Quest to qualify 14 Olympic rowing boats for Rio begins

05/03/2015 by Steve Knowles

46 athletes in 14 Olympic class boats have been selected as part of the Rowing New Zealand elite team to compete at the World Championships in 2015. This year’s world championship event also provides the first opportunity to gain New Zealand boat allocations for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Rowing New Zealand Chairman Gerald Dwyer named both the under-23 and elite athletes who would represent the New Zealand Rowing Team for 2015 at the Don Rowlands Centre at Lake Karapiro today.

With just 519 days until the Rio Olympics, Rowing New Zealand is focusing its energy into Olympic qualification. New Zealand will compete in all eight men’s and all six women’s Olympic boat classes in 2015. 

History has been made in New Zealand rowing. Before today’s announcement the closest New Zealand has got to fielding all fourteen Olympic boat classes was in 2010 when the World Rowing Championships were hosted at Lake Karapiro. That year the selectors named 13 Olympic class boats, the only boat not selected at the time was the men’s lightweight four.

Rowing New Zealand High Performance Director Alan Cotter is confident of the New Zealand Rowing Team’s chances of qualifying all 14 boats for the 2016 Rio Olympics. “There are still a lot of tough training miles to be made on Lake Karapiro but the signs are there. We are confident that we will meet our high performance target of six medals at the world championships and qualify all boats for 2016. We are optimistic the dream of fielding 14 boats in Rio will become a reality once the 2015 world champs come to a close.”

Cotter reflected on last year’s performances with an eye on the future “2014 was a great year and we created history.  For the first time New Zealand was named the best rowing nation in the world by topping the medal table in the World Cup Series and the World Rowing Championships. These are all important milestones for Rowing New Zealand and our New Zealand Rowing Team in the lead up to Rio.”

Heading the New Zealand Rowing team in 2015 is Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale in the men’s single sculls. A top nine placing is required in the men’s single sculls at the 2015 world championships to gain an Olympic start. Drysdale is on track with his campaign after finishing 2014 with a silver medal at the world rowing championships. Drysdale will also be chasing his sixth title in the men’s single scull after previously winning the event from 2005 to 2007, and again in 2009 and 2011. To date he has competed in nine World Championships (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014) over his sporting career, and 2015 will be his tenth World Championships.  Drysdale has had some world class competition over the domestic rowing season which will stand him in good stead over the upcoming international season.

It would be considered a safe bet that the men’s pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray will qualify a place for New Zealand at the Olympics in 2016. A top eleven finish is required in this event in 2015 to claim that Olympic position. In 2015 Bond and Murray will also be aiming for sixth title in the men’s coxless pair. This Olympic champion pairing continues to show they are world class, having remained unbeaten in the men’s pair since first crewing together in 2009. Like Drysdale this will be Murray’s tenth world championships campaign.

The men’s double scull need a world championship top eleven placing and should be more than capable of achieving this feat with a top sculling combination of Robbie Manson and Chris Harris. This double will be coached by Calvin Ferguson. In 2014 the New Zealand doubles crew got a world ranking of 8th. Manson has been a consistent part of the double scull over the last two years. Manson and Harris were part of the London 2012 men’s quad and were also the New Zealand champions in the men’s premier double sculls together representing Central RPC at the recent Bankstream New Zealand Rowing Championships.

Rowing New Zealand has not named a men’s four to represent New Zealand since 2013 where the crew of the day finished the season in with a world standing of 13th. This new crew combination will need a top eleven ranking to ensure an Olympic spot. This crew is made up of Finn Howard, Bobby Kells, Alex Bardoul and Anthony Allen, they will be coached by Marion Horwell. Kells was part of the 2013 elite four, while Howard has moved from the world champion under-23 eight into the four, and Bardoul and Allen were part of the men’s coxed four that won silver at the under-23 world championships.

Karl Manson, Jade Uru, George Bridgewater and John Storey will crew the men’s quad in 2015. The quad need a top eight to ensure the boat is at the 2016 Rio Games. The men’s quad will be guided by Mike Rodger. Uru and Storey were part of the 2014 crew that attained a world ranking of 12th, both of these scullers also represented New Zealand at the 2012 Olympics, while Bridgewater was an Olympic bronze medallist in the men’s pair in 2008. 

The elite men’s eight will be coached by Noel Donaldson and looks a lot like the 2013 and 2014 under-23 eight fielded by New Zealand that won back to back gold medals at the under-23 world championships. There is only one crew change; Michael Brake comes into the crew alongside coxswain Caleb Shepherd, Stephen Jones, Brook Robertson, Alex Kennedy, Joe Wright, Isaac Grainger, Shaun Kirkham and Tom Murray. The men’s eight is aiming for a top five placing at the world championships to claim an Olympic berth. It is more than 30 years since New Zealand last sent a men’s eight to the Olympic Games in 1984. In more recent times New Zealand named a men’s eight to compete at the elite level in 2012 as the crew aimed to qualify the crew for the London Olympics at the last chance qualification regatta, the crew were unsuccessful.

