The men's eight started the races strong, defeating New Zealand and France, posting the top speed of the event with a time of 5:34.01. They took the lead by the 500-meter mark, and extended it over the course of the race to finish more than eight seconds ahead of New Zealand and more than 17 seconds ahead of France.
The United States earned a spot in Tuesday;s final race which they need to win to secure a spot in the Olympics.
"We wanted to go out and have a clean race down the course," said Vlahos, who is leading the men's eight in his first international race at the senior level. "We wanted to make sure we executed our race plan, and to go out there and race like we do every day in practice. I think we did that."
The U.S. crew consists of Vlahos, Grant James (DeKalb, Ill.), David Banks (Potomac, Md.), Steve Kasprzyk (Cinnaminson, N.J.), Jake Cornelius (Brooktondale, N.Y.), Brett Newlin (Riverton, Wyo.), Ross James (DeKalb, Ill.), Will Miller (Duxbury, Mass.) and Giuseppe Lanzone (Annandale, Va.).