Bond, Murray set pace at rowing World Cup
The seemingly unconquerable combination of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray blazed the way for Kiwi boats on the opening day of the second World Cup regatta in France tonight (NZ time).
Bond and Murray began their sixth season together in the men's pair in sparkling style, improving their unbeaten record by winning their heat in a rapid time of six minutes 21.80 seconds - 14 seconds ahead of the second-placed Great Britain crew of Matthew Gotrel and Paul Bennett - to waltz into the semifinals.
Their time was easily the quickest of the three heats and put them on course for yet another dominant regatta ahead of Sunday night's (NZ time) finals.
All heats were held in a time trial format, with staggered starts for the boats.
Julia Edward contested the lightweight women's single sculls event after doubles crewmate Lucy Strack was left out of the team for the regatta. Edward led through the first half of her heat and won in a time of 7:46.10 seconds - 10 seconds clear of second-placed Maia Simmonds of Australia, to comfortably advance to the semifinals with the fastest time over the three heats.
Mahe Drysdale made a winning start to his international campaign for 2014 in the men's single sculls, triumphing in 6:46.96.
His time was slightly quicker than great rivals Ondrej Synek (Czech Republic) and Marcel Hacker (Germany), who each won their heats.
Emma Twigg won the women's single scull gold at the opening World Cup regatta of the year in Sydney in March and will be seeking a repeat triumph this weekend. She made a fine start to her quest, winning her heat in 7:26.25 - quicker than first heat winner and her likely closest rival in France, Czech 2012 Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova.
The new NZ lightweight men's pairs combination of Alistair Bond and Adam Ling produced a promising debut race at the top level to finish second in their heat in 6:29.18. That ensured they advanced to contest the quarterfinals overnight.
The Manson brothers Karl and Robbie scored a heat win in their first elite senior international regatta as the NZ men's double sculls combination, with a time of 6:16.90 pushing them easily through to the semis.
The Kiwi women's pair of Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt were second in their heat in 7:15.17, over five seconds behind the United States crew but fast enough to get them into the semifinals.
Women's double scullers Zoe Stevenson and Fiona Bourke were third in their heat behind Australia and the US in 6:56.85 in a closely-contested heat to safely make it through to the semifinals.
The NZ lightweight men's four of Curtis Rapley, James Lassche, Peter Taylor and James Hunter - who were silver medalists at last year's world champs - were impressive in winning their preliminary race hit-out ahead of Saturday night's heats.
The NZ women's quad was third in their prelimnary race while the men's quad was fourth.