Small New Zealand team for Sydney regatta

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014
Mahe Drysdale
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
NOT TAKING PART: Mahe Drysdale.

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Rowing New Zealand will send a skeleton crew to Sydney for the opening World Cup regatta of the year in March.

That's bound to upset the hosts, who are already struggling with the profile of the event. Most of the sport's superpower nations are set to skip the regatta, while the likes of New Zealand stars Mahe Drysdale, Hamish Bond and Eric Murray also won't attend.

However, Rowing NZ say budget restrictions and the timing of the event will limit their participation, and their complement of athletes is still likely to be greater than most other leading nations'.

In a switch from the usual schedule of hosting the three annual World Cup regattas in Europe, the sport's world governing body, Fisa, granted Sydney hosting rights for the first World Cup event of the year for 2013 and 2014.

Rowing NZ sent 41 athletes to Sydney last season and won four golds, a silver and two bronzes, finishing third on the international points tally behind the hosts and Great Britain.

But their budget requirements differed from this year as the New Zealand team who attended the latter two 2013 World Cup regattas in Europe, while staying and training in between events, returned home before the world championships in South Korea.

The remaining World Cup events this year are in Aiguebelette, France, and Lucerne, and the world championships are in Amsterdam, so the Kiwi team will stay in Europe from early June until the end of August.

"With budgeting we've got some restraints there, because we usually don't go to the first World Cup anyway," Rowing NZ high-performance manager Alan Cotter said.

"This year we're away from New Zealand for 80 days, with the crews going to the second and third World Cups then on to the world champs.

"So it'll be a small team of around 14-17 athletes, around there - we're just working through that with Fisa now on what we are sending, but it won't be a full team."

Cotter said the plan for 2014 was "our standard formula and strategy" that Rowing NZ employed for its highly successful 2012 London Olympics campaign.

Rowing NZ will receive $4.8 million in 2014 from High Performance Sport NZ as part of the $19m budgeted for the 2013-2016 Olympic cycle.

"We've planned right out to Rio with HPSNZ what we're doing," Cotter said.

The March 28-30 regatta was not ideal timing to have the best athletes at racing peak, he said.

The New Zealand elite squad will begin their racing season tomorrow with the Cambridge Town Cup, and will also contest the North Island championships at the start of February, the national championships in mid-February and the national team trials in the first week of March.

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"It's not quite the right timing, the Sydney World Cup for us, but seeing it's Down Under we'll certainly support it in that way with that number of athletes going.

"Great Britain are not supporting it - they're not sending any crews down and they're the leading nation.

"And again, it's in their winter-time, they have camps during their winter in different parts of the world and Sydney's not on their radar."

- Fairfax Media

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