By Iain Hyndman
Ex-pat Whanganui rowers have once again proved the city is an ideal nursery for elite perfomances on the world stage.
At the weekend Kerri Gowler grabbed her first world title after she and women's pairs partner Grace Prendergast dominated their final in Sarasota, Florida, while hot on their heels were Chris Harris and John Storey winning the men's double sculls. Then of course Rebecca Scown was in the crew that won a hard fought Bronze in the Kiwi womens 8.
Gowler and Harris still wear the Aramoho Wanganui Rowing Club colours when competing at national level, while Scown sports Union Boat Club garb.
Former world champion and fellow Union rower Philippa Baker-Hogan MBE she was over the moon for the latest champions.
"Aramoho will be over the moon with both Kerri Gowler and Chris Harris becoming first time world champions in Olympic class boats - a phenomenal achievement," Baker-Hogan said.
"Of course, Union Boat Club's Rebecca Scown won a hard fought bronze medal in the Kiwi Womens 8 behind Romania and just pipped by Canada in one of the closest races of the regatta, and adds to her impressive tally of world and Olympic medals."
Baker-Hogan said the Wanganui rowing franternity was tight-knit and all would be proud of the latest results.
Harris and Storey, veterans of the elite squad, won their title in thrilling fashion.
They had won both leadup cup regattas but had a real battle with the crews from Poland and Italy.
They were fourth at 500m, third at halfway and got their nose in front at the 1500m mark.
From then it was a cracking tussle with the Poles Zietarski Miroslaw and Meteusz Biskup, the New Zealanders winning in 6:10.070s. 0.59s ahead of Poland with Italians Filippo Mondelli and Luca Rambaldi third 1.26s behind.
"It came to the (final) 500m and we just started sprinting," Harris said.
"Amazing. We've been at it a long time and to finally get it, it hasn't sunk in."
The women's eight, who arrived knowing they were a big chance, can at least reflect on a ripping finale to the championships.
They settled third behind Romania and Britain and had nudged their way to second at halfway. From there it was a rattling battle, the New Zealanders trailing Romania by a mere .022s with 500m to go.
But Canada mounted a fine late surge and just pipped New Zealand for the silver medal by .280s. New Zealand, who had won the Poznan regatta and finished second to Romania in Lucerne, clocked 6:07.270, .690s behind the Romanians, and had made a clear statement that they have become one of the premier eights crews.