Rowers from Marlborough clubs made a promising start to their European campaigns when the World Rowing Cup II was staged at Poznan, Poland over the weekend.
Tom Murray, from the Blenheim club, was the best of the bunch, picking up a silver medal in the men’s pair alongside Michael Brake.
The Kiwi pair won their A/B semi-final after qualifying with the fastest time in the men’s pair heats, and faced Italy, Great Britain, Serbia, Australia and Canada in their final.
Australia’s Alexander Hill and Joshua Booth led through the 500m mark with Brake and Murray comfortable in second. Although they pushed the Aussies all the way to the line the NZ pair were unable to close the gap and took silver, half a boat length back, in 6:39.49, just shy of Australia’s winning time of 6:38.23. Canada took bronze in 6:43.34.
“It was a good race for us,” said Murray.
“It has been a really useful regatta to gain some more information and to race new crews. We look forward to racing again in two weeks time. A head wind is no one’s favourite condition to race in, but the course is very fair for everyone.”
Murray’s Blenheim clubmate Harrison Somerville also put on a strong showing. He raced in the lightweight double final with Matthew Dunham
It became a battle for first place between Germany and Italy, with Australia, Canada, Denmark and New Zealand sitting behind the duo. In their first season together, Somerville and Dunham made an impressive debut, finishing fifth. Germany took gold, Italy took silver an Australia took bronze.
Robbie Manson contested the men’s single scull B final. Lined up against Italy, France, Poland, Lithuania and Azerbaijan, Manson took the lead after 1000m, crossing the line first ahead of Lithuania in second, and Poland in third. His time was 7.31.61. Manson, who trained to be at his peak for the World Cup events last season, admitted before he left NZ that his main focus this year is the world champs at the end of the season and he has tailored his training to that effect.
Wairau club rowers Kirstyn Goodger and Ella Greenslade were part of the NZ eight which finished fourth in the final. A nail-biting race, Australia took gold, from the fast-finishing USA crew. Great Britain came home third, just 1.38 seconds ahead of the Kiwis.
Overall New Zealand claimed four gold medals in Poznan. Emma Twigg in the women’s single scull, the double scull of Olivia Loe and Brooke Donoghue, the lightweight double scull of Jackie Kiddle and Zoe McBride plus the pair of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler.
It was an impressive showing for New Zealand with nine crews racing in A finals and three contesting B finals, with both the women’s and men’s eight narrowly missing medals.