National team goes head to head at New Zealand Champs
Teammates raced against each other as the best of New Zealand rowing competed for their clubs and high performance centres at the New Zealand National Rowing Championships.
One of the most stunning results was in the lightweight men’s single sculls final with Peter Taylor finishing in a time two seconds faster than the World Best Time. Taylor is normally teamed up with Storm Uru in the lightweight double, but in this race they fought against each other in singles with Uru coming in second. Taylor’s time of 6:44.38 was achieved in calm, slight tail/cross wind conditions and rating higher than his teammate got him into the lead with 700m rowed. (Taylor’s achievement, however, will not be recorded as a World Best, as it was not timed at a World Rowing event.) Uru held on to second with former World Champion in the lightweight single, Duncan Grant, coming in third.
Under-23 representative, Julia Edward finished first in the lightweight women’s single sculls in an impressive 7:35. This time is seven seconds off the senior World Best Time which has held since 1994, and five seconds of the under-23 World Best Time set last year. Lucy Strack and Louise Ailing finished second and third respectively.
The highly anticipated face-off between Mahe Drysdale and Eric Murray in the men’s single sculls ended with an extra twist. Five-time World Champion Drysdale was beaten by rower in the men’s pair Murray last month at a local regatta. Drysdale, however, made sure this did not happen again. After a flying start by lightweight rower Taylor, Drysdale did a piece just before the 700m mark that gave him the lead. Taylor came back at the 1200m before Murray and Nathan Cohen started to really challenge.
World Champion in the men’s double sculls, Cohen won this event last year over Drysdale and this year he took his sprint to a 45 stroke rate in an attempt to reel in Drysdale. But Drysdale was in control and crossed the line first followed by Cohen, with Murray a length back.
Cohen also raced in the men’s double sculls against his World Champion teammate, Joseph Sullivan. Cohen has always beaten Sullivan, but World Rowing’s Athlete of the Month for February, Sullivan, turned the tables this year by grabbing first with his former under-23 champion teammate, Robert Manson. Cohen came in second rowing with Matthew Trott from the New Zealand men’s quadruple sculls.
Third place went to a lightweight combination from the United States of William Daly and Andrew Campbell. Daly and Campbell are currently training in New Zealand as part of their preparation to trial to represent their country in the lightweight men’s double sculls.
The women’s single sculls final turned out to be rather sedate with world bronze medallist Emma Twigg dominating from start to finish. By the 1000m mark Twigg had the race well under control leaving Fiona Burke and Genevieve Armstrong to fight it out for the silver and bronze.
Usually teamed up together, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray raced against each other in the men’s pair. Bond, with partner Jade Uru, finished first by out-sprinting the field to the finish. This is Bond’s fourth win with Uru at the national champs. Murray came in second, racing with Tyson Williams. Sean O’Neill and Chris Harris were third. Harris and O’Neill also teamed up with Ben Hammond and Ian Seymour to win the men’s four in a swift time of 5:48.
In the women’s pair Juliette Haigh with Kelsey Bevan took a relatively easy win.
Watched by national team selectors, this regatta also counted as an opportunity to get a trial for the national team. Trials start on 25 February 2012 and the list of participants can be found here. New Zealand has already qualified 11 boats for the London Olympics and, following trials, they may look at trying to qualify two more – the lightweight men’s four and men’s eight.