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Under-23 rowers win four medals

  • 27 Jul 14

Clear skies and perfect rowing conditions greeted the New Zealand crews facing finals at the World Rowing Under-23 Championships in Varese. New Zealand crews secured four medals and succeeded in topping the medal table on day one of the finals. The women’s pair executed an outstanding race to win by clear water and set a new Under-23 Championship world best time in the process. The women’s four and men’s coxed four won silver medals with the women’s quad collecting a bronze medal. Both the women’s lightweight single and lightweight double secured their spots in Sunday’s finals after racing their semi-finals earlier in the day.

The highly anticipated women’s pair final did not disappoint. The kiwi pair of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast powered into the lead as expected where the duo continued to open up a lead on the rest of the field, eventually winning with a huge open water margin of almost 13 seconds. Their performance was all the more impressive as their time of 7:02.89 broke the previous Under-23 Championship world best time. The understated Gowler said of the race, “We were trying to put down a good time. It never feels like you are really far in front when you are racing.” Gowler and Prendergast won silver at the Lucerne World Cup earlier in the month indicating their arrival onto the international stage.

After a delay to clear weed off the course, the women’s four final was away with New Zealand starting solidly sitting in fourth by the first 500 metre mark and in touch with the race leaders. In the third quarter the four had moved into third and the crew of Emma Dyke, Kelsi Walters, Olivia Loe and Johannah Kearney put in a huge final sprint to take them up to second place, ahead of the Russians and win the silver medal. Olivia Loe said of the silver medal winning performance, “We wanted to find our own rhythm, to be reserved and clinical in our approach. We worked the first 500 metres and then were just steady through the race.”

At the 500 metres gone the men’s coxed four were in sixth place but still within striking distance of the fast starting Italians. By halfway the New Zealanders remained in sixth place but were determined to show their strength in the third and fourth quarter as they moved through the field knocking the crews off one by one. With 500 metres of the race remaining they had made their way into second place and began to challenge the leaders, Canada. The crews sprinted for the line where New Zealand finished second and with a silver medal for their efforts. Patrick McInnes credited the New Rowing programme for their success, “We have a massive sweep programme in New Zealand and I think that has influenced us as developing athletes. We all train together and every week we compete prognostically, and that is the key.”

In the women’s quad the New Zealand crew of Claudia Hyde, Brooke Donoghue, Kristen Froude, Ashlee Rowe were consistent, holding onto third place throughout the race. In the last 500 metres they were challenged by Germany and Great Britain but were composed in holding onto their third position and finished strongly to win the bronze medal. Ashlee Rowe commented on the consistency of the crew, “We gave it everything, start to finish it went as planned, no surprises. We are tired but very pleased.”

In the semi-finals earlier in the day Jackie Kiddle was first up in the women’s lightweight single and showed that the repechage had done her no harm as she held onto second place right behind the sculler from the Netherlands. While the fast finishing Belgian sculler passed her as she came into the finish, Kiddle secured her place in the final with a solid third place.

The lightweight women’s double looked confident from the word go in their semi-final, once again powering into the lead. At the 1000 metre mark the duo held an enormous lead and from there were in full control of the racing and won in a time of 7:18.84. This gives them the second fastest qualifying time and books their place in Sunday’s final.

Toby Cunliffe-Steel and Matthew Dunham started a little slow in their semi-final but proceeded to work their way through the field in the lightweight men’s double. With 500 metres to go they were in fifth and were able to pass the Greek crew to move into fourth with a solid sprint. Their fourth place finish takes them to the B final on Sunday.

After a very tight finish in the heat, the kiwi men’s quad were in for a battle in the semi-final and this was evident from the first stroke. The Netherlands were the early race leaders with Italy and New Zealand not far behind. At the halfway mark the Dutch still led however, four crews, Canada, Italy, New Zealand and Romania were all within a second and the pressure was really on. In the third quarter the crews were still locked within less than a boat length and it came down to a sprint finish that brought the crowd to their feet. The Italians and the Romanians were able to squeeze ahead of the Dutch crew in third, followed by the Canadians in fourth and New Zealand in fifth. The kiwi quad will now progress to the B final on Sunday.

New Zealand rowing team competing at the U23 World Rowing Championships:

Women’s Coxless Four

Emma Dyke (Timaru RC, Southern RPC)

Kelsi Walters (Auckland Grammar RC, Auckland RPC)

Olivia Loe (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Johannah Kearney (Oamaru RC, Southern RPC)

Gary Roberts (Coach)

Women’s Quad

Claudia Hyde (Rotorua RC, Waikato RPC)

Brooke Donoghue (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Kristen Froude (Waihopai RC, Southern RPC)

Ashlee Rowe (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

James Coote (Coach)

Women’s Coxless Pair

Kerri Gowler (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Grace Prendergast (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Marion Horwell (Coach)

Women’s Lightweight Double Scull

Zoe McBride (Nelson RC, Central RPC)

Sophie MacKenzie (Wairau RC, Central RPC)

James Coote (Coach)

Lightweight Women’s Single Scull

Jackie Kiddle (Star BC, Central RPC)

James Coote (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)

Finn Howard (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Shaun Kirkham (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Isaac Grainger (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Tom Murray (Blenheim RC, Central RPC)

Caleb Shepherd (Coxswain) (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Ian Wright (Coach)

Men’s Coxed Four

Michael Brake (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Patrick McInnes (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Anthony Allen (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Alex Bardoul (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Sam Bosworth (Coxswain) (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Marion Horwell (Coach)

Men’s Quad

Hayden Cohen (Canterbury RC, Southern RPC)

Russell Crampton (Timaru RC, Southern RPC)

Cameron Crampton (Timaru RC, Southern RPC)

Lewis Hollows (West End RC, Auckland RPC)

Dan Kelly (Coach)

Men’s Lightweight Double Scull

Toby Cunliffe-Steel (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Matthew Dunham (Cambridge RC, Waikato RPC)

Dan Kelly (Coach)

Men’s Single Scull

Michael Longuet-Higgins (Auckland Grammar RC, Auckland RPC)

Non – Travelling Reserves

Louis van Velthooven (Auckland Grammar RC, Auckland RPC)

Briar Murphy (Cambridge RC, Waikato RPC)

Team Manager

Michele Munro