New Zealand finished second behind Croatia at last month's World Rowing Cup II. The Croatian World Champions are missing from this regatta and in the semifinals yesterday, New Zealand recorded the fastest qualifying time. They sat in the lane next to winners of the other semifinal, Olaf Tufte and Kjetil Borch of Norway. At the start Italy got away very quickly, but it was Great Britain that made it to the first 500m mark in the lead. But margins were incredibly tight with less than two seconds separating the entire field.

Then the British crew of Jonathan Walton and John Collins did a big push in an attempt to break away. It did help split up the field and left an incredibly close battle between New Zealand, Norway, France and Italy. Then in the close of the race Robert Manson and Christopher Harris of New Zealand did a piece that closed the gap on the British. Could Great Britain react? At the line New Zealand had won in less than half a second over the British who, in turn, were just 0.18 of a second ahead of France.

Results: NZL, GBR, FRA, NOR, ITA, SRB

Robert Manson (b), New Zealand, gold
“It was good to come in first place. We have not had our best racing these last few days. There is still a lot to work on. We have a really good team in New Zealand and we are always pushing each other forward in training.”

Jonathan Walton (b), Great Britain, silver
“It has been a long time coming. We’ve been doing quite well this regatta until his race, so we just had to keep doing what we’ve been doing. We think we handled the kiwis quite well.”

Matthieu Androdias (s), France, bronze
“Throughout the first thousand meters we were just looking at the British. Their strategy surprised us a little bit. I did not look to the side anymore in our final sprint, we were really in a tunnel.”


B-final

Cuba shot out of the starting blocks rating 53, but it was the Netherlands with the faster pace. Both the Netherlands and Cuba settled to a 37 stroke rate and margins were tight. Australia, who finished fifth at last year's World Rowing Championships, then got into the lead. Cuba's Oquendo and Rubio then did a push, got back into the lead and stayed there until the finish.

Results: CUB, AUS, NED, CHN