Strong results from women's pairs in Lucerne
New Zealand's elite women's pair crew reacted to pressure in the best way last night by advancing directly to the final of their event at the last World Cup regatta of the season in Lucerne.
Rowing NZ entered two boats in the event - the senior crew of Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt and the under-23 duo of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast, who will contest the world under-23 champs in Italy later this month.
Scown and Trappitt could only manage a B final victory at the second World Cup regatta of 2014 in France last month but flew out from the start in Lucerne and won their heat in seven minutes 17.91 seconds to advance directly to Sunday night's (NZ time) final.
The 2012 Olympic champion Great Britain crew of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won the second heat to grab the other automatic final spot, but Gowler and Prendergast were with them all the way and their time for second place of 7:16.01 was almost two seconds quicker than Scown and Trappitt's.
The youngsters will have to go through a repechage to make the final but should do so comfortably if they can come anywhere near repeating that effort.
It proved to be another successful day for the 12 Kiwi boats in action, after NZ won five gold and a bronze in France.
Lightweight women's single sculler Julia Edward was the first Kiwi in action on a wet morning and she continued the performances that made her a surprise gold-medal winner in Aiguebelette.
The Rotorua rower was third after the first 500 metres but had pushed into the lead by the midway stage of the 2000m race and held that advantage until the end, winning in a time of seven minutes 50.63 seconds to easily qualify for the semifinals to be held later in the day.
Edward will team up with under-23 rower Sophie McKenzie after Lucerne in preparation for competing as the lightweight women's double scull boat at the world championships in Amsterdam later next month.
The men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray were again untroubled as they notched up another win.
The Kiwi duo, unbeaten since 2009 and also victors in France, led throughout to win by 11 seconds over second-placed Netherlands and advanced directly to the quarterfinals later in the day.
Fresh off a win at the Henley Regatta to back up his gold in France, Mahe Drysdale led throughout heat four of the men's single scull to win in 7:09.85 ahead of his quarterfinal.
Women's single sculler Emma Twigg was also one of New Zealand's five gold medalists at the second World Cup event, and she was also dominant with a heat win in 7:52.43 to move on to the semifinals, with Kim Crow (Australia) and Mirka Knapkova (Czech Republic) looming as rivals for gold.
Brothers Robbie and Karl Manson scored a second-place finish in the men's double scull heat behind Great Britain to be one of three boats from their heat to head straight to the semifinals in a time of 6:33.81.
The NZ women's double sculls crew of Zoe Stevenson and Fiona Bourke are aiming to make up for the disappointment of missing a place in the A final in France and would have been buoyed by a well-timed race that saw them win their heat in 7:02.55 to go straight into the semifinals.
They were accompanied to the semifinals by the men's lightweight four that won gold in France. The crew of James Hunter, Peter Taylor, James Lassche and Curtis Rapley won in 6:05.95 to continue a hot run of form by last year's world champs silver medalists.
Bronze medalists in France, the women's quad of Erin-Monique O'Brien, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Sarah Gray were second behind Germany in their heat to advance directly to Sunday's final.The NZ men's quad of Jade Uru, John Storey, Nathan Flannery and Chris Harris produced a strong row to place second in their heat behind the Great Britain quad in 5:54.73 to qualify for the semifinals.
The men's eight of Stephen Jones, Brook Robertson, Alex Kennedy, Joe Wright, Finn Howard, Shaun Kirkham, Isaac Grainger, Tom Murray and coxswain Caleb Shepherd are using Lucerne as build-up to defending their u-23 world champs crown. They were fourth in the second of two heats and will next contest a repechage, along with the rookie lightweight men's double scullers Alistair Bond and Adam Ling, who were fifth in their heat.
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