In a bizarre day, Lake Karapiro was subject to a multitude of conditions as the first finals rolled down the track at the Bankstream Rowing Championships.
Jamie Hunter and Tom Murray, the latter of whom raced in the men’s eight for New Zealand last summer, served up the surprise of the regatta to defeat world champion Hamish Bond and his partner James Lassche in the men’s premier pair. Bond, who was racing for a ninth successive win in this event, and Lassche had nothing to answer for the tenacity of Murray and Hunter, who prevailed by just over a second.
“I always wanted to win a Red Coat and to do so in the pair and to dominate from the start is just amazing,” Murray told Rowing New Zealand. “It is great for the confidence heading into the trials. We’ve had a really good feeling in the boat when we’ve raced together, the expectation was to be competitive but to come away with the win is amazing”.
Mario Gyr and Simon Schuerch, world champions in the lightweight men’s four, placed third.
Grace Prendergast and Emma Dyke secured a well-deserved victory in the women’s premier pair over Central RPC duo Rebecca Scown and Fiona Paterson.
The premier double sculls titles belonged to the pre-race favourites, as form rode out over bravery. Robbie Manson and Chris Harris took the men’s title whilst world champion Zoe Stevenson partnered up with Georgia Perry to soar clear in the women’s equivalent. Perry was ecstatic with her win. “I was really happy, we stuck to our race place and stayed calm,” she told Rowing New Zealand. “I’m happy with nationals and now I’m ready for trials”.
In the men’s premier four, Eric Murray’s crew took gold ahead of a Swiss High Performance combination. The Waikato RPC outfit secured victory by a mere 0.79 seconds. The Southern RPC with the Bond brothers – Hamish and Alistair – James Lassche and Cameron Crampton had to settle for third in 6:15.07; some 3.17 seconds adrift of the gold medallists. Shaun Kirkham of the winning crew spoke to Rowing New Zealand about his crew’s progression through the regatta. “It is a refreshing break because we get to sit in boats we don’t normally work with. We struggled in the heat but the fun part is we were able to pull it together today”.
The women’s premier coxless fours final saw Kerri Gowler claim her first win at the championships, in a Central RPC combination. “I worked hard in the summer and it has been a really cool day – I hope to finish it off tomorrow in the eight,” she explained. “I’ve learned a lot competing with the premier crew and it is a really good opportunity to see where I am at ahead of trials”.
Zoe McBride and Adam Ling, both world champions, successfully defended their titles in the lightweight men’s and lightweight women’s single respectively.
“To win in my new boat – I’m pretty happy with that,” Ling told Rowing New Zealand. “It is always good to beat the people you train with as it gives you bragging rights. When you are used to racing for seven minutes but then have to race for nine minutes you have to pace yourself and bide your time. I just had to row as cleaning as I could and when I realised I was in touch, I always back myself with a good sprint”.
Meanwhile, McBride was pushed hard by lightweight women’s double world champion Sophie McKenzie, but finished six seconds ahead of her opponent. “It was survival of the fitness and I just tried to stay calm and not catch any crabs,” McBride explained to Rowing New Zealand. “It is on to the trials, but I feel in a lot better position than last year because I feel I’ve technically come a long way”.
The men’s premier quadruple sculls saw a tussle between Southern & Central RPC, with the former prevailing by over three seconds. Comprised of Nathan Flannery, Jade Uru, George Bridgewater and John Storey, the quartet were delighted with their victory.
Photo credit Merijn Soeters