Scown and Haigh retain world title - women's quad takes a bronze

Friday 2 September 2011, 10:53AM

By Rowing New Zealand


New Zealand has its first rowing world champions of 2011 after Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh won a nail biting finish to beat the British by the narrowest of margins. There was also a bronze medal for the women's quad today at the World Rowing Championships in Bled, Slovenia.

But there was disappointment for the men's eight who missed out on qualification for London at this regatta with fourth place in a B final that they had to win.

The race between the British women's pair and the New Zealand world champions Rebecca Scown and Juliette Haigh was always going to be an epic but few could have predicted just how close it would be. The British took the lead they expected, but not by the vast margin they had in Lucerne and the Kiwi girls stayed right with them. The crews remained overlapping right through until the last 50 metres, racing away from the rest of the field by a huge margin. The Kiwis had the edge in the final few strokes though, and retained their world title, a third now for Haigh.

The young women's quad then capped a superb season with a bronze medal in their first World Championship final together. They were never quite on the pace of the Germans or the United States, but they fought their way back from fifth early on to take a safe third place.

James Lassche and Graham Oberlin Brown did what they had to do in their final and raced off into an early lead - a move which looked to have taken the field by surprise as it took them over 1,000 metres to claw the Kiwis back. Ultimately, the pair paid the price as the other crews from Great Britain, Italy and Germany had more left in the tank and found a way through, leaving the Kiwis in fourth.

The men's eight raced as well as it has all season, but once again left itself with an awful lot to do after a slow first 500 metres. The middle 1000 metres was spent getting themselves back into contention and they followed the Ukranians as they moved out ahead in the lane next to them. This left them in second and just within attacking distance with 500 metres to go. The sprints of the USA and the Czech Republic were slightly better, leaving the Kiwis in fourth at the line, less than three seconds away from Olympic qualification.

Duncan Grant raced away to win his semi final and will start as one of the medal favourites, with Henrik Stephanson standing between the Kiwi and a fourth world title in the light single.

World champions Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan won a thrilling double scull semi final - enjoying a close battle with former world champions in the form of home favourites Luca Spik and Iztok Cop and the French duo of Cedric Berrest and Julian Bahain. The home crew took an early lead to the delight of the crowd, but the high rating pace of the Kiwis was too much for both crews to cope with in the second half. Cohen and Sullivan edged away and increased the margin still further in the sprint for the line. The semi was four seconds quicker than the first and will put the Kiwis in pole position for a medal - Olympic qualification in the bag.

The women’s lightweight double scull quarter final set to feature Louise Ayling and Lucy Strack was scrapped when two crews withdrew from the event. Their semi is now on Saturday.