2015 NZ Rowing Championships off to a spectacular start - Day 1 Heats Wrap

17/02/2015 by Steve Knowles

Spectacular flat calm conditions greeted New Zealand club rowers at Lake Ruataniwha for the start of the 2015 Bankstream New Zealand Rowing Championships today.  The event is being hosted at the Lake Rutaniwha for the fifteenth time in the regattas 127 year history, and 2015 celebrates 30 years since Lake Ruataniwha was first used as the Championship venue.

The men’s novice quads kicked off the championship event with a flurry of blades and boats for two rounds of heats. In the first heat a composite crew from Aramoho/Wanganui claimed the first A final spot of the championships, while the second heat wasn’t such a straightforward contest, with Avon Rowing Club just inching out North Shore Rowing Club by the slightest of margins. Avon won in 7:24.10, while North Shore was relegated to the repechage for being a mere .46 seconds back in 7:24.56.

The women’s novice quad heats saw Wellington Rowing Club and North Shore Rowing Club pick up the sole A final spots, while all other crews will face a repechage.

The new events on the Bankstream New Zealand Rowing Championships programme were the men’s and women’s club coxless pairs. The top four crews from each men’s club pair heat progressed to the semi-finals. In the third heat of the men’s club pair Blenheim took a commanding ten second win over West End, with Wellington and Aramoho/Wanganui taking out the final semi-finals spots. In the second heat just over four and half seconds separated the first placed crew from Rotorua and the fourth placed crew from North Shore. Rotorua will take a lot of confidence from their race as they posted the fastest time out of all the heats, while Wakatipu and Avon tucked in behind them and took up the two semi-final spots. In the first heat the semi-final berths were booked by Waihopai, Star, Avon and Auckland. In the women’s club pair Avon and Otago University secured starts in the A final by winning their respective heats.

The men’s novice double scull should produce an exciting finals race on Friday with all heat winners posting very similar times in the preliminary round.  The top four finishers in each heat advanced directly to the semi-finals. Avon took the first heat in 7:31.08 with Oamaru, Canterbury chasing closely and Timaru well back for fourth. The second heat saw Aramoho/Wanganui take the quickest heat time of 7:30.81, Avon settled for second and Clifton and North Shore rounded out the other qualifiers. The third and final heat saw Auckland take charge with a time of 7:32.54, with Hawkes Bay over eight seconds back to second, with Wellington chasing and North Shore closing out the final position.

Hawkes Bay took a comfortable win in the first heat of the women’s club coxless quad in a time of 7:16.84, Hamilton, Timaru and West End also claimed top four placings which sees them through to the semi-finals. Heat two saw Oamaru charge home in a time of 7:27.63, they were followed by Aramoho/Wanganui who were ten seconds back, North Shore and Waihopai did enough to pick up a semi-final progression. The third and final heat saw four more crews stake their claim on semi-final places; those were Auckland, Star, North End and Aramoho/Wanganui.

The men’s premier lightweight single scull saw Adam Ling from Waikato RPC take a convincing 14 second win over Bryce Abernethy from Southern RPC in the first heat. Ling and Abernethy take the two A final spots on offer while in the second heat Auckland RPC’s Peter Taylor took control winning in 7:10.68, with Hayden Cohen placed second just under three seconds behind Taylor to claim an A final spot also.

The women’s premier lightweight single scull first heat saw Southern RPC directly qualify two scullers for the A finals, with Lisa Owen taking the win and Rachel Kennedy placing second. The second heat was going to see someone miss out on an automatic A final berth with three top New Zealand scullers going head to head. Zoe McBride took charge winning in 7:55.66, while Sophie MacKenzie snatched the second placing in 7:58.57 ahead of Waikato RPCs Julia Edward. Edward will get a second chance to qualify for the A Final in the repechage along with five other lightweight scullers.

The women’s club double had a tough progression in place, with only the top crew from the heats heading directly for the semi-finals. The winners of the heats included crews from Star Boating Club, Otago University Rowing Club, Aramoho/Wanganui Rowing Club and Hamilton Rowing Club. The remaining 28 crews face a repechage
There were four heats for the men’s club single scull and there were only four semi-final starts guaranteed. Tim Yaxley from Waihopai took heat one, Lenny Jenkins from Whakatane won heat two, Star Boating Club’s Emil Wendeler seized the win in heat three, and the heat four win was earned by West End’s Ben Watkinson.

Both Avon and Auckland Rowing Club have their senior women’s double scull crews contesting for medals on Friday after making sure they won their heats to confirm an A Final start. When it came to the women’s senior single sculls later in the day Hannah Osborne from Te Awamutu featured in the first heat, and Kirsty Thompson from Nelson in the second heat, both scullers laying their claim on an A final spot.

Mahe Drysdale was out to make an early impression taking a win in the men’s premier single scull heats. Drysdale eased to a comfortable victory in the second heat in a time of 7:09.05 well ahead of his closest contender Karl Manson from Central RPC. Drysdale is chasing down his eighth national title in the single sculls, but Central RPC’s Robbie Manson and defending champion Hamish Bond from Southern RPC could potentially stand in his way after finishing first and second respectively in their heat, however only Manson progressed directly to the A final after edging Bond by just over five seconds in the quicker heat time of just a tad over 7 minutes. Only the top sculler from each heat advanced directly to the A final with the remainder required to challenge a repechage. There was one big name missing from the start list in this event, with Waikato RPCs Eric Murray pulling out of the Championship regatta due to a niggling back injury.

The women’s premier single scull title is up for grabs in 2015 with consecutive six time champion Emma Twigg unable to return back to New Zealand for this championship regatta. Top contenders include today’s heat winners Lucy Spoors from Southern RPC and Zoe Stevenson from Waikato RPC. Spoors and Stevenson are straight through to the A final, with all other scullers heading to a repechage.  Stevenson will have a slight mental edge heading into the finals with the quicker heat time of 7:53.18.

The 2015 Bankstream New Zealand Rowing Championships has over 690 rowers representing 35 rowing clubs and four Regional Performance Centre’s in 72 boat classes. Heats and repechages occupy the first three days of the Bankstream New Zealand Rowing Championships, and finals are split over Thursday, Friday and Saturday.


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