Strong start for NZ crews at World Cup

New Zealand rowing kicked off their European campaign with a stunning collective performance in Poznan, Poland last night.

Competing at their first World Cup regatta of the year, New Zealand rowers won five gold medals in successive events in the space of an hour.

From 10.18pm to 11.18pm (NZT), New Zealand snared victories in the women's pair, men's and women's double sculls, women's eight and men's single scull. The day was rounded off with a silver for the men's eight and a fifth for single sculler Hannah Osborne.

It brought back memories of New Zealand rowing's golden hour, when four world championship gold medals were won at Gifu, Japan in 2005.

Among those five golds were two world best performances, by Kerri Gowler and Grace Prendergast in the pair then, with a remarkable display of sustained power, by Robbie Manson in the men's single seat.

Manson simply burst clear in the second quarter and blew away a quality field, which included the Rio Olympic silver medallist Damir Martin of Croatia and the well-regarded Cuban Angel Fournier Rodriguez.

Manson clocked 6min 30.74s to eclipse double Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale's previous world best mark by three seconds. He crossed 8s ahead of Fournier Rodriguez with Nico Stahlberg of Switzerland a further 2s adrift.

"I started slow and steady which was my plan," Manson said. "I thought through the 1000m I was slower than world record pace but then I looked at 500m to go and my splits were still reasonably good.

"So I kept my foot down and tried get as close to it as I could. I crossed finish line, saw time and was pretty stoked."

Having moved from the double last year into the single, with Drysdale taking the season off, Manson is determined to make it a long term role.

"I've said all along the single is what I want be in in Tokyo,'" he said of the 2020 Olympic Games. "I wanted to prove I'm not just filling the spot temporarily. I want to make it my own."

He could scarcely have made a better opening statement of intent.

Similarly, Prendergast and Gowler, who have been racking up titles together since winning the under 23 pair world title in 2014, were in prime form, recording 6:49.08, 5s clear of the United States pair with Australia third.

"It feels very good," Prendergast said.

"I think we knew if we stuck in our race plan we could put out a pretty good performance."

As for a world record time, Prendergast, who sits in the bow seat, needed a guide from Gowler in front of her.

"With 500m to go, Kerri turned and said ''time". Then I got a feeling we could go under the time.

"In the first part of the race you don't really think about that stuff because you become more result focused than staying in the moment.

"Coming into the last 500m we thought we could get a good time."

The other golden crews last night were:

** John Storey and Chris Harris in the men's double, who led at halfway and won in 6:06.890 to beat Norway by almost 4s, with Poland third;

** Olivia Loe and Brooke Donoghue who produced a steady, strong display to dominate their double scull final, eventually winning by a length in 6:39.13 in a World Cup best time, almost 2s ahead of China with Australia third;

** And the women's eight, who trailed Britain early before taking control in the third quarter to win by 1.4s, in 6:01.27, from Britain with the United States third.

There was also gold in the non-Olympic lightweight single scull for Jackie Kiddle 24 hours earlier.

The first choice men's pair and women's lightweight double had to withdraw due to forearm injuries for James Hunter and Zoe McBride respectively. However both are expected to be ready by the Lucerne World Cup regatta early next month.

Manson said there was a great vibe among the group.

"Everyone's buzzing at the moment," he said.

"We knew we were going really well. I think we came here with the expectation that the team would do quite well and we have been quietly confident within the camp.

"But it's only the first regatta and the rest of the world is going to step up, so we've got to do that too."

Several leading nations and crews sat Poland out but are expected to be in Lucerne.

New Zealand have a week's training in Belgium before heading to the Henley regatta in England, before Lucerne.

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