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No shocks on Day 1 as country's top rowers get into their stride

Tuesday 14 February 2012, 4:33PM

By Rowing New Zealand

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Five time world champion Mahe Drysdale looking relaxed after his heat win today.
Five time world champion Mahe Drysdale looking relaxed after his heat win today. Credit: Rowing New Zealand

The 2012 BankLink New Zealand Rowing Championships got underway today at Lake Karapiro, and there were no major surprises amongst the big guns from the squad looking to start the week well as a springboard towards national squad trials at the end of the month.

Mahe Drysdale enjoyed a good win in one of the two heats of the men's premier single sculls, defeating fast starting German sculling specialist Karsten Brodowski and Nathan Cohen to progress directly to the final on Saturday. In the other - easier - heat, Eric Murray had a straightforward scull and breezed home ahead of Fergus Flavell to line up a friendly but fiercely competitive clash on Saturday against Drysdale.

These two are two of the longest serving members of the New Zealand squad and rowed together in Athens in the straight four. A healthy mutual respect will no doubt be present, but that will make reigning title holder Nathan Cohen a bit of a dark horse, and that should make for a fascinating final.

Hamish Bond - going for a fifth straight title in the men's pairs and a fourth straight win with fellow Southern RPC athlete Jade Uru - put himself in the hot seat again, stroking the crew to the fastest time of the heats in a high quality field. Waikato’s Tyson Williams and Eric Murray won their heat, but were a few seconds behind their rivals on times, while team mates Michael Berry and squad rower Tobias Wehr Candler won the other heat another couple of seconds down.

There was another fascinating early encounter in the Premier double sculls. Double world champions Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan stepped back in time and reunited with former partners. In Sullivan's case it was with Robbie Manson, who he won an Under 23 world title with in 2009. For Cohen it was Matthew Trott, with whom he raced internationally and took several national titles.

At the line in the one and only heat, raced for preferred centre lanes in the final, Sullivan and Manson had the edge by a length or so, but the Southern RPC duo have a long track record in this event and will be keen to turn over the three second margin in the final on Friday.

World bronze medallists Fi Paterson and Anna Reymer, rowing together as a regional crew this time rather than for the New Zealand squad dominated their race for lanes in the final.