Rowing: National trials places at stake in Twizel regatta

There is a lot at stake for Otago's elite rowers when they compete at the South Island championships at Lake Ruataniwha this weekend.

''It is the national small boat trials,'' Otago manager Sonya Walker told the Otago Daily Times.

''It is part of the high performance criteria to get an invite to the national trials later this month.''

Otago rowers competing in the small boat events are Olympic champion Hamish Bond, Lucy Strack and Alistair Bond from the North End club, and Fiona Bourke and Fergus Fauvel from the Otago University club.

They are all training at New Zealand rowing's high-performance centre at Lake Karapiro.

Oamaru's Johannah Kearney is training at the Southern Regional Performance Centre in Christchurch.

The small-boat events will add spice to the regatta that has attracted record entries.

Forty clubs and schools will be competing at the event that has attracted 1163 rowers to Twizel for the weekend. This is a 20% increase on the 943 oarsmen who competed last year and beats the record 1015 rowers that competed two years ago.

There are 1038 crews competing at the regatta compared with 1002 in Twizel two years ago.

The talented Otago pair of Zoe McBride and Hannah Duggan will dominate the double sculls in their own age group and will be competitive in the open women's events.

McBride (16) has been the outstanding young female rower to emerge from the province over the last decade. She won a silver medal in the quadruple sculls at the world junior championships at Bled last year.

A dominant double sculls in regattas this year has been the Otago combination of Eachann Bruce and Jack O'Leary who will be competing in the club double sculls.

Bruce started his rowing with the Wanaka club but has switched to Otago this season, to team up with O'Leary who won a silver medal in the boys under-16 single sculls at the Maadi Cup last season.

Wanaka, one of the new clubs in Otago over the last decade, has made its mark in South Island regattas this season. A newcomer from the club this year has been Anna Watson-Taylor who will compete in the under-18 and club single sculls this weekend.

Other crews to watch from the Wanaka club are Riley Bruce and Jack Porter in the under-15 double sculls and Jarrod Wellman and Nicholas Jackson in the under-19 pair.

In the club double sculls the Otago University pair of Nicola Shanks and Caitlin Buist have the potential to win a South Island title. They are both competing in the single sculls as well. Shanks is the younger sister of world champion cyclist Alison Shanks.

One of the most talented crews is the North End under-16 quadruple sculls of Maggie Burns, Eliza Adams, Tessa Read, Julia Landels and cox Jess Taylor that won the event at the Otago championships.

Burns, Adams and Read were in the St Hilda's crew that won the under-15 quadruple sculls gold medal at the Maadi Cup last year. Other crews to watch are: Dunstan under-15 and under-16 double sculls of Eirlys Bond and Ella Galletly, coach Fred Strachan's under-17 boys eight, the North End novice double sculls of Ryan Wilson and Sam Munro and the Port Chalmers-United masters women Imogen Coxhead and Robyn Cameron.