Day one of the Universities Trans-Tasman Rowing Series produced thrills and excitement on the sparkling waters of Lake Hayes yesterday. The New Zealand Team won three of the four events but there were plenty of signs to suggest that the series will go to the wire over the next two days of racing.
The NZU Womens 8 fought their way to a win after being led clearly by the Aussie crew who then seemed to lose their way down the lake. The steering malfunction allowed the NZ crew to strike back and they took full advantage of the lapse to come out on top in the sprint for the line.
The Lightweight Womens Quad produced an easy win to the Kiwis over an overweight Aussie crew. The race was held despite the ineligibility of the visitors and the slick NZ unit came home 18secs ahead in a polished display.
The light men in the Coxless 4 combined to produce the best spectacle of the day. The Australians led for most of the distance with the New Zealanders hanging on closely. Over the last few hundred meters the Aussies seemed to tie up and the Kiwis pounced. A good sprint where they kept loose and were moving freely allowed the Black crew to come through and win by a second.
The Mens 8 produced another top race. Both crews came out well with nothing between them over the first 250m. At this stage the Australians kept the rating higher and eased out to a good half length lead. The New Zealanders had settled to a more conservative 37 rating and lacked a little aggression. However they held on to the visitors after both crews had struck their mid-race pace and mounted a series of attacks, some of which took them to within a canvas of the lead. The Aussies stayed calm and hung on to win by ¾ of a length.
Grant Craies the Otago based RPC coach who is responsible for the Mens 8 expressed satisfaction with the base speed of his crew but accepted that they will have to improve on their start if they are to beat the Australians.
The series has two more days of racing; tomorrow the 8th of July with another 2km event on Lake Hayes and a finale on Otago Harbour on the 10th of July where the crews race over 5km.