Mahe Drysdale may have been missing but that did not stop the drama during the premier single sculls final at the National Rowing Championships on Lake Ruataniwha.
With defending national and Olympic champion Drysdale on a six-month break, Southland's Nathan Cohen won back the title he last held in 2011, but not before two young scullers gave him a run for the money.
Blenheim's Robbie Manson had a strong first 1000m before his New Zealand quadruple sculls team-mate Michael Arms, from Auckland, charged home to have his measure, before Cohen snaffled the title with his experience and superior finish.
All three were separated by less than a second at the finish.
Cohen also won the New Zealand Male Rower of the Year Award.
Half a decade of dominance continued for Emma Twigg in the women's premier single. She made it five years in a row with a convincing 5-second win over Southern's Fiona Bourke, with Waikato's Genevieve Armstrong third.
Auckland RPC team-mates Kelsey Bevan and Kayla Pratt were jointly awarded the Female Rower of the Year Award.
The traditional blue-ribbon eights events concluded the week's racing. Waihopai won the women's senior eight, while a fast finishing Hawke's Bay won the men's senior eight.
The Southern RPC won both premier eights races.
They easily won the premier women's eight, for the third year in a row, by 5 sec from Central RPC and Waikato RPC last of the three-crew field.
However, the men relied on a late charge, with their rating pushing 40 in the latter stages to earn a narrow win and a deserved double.
Christchurch club, Avon, easily won the Centennial Oar for the best performing club at the regatta.
- The Timaru Herald