5 Mar 2015

Biggest-ever NZ rowing squad selected

4:38 pm on 5 March 2015

The national rowing squad's been named and it's the biggest ever selected, with New Zealand to compete in all eight men's and all six women's Olympic boat classes for the first time.

The closest New Zealand has previously got to fielding all 14 Olympic boat classes was in 2010, when the World Rowing Championships were hosted at Lake Karapiro.

Top Kiwi oarsmen Mahe Drysdale (right) and Eric Murray at the opening ceremony.

Top NZ oarsmen Mahe Drysdale (right) and Eric Murray at the opening ceremony at Karapiro Photo: RNZ

That year the selectors named 13 Olympic class boats, with the men's lightweight four the only boat not selected.

Heading the team in 2015 is Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale in the men's single sculls. A top nine placing is required in the men's single sculls at the 2015 World Championships in France from the end of August, to gain an Olympic start.

Mahe Drysdale

Mahe Drysdale Photo: PHOTOSPORT

It would be considered a safe bet that the men's pair of Hamish Bond and Eric Murray will qualify a place for New Zealand at the Olympics in 2016. A top-11 finish is required in the 2015 Worlds to claim that Olympic position, the same criteria as for the men's double scull and men's four.

2014 WORLD ROWING Championships. New Zealand's Hamish Bond and Eric Murray.

2014 WORLD ROWING Championships. New Zealand's Hamish Bond and Eric Murray. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Robbie Manson and Chris Harris form the double, the new men's four crew is made up of Finn Howard, Bobby Kells, Alex Bardoul and Anthony Allen.

Karl Manson, Jade Uru, George Bridgewater and John Storey will crew the men's quad in 2015, needing a top-eight at the Worlds to ensure the boat is at the 2016 Rio Games.

The elite men's eight has only one crew change with Michael Brake coming in alongside coxswain Caleb Shepherd, Stephen Jones, Brook Robertson, Alex Kennedy, Joe Wright, Isaac Grainger, Shaun Kirkham and Tom Murray. The men's eight is aiming for a top five placing at the Worlds. It's more than 30 years since New Zealand last sent a men's eight to the Olympic Games, back in 1984.

The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist in the men's lightweight double scull, Peter Taylor, teams up with Hayden Cohen. Taylor is making the switch back to sculling after helping build the success of the men's lightweight four over the last two years. Cohen only recently made the decision to become a lightweight sculler, after competing in the heavyweight men's quad in 2013. The men's lightweight double scull needs to finish in the top 11 to claim an Olympic space.

Never before has New Zealand qualified or had a lightweight four contest the Olympic Games and the 2015 crew will also need to finish in the top 11 crews to make this happen. The New Zealand lightweight four were silver medallists in 2013 and 2014 and will hope to go one better in Aiguebelette. There's just one change this year with Alistair Bond moving into the four to replace Peter Taylor. Bond was part of the silver medal winning crew in 2014 and he will crew with Curtis Rapley, James Lassche and James Hunter.

The women's single scull will be fielded by a new sculler with Fiona Bourke replacing the unavailable Emma Twigg. Bourke will need to aim for a top-nine placing to qualify the boat for the Olympics. Twigg won the gold medal in 2014 in this event, while Bourke won gold in the women's double scull.

2014 under-23 world champions Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast will represent New Zealand in the women's pair. This boat class requires a top-11 placing to reach Rio. New Zealand won the bronze medal in this event in 2014. Gowler and Prendergast will double up events, having also been selected into the women's eight.

To qualify for the Olympics the women's eight need a top-five placing at the 2015 Worlds. New Zealand has never before qualified or sent a women's eight to the Games, nor has a crew medalled at the elite championships before. The last time a women's eight was named was in 2013, where they finished seventh at the Worlds. This 2015 crew will feature the women's pair crew of Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast alongside Rebecca Scown, Genevieve Behrent, Kelsey Bevan, Ruby Tew, Emma Dyke and Kayla Pratt, steered by coxswain Francie Turner.

Eve Macfarlane and Zoe Stevenson will be a new-look combination in the women's double scull. Stevenson won the gold medal in 2014 in this event while Macfarlane has returned to rowing after taking a break from the sport after the 2013 Worlds where she competed in the women's eight. They need a top-11 placing to qualify the boat for the Olympics.

