New Zealand’s hopes of qualifying a boat to defend its Olympic title in the Women’s Pair may now rest at the ‘last chance’ regatta in Switzerland next May.

Kerri Williams and Grace Prendergast set a world’s best time to win gold at Tokyo but their most recent successors in the boat, Alana Sherman and Kate Haines, couldn’t secure that spot for Paris on day three of the World Rowing Championships in Serbia.

The New Zealand pair needed at top-two finish in their repechage on the Ada Ciganlija course in Belgrade but were outpaced by Ireland’s Fiona Murtagh and Aifric Keogh and Italy’s Aisha Rocek and Alice Codato.

Rowing New Zealand’s Head of Athletic Performance, Ryan Turfrey, said Sherman and Haines were still an emerging combination and there were positives to take out of their first international regatta together.

“Alana and Kate have shown potential that would suggest we haven't seen that last of them.”

It wasn’t the last seen of the Italians on day three either.

Less than two hours later they were back on the water for the heats of the Women’s Eight.

Pairs from three other nations are also doubling up in the big boat, including Romania’s Ioana Vrinceanu and Roxana Anghel. They were easy winners of their pairs heat on Monday and fresh legs helped propel their eight to victory over Great Britain and the Italians.

The USA won the other heat in 6min 18.36sec and, like Romania (6:17.67), progressed straight to the final. Everyone else will have to fight it out in the repechage.

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Kate Haines and alana sherman racing in the Women's pair repechage at 2023 world rowing championships.

In the Lightweight Women’s Single Sculls, Rachael Kennedy will contest the C/D finals after finishing fourth in her repechage.

The event is not included in the Olympic programme.

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rachael kennedy competing in the repechage for the lightweight women's single sculls at 2023 world rowing championships.

Whether New Zealand can get a Women’s Pair on that programme in Paris remains to be seen.

The New Zealand Men’s Eight famously clinched a qualifying spot for the Tokyo Olympics at the last chance regatta before going on to win the gold medal in 2021.

A Women’s Pair may now be relying on the same perilous route to get to 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.