Lightweights take heart from solid B Final win 7 May 2012
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New Zealand's rowers took some consolation from a challenging weekend in Belgrade, Serbia, with a dominant win in the B Final for the new Lightweight Four on their international debut at the first World Cup regatta of 2012.
Disappointed to be rowed out of the ain final in the last few metres by the Chinese and French - who went on to finish third and fifth in a very competitive field - the Kiwi boat of Curtis Rapley, James Lassche, Graham Oberlin Brown and Duncan Grant set a 'must win' goal of the B final and did exactly that. Italy, one of the faster crews in the field, was also in the B Final but did not show up for the race.
The Kiwi crew led from the start and was never headed, increasing its lead every 500 metres and finishing in a time of 5 minutes 59 seconds, the only lightweight four on the day from A and B Finals to dip under the benchmark six minute time. Seventh overall on their debut, and top boat still to qualify for London, left the crew feeling optimistic they are heading in the right direction.
"Even though we're a little disappointed that our main race competition, Italy, was a no show, we maintained our main focus to have an even better race by building on our performances in the heats and repechage, and to win the B-Final," explained three-time lightweight sculling world champion Grant.
"We did both. We lead the race from start to finish and increased our lead through each 500m marker of the race.
"This first World Cup regatta has been a good start in our build up to the Last Chance Olympic qualification regatta in Lucerne, Switzerland starting on the 20th of May , but the next two weeks of training in Belgium and Switzerland are going to be critically important for increasing our boat speed and chances at this 'do or die' regatta."
The heavyweight four - dogged by small injury worries in the build up - changed its seating line up for the B Final with Jade Uru moving to the 3 seat behind stroke Sean O'Neill. They held third for much of the race behind the Romanians and the Russians but were outsprinted in the dash to the line by the Germans and the Italians to finish an eventual fifth - ranking eleventh overall.
Elsewhere Ondrej Synek – one of the principal rivals at the Olympics to five time world champion Mahe Drysdale - took a strong win in the men’s single scull, though two time Olympic champion Olaf Tufte did not enjoy a good regatta, finishing way down the order in the B Final.
(Rowing New Zealand)
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