The women's quad remains unchanged from 2014 with Erin-Monique O'Brien, Lucy Spoors, Georgia Perry and Sarah Gray selected as the 2015 crew and needing a top-five placing at the Worlds to confirm an Olympic position.

The 2014 golden combination of Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie will again challenge the women's lightweight double scull in 2015.

If New Zealand crews are unable to meet the Olympic qualification standards at the 2015 world rowing championships, another attempt can be made at the last chance qualifying regatta in 2016. Crews to compete at the Rio Olympic Games will be selected in March 2016 after trials.

New Zealand Elite Rowing Team:

Women's Single Scull

Fiona Bourke (Otago University RC, Southern RPC)

Dick Tonks (Coach)

Women's Double Scull

Zoe Stevenson (Tauranga RC, Waikato RPC)

Eve Macfarlane (Canterbury RC, Southern RPC)

Dick Tonks (coach)

Women's Coxless Pair

Kerri Gowler (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Grace Prendergast (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Dave Thompson (Coach)

Women's Quad

Erin-Monique O'Brien (Petone RC, Central RPC)

Lucy Spoors (Canterbury RC, Southern RPC)

Georgia Perry (Cambridge RC, Waikato RPC)

Sarah Gray (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Mike Rodger (Coach)

Women's Lightweight Double Scull

Julia Edward (Rotorua RC, Waikato RPC)

Sophie MacKenzie (Wairau RC, Central RPC)

Gary Hay (Coach)

Women's Lightweight Scull

Zoe McBride (Nelson RC, Central RPC)

Gary Hay (Coach)

Women's Eight

Rebecca Scown (Union Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Genevieve Behrent (Waihopai RC, Southern RPC)

Kerri Gowler (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Grace Prendergast (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Kelsey Bevan (Counties-Manukau RC, Auckland RPC)

Ruby Tew (Star BC, Central RPC)

Emma Dyke (Timaru RC, Southern RPC)

Kayla Pratt (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Cox - Francie Turner (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Dave Thompson (Coach)

Men's Single Scull

Mahe Drysdale (West End RC, Auckland RPC)

Dick Tonks (Coach)

Men's Coxless Pair

Hamish Bond (North End RC, Southern RPC)

Eric Murray (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Noel Donaldson (Coach)

Men's Double Scull

Chris Harris (Aramoho-Wanganui RC, Central RPC)

Robbie Manson (Wairau RC, Central RPC)

Calvin Ferguson (Coach)

Men's Quad

John Storey (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

George Bridgewater (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

Jade Uru (Waihopai RC, Southern RPC)

Karl Manson (Blenheim RC, Central RPC)

Mike Rodger (Coach)

Men's Lightweight Coxless Four

Curtis Rapley (Tauranga RC, Waikato RPC)

Alistair Bond (Otago University RC, Southern RPC)

James Lassche (Avon RC, Southern RPC)

James Hunter (Wellington RC, Central RPC)

Dave Thompson (Coach)

Men's Lightweight Double Scull

Peter Taylor (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Hayden Cohen (Canterbury RC, Southern RPC)

Calvin Ferguson (Coach)

Men's Lightweight Single Scull

Adam Ling (Tauranga RC, Waikato RPC)

Gary Hay (Coach)

Men's Coxless Four

Anthony Allen (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Alex Bardoul (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Bobby Kells (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Finn Howard (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Marion Horwell (Coach)

Men's Eight*

Stephen Jones (West End RC, Auckland RPC)

Brook Robertson (Nelson RC, Central RPC)

Alex Kennedy (Te Awamutu RC, Waikato RPC)

Joe Wright (Wellington RC, Central RPC)

Isaac Grainger (Auckland RC, Auckland RPC)

Shaun Kirkham (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Michael Brake (North Shore RC, Auckland RPC)

Tom Murray (Blenheim RC, Central RPC)

Cox Caleb Shepherd (Waikato RC, Waikato RPC)

Noel Donaldson (Coach)

*The men's eight will also compete at the Windermere Cup, Seattle in May