Double Olympic rowing medallist Kim Crow is praying the wind drops this weekend when she contests her first ever Bill Webb Challenge on the Whanganui River.
The Australian sculler arrived in Wanganui on Tuesday night and yesterday morning battled an ever increasing wave of white caps whipped up by the strong northerly winds during her first training session on a tidal track.
Crow won silver in the double sculls at the London Olympics beating home bronze medallists Rebecca Scown from Wanganui and Juliet Haigh. She then finished third to claim bronze in the single sculls in London.
While she comes into the Billy Webb fresh after a couple of months off following the London Olympics and a relative novice on tidal river tracks, Crow is the favourite to take out the women's race this weekend.
Experienced rowing coach Ian Weenick guided Crow through her first training session from the Aramaoho Wanganui Rowing Club pontoon yesterday and was confident she would have too much class as a single sculler for her Billy Webb rivals.
"Ian took me out in a speedboat first off and there were plenty of white caps - it looks a little bit dodgy," Crow said of the conditions yesterday.
"It's my first time on a tidal track and quite a bit different to the lake courses I'm used to."
Crow is from Melbourne, but is based in Canberra where the Australian national squad trains. She has also rowed with success at Lake Karapiro in Waikato.
During the 2010 World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro Crow won silver in the double sculls and finished fourth in the quad sculls.
"I had a couple of months off after London and have been back on the water for the past few weeks. One of the Aussie girls who has previously competed in the Billy Webb told me about it in London and I was happy to enter. It will be a very good practice run for the long distance time trials in Sydney the weekend after the Billy Webb.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge this weekend and hope the wind drops a bit. If it doesn't it's a good thing I can swim," Crow said.
Crow will face New Zealand Olympic quad members Fiona Bourke and Sarah Gray, who was a member of the Aramoho club when she rowed for Wanganui High School.
Also in the Billy Webb are New Zealand summer squad members Genevieve Armstrong and Zoe Stevenson.
Weenick said coming from a quad team to single sculls was a major transition and Crow's experience in the singles was likely to tip the scales in her favour this weekend.