Edward gets new crewmate for world champs

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014

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Julia Edward will get a chance to repeat her surprise solo gold medal triumph next week, but will then be part of a new team for the world championships.

Edward will again contest the women's lightweight single scull event at the the third and final World Rowing Cup regatta in Lucerne after regular crewmate Lucy Strack decided to withdraw from the rest of the international season after struggling with form.

Without Strack at the second World Cup regatta in France last month, Edward switched to the lightweight single and produced three dominant displays in her heat, semifinal and final to win gold.

She will return to the lightweight double scull however for the world champs in Amsterdam in late August, where she will be teamed with Sophie MacKenzie, who will make the jump from the under-23 women's lightweight double.

MacKenzie will first compete at the under-23 world championships in Varese, Italy, in late July before joining Edward to train for the world champs in Amsterdam from August 24-31.

There will be two extra Kiwi crews at the World Cup event in Lucerne from July 11-13, with Rowing NZ sending the under-23 women's pair and u-23 men's eight to the regatta ahead of the u-23 world champs.

The elite women's pair of Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt will be joined by the highly promising u-23 combination of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast, who are expected to be among the favourites for gold at the age-group event in Italy.

The u-23 men's eight will also gain further elite experience by contesting the Lucerne regatta from July 11-13. The young Kiwi eight won bronze at the sparsely attended opening World Cup regatta of the year in Sydney in March and is aiming to defend their 2013 u-23 World Championship title in Varese.

"We believe this international elite racing will give the under-23 rowers some fantastic experience heading into the under-23 world championship regatta," said Rowing New Zealand high performance manager Alan Cotter.

"Our focus is certainly shifting ahead to Rio and potentially some of these young rowers might be competing at the elite level next year in the hope to qualify boats for the 2016 Olympics."

New Zealand will field 13 boats in Lucerne - women's single scull, women's lightweight single scull, two women's pairs, women's double scull, women's quad, men's single scull, men's pair, men's double scull, men's lightweight double, men's lightweight four, men's quad and men's eight.

At last month's World Cup event in Aiguebelette, New Zealand won five gold medals through Edward, fellow single scullers Emma Twigg and Mahe Drysdale, the unbeaten men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray and the men's lightweight four of Curtis Rapley, James Lassche, Peter Taylor and James Hunter.

The women's quad of Erin-Monique O'Brien, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Sarah Gray added to the haul with bronze to ensure New Zealand sits second on the World Cup series standings with 81 points, just 10 behind Australia.

The under-23 men's eight and under-23 women's coxless pair will depart New Zealand on Friday.

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