They both have the scars of carpal tunnel syndrome on their wrists but it was the smiles on the faces of Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown that drew most attention at Lake Karapiro yesterday.

They took gold in the women's pair and led almost the whole way to the biggest victory margin of the day - 3.12 seconds over nearest rivals Great Britain. The defending world champions, United States, were third.

With Haigh fresh from an OE last year, she has reinvigorated the boat and spurred them to dominate the class all season. Scown finished third last year with Emma Feathery in Poland, despite winning both their world cup events in the lead-up.

It is the second time Haigh has triumphed at a world championships in the pair. The first was as part of the famed four golds won at the world championships at Gifu, Japan, in 2005 - her second season with the now retired Nicky Coles.

"You're making me feel old but it has been a while since I was world champion," Haigh said. "This is pretty special to do it at home in a cool partnership with Rebecca."

The pair conserved energy with four days off between their heat and the final. It showed as they eased away to become New Zealand's first gold medallists at this regatta. They casually dangled their legs in the lake and joked with each other straight afterwards as the boat drifted towards the pontoon.

"We controlled our race and felt comfortable and confident," Scown said, having won at last after five seasons in New Zealand elite crews. "No one can take that away."

"We worked in inches," Haigh said. "Gaining one inch per stroke is enough and that was a good place to be."

The victory was made even sweeter for Scown who was out of the boat for five weeks after coming home from Europe in July and suffering tendonitis in her wrist. Treatment has left a two-inch scar, something already evident on Haigh from past occupational over-use with her oar.

"We still managed to keep focused on cross training," Scown said. "In hindsight it might have been a good thing; keeping us fresh and wanting to do it.

"The operation also got infected which meant an extra week in hospital."

Another highlight came with Emma Twigg finally making the podium at a world championships after three attempts in the single sculls. She was fourth last year.

Twigg took bronze but surged into gold medal contention with 250m to go.

It was made more special by the fact she suffered a mysterious form of fatigue earlier in the year.

Yesterday's result impressed Rowing New Zealand head coach Dick Tonks: "In some ways Emma's effort has been one of the team's best.

"She almost took out the old girl which would have been phenomenal."

The "old girl" Tonks refers to is 38-year-old Belarussian Ekaterina Karsten who has two Olympic titles (1996 and 2000) and was the multiple defending world champion.

The honour of beating her went to Swede Frida Svensson who led from start to finish.

She pipped Twigg in her heat.

With Karsten appearing to falter and Twigg having near parity with Svensson, the 23-year-old's chances of medalling at London in less than two years are now a real possibility.