The efforts of the New Zealand men's eight to qualify for tomorrow's final has generated a certain amount of nostalgia around the shores of Lake Karapiro.

One of the blue riband events in the sport, there has always been a lot of passion surrounding the eight.

But it is a love affair that has had to be put on ice.

The last time New Zealand had a crew in the final of the men's eight was in 1991 in Vienna, when they finished sixth.

But for the past two decades New Zealand have sat on the sidelines for the big show, with Rowing New Zealand focusing on putting high-quality smaller boats on the water.

Still, that did not stop those involved with the sport from reminiscing about the glory days in the 1970s and early 80s of big-boat racing in New Zealand, wistfully awaiting the day they would return to the event.

Wybo Veldman, who as a member of the eight that won gold at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, earned the event a special place in the hearts of New Zealanders, said he has been "nagging like hell to get an eight back in the water" for quite some time.

Rowing New Zealand gave it a go a few years ago, attempting to qualify both a men's and women's eight for the Beijing Olympics. But they got cold feet when both those campaigns came up short.

The success of the two men's coxless fours crews over the World Cup series this year convinced them to give it another go, and the largely young crew of Adam Tripp, Tyson Williams, Ian Seymour, Tobias Wehr-Candler, Michael Arms, Sean O'Neill, Chris Harris, Ben Hammond and cox Ivan Pavich have delivered.

They set a blistering time of 5:25.40 in the heat - the fastest time ever produced by a New Zealand eight by quite some margin. The New Zealand crew then upstaged Olympic champions Canada in the semifinal, finishing second behind the US to book their place in the last six.

Dave Thompson, co-coach of the New Zealand men's eight, suggested there would be a few former rowers teary-eyed at the thought of having an eight back in a world championship final.

Speaking to Veldman, you get the feeling Thompson is right.

So what makes the eight so special?

"It's a great spectacle, when you see six boats coming up the track there, 48 guys going hell for leather and trying to win, there's nothing better. It makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck," said Veldman.

Mike Stanley, who was the stroke in the men's eight that won New Zealand's last world championship medal in the event with back-to-back golds in 1982 and 1983, agrees everyone loves the drag race element of the event.

But he also has another theory.

He said the men's eight became ingrained in the national psyche after the success of the crews through the 1970s and 80s, and believes the team aspect of the event resonates with New Zealanders.

"We all take great pride in the successes of an individual but when it's eight of your countrymen, I guess it also talks to more about the national character rather than the character of the individual."

Tomorrow's final of the men's eight will be the last race of the championships, placing a lot of pressure on the Kiwis.