New Zealand crews open their final racing rehearsal with a procession of wins

 

The final shakedown has begun as the three-year cycle to the Paris Olympics nears its end.

Big crews and characters missing. No Ollie Zeidler, USA largely absent, no Canada. Great Britain filling their boats with ‘LA 2028’ prospects. Romania also back, but with a bunch of development crews. Teams in different training and racing phases.

World Cup III opened in Poland overnight (NZT) and with so many variables the New Zealand rowing team will be evaluating progress on feel feedback and in-house benchmarks.

“The training has remained focused on longer-term objectives,” says Ryan Turfrey, Rowing NZ’s Head of Athletic Development. “For all crews it’s another opportunity to go about executing another 2K under pressure and fatigue, knowing that World Cup results in and of themselves do not matter much in Olympic years.”

There were new seating combinations, first-timers heading to the start and the big question on everyone’s mind - who’s going to row our Men’s Pair in Paris.

The two Kiwi crews were drawn in heat one against current world champions Switzerland, with Phil Wilson and Dan Williamson them right to the line. The Swiss winning in 6min 39.26sec, just 0.6s ahead of the New Zealanders.

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The Men's Pair of Phil Wilson and Dan Williamson racing in their heat at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing

Ben Taylor and Campbell Crouch buttoned off to finish fifth in 6.49.47.

The legendary Sinkovic brothers were back in the pair, easily winning heat two in 6.42.66.

As for the two black boats, Ryan says the selection process is “ongoing”.

Outside of that, “we want to see each athlete and crew race to the best of their abilities as we would ask of any crew,” he says.

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Ben Taylor and Campbell Crouch on day one of  2024 World rowing cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing.

Bella Carter and Kathryn Glen were picked to row the Women’s Double Sculls, with Lucy Spoors and Brooke Francis still in New Zealand.

The new combo finishing second in 7.21.56 behind Australia (7.16.24) in heat one.

Bella and Kathryn race the repechage from 7.35pm tonight (NZT).

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Bella Carter and Kathryn Glen came second in heat one in the Women’s Double Sculls. Photo: Art of Rowing

There was a positional switch in the Men’s Double Sculls, with Jordan Parry moving to stroke seat and Robbie Manson going to the bow.

Jordan and Robbie were 2.47s down in fourth through the first 500m. They’d moved into second by the halfway mark, with the Olympic champion French crew in the lead.

Jordan and Robbie closed the gap to half a length after belting through the third 500m at 40 rating. They looked to have it with 100m to go before the French got the final surge to win in 6.31.54. Jordan and Robbie were just 0.15s behind.

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The Men’s Double Sculls number one crew of Jordan Parry and Robbie Manson were second in their heat at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing

That put them into the semifinals starting from 7.45pm tonight, where Ben Mason and Flynn Watson will join them after finishing second (6.43.83) behind Germany (6.39.49) in heat three.

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Ben Mason and Flynn Watson the number two Men's Double crew racing in their heat at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing. 

Kerri Williams, Davina Waddy, Phoebe Spoors and Jackie Gowler had clearwater by the 1000m in their heat of the Women’s Four. They were up against three development crews from Romania, Great Britain and China.

“These types of crews can always lay down daunting challenges,” says Ryan. “They are often unencumbered by doubt and perhaps with pressure reduced can often really push more established crews for large durations of the 2k course.”

New Zealand putting on an assured display to go straight to Sunday night’s final (9pm) in 6.49 flat, more than four seconds up on Romania.

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The Women's Four crew of Kerri Williams, Davina Waddy, Phoebe Spoors and Jackie Gowler racing in their heat at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo: Art Of Rowing 

Matt Macdonald, Tom Murray, Logan Ullrich and Ollie Maclean belted through the 1000m in 3.00.27. They were in a different class in heat two of the Men’s Four, winning in 6.02.70, nearly 13s up on the nearest boat from Germany.

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Matt Macdonald, Tom Murray, Logan Ullrich and Ollie Maclean racing in their heat in the Men's Four at 2024 Rowing World Cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing. 

Stella Clayton-Greene took on the Women’s Single Sculls in Emma Twigg’s planned absence.

She hadn’t raced the boat since the Under 20 A Final of the NZ Championships at Lake Ruataniwha in 2019.

She’d been looking to the challenge with huge enthusiasm and after finishing in 8.08.54 was heading for another opportunity in the repechage just a few hours later.

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Stella Clayton-Greene racing in her women's single scull heat at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing. 

Illness forced Thomas Mackintosh out of the final at World Cup II, but he was back on the water in Poland, just a day after announcing he’ll be President of the Oxford University Boat Club for the upcoming season.

He’ll get plenty of practice seat racing in a single on the Tideway but for now it’s getting a medal in Paris that will be his focus. Tom easily winning his heat in 7.13.72, more than 10s up on the sculler from Poland.

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Tom Mackintosh on the start line for his heat in the men's single sculls at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing 

Jackie Kiddle and Shannon Cox brought New Zealand’s day in the heats to a successful finish, easily winning their heat of the Lightweight Women’s Double Sculls. The margin kept growing as the metres ticked down, Jackie and Shannon finishing in 7.07.72, more than 12s up on second-place Switzerland.

It looks like the real race is who can perfect the art of peaking in just over six weeks’ time.

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Jackie Kiddle and Shannon Cox ready to race their heat in the Women's Lightweight Double sculls at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo Art Of Rowing. 

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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.