The world rowing championships which start in earnest today could see New Zealand reap a dizzying harvest in medals.

Men's pair - Hamish Bond and Eric Murray

The phlegmatic Bond and the exuberant Murray make for one of the more entertaining and likeable crews in world rowing. Murray is the ideas man, coming up with exciting schemes like Faceboat - where for $50 you could get your face on a flag they carry down the course and sponsor their cause. Bond seems to be perpetually keeping his colleague in check.

It would be a fool who underestimated Bond's depth of character. At 24, he deserves the moniker "most likely New Zealand male athlete to win a future Olympic gold medal" such is his determination to succeed. Under coach Dick Tonks, the duo have flourished into the best men's pair in the world with 10 straight wins over key British rivals Andrew Triggs Hodge and Peter Reed; Olympic gold medallists in the coxless four. If you watch only one race at these championships, this final should be it.

Men's lightweight double sculls - Peter Taylor and Storm Uru

This boat was a problem for the New Zealand selectors up until 2008. There had been success at age group level but it failed to translate into senior ranks. As late qualifiers for the Beijing Olympics, Taylor and Uru could only win the B final but have shifted expectations up a few gears with victory at last year's world championships.

Like Bond, Taylor oozes guts but has mellow fellow Uru - often seen in the lotus position with headphones on before races - to balance him. A win at the most recent World Cup event in Lucerne underlined their presence when British Olympic champions Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter only managed fifth. Remember lightweight doubles also face the burden of scales to keep their combined weight under 140 kilograms. The buffet is on hold.

Women's pair - Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown

Haigh had a sabbatical in 2009 but the selectors have made the right call bringing the 2005 world champion and double Olympian back to join Scown, who took bronze with Emma Feathery last year. They have defeated all before them thus far under low-key coach John Robinson. The last win was by almost five seconds (at least a couple of lengths) in Lucerne. In their downtime, they have taken to blogging on their website where the recipes section boasts a delicious prawn curry.

Men's lightweight single sculls - Duncan Grant

Grant has had a superb run over the past three years, taking the title for scullers 72.5kg and below. It is a non-Olympic class, meaning the opposition changes regularly as contenders come and go from other countries' Olympic lightweight double sculls and coxless four crews. Hungarian Peter Galambos had Grant's measure by a decent margin at the Lucerne and Munich world cup events.

Knowledge of Lake Karapiro and pride might make up some ground but tendonitis in Grant's knee, which required cortisone injections and forced him off the water for a month on his return from Europe, means he may struggle.

Men's single sculls - Mahe Drysdale

Drysdale is under pressure to perform in front of a home crowd, especially after a season plagued by a back injury.

It seems daft to write him off from a fifth straight world championship but given his patchy build-up even silver might be generous.

History is also against him winning gold. Only German Peter-Michael Kolbe has five men's single sculls titles since the world championships' inception in 1962 - and they weren't consecutive. It probably won't be known how badly Drysdale's back has hindered him until the final 500 metres of this Saturday's final but we know he is the resilient type after watching his Beijing bronze.

He is against formidable opposition, with perennial medallist Czech Ondrej Synek shaping as the best prospect to snare the crown, provided he has corrected his tendency to train too hard too early in the season. Double Olympic gold medallist Olaf Tufte has had an ordinary season but could surprise as could Briton Alan Campbell if he's not hauled in further up the course.

Women's singles sculls - Emma Twigg

The 23-year-old has yet to feature on a world championship podium with fourth her best last year. Family, friends and a home crowd could make the difference and she could surprise - although she will have to get past multiple world champion Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus and Czech Mirka Knapkova. Twigg also suffered a mysterious bout of fatigue this year after getting silver at the Bled world cup regatta. It is hoped a prescription of Mum Kerry's chicken soup back in the Hawke's Bay has put her right.

Men's coxless four - David Eade, Jade Uru, Hamish Burson, Simon Watson

This crew, with a fit-again Watson replacing former Irish Olympic rower Sean O'Neill after the last world cup, shape as medal contenders.

They took silver at Lucerne, finishing 2.22 seconds behind the winners and world championship favourites Great Britain. Expect a veteran Australian crew to fight back into contention too. It is a completely different Kiwi crew to that which won this title three years ago - a tribute to Rowing New Zealand's development programme.

Men's double sculls - Nathan Cohen, Joseph Sullivan

Cohen and his third partner in three years, Joseph Sullivan, have made subtle changes in the past few months to attempt to add finesse to their technique after a sluggish campaign start. They could only win the B final in their opening World Cup at Munich then they lost to the winners of that regatta, Great Britain, in the second round at Henley, albeit by just half a length. Their biggest fear has been getting pushed for pace in the first 1000 metres by the Brits and their other key rivals, the French. A third at the final World Cup this year in Lucerne has boosted spirits.


If these results - three gold, two silver, three bronze - were to manifest themselves, this would be New Zealand's finest performance at a world championships in terms of medal haul but not gold count. They would need four golds to do that, having reached those heights in 2005 and 2009. A record number of Kiwi boats and athletes are entered (18 and 55 respectively).


Men's quadruple sculls, this crew includes veterans Nathan Twaddle and Matthew Trott, two superb team men. It's hard to imagine anyone cheering harder than their team-mates if this duo recorded a longshot medal with crewmates John Storey and Robbie Manson.

Women's double sculls, Fiona Paterson and Emma Feathery have been tried together in bigger boats at international level but not on their own. Could surprise.

Both eights. Just having these crews on the water is a doff of the cap to New Zealand's depth and development.

No significant results are expected but it is a move towards the London 2012 Olympics , particularly when less investment is required with the championships at home.