Rowing: Five out of five for Drysdale

World champion Mahe Drysdale was never allowed to rest on his laurels when he successfully defended his national single sculls title at the New Zealand championships at Lake Karapiro.

Young Southlander Nathan Cohen gave him tough competition in the 2000m final, but it did not stop the towering Aucklander going on to win five premier men's titles at the regatta.

That made Drysdale - who added the double and quadruple sculls titles, as well as coxless four and eight to the singles while rowing for Auckland Regional Performance Centre (RPC) - the most successful premier rower at the event.

Hamilton Rowing Club's Caroline Evers-Swindell, who took out the singles, double and quad on behalf of the Waikato RPC, was the most successful elite woman.

But she could not match Drysdale's five out of five, her Waikato crews beaten in the four and eight by Auckland and Central RPC crews respectively, the latter a stunning upset by the Blenheim-based eight that lacked the big names of the Auckland and Waikato crews.

Drysdale, who was later awarded the Clarrie Healey Cup as male rower of the year, anxiously swallowed bananas and energy drinks after clocking 7m 22.92s to hold out the much smaller Cohen by 3.19s.

He was thankful to some buffeting wind gusts over the second quarter of the race that enabled him to take a boat-length lead.

"He kept me honest all the way and while I'm trying to get through these races without taxing myself too much, that was definitely the hardest I've had so far," Drysdale said.

"I just wanted to get out as quickly as I could from the start, and through the second 500 [metres] there were a few big gusts of wind that I was able to push through and extend my lead.

"But he just kept pushing and pushing. He doesn't go away."

New Zealand's seven world champions placed in all but the women's eight and the men's coxless pair.

Wairau's Rob Hellstrom and Sean O'Neill (Central RPC) held off a strong challenge from South RPC's Canaviron/North End combination of Carl Meyer and Hamish Bond to regain the coxless pair title they last held three years ago.

In the process they upset world champion George Bridgewater and his South RPC crewmate Matthew Trott, who finished third, and world champion Nathan Twaddle with his Auckland RPC partner Steve Cottle, who was fourth.

West End's Nicky Coles and Juliette Haigh, who spearheaded Auckland RPC's wins in the premier women's pair and four, having last year won the world women's coxless pair title, won the Champions Cup for female rowers of the year.


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