This race began after lunch with the rain still falling and the wind turning to a steady tail wind. First to show were Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling of South Africa. Brittain is a rowing success story having come back after overcoming cancer. Then Roel Braas and Mitchel Seenman of Netherlands One took over in the lead followed closely by the World Champions from the men's coxed pair, Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell and Matthew Tarrant. Then in the second 500 the unbeaten World and Olympic Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond of New Zealand pushed through to the front. There seemed to be nothing that the Netherlands or Great Britain could do.

This is the first international regatta for the Kiwi Pair this season and it was looking like they had lost no speed over the off season. Bond and Murray moved out to an open water lead leaving the race on for second between South Africa, the Netherlands and Great Britain.

Oh but what a finish. New Zealand saw the charge coming and had to take their stroke rate from 36 to 38 to 40. South Africa was charging at 40 then 41. Great Britain was dead level at 40 and the Netherlands was also right there. It went to a photo finish. Bond and Murray crossed the line in first with one of their smaller winning margins. The British and the Netherlands recorded identical times. South Africa was just 0.18 of a second back.

Results: NZL, NED, GBR, RSA, AUS, ESP

B-final

Olympic medallists, Germain Chardin and Dorian Mortelette of France have had mixed results since their 2012 medal. Today they raced at the head of the field through the entire race and stayed ahead with a 38 stroke rate pace in the final sprint. Germany stuck in second and held off Russia right through to the line.

Results: FRA, GER, RUS2, CHI

Eric Murray (b), New Zealand, gold
“We like to race from the front, but we don’t have a huge amount of power, so we just trust our endurance in the middle thousand. I think everyone else is already a bit more race fit. We only arrived in Europe five days ago.”

Roel Braas (b), the Netherlands, silver
“When we crossed the finish line we weren’t too sure in what place we finished, but we knew we had a really good final sprint. That is also what we wanted to show in this final.”

Nathaniel Reilly-O'Donnell (b), Great Britain, bronze
“The last 500m was crazy. We pressed out what we could. It was a step better than the heat, but a very tight race. We did our best.”