Peter Taylor the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist in the men’s lightweight double scull teams up with Hayden Cohen. Taylor is making the switch back to sculling after helping build the success of the men’s lightweight four over the last two years. Taylor teams up with Cohen who recently made the decision to become a lightweight sculler. Cohen competed in the heavyweight men’s quad in 2013 and was also the 2012 under-23 world champion in the men’s double scull. Calvin Ferguson will coach this lightweight crew. The men’s lightweight double scull needs to finish in the top eleven to claim an Olympic space.

Never before has New Zealand qualified or had a lightweight four contest the Olympic Games and the 2015 crew will need to finish in the top eleven crews to ensure this happens. The New Zealand lightweight four were silver medallists in 2013 and 2014 and will hope to go one better in Aiguebelette. The crew remains basically the same, with one crew member change. Alistair Bond moves in the four to replace Peter Taylor. Bond was part of the silver medal winning crew in 2014 and he will crew with Curtis Rapley, James Lassche and James Hunter. This crew will again be capably led by coach Dave Thompson.

The women’s single scull will be fielded by a new sculler with Emma Twigg being unavailable for selection. Fiona Bourke has been selected in the single sculls and she certainly has pedigree. Bourke will need to aim for a top nine placing to qualify the boat for the Olympic Games. Twigg won the gold medal in 2014 in this event, while Bourke won gold in the women’s double scull. Bourke will be coached by Dick Tonks.

2014 under-23 world champions Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast will represent New Zealand in the women’s pair. This boat class requires a top eleven placing to confirm a spot for the Olympic Games. New Zealand won the bronze medal in this event in 2014. Gowler and Prendergast will double up events having also been selected into the women’s eight.

To qualify for the Olympic Games the women’s eight requires a top five placing at the 2015 World Championships. New Zealand has never before qualified or sent a women’s eight to the Olympic Games and nor has a crew medalled at the elite world championships before. The last time a women’s eight was named was in 2013, where they finished seventh at the world championships. This 2015 crew will feature the women’s pair crew of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast alongside top talent in Rebecca Scown, Genevieve Behrent, Kelsey Bevan, Ruby Tew, Emma Dyke and Kayla Pratt steered by coxswain Francie Turner.  Both women’s sweep oar crews will be coached by Dave Thompson.

Eve Macfarlane and Zoe Stevenson will be a new look combination in the women’s double scull. Stevenson won the gold medal in 2014 in this event while Macfarlane has made an outstanding return to rowing after taking a break from the sport after the 2013 World Championships where she competed in the women’s eight. Stevenson and Macfarlane will require a top eleven placing to qualify the boat for the Olympics. The women’s double scull will be coached by Dick Tonks.

The women’s quad remains unchanged from 2014 with Erin-Monique O’Brien, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Sarah Gray selected as the 2015 crew. The quad requires a top five placing at the world championships to confirm an Olympic position and will be again coached by Mike Rodger.  The New Zealand crew finished fifth at the 2014 world championships, but were also bronze medallists at the second and third world cup events in 2014.

The 2014 golden combination of Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie will again challenge the women’s lightweight double scull in 2015. Edward and MacKenzie will be trained by Gary Hay.

If New Zealand crews are unable to meet the Olympic qualification standards at the 2015 world rowing championships, another attempt can be made at the last chance qualifying regatta in 2016. Crews to compete at the Rio Olympic Games will be selected in March 2016 after trials.

New Zealand will also compete in the non-Olympic international events at the 2015 world championships in the women’s lightweight single scull with Zoe McBride. McBride will also join Jackie Kiddle at the under-23 world championships in the lightweight double scull. Adam Ling has been selected to race the men’s lightweight single scull.

At the under-23 age group level seven crews were selected, and 23 athletes will represent New Zealand in 2015. The under-23 team selected will compete at Plovdiv, Bulgaria at their respective world championships from 22 to 26 July. The under-23 rowers selected are an outstanding group of athletes and the depth in talent looks positive looking ahead to Tokyo 2020.

The 2015 journey begins with elite team assembling for training at Lake Karapiro from Monday 9 March, while the under-23 representatives will commence training at Lake Karapiro from Monday 30 March.

The elite New Zealand Rowing Team will compete at the second World Cup Rowing Regatta at Varese, Italy from 19 to 21 June. The elite team will depart New Zealand for the 2015 international tour on 12 June. The squad will then contest the third and final world cup event at Lucerne, Switzerland in July before focusing their attentions on the 2015 World Rowing Championships at Aiguebelette, France which take place from 30 August until 6 September.




