Marlborough brothers Robbie and Karl Manson will take on the world together after yesterday being confirmed as the New Zealand elite men's double scull crew for the 2014 international season.
The Manson siblings are a new-look men's double scull combination at elite level, but they have raced together before. At the 2014 nationals they won the men's premier double scull for Central RPC and they raced together at the under-23 level in 2010 in the men's double scull where they finished fifth. However, late in 2010 Karl got glandular fever, dashing the brothers hopes of remaining together the following season.
"We never got to reach our full potential in the boat in 2010 with Karl getting sick," Robbie, 24, said. "We are happy and excited to get the opportunity to row together again. It is special to be in the elite double with my brother. We have a lot of confidence in each other, and believe in each other."
During the 2013 season Robbie teamed up with Aucklander Michael Arms in the double, after Picton's Joseph Sullivan and Southlander Nathan Cohen had rowed to Olympic glory in London. Manson and Arms enjoyed success in the World Cup regattas but missed out at the world champs when Arms' back injury flared up. He was in the original mix for the double in 2014 but had to withdraw with more back issues. Arms' original disc injury has healed but the wear that the disc has been subject to has caused inflammation around the facet joints of the vertebrae. He will look to return from the injury with the aim of rejoining the summer squad later in the year.
"I'm gutted for Mike [Arms] with his injury," said Robbie, "but I know he will be back and fighting hard in the summer."
The brothers share a flat, so are used to spending time together and get on really well, according to Robbie.
"Karl has got a different style to Mike, but we are brothers and we blend well together. It's something pretty special to have someone who is rowing up to the same level in the team, but to have him in the same boat, that's a whole another level. It's a pretty cool opportunity we've got."
Karl, 22, got a late callup to elite men's quad in 2013 after Cohen pulled out of the crew at the world rowing championships in Korea due to his heart condition. He is happy to make his first elite team and to be in the boat with his brother.
"It is good to finish what we started in 2010, we couldn't achieve what we wanted to. We have just had a successful summer in the double and we enjoy rowing together, so we look forward to what this season brings."
The fourth rower in the early mix for double scull contention, Giacomo Thomas, is now the non-travelling reserve after the seat trial found that the Manson brothers made the fastest combination on the water. The selection of the double was orginally set down for the start of June but was brought forward after a series of mini-trials over the weekend.
Twenty six athletes in eleven Olympic class boats will compete at the 2014 world championships at Amsterdam. New Zealand will contest the men's and women's single sculls, men's and women's pair, men's and women's double sculls, men's and women's lightweight double sculls, men's lightweight four, and men's and women's quadruple scull at the world championships. The men's under-23 eight will also compete at the third World Cup in Lucerne.
The inclusion of the Manson siblings brings the total of Central RPC athletes in crews to attend the World Cups in France and Switzerland, then the world championships in Amsterdam, to 10.
They are: Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt in the women's coxless pair, Erin-Monique O'Brien in the women's quad, Chris Harris in the men's quad, James Hunter in the men's lightweight coxless four, the Manson brothers in the men's double and Brook Robertson, Joe Wright and Tom Murray in the men's eight - who will compete at the Lucerne World Cup only.
In other rowing news, five Marlborough college students will trial for the South Island under 18 team in Twizel over Easter. They are Campbell Stevens, Robson Davies, Georgina Williams, Ruby McManaway and Sammie Woollcombe.
Marlborough's Kaye Surgenor will coach the South Island boys sculling squad which will come out of the trials. Mark James, a Central RPC coach, is a selector for the North Island team and is coaching their sculling boys.
Nadja Hyson from the Wairau club, and a member of the Central RPC, is the only rower from this region chosen to undertake a NZ Junior trial on Lake Karapiro over Easter.
- The Marlborough Express