New Zealand crews have made an encouraging start in their bid to qualify three more boats for the Paris Olympics after the opening day of the ‘Last Chance’ Regatta in Switzerland.

The Men’s Quadruple Sculls was the New Zealand crew most likely to get a gauge of their chances on the first day of racing, with the top two crews in the two heats chasing direct entry to the final tomorrow night (NZT).

Just two boats will progress from there to Paris.

The crew of Ben Mason, Flynn Watson, Zack Rumble and Jack Ready flipped the challenge on its head when they were first named, saying Lucerne was their ‘First Chance’ qualifying regatta having only been together for a couple of months.

They finished fourth in heat one (5min 58.68sec) and will race the repechage tonight NZT to see if they can make tomorrow’s final. Norway (5.48.68) and the USA (5.50.99) qualified straight to the final. Australia and Estonia were the qualifiers from the second heat.

"The Men’s Quad is gaining experience with every race. They found the speed out of the start a little too hot to handle and when they found their rhythm, they had lost too much ground to make up. The rep will be a blinder!” says coach Nick Barton.

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The Men's Quad of Ben Mason, Flynn Watson, Zack Rumble and Jack Ready racing in heat 1 of the 2024 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. 

The Women’s Pair and Women’s Quad also raced overnight, but with just six entries in both events, they automatically qualify for their respective finals on Tuesday.

The Women’s Pair of Alana Sherman and Kate Haines went through the first 500m level with Germany, both crews just a metre behind eventual winners Denmark.

The Danes moved out to a two-second lead at the 1000m, with Sherman and Haines in second, and just 0.21 seconds separating New Zealand, Croatia then Germany.

Denmark won in 7.17.50, New Zealand was fourth in 7.20.81, the margin between the Germans, Croatia and the Kiwis just 0.33s.

It’s going to be a tightly contested race for those two spots.

“Alana and Kate got into a nice rhythm after a good clean start,” says Nick. “They got a real feel for the opposition and know what they need to do in the final.”

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The Women’s Pair of Alana Sherman and Kate Haines racing in the prelim/heat at the 2024 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. Photo: Art of Rowing

The Women’s Quad of Bella Carter, sisters Kathryn and Laura Glen and Georgia Nugent-O’Leary were making their first international appearance together.

Their preliminary turned into a duel at the front between Ukraine and the USA, neither crew willing to concede. The USA won in 6.22.23 with Ukraine just 0.18s behind. New Zealand was fourth in 6.27.12.

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The Women's Quad: Isabella Carter, Kathryn Glen, Georgia Nugent-O’Leary and Laura Glen racing at the 2024 Final Olympic Qualification Regatta. Photo: Art of Rowing.

Around 60 countries are at the regatta, competing for 37 spots across 14 Olympic and five Paralympic classes.

New Zealand has already qualified eight boats for Paris.

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Andy Hay

Andy Hay is a freelance producer, writer and rowing coach. He was cox of the world champion New Zealand eight of 1982 and '83. He is NZ Olympian #446.