Lightweight four impressive in first outing

IAN ANDERSON
Last updated 05:00 28/01/2013

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Peter Taylor’s confidence in the potential of a New Zealand lightweight men’s four was borne out by an impressive performance at the Cambridge Town Cup regatta today.

The combination of stroke Curtis Rapley, Taylor, James Lassche and Armin Svoboda captured the men’s premier coxless four title, ahead of a heavyweight combination of their Rowing NZ summer squad team-mates.

The lightweight crew scored a determined victory in five minutes 58.50 seconds by over a boat length from the crew of Tobias Wehr-Candler, Jade Uru, Alex Kennedy and Shaun Kirkham.

Taylor has shifted from the lightweight double sculls boat he and Storm Uru won bronze in at the 2012 London Olympics – Uru is furthering his studies at Cambridge University in England – to the four for this season with an immediate eye on the World Cup regatta in Sydney in March.

Lightweight coach Dave Thompson was thrilled with the progress of the crew, who have had to battle illness and injury already this season.

‘‘They’re high-speed learners,’’ Thompson said.

‘‘They thrive on training and are great to coach.’’

Taylor has spent time out of the boat recently nursing a rib injury, Lassche has battled a virus and Alastair Bond is out of action with glandular fever.

New Zealand didn’t contest the lightweight four at London after the boat failed to qualify at a last-chance regatta in Lucerne earlier in the season.

With the hugely successful Olympic campaign ensuring increased funding for the next four-year cycle that includes the 2016 Olympics, Rowing New Zealand want to contest all 12 classes at Rio de Janeiro.

The depth in lightweight rowing continues to grow, with Te Awamutu’s Graham Oberlin-Brown taking a year out of the sport while former lightweight single sculls three-times world champion Duncan Grant wasn’t wanted for the summer squad but it’s understood he will still compete at the national championship and selection trials.

Taylor and Lassche came within a bow-ball of pulling off a second upset victory at the weekend when they were pipped in the premier pairs final by the combination of Wehr-Candler and Uru by .05 seconds when recording a staggering time of 6:28.06.

Michael Arms was another national summer squad member to have a standout regatta. The Aucklander, who was part of the NZ men’s quad that won the B final at the London Olympics last year, won the premier singles crown by comfortably heading home another NZ summer squad combination of Robbie Manson and Fergus Fauvel.

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Arms also teamed up with Manson to win the double sculls final by just under a second from Hayden Cohen and Fauvel and made it three from three in the quad sculls when the crew of Nathan Flannery, Robbie Manson, Arms and Fauvel headed off a fellow summer squad boat stroked by Cohen by over two seconds.

Emma Twigg marked her return to competition with easy victories in the premier single sculls and coxless pair as many of the NZ summer squad women’s rowers sat out the regatta.

Fourth in the single sculls final at the London Olympics, Twigg has been working part-time and training in Auckland since her return and as expected was over five seconds quicker than Waikato RPC’s Hannah Osborne in the singles final.

Twigg also teamed up with London bronze medallist Rebecca Scown to romp to victory in the pair in 7:18.32. Scown is looking for a new crewmate in the pair after the retirement of Juliette Haigh following their bronze at Eton Dorney.

The three-day regatta also saw a host of Waikato schools crews fine-tune their efforts towards the North Island secondary schools champs at Lake Karapiro from February 8-10, with the ultimate goal being the Aon nationals at the same venue from March 18-24.

The Hamilton Boys’ High School under-18 eight staked an early claim for the Maadi Cup by heading home arch-rivals Auckland Grammar by over two seconds in their final, while the Waikato Diocesan crew under the auspices of the Waikato Rowing Club were over 12 seconds ahead of North Shore in the girls under-18 eights.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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