Women’s four shows the strength of taking your chances.

 

Lake Karapiro over the summer holiday break is like a super highway for water sports.

Two water ski clubs bookend the 10km stretch between the rowing course and the Horahora Bridge 10km upstream.

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An underwater view of the old Horahora power station before it was submerged in 1947.

A bit further up where the old Horahora power station lies submerged 20m below the surface you come to two Christian youth camps - Epworth and Finlay. At that time of the year they are chocka with school rowing squads.

Those school crews have to be up early to beat the water-skiers and the boat wash and if they time it right they get front row seats to the Summer Squad athletes going hard.

It was just going 7.30am when a women’s coxless four started their power strokes in pairs at 24, one minute on, one off. Kerri Williams, back in the squad after a break, was absolutely going for it in stroke seat. Jackie Gowler was setting an equally punishing rhythm for the bow pair.

The return of strokesider Kerri always set up the possibility of a reshuffle of the crew (Phoebe Spoors, Jackie Gowler, Ella Cossill, Davina Waddy) that monstered the B Final at the World Champs to qualify the boat for Paris.

And that dilemma’s thrown up an intriguing solution says Rowing NZ GM of Performance Judith Hamilton.

“Just after Christmas, Davina Waddy made the call that she wanted to try bowside to see if we could put a faster boat onto the water. Interesting that it was Davina because she was probably tracking top stroke-sider at the time.”

It was a big call for Davina, but she impressed enough in seat racing, having never rowed bow side before, to make the boat for World Cup II in May.

Ella Cossill will now trial for the selection of the Women’s Pair with incumbents Alana Sherman, Kate Haines and Stella Clayton-Greene, after the NZ Rowing Championships. The successful combination will then get the opportunity to qualify the boat for Paris at the 'Last Chance' regatta in May.

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Davina Waddy gets the feel of the bow side behind Jackie Gowler in the Women's Coxless Four for the upcoming World Cup II regatta. Kerri Williams and Phoebe Spoors complete the lineup.

There’s change too in the Men’s Pair, with Dan Williamson joining Phil Wilson in the boat. It means Ben Taylor goes into the reserve boat with Campbell Crouch, who missed selection last year after returning from the States.

“He'd only really just come back from that and being in the Cal Berkeley team and that sort of showed him where he was,” says Judith.

“But he's gone away and worked as part of the Performance Hub in Waikato over the summer and continued to take on the feedback and develop and have some good performances in the trials, so he’s just gone from strength to strength which is neat to see.”

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Ollie Maclean and Campbell Crouch celebrate Cal Berkeley's historic win at the IRAs in New Jersey last May. Ollie's retained his seat in the New Zealand Men's Coxless Four while Campbell has earned a spot in the Men's Reserve Pair for World Cup II.

And if you want to see how quick the new combo in the Men’s Double Sculls is going, be watching the RowingHub livestream from NZ Rowing Championships on Tuesday February 13 just after midday when Robbie Manson and Jordan Parry hit the water together.

This time last year Jordan was kicking himself after coming off his motorbike and breaking his ankle. He missed the 2023 NZ Rowing Championships and was staring down a long rehab. Just as he was getting back to his best, Ben Mason was having injury issues of his own.

For some, the latest selections mean disappointment on the road to Paris. For others it’s the start of a big new opportunity.

For Judith, it will remain a test of just how well the squad can stick together, whether you’re in an A or B boat.

“You know, the training partners are as much an integral part of the result because they're keeping the honesty in the daily training environment and raising the standards of the crews that are selected and I guess that’s a little bit of the backbone of our programme.”

NZ Rowing Team to compete at 2024 World Rowing Cup II in Lucerne, Switzerland 24 – 26 May

Women’s Single Scull

Emma Twigg

Coach: Mike Rodger

Women’s Double Scull

Lucy Spoors

Brooke Francis

Coach: James Coote

Women’s Lightweight Double Scull

Jackie Kiddle

Shannon Cox

Coach: James Coote

Women’s Coxless Four

Jackie Gowler

Davina Waddy

Kerri Williams

Phoebe Spoors

Coach: Tom Stannard

Men’s Single Scull

Tom Mackintosh

Coach: Gary Roberts

Men’s Double Scull

Robbie Manson

Jordan Parry

Coach: Gary Roberts

Men’s Coxless Pair

Dan Williamson

Phillip Wilson

Coach: Malcolm McIntyre

Men’s Coxless Four

Matt Macdonald

Logan Ullrich

Tom Murray

Ollie Maclean

Coach: Mike Rodger

Reserve Men’s Pair

Ben Taylor

Campbell Crouch

Coach: Malcolm McIntyre

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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. Email: andygohay1@gmail.com