Kiwis watch as the Crow flies

By Jared Smith



The three young New Zealand rowers who lined up against Australia's Kim Crow no doubt have bright futures, but on Sunday morning it was Porsches against a Ferrari.

Unlike the opening stages of the men's Billy Webb challenge, there was only one rower in it during the women's race for the Philippa Baker-Hogan Cup as the big drawcard Crow showed Wanganui the power which made her the only rower to medal in two separate Olympic events in London.

Of her young opposition, all New Zealand squad or summer squad members, former Aramaho club prospect Sarah Gray leapt out to a good start of the 5km race, but from there the battle really became about silver as Crow got into her work.

Her stroke rate was averaging around 28-31 per minute but even when Gray, Fiona Bourke and Zoe Stevenson produced higher they could not hope to keep up with the distance Crow pulled through the water every time.

She had a six- to seven-length advantage over Bourke by the halfway point, as Gray and Stevenson fought out an entertaining battle for third.

Coming around the river turn by Union Boat Club, Gray looked to be tiring as she and Stevenson went nose for nose to the finish, with the local girl hanging on under the City Bridge to take the last honour. But Crow was already off on a cruise past the finish line, with Bourke following in the daylight of her wake.

The 28-year-old Australian said it was not as easy as she made it look.

"There's nothing cruisy about a 5.5km race when you've had a few months off rowing."

It will stand her in good stead as the Australian long-distance trials are coming up next weekend, also a distance just over 5km.

Despite being out of the rowing season, Crow said her stroke was not too bad by her standards, made easier because the other boats alongside had pushed her.

Stevenson did mention on the podium that the Kiwi girls had got their heads together the night before to see if one of them could get ahead in the early stages, perhaps delaying Crow's drive by getting to pick the lane and shepherd her.

There was just one problem, Stevenson lamented "to do that you have to get ahead of her".

A popular visitor, the weekend's experience was certainly unique for the tall Aussie not only racing in surf weather for the first time but having an official Maori waka escort as the girls left their Taupo Quay moorings to row down the start line.

Having travelled the world now, Crow agreed it was good to tick off another true rowing town from the list.

"You can just feel the rowing community here and it's just so welcoming."

- Wanganui Chronicle

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