New Zealand crews make all the right noises in final push before Paris.

 

If you get the boat running right, the sound of the water on the hull can be magic.

There may well have been a bit of that coming off the black and white boats on finals day of World Cup III in Poland.

New Zealand won four gold medals and two bronze on a Poznan course that holds big memories for many of the squad.

Paris is the end of the Olympics road for lightweight rowing, essentially at the expense of coastal competition for Los Angeles 2028.

Jackie Kiddle is a world champion in both disciplines, and she and Shannon Cox’s duel with defending Olympic champions Great Britain in six weeks’ time could be one of the highlights of the regatta.

The Brits have stayed away from Poland, so the door was open for Jackie and Shannon to put down a marker.

That’s exactly what they did.

A bow-ball lead at 500m, half a length at halfway, clearwater at the 1500m mark to go on to win gold in 7min 02.50sec.

It was Shannon’s first victory at this level of racing on a course that is now a favourite for both her and Jackie, who estimates she’s won eight times at the Lake Malta venue.

“It’s a really great stepping stone for us towards Paris,” says Jackie.  “It’s always a great place to row, like I love Poland.”

“Pretty exciting," said Shannon. “I know Jackie loves racing on this course, I really liked it as well.”

It was a day full of pride and sadness for Shannon’s stepmother Tracey and father Kelvin Cox, watching the race from Whangarei.

Tracey’s brother had passed earlier in the day, “so there’s a bit of family stuff going on,” said Kelvin.

He was preparing to break the news to Shannon as soon as he could get hold of her after racing.

“[For Shannon] to get a gold at a World Cup event is an achievement, said Kelvin. “We were watching on Sky, and very proud of her and obviously the boat’s going really well and we’re looking forward to Paris.”

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Shannon Cox and Jackie Kiddle after winning their A Final in the Women's Lightweight Women's Pair at 2024 World Rowing Cup III . Photo: Art Of Rowing. 

Have Kerri Williams, Davina Waddy, Phoebe Spoors and Jackie Gowler gone to another level?

Plenty of people round the course thought so after watching them in the Women’s Four.

They were leading at the 500m, had a length at 600 metres, clearwater at the 1000m, more than five seconds at the 1500m to finish in 6.45.02. Australia were four seconds behind for silver, with an emerging Romania crew third in 6.49.97.

Matt Macdonald, Tom Murray, Logan Ullrich and Ollie Maclean were equally impressive in the Men’s Four.

They had an early bow-for-bow tussle with Australia through the first 1000m but took two seconds out of the green and gold boat through the third 500m to win in 6.00.27.

Australia was second in 6.03.40. The Great Britain crew of ‘LA 2028 prospects’ was third in 6.05.50.

The result had been a nice validation of the work done to date, said Rowing NZ’s Head of Athletic Development Ryan Turfrey. What they did on their return to base camp in Italy would be crucial.

“The next block of training is the one that will likely make or break Olympic outcomes,” said Ryan.

“Neither crew will be under any illusion as to the challenge ahead - their opposition will certainly be training each day to put themselves in the position we have found ourselves this weekend and it is up to every athlete to continue to push the envelope.”

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The Men's Four after claiming gold in the A Final at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Ollie Maclean, Logan Ullrich, Tom Murray and Matt Macdonald. Photo: Art of Rowing. 

After the weekend, Poznan may well figure among Tom Mackintosh’s favourite courses as well.

He walked through some top company in the Men’s Single Sculls to claim his first gold medal in the boat since taking on the challenge just a year ago.

Germany’s Olli Zeidler and the Netherlands’ Martin Van Dorp both sat out this regatta, but Tom faced the ever-present threat of Croatia’s Olympic bronze medal winner Damir Martin and Denmark’s Sverri Nielsen in the last final of the day for the New Zealand team.

The New Zealand sculler started to build a commanding lead after the first 500m and was able to cover the Croatian and Dane on either side of him to win by more than two seconds in 7.00.49.

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Tom Mackintosh on the podium after winning his Men's Single Scull A Final at 2024 World Rowing Cup ||| . Photo: Art Of Rowing

Poznan holds special significance for Robbie Manson. It’s where he set the world’s best time in the Men’s Single Sculls at World Cup II in 2017. His 6.30.74 still stands.

Now partnered with Jordan Parry for the Men’s Double Sculls, they were up against defending Olympic champions Matthieu Androdias and Hugo Boucheron from France and Ireland’s bronze medalists from last year’s world championships, Philip Doyle and Daire Lynch.

Jordan and Robbie were sixth through the first 1000m, down almost three seconds on the leading crew from Poland.

But what a third 500m from the New Zealanders to move into fourth and then an early crank of the stroke coach to 42 to snatch a bronze medal in 6.28.41.

Ireland won in 6.25.28, Germany was second in 6.27.72.

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Men's Double (1) crew of Robbie Manson and Jordan Parry on the podium at 2024 World Rowing Cup III with their bronze medals. Photo: Art Of Rowing. 

Jordan and Robbie’s training partners Ben Mason and Flynn Watson qualified for the B Final of the Men’s Double. Just two seconds separated the first four boats at the finish, with the New Zealanders only 0.22s outside a top-three spot.

New Zealand’s two Men’s Pairs (Phil Wilson/Dan Williamson & Ben Taylor/Campbell Crouch) are in an ongoing selection phase for Paris.

They lined up in an A Final with world champions Andrin Gulich and Roman Roeoesli from Switzerland and the legendary Olympic champion Sinkovic brothers for company.

It was close company for most of the race, with Phil and Dan just under two seconds down on the Swiss and Croatians at the 1000m. They maintained that podium spot to finish in 6.39.20. The Swiss winning in 6.36.86 with Croatia taking silver in 6.38.19.

Ben and Campbell were fourth in 6.46.65.

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Men's Pair (1) after securing bronze at 2024 World Rowing Cup III. Photo: Art of Rowing. 

Bella Carter and Kathryn Glen bolted out of the start in the final of the Women’s Double Sculls to finish fifth. They were part of the Women’s Quad at the Final Olympic Qualifying Regatta then moved to the double to cover for Lucy Spoors and Brooke Francis, who will soon be on their way back to Europe to join a New Zealand team now hoping to make a course in Paris their favourite as well.

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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.