Kiwi rowers expected to clean up in Sydney
A pathetic lack of opposition should ensure Rowing New Zealand will return a handy medal haul at the World Cup in Sydney later this month.
Entries for the March 28-30 regatta revealed today have cast the event in a farcical light, with many of the sport's superpowers from the Northern Hemisphere almost completely bypassing the first of three World Cup regattas this year.
Great Britain and France aren't sending any crews, while Germany have entered only three boats and Italy one as less than 200 rowers from just 21 countries will contest the event over 14 classes of racing.
Rowing New Zealand are sending a greatly-reduced squad than that which will contest the other two World Cup regattas in France and Switzerland later this year, and the 2014 world champs in Amsterdam in August.
The NZ team consists of women's single sculler Emma Twigg, the women's pair of Rebecca Scown and Louise Trappitt, the women's lightweight double scull combination of Lucy Strack and Julia Edward and a men's eight, which will also split to provide a four and a pair.
Strack and Edward have just three other crews contesting their class - two Australian boats and one from the Czech Republic.
The NZ men's eight of Tom Murray, George Howard, Shaun Kirkham, Isaac Grainger, Jonathan Wright, Alex Kennedy, Brook Robertson, Stephen Jones and coxswain Caleb Shepherd will meet two Australian crews and one from the Netherlands, while the four of Jones, Kirkham, Grainger and Robertson will face four Australian crews and a Dutch outfit.
While the women's single scull event should provide the highlight of the regatta - as Twigg goes up against Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova (Czech Republic) and world champ Kim Crow (Australia) - it still only has a field of nine rowers.
The Kiwi women's pair of Scown and Trappitt have 10 rivals in their class, but four of them are Australian boats, with two crews apiece from Canada and China.
Great Britain contested nine events when the regatta was held in Sydney for the first time last year.