ROWING

Drysdale and Cohen out ahead – in singles and doubles

Tuesday 27 February 2007, 5:53PM
By Infonews Editor
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TWIZEL

The Men’s Elite Single Sculls final on Saturday remains the pick of the bunch for the two finals days at the BankLink New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Ruataniwha this week.

Saturday’s final will almost certainly be a two horse race – with world number one Mahe Drysdale and young charger Nathan Cohen the protagonists. They’ll meet again in the Double Sculls final, and that could be equally as close.

The two were drawn together in today’s first semi final, and Cohen looked the sharper of the two away. It was Drysdale, however, who had a slight lead at the 1,000 metre mark when the two scullers eased off with a comfortable margin over the rest of the field. The other four scullers in the final will do well to stay in touch with what is certain to be a great scrap. Even Tasmanian Institute of Sport sculler Brendon Long, a top performer in his own right and winner of the second semi-final, may struggle to match the ultimate pace of Drysdale and Cohen.

The semi finals of the Men’s Premier Coxless Pairs earlier today brought out the cream of New Zealand Rowing’s world and Olympic prospects. Drysdale and Nathan Twaddle (Auckland RPC) look the class of the field after rowing the 2,000 metres in 6 minutes and 55 seconds.

Their opposition in the final is a “who’s who” of men’s rowing in New Zealand. Lined up in the final against them will be Carl Meyer and Hamish Bond of Southern RPC, Eric Murray and James Dallinger of Waikato RPC, 2005 world champion George Bridgewater and former Olympian Donald Leach, up and coming star Hamish Burson and former squad rower Peter Benny. Former event winner and another former Olympian Rob Hellstrom also qualified for the final with his partner Warwick Wright for Central RPC, the pair having made it through yesterday’s repecharge.

Of equal interest to the spectators at the BankLink New Zealand Championships was the looming prospect of another Mahe Drysdale and Nathan Cohen clash. Drysdale and Twaddle were out again in the Championship Double Sculls and looked clean and sharp as they dominated their heat, sitting ahead of a great battle for the remaining two qualifying slots.

In the other Double Sculls semi final Nathan Cohen and partner Matthew Trott also looked comfortable and clocked an almost identical time of 6 minutes and 39 seconds. Five seconds covered the top five crews in the semis and another close race is assured. Like the single sculls, it is extremely difficult to call with opinion amongst the rowing fraternity divided.

Elsewhere, Tauranga Rowing Club will have two girls in the final of the Women’s Club Sculls. Judith Hamilton – a New Zealand Colt back in the mid to late 1970s and who like most of that group, is still involved in the sport – coaches both Elizabeth Travis and Lillian Clayton-Greene. Lillian, the daughter of another former Colt from the same era, David Clayton-Greene, was the fastest qualifier.

In the Men’s Novice Double Sculls, little Wakitipu Rowing Club from Lake Hayes near Queenstown saw their crew of James Harvey and Todd Adolph make the final where they will face opposition from much bigger clubs.