New Zealand’s new-look crews have had an impressive beginning to their international season claiming three medals at the final World Cup regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Thomas Mackintosh finished third in the men’s single sculls in his first regatta as a single sculler. He was only selected to row the event in June and has spent just eight weeks in the boat.

The new sculler, who won gold at the Tokyo Olympics in the men’s eight, has been a great conversation starter around the boat park at the famous Rotsee course.

“I think there has been a wee bit of chat going around,” says Mackintosh. “I personally haven’t been privy to it but I’ve heard people are wondering, ‘Who’s this guy from the men’s eight thinking he can race in the single scull?’”

Mackintosh was just over five seconds down on eventual winner Ollie Zeidler from Germany at the 1000-metre mark. But he accelerated over the next 200m to move into third and was just 1.54 seconds behind silver medallist Sverri Nielsen from Denmark at the finish.

He knows he’s on a steep learning curve.

“The pace is hot, I’ve got to work on that first 1000m of mine, but I learned I am strong through the middle part of the race so I’ll just keep executing on that. I need to work on the finish, just staying composed, staying long, moving the boat faster, making up the time that I need to hopefully be in contention for that gold medal spot [in Paris].”

At the moment, that stands at nine seconds behind Zeidler, who’s been a single sculling specialist since 2018.

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Photo: Art of Rowing. Photo features: Tom Mackintosh (right) with winner Ollie Zeidler from Germany (centre) and Sverri Nielsen from Denmark (left).

The men’s coxless four also won a bronze in a hotly contested final that pitted world champions Great Britain against Olympic champions Australia.

The New Zealand crew featured two athletes competing in their first World Cup events - Ollie Maclean and Logan Ullrich – and they finished just over four seconds behind winners Great Britain, with Australia second.

Maclean and Ullrich have just finished college rowing programmes, at Cal Berkeley and the University of Washington respectively, in the United States.

“I’ve watched A-finals in World Cups since 2017, so it was a dream of mine to end up being in one of them myself,” says Ullrich. “I took a moment at the start line to really appreciate where I was and the gravity of the moment and to enjoy it. Really happy to have been a part of it.”

The bronze medal also marks a significant return to the podium for Olympic gold medallists from the Tokyo eight, Matt Macdonald and Tom Murray.

“We had a bit of an average one in the semifinals,” says Macdonald. “We needed to try and be a bit quicker [in the first 500m] and this time we felt like we were in the race from the start which was our goal. I think we’ve got a fair bit more speed [in us] in terms of finesse and finding the nuances of the boat [but] to be there or thereabouts and feeling like we’ve got a little bit more speed to gain is pretty exciting.”

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Photo: Art of Rowing. Photo of the Men's Four after being presented with their bronze medals. From left to right: tom murray, Logan Ullrich, Ollie maclean and Matthew MacDonald. 

The most experienced athlete in the squad also won bronze in the women’s single scull.

Emma Twigg has set her long-term sights on successfully defending her Olympic title in Paris next year.

She was in a clear-cut group of three from the start with world champion Dutchwoman Karolien Florijn and Australia’s Tara Rigney leading the way.

Twigg had warm-up racing two weeks ago, winning her third Holland Beker title in thesingle in Amsterdam.

The 36-year-old was three seconds down on Florijn at the 500-metre mark in perfect conditions in Lucerne and that had stretched to just over four by the 1500m.


Photo: Art of Rowing. Photo features; SINGLE SCULLER EMMA TWIGG RACING IN THE A FINal at WOrld rowing Cup III

The world’s fastest ever single sculler, Robbie Manson, made his return to international racing partnering newcomer Ben Mason in the men’s double scull. Manson likens the event to a shark tank with top Dutch combination Stefan Broenink and Melvin Twellaar beating out legendary brothers Valent and Martin Sinkovic for gold.

The New Zealanders finished 6th, the race a big first-up test for Mason, rowing in his first senior event.

To make an A-final at his first attempt is a huge achievement for the 22-year-old,given the quality of the field.

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Photo: Art of Rowing. Photo features: BEN MASON AND ROBBIE MANSON IN the double at World Rowing Cup III.

The women’s coxless four also included an athlete making her first appearance in an A-final at a World Cup.

Ella Cossill has just returned to New Zealand after completing her studies at the University of Washington where she stroked the top eight to a second place at the NCAA championships.

She joined the new combination of Phoebe Spoors, Jackie Gowler and Davina Waddy in a stacked field that included Olympic champions Australia and other power house crews from Romania, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Ireland.

New Zealand finished 5th, in a time of 6:26.82, eight seconds behind winners Romania.

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Photo: Art of Rowing. Photo features: The Women’s Coxless Four Davina Waddy, Ella Cossill, Jackie Gowler and Phoebe Spoors.

Selections will now be held to determine which crews continue to the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia from 3-10 September.

Other New Zealand results:

Women’s lightweight double scull (J Kiddle, S Cox) 6th A final.

Men’s lightweight double scull (C Stockley, M Dunham) 2nd B final.

Men’s double scull (J Ready, J Parry) 4th B final.

Women’s double scull (L Spoors, B Francis) 3rd Bfinal; (K Haines, L Glen) 4th C final.

Men’s pair (T Russel, B Taylor) 6th B final; (D Williamson, P Wilson) 1st C final.

Women’s pair (A Sherman, K Goodger) 6th B final; (SClayton-Greene, C Layburn) DNS C final.

Men’s lightweight single scull (F Hamill) 1st C final.

Women’s lightweight single scull (R Kennedy) 5th repechage 2.


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.