New Zealand Elite Rowing Team

To attend World Cup #2 Varese Italy, World Cup #3 Lucerne Switzerland and World Rowing Championships Aigbuelette France


Women’s Single Scull

Fiona Bourke (Otago University RC, Southern RPC)

Dick Tonks (Coach)


Women’s Double Scull

Zoe Stevenson (Tauranga RC, Waikato RPC)

Eve Macfarlane (Canterbury RC, Southern RPC)

Dick Tonks (coach)


Women’s Coxless Pair

Kerri Gowler (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Grace Prendergast (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Dave Thompson (Coach)


Women’s Quad

Erin-Monique O’Brien (Petone RC, Central RPC)

Lucy Spoors (Canterbury RC, Southern RPC)

Georgia Perry (Cambridge RC, Waikato RPC)

Sarah Gray (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Mike Rodger (Coach)


Women’s Lightweight Double Scull

Julia Edward (Rotorua RC, Waikato RPC)

Sophie MacKenzie (Wairau RC, Central RPC)

Gary Hay (Coach)


Women’s Lightweight Scull

Zoe McBride (Nelson RC, Central RPC)

Gary Hay (Coach)


Women’s Eight

Rebecca Scown (Union Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Genevieve Behrent (Waihopai RC, Southern RPC)

Kerri Gowler (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Grace Prendergast (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Kelsey Bevan (Counties-Manukau RC, Auckland RPC)

Ruby Tew (Star BC, Central RPC)

Emma Dyke (Timaru RC, Southern RPC)

Kayla Pratt (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Cox – Francie Turner (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Dave Thompson (Coach)


Men’s Single Scull

Mahe Drysdale (West End RC, Auckland RPC)

Dick Tonks (Coach)


Men’s Coxless Pair

Hamish Bond (North End RC, Southern RPC)

Eric Murray (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Noel Donaldson (Coach)


Men’s Double Scull

Chris Harris (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Robbie Manson (Wairau RC, Central RPC)

Calvin Ferguson (Coach)


Men’s Quad

John Storey (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

George Bridgewater (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Jade Uru (Waihopai RC, Southern RPC)

Karl Manson (Blenheim RC, Central RPC)

Mike Rodger (Coach)


Men’s Lightweight Coxless Four

Curtis Rapley (Tauranga RC, Waikato RPC)

Alistair Bond (Otago University RC, Southern RPC)

James Lassche (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

James Hunter (Wellington RC, Central RPC)

Dave Thompson (Coach)


Men’s Lightweight Double Scull

Peter Taylor (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Hayden Cohen (Canterbury RC, Southern RPC)

Calvin Ferguson (Coach)


Men’s Lightweight Single Scull

Adam Ling (Tauranga RC, Waikato RPC)

Gary Hay (Coach)


Men’s Coxless Four

Anthony Allen (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Alex Bardoul (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Bobby Kells (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Finn Howard (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Marion Horwell (Coach)


Men’s Eight*

Stephen Jones (West End RC, Auckland RPC)

Brook Robertson (Nelson RC, Central RPC)

Alex Kennedy (Te Awamutu RC, Waikato RPC)

Joe Wright (Wellington RC, Central RPC)

Isaac Grainger (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Shaun Kirkham (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Michael Brake (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Tom Murray (Blenheim RC, Central RPC)

Cox Caleb Shepherd (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Noel Donaldson (Coach)

*The Men’s Eight will also compete at the Windermere Cup, Seattle in May


Reserves – Women’s Sweep

Kristen Froude (Waihopai RC, Southern RPC)

Ashlee Rowe (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Dave Thompson (Coach)


Reserves – Women’s Sculling

Olivia Loe (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Marion Horwell (Coach)


Reserves – Men’s Sweep

Patrick McInnes (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Axel Dickinson (Wairau RC)

Marion Horwell (Coach)


Men’s Sculling Reserve to be confirmed at Winter Series #2


Team Managers

Jan Taylor and Andrea Harper


New Zealand Under 23 Rowing Team

To attend World U23 Rowing Championships, Plovdiv, Bulgaria


Women’s Coxless Four

Holly Greenslade (Wairau RC, Central RPC)

Beth Ross (Petone RC, Central RPC)

Jackie Gowler (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Holly Fletcher (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Gary Roberts (Coach)


Women’s Quad

Amy Mills (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Samantha Voss (Cambridge RC, Waikato RPC)

Hannah Bailey (Wairau RC, Central RPC)

Lexi Kerr (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

James Coote (Coach)


Women’s Double Scull

Brooke Donoghue (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Claudia Hyde (Rotorua RC, Waikato RPC)

Gary Roberts (Coach)


Women’s Lightweight Double Scull

Jackie Kiddle (Star BC, Central RPC)

Zoe McBride (Nelson RC, Central RPC)

Gary Hay (Coach)


Men’s Coxed Four

Drikus Conradie (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Louis van Velthooven (Auckland Grammar RC, Auckland RPC)

Cameron Webster (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Corey McCaffrey (Blenheim RC, Central RPC)

Cox Sam Bosworth (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Dan Kelly (Coach)


Men’s Quad

Lewis Hollows (West End RC, Auckland RPC)

Russell Crampton (Timaru RC, Southern RPC)

Cameron Crampton (Timaru RC, Southern RPC)

Jordan Parry (Tauranga RC, Waikato RPC)

James Coote (Coach)


Men’s Lightweight Double Scull

Matthew Dunham (Cambridge RC, Waikato RPC)

Bryce Abernethy (Otago University RC, Southern RPC)

Dan Kelly (Coach)



Christie Davis (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Richard Power (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

James Coote (Coach)


Team Manager

Michelle Munro