Young NZ rowing pair threaten established order

UNDER PRESSURE: Rebecca Scown, left, and Louise Trappitt will face competition from a young Kiwi crew in Lucerne.
UNDER PRESSURE: Rebecca Scown, left, and Louise Trappitt will face competition from a young Kiwi crew in Lucerne.

Rowing New Zealand may be hoping one of their most promising crews doesn't rock the boat in Lucerne next week.

The highly regarded under-23 women's pair of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast will compete at the final World Cup regatta in Switzerland alongside the elite senior combination of Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt.

It's understood that the junior rowers have been consistently faster than the more experienced crew throughout training after the New Zealand crews for two World Cups and the world championships were named in March.

Gowler, 20, and Prendergast, 22, have been so impressive that they've often topped the prognostic system Rowing NZ uses to measure all their crews against the world's best marks, beating out the likes of Olympic gold medallists and world champs.

The young pair, and the men's under-23 eight, have been given a chance to test themselves at the World Cup as part of their build up to the world under-23 champs in Varese, Italy, from July 23-27.

But even if they finish ahead of Scown and Trappitt in Lucerne, they won't represent New Zealand at the world champs in Amsterdam in August.

"The elite crew will go on to the world champs," Rowing NZ high performance manager Alan Cotter said.

"The under-23 pair will go on to the under-23 champs."

When asked if the faster boat should deserve a spot at Amsterdam, Cotter said: "The race hasn't been yet, you're getting ahead of yourself.

"The under-23 crews are going to under-23 world champs, that's their target."

The under-23 crews have to fund their overseas ventures, while the current women's pair boat gets Performance Enhancement Grants from High Performance Sport NZ.

But Cotter said the under-23 event was the target for the young pair and the World Cup regatta in Lucerne was about gaining experience for their development.

"Hopefully they'll be in the mix for Rio [2016 Olympics]."

There has been one change to the original team named for the world champs, with Sophie McKenzie teaming up in the women's lightweight double scull, replacing the out-of-form Lucy Strack.

Gowler said she and her crewmate were simply excited about the chance to row at Lucerne.

"It's a great opportunity for us to go over there and race - we're pretty excited to see how we go.

"We just want to race to the best of our ability.

"We don't know what to expect. We know how we can race and are always focusing on how we race and doing the best we can."

Gowler admitted the under-23 world champs was their main goal.

She was at a bit of a loss to explain why the combination, under the guidance of coach Marion Horwell, had flourished.

"I feel like it's just worked for us - everyone says we have a bit of a different dynamic yet it works really well.

"We've always had a real good feeling about the boat since trials. Marion is always helping us out with little technical things to make us faster.

"I'm not too sure how to explain it, but we obviously have something that clicks together."

New Zealand boats won five gold medals and a bronze at the second World Cup regatta in France last month, while Scown and Trappitt won the B final in the women's pair.

Waikato Times