals and this was our goal today," commented Taliat.

"Every boat has Olympic qualification in the back of their minds and it’s quite a big pressure in this race because it also decides what you are going to do next year. It’s a little bit more difficult than other World Championships."

"The season hasn’t been as good as last year but we managed to reach some good results in the second part of the season.”

From the 67 women on the start line in today's K1W heats: 

- 15 competed in Lee Valley at the London 2012 Olympic Games
- Five are Olympic medalists
- Three are Olympic Champions
- Six are K1W World Champions
- Three have won top honours at Junior (U18) level 

From the 40 teams on the start line in today's C2M heats:

- Seven, plus Etienne Stott (GBR), competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games
- Nine pairs shared the same surname
- Three crews in the draw have won a world championship gold

The action continues tomorrow with C1M heats starting at 10:30 followed by the C1W at 11:53.

Canoe Slalom