Uru's tale leads big southern haul

Day four of the national rowing championships at Lake Ruataniwha signalled a changing of the guard and a new crop of talent on the make in the 38 A and B finals held yesterday in cool but calm conditions.

Six Waihopai rowers representing Southern RPC competed in 11 A finals yesterday and came away with four gold medals and four bronze medals. Kristen Froude added two medals to her one-gold tally, taking gold in the under 20 four and bronze in the premier four.

Genevieve Behrent opened her account with a bronze in the women's premier double and stepped up to silver in the women's premier four. In the women's under 22 single Lisa Owen took the bronze medal.

Jade Uru's tale of how he and Hamish Bond came to lose their steering, cross five lanes and then regain their lead and their lane to win the men's premier pair beggars belief but the two Olympians were unbeatable, even with the deviation from their race plan and course, winning the race by a four-second margin.

The last race of the day, the men's premier four, was no repeat of the Monty Python-esque display of the pair and saw Uru and Bond teaming up with NZ lightweight representatives James Lassche and Armin Svaboda Jr to finish second behind Bond's Olympic-winning pair crewmate Eric Murray, in his Waikato RPC four.

Hayden Cohen was also on the water for Southern RPC and though the Invercargill Rowing Club's newest red-coat holder could not repeat the feats of the quad the day before, he and crewmate Nathan Flannery were only narrowly beaten by former world under 23 double champions, Olympians Joseph Sullivan and Robbie Manson, by 1.09 seconds.

Waihopai Rowing Club's squad started well with half of Thursday's silver-winning club eight repeating the performance in the women's club quad. Heather Livesey, Georgia Yaxley, Olivia MacDonald and Annabel Ronald were beaten by a strong Hawke's Bay crew but held off the Otago Rowing Club for a silver medal.

Yaxley and Livesey returned to the water 2 hours later for the women's club double but could not hold the tempo and came home fourth. Waihopai's senior pair Hayden Kerr and Scott Barnsdale have come away from the regatta with a bronze medal in the senior pair after a wobbly start in heats saw them progress through repechages and after failing to make their respective single and double finals.

Held later in the week to enable school-aged rowers to attend just the two days of the championships, the men's and women's under 19 double heats were held yesterday with MacDonald and Ronald staking a claim for the title in today's final with the fourth fastest time overall.

Wakatipu Rowing Club's novice men can now be named the best four new rowers in the country, with George Dennison (stroke), Latham Jones, Reid Long, Logan Boyd and coxswain Henry Mathews winning the coveted men's novice four title, complete with gold medals and NZ Rowing winners T-shirts.

These four Wakatipu rowers and coxswain Mathews will team up today with Oliver Jolly, Will Saxon, Josh Tell and Ben Luke in an attempt to become the best eight novice rowers in the country in their A final of the men's novice eight.

Today will see a new winner for the men's premier single in a race that is sure to be world class. Nathan Cohen will attempt to make the title his.

Southland may well hold two new red-coat national premier champions today in Froude and O'Connor but they will have to wait until the final two events of the regatta, the men's and women's premier eights.

Waihopai will attempt to retain their women's senior eight title with four of last year's crew returning and already fetching bronze in the senior four. The same four will also contest the senior quad today.

The Southland Times