|The Kiwi Pair racing to the line, Cambridge Town Cup (Screen capture)|
It has been a minute, but we're back. And there's much to catch up on, not least of which are the goings on at the Cambridge Town Cup in New Zealand, where a host of Olympians and Olympic hopefuls from arguably the world's strongest rowing federation locked horns over the weekend.
While the Kiwi Pair had one of the closest finishes in recent memory (just ahead of Kiwi lightweights James Lassche* and Jamie Hunter, who recorded a time faster than the World Best Time for the LM2- in a loss), but still managed to extend their unbeaten streak (the video above shows the final 250 meters of that men's pairs final), reigning Olympic champion Mahé Drysdale suffered a loss at the hands of fellow national team sculler John Storey, in what was, to some degree, a surprising turn of events.
It's certainly not the first loss in the event for Drysdale—none other than Hamish Bond has had Drysdale's number in the single at home events in the past, as we've discussed. It's more likely to do with Drysdale being at a certain point in the training arc heading into Rio than an indication of his slowing down. However, it's intriguing that Storey was the one to bring home the win—Storey and crew just missed Olympic qualification in the men's quad last summer in Aiguebelette, and so will be very hungry to punch his ticket for the Games by any means necessary. One would think that such a result couldn't hurt in the eyes of the selectors.
As they start their eighth full season in the boat, Hamish Bond talks about their unbeaten record @kiwipair— Ian Anderson (@boxcarfred) February 1, 2016
Not only that, but the time posted by Storey in tailwind conditions was just over two seconds back of the World Best Time in the men's single, held by Drysdale (Poznan, 2009), of 6:33.35 (Storey's impressive time: 6:35.7). But Storey and the lightweights weren't the only ones posting phenomenal splits—one of the New Zealand women's pair combinations, Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent, took a surprise victory over Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler, breaking the World Best Time mark set by the British duo of Heather Stanning and Helen Glover in the process.
@rowingrelated @fatsculler @ednl @martingough22 I also missed mentioning the NZ LM4- beat the Swiss lighties in the prem 4- ...— Ian Anderson (@boxcarfred) January 31, 2016
A good writer to keep tabs on as the Rowing New Zealand squad gets into final selection is Ian Anderson, who's been reporting on the squad for stuff.co.nz.
*A side note: James Lassche is no stranger to going very, very fast in the pair at the Cambridge Town Cup—last time, his pair partner was Hamish Bond, and they went 6:12.42 (the second fastest time ever recorded in that boat class, behind, you guessed it, Bond and Murray).
More to come as Rio looms ever larger on the horizon!