Double gold for Waikato

The Waikato Regional Performance Centre grabbed two golds on the opening day of finals at the national rowing champs at Lake Ruataniwha yesterday.

Just two crews contested the women's premier coxless quad but they were high-powered boats featuring seven members of the Rowing New Zealand summer squad.

The Waikato RPC crew of stroke Julia Edward, Zoe Stevenson, Genevieve Armstrong and Sarah Gray drew away over the final 500 metres of the 2km race to head home the Central RPC combination of stroke Linda Mathews, Louise Trappitt, Erin-Monique Shelton and Louise Ayling by more than two lengths and give the combination their first red coats as premier title winners.

"It is so special to win a red coat," Waikato University student Stevenson said. "Winning a red coat with Julia just added to the whole experience.

"I was so happy to be part of that crew and proud to become part of national championship history," she said.

Stevenson will also contest the premier double sculls and premier pair and the eights final.

Waikato's other triumph came in the final of the men's under-22 eight, when they saw off Auckland RPC.

The victors - Jeff Francis, Christopher Morrison, Shaun Kirkham, Alex Kennedy, Evan Kennedy, McKenzie Macky, Patrick McInnes, Logan Rodger and cox Caleb Shepherd - had to hold off a late challenge to win by just under a length.

Their Waikato RPC counterparts took silver in the women's under-22 eights after being pipped by Southern RPC.

The semifinals of the men's premier single sculls set up an enticing final tomorrow. Robbie Manson clocked the faster time in winning his semifinal but 2012 London Olympics gold medallist Nathan Cohen will start the final as favourite after winning his semifinal.

Waikato Times