New Zealand's 2012 international rowing season got underway in Belgrade overnight at the first World Cup Regatta, with mixed results in the absence of the country's world champion and medal winning crews.
The lightweight four held on to a strong second place early on in a very competitive containing former world champions Great Britain. The field at Belgrade field contains many crews and boats already qualified for London, so a positive result over the weekend will be good news for coach Dave Thompson and the crew of James lassche, Graham Oberlin-Brown, Curtis Rapley and three-time world lightweight single scull champion Duncan Grant.
The fourth place and trip to the repechages did not perturb the former sculler however; as the crew had been slowed dramatically during the latter stages of the race by wash from a following launch.
After what seems like an age we finally got to race in our first international lightweight fours race," said Grant. "As a crew we are happy with our first result even though on paper it might not look so. We had a good first 1000m and were right up with qualified crews from Great Britain and China. With only first going through to the A-final, we have to race in the rep. It's not so bad, we were hit by considerable motorboat wash between the 750-250m to go and we know we still have some more to give. Another race will be good for us."
The heavyweight men's four of Sean O'Neill, Chris Harris, Jade Uru and Tyson Williams - already qualified for the Olympics - finished fourth in its heat and headed repechage after a troubled build up in the final week with injury worries. Third place in the repechage guaranteed them a semi final row.
The men's eight were third in a heat of three that included one of the Olympic gold medal favourites - Germany - and the Netherlands. Despite the result, which puts them into the repechage where one boat from five will be eliminated, the crew's time of 5 minutes and 35 seconds was much closer to the overall pace than they have been in recent races. The Germans were just a length or so ahead, with the Netherlands just over a second up.
The adaptive double sent from New Zealand to try and qualify fell foul of the very tight athlete classification system in adaptive rowing and did not start.
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