Catch us if you can.

That was the bold challenge laid down by Britain's Olympic champion lightweight double scullers Mark Hunter and Zac Purchase to their closest rivals, New Zealand's defending world champions Storm Uru and Peter Taylor yesterday.

Placed in the same semifinal, the Britons were out like a shot and kept comfortably clear down the 2000m to win in 6min 55.50, 2s ahead of Uru and Taylor, with Portugal third, a further 2s back.

It sets up a cracking A final tomorrow.

There was a marked contrast with New Zealand's other lightweight double scullers, Julia Edward and Lucy Strack, who also made their A final. Unlike the fancied Uru and Taylor, the women did it the hard way.

The silver medallists at the world under 23 championships in Belarus last July, they were forced to a repechage on Tuesday, stayed alive into yesterday's semi and then raced into third to make the final.

It was one of those moments for the New Zealand camp to savour. Some successes are expected; this raised plenty of smiles as they crossed with a spirited final quarter to see off the American challenge for third by 3s. Britain and Greece took the other two A final places from that semifinal.

But back to the men. Afterwards, there was an understandable contrast in opinion in the running of their race.

"We went out with our race plan, executed it well and you saw the end result," Hunter said.

He was sure New Zealand weren't foxing.

"If I was racing at home, as world champions and everyone expecting you to win, I wouldn't want to come second. I'm sure they wanted to win."

Uru begged to differ.

"What's the point of showing what you've got in semifinals?" he argued.

"That's how we raced out there today. We're very aware we're lightweights and can't go as hard as we can in every race."

It all adds zest to an intriguing contest tomorrow.

Uru and Taylor won the high calibre Lucerne World Cup regatta in their last clash, the Brits finishing fifth; at Munich a few weeks earlier Hunter and Purchase beat the New Zealanders by a second.

"We're not going to go into the race thinking they're faster than us because of [today's result]. That's the most important thing," Uru added.

The women's quad of Sarah Gray, Fiona Bourke, Genevieve Armstrong and Linda Matthews are also through to their A final tomorrow, taking second in their repechage behind Australia, crossing 1.44s ahead of the Chinese quartet.

There were a couple of disappointments for New Zealand yesterday.

The women's double scullers Fiona Paterson and Emma Feathery failed to make their A final, finishing third in their repechage, with the first two progressing.

The men's quad of John Storey, Matthew Trott, Robbie Manson and Nathan Twaddle were third in their repechage, 2.3s behind Britain, who grabbed the second qualifying spot for the A final.

New Zealand are in five semifinals in a hectic 70 minutes today.