Kiwi rowers ready to take on the Korean heat
What's hotter; the South Korean summer or the Kiwi men's lightweight four? The answer will be found over the next eight days at the world rowing championships in Chungju.
The New Zealand men's lightweight four will be seeking to complete a perfect season, by adding a world championship gold medal to their collection of three golds from as many World Cup regattas earlier this year.
After battling with soaring temperatures on arrival in Chungju, the team of Curtis Rapley, Peter Taylor, James Hunter and James Lassche have adjusted to the demanding conditions and are poised to turn up the heat on their opponents.
They'll contest their heat race on Monday and senior crew member Peter Taylor believes they're now ready to chase one more triumph.
''We got hit by a big heatwave when we first got here,'' Taylor said.
''It was around 40 degrees and we were suffering really badly. But our bodies have adjusted really well and if gets below 30 degrees now, we're like 'oh, there's a bit of a chill out there today'.''
The four and the rest of the 39-strong New Zealand team contesting the eight-day regatta have been using ice baths and slushies made from sports hydrates drinks to combat the heat during training, while also pushing out afternoon training rows from 3pm to 4.30pm.
''But we've also been doing speedwork during the middle of the day because that's when we'll be racing,'' Taylor said.
The London Olympic bronze medalist in the lightweight double sculls with Storm Uru said the racing venue, which has a reputation for quick times, is very similar to Lake Karapiro and runs on a dam system.
''Ten kilometres away is the biggest power dam in South Korea," he said.
''Yesterday the lake definitely had a flow on, so the speeds we were doing with the current were pretty awesome. I'm not too sure what the procedure is here for shutting them down during rowing though.''
The lightweight four was assembled over summer in New Zealand and features Rapley and Lassche from the crew that just failed to gain a place at the London Olympics.
Duncan Grant has returned to the lightweight single scull while Graham Oberlin-Brown has taken a year off, with those two being replaced by Taylor and Hunter.
So their rapid progress and accompanying successes have come as a small shock to the crew and Hamilton-based coach Dave Thompson.
''I wasn't expecting those three World Cup wins straight away - it definitely took me by surprise,'' Taylor said.
''But now we're on a good roll, we're just going to keep running with it. We're a pretty good outfit at the moment. May it continue.''
Taylor said their training in Chungju had been helped by the availability of the boat they used to win the final World Cup event in Lucerne.
''We got it shipped over here and have jumped straight back into it and didn't have to change anything.
''We felt really comfortable in that boat so that was a huge benefit - we didn't spend four or five days tampering and adjusting, which can happen when you're uncomfortable.
''The speeds we've shown so far have been pretty healthy, but you just don't quite know until you get on the water and see how you are compared to the other crews.''
Their chief rivals are likely to come from Denmark, the Netherlands, Olympic champions South Africa, Great Britain and an Australian crew trained by former Waikato coach Brett Crow.
Taylor said he hasn't given ''too much serious thought'' to whether he sees his place in the lightweight four as a permanent fixture through to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
''I'm just really enjoying what I'm doing at the moment and focusing on making this campaign as best as I can.
''Once I get back home and have time to think about it, I can look forward to Rio and see where the best opportunity lies.''
Uru is current studying in England at Cambridge University, and Taylor said thoughts of a rowing reunion were some way off.
''When his time comes around and it's his decision as whether he wants to row in Rio, it's up to him. Personally I'm not relying on it; I've got to make my own decisions," he said.
''I'll have a chat with him and see what options are there, and that may happen in a year or so's time.
''If I want to be in the double I've got to start next season to get that going. You could possibly take two of us out of the four but that leaves the four depleted.''
For now, he's full of praise for his new crewmates.
''These guys that I row with are phenomenally tough and phenomenally passionate and determined to win. If we can get in the medals here again, that'd be a great result and we'd be able to look back on what a great season it has been.''
- © Fairfax NZ News