29 Aug 2011

Early success for New Zealand rowers

9:56 am on 29 August 2011

The first heats of the World Rowing Championships in Slovenia brought nine wins for the New Zealand contingent, and the country's first Olympic qualifier.

The women's quad had the most notable success with a win in their heat to go straight to the main A final, guaranteeing they will be in the final top seven and therefore securing their place at next year's London games.

Sarah Gray, Louise Trappitt, Eve Macfarlane and Fiona Bourke rowed through the Australians in the last stretch of the race to take the win by just four tenths of a second.

The qualification is a major achievement for the young and inexperienced crew, and they will be a chance for medals in Bled later in the week.

Heat wins also secured progress for world champions Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh in the pair, Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sulllivan in the heavyweight double scull, Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the men's pair, single scullers Mahe Drysdale and Emma Twigg, Storm Uru and Peter Taylor in the lightweight double scull, Anna Reymer and Fiona Paterson in the women's double scull and former lightweight champion single sculler Duncan Grant.

The lightweight men's pair of James Lassche and Graham Oberlin-Brown finished fourth behind crews from Austria, Italy and France and must head to the repechage, as must the men's eight, who were also fourth.

The men's quad were close to the pace in their heat, finishing behind Australia and Poland to take third, but they too will have to head for the repechage as they seek a top eleven finish overall.

Tonight the men's quad, and lightweight pair do battle in the repechage, while Louise Ayling and Lucy Strack kick off their world champs campaign in the heats of the women's lightweight double scull.