Top speed already showing at New Zealand's Cambridge Town Cup
A new level of speed blurred past selectors as New Zealand's finest rowers took steps to impress only a month out from the start of the New Zealand Olympic team trials. The annual Cambridge Town Cup saw times faster than the current World Best Times.
Making the most of the tail wind conditions were a group of lightweights racing in the men's pair. The duo of James Hunter and James Lassche showed no fear when challenging the unbeaten World and Olympic Champions, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond. Murray and Bond were forced to give it their all when Hunter and Lassche chased them to the end to finish just 2.73 seconds behind Murray and Bond.
Bond and Murray's final time was just eight seconds outside of the World Best Time that they set in this boat class at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Hunter and Lassche's time of 6:19.49 was faster than the current World Best Time for the lightweight men's pair. The World Best Time stands at 6:22.91 and was set by Switzerland's Simon Niepmann and Lucas Tramer two years ago. Niepmann and Tramer are part of the Swiss World Champion lightweight men's four which is currently training in New Zealand. Tramer, along with Simon Schuerch, placed fourth in the pair. Niepmann was eighth with partner Mario Gyr.
The Swiss crew then teamed up to race against the New Zealand lightweight men's four that finished fourth at last year's World Rowing Championships. The crew of Lassche, Hunter, Curtis Rapley and Alistair Bond finished first with Niepmann, Tramer, Gyr and Schuerch in second.
Olympic Champion Mahe Drysdale came up short in the men's single sculls when John Storey unleashed a closing sprint that saw him overhaul Drysdale in the last strokes of the race. Drysdale was rating 40 and in the lead when Storey, who was part of the New Zealand men's quadruple sculls at the 2012 Olympics, took his stroke rate into the low 40s to overtake Drysdale. Storey's finishing time was 6:35.57 - just two seconds outside of the World Best Time set by Drysdale in 2009. World bronze medallist from the men's double sculls, Robert Manson finished third.
After a year off from international competition, Emma Twigg showed that the women's single sculls is still hers to own. Twigg finished first in a time of 7:19.8 followed by World Champion from the women's double sculls, Eve Macfarlane. In third was visiting Swiss sculler, Jeannine Gmelin. Gmelin was fifth in the single at last year's World Rowing Championships.
World silver medallists from the women's pair, Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast fell prey to stronger competition in the final of the pair. Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent finished first and in the process recorded a time faster than the World Best Time. Scown and Behrent's time of 6:49.06 was over a second faster than the official World Best Time which was set by current World and Olympic Champions, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning of Great Britain.
In third place were Kelsey Bevan and Fiona Paterson. Of these top three boats only Fiona Paterson was not in the 2015 silver medal winning women's eight. Paterson is on the comeback trail after last racing at the London 2012 Olympic Games in the women's double sculls.
The Cambridge Town Cup attracted over 2000 rowers for the three-day regatta which was raced on Lake Karapiro.