Waikato University have named imposing crews to defend their Gallagher Great Race titles on the Waikato River next month.
The men's and women's eights will feature a number of New Zealand representatives when they battle crews from Queensland University and Sydney University on September 9.
The women's eight, under the guidance of new coach Andrew McCowan, will include rowers who have won medals at world under-23 championships, along with the highly-promising former St Peter's School duo of Georgia Perry and Ashleigh Hodge.
Captain Alyce Pulford, from Thames, was a bronze medallist in the New Zealand under-23 women's lightweight double sculls in Amsterdam last year.
Drury's Kayla Pratt won gold in the women's pair at the u-23 world champs in Lithuania this year. Linda Matthews won bronze as part of the women's quad sculls at the same regatta and Tauranga's Zoe Stevenson was a reserve for the successful New Zealand team that just contested the London Olympics.
Hamilton's Perry will contest her first Great Race, with the experience of being part of the St Peter's School crew that competed in the secondary schools race last year. Perry was also in the NZ four that was fourth in Lithuania.
McCowan was part of the Waikato University men's crew in the Great Race 2002-2006, captaining the eight for the past two years, and was also part of the Team Gallagher trans-Tasman row from Sydney to Auckland.
Veteran coach Ross Tong will oversee the hosts' men's crew for the sixth year and will also be able to call on the services of a couple of world u-23 champs. Duncan Grant has won three world titles in the men's lightweight single scull, while Hayden Cohen - brother of 2012 Olympic gold medallist Nathan - was half of the victorious NZ double sculls crew in Lithuania. Tobias Wehr-Candler is a former u-23 world champ and part of the NZ men's senior eight which narrowly missed out on a place in the London Olympics field, while captain Richard Harrison and cox Ivan Pavich are also part of the NZ eight.
Hamilton's Shaun Kirkham, another member of last year's winning Waikato Uni crew, was part of the NZ u-23 crew which finished second at the Henley Royal Regatta earlier this year, while Adam Tripp was an Olympic reserve.
The men will compete for the Harry Mahon Memorial Trophy, while the women will chase the Bryan Gould Cup.
Waikato University men: Richard Harrison (captain), Tobias Wehr-Candler, Duncan Grant, Hayden Cohen, Shaun Kirkham, Adam Tripp, Mackenzie Mackie, Will Meats, Ivan Pavich (coxswain).
Waikato University women: Alyce Pulford (captain), Georgia Perry, Kayla Pratt, Zoe Stevenson, Linda Matthews, Briar Murphy, Claudia Hyde, Ashleigh Hodge, Caleb Shepherd (coxswain).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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