All is set fair for New Zealand's world champion double scullers with this year's world championships in Slovenia a week away.

Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan were one of three gold medal-winning crews at the worlds on Lake Karapiro last November, along with coxless pairs Hamish Bond and Eric Murray, and Juliette Haigh and Rebecca Scown.

Scown and Haigh were beaten in the Lucerne World Cup regatta last month by British pair Helen Glover and Helen Stanning, while Murray and Bond are undefeated and well in charge of their class.

So too Cohen and Sullivan, whose performance at Lucerne was perhaps the most spectacular of all the A finals. Fourth at the 1000m mark, they roared home to chase down the German and British combinations and win in 6m 29.41s.


Cohen put a slightly different slant on events over those 2000m from the New Zealanders' base at Hazewinkel, Belgium.

"The Germans went out really hard and dragged the field with them but instead of panicking we stuck to our plan," he said. "We actually rowed quite an even split throughout the race and got back on track near the end."

Cohen believes the distance they had to catch up was more a case of the other crews having blazed out rather than he and Sullivan being unduly tardy out of the blocks.

"Obviously we don't want to be that far behind but it's good knowing no matter where we are in a race we can hopefully come back through."

The New Zealand squad have been split in the past few weeks, some crews in Hazewinkel, others training at Gravelines, France. They got together this week and yesterday headed for Bled, where the worlds begin next Sunday.

It is the Olympic Games qualifying regatta for the year where the key is finishing within the number of direct entry placings to the London Games.

They vary among the events. In Cohen and Sullivan's case, the top 11 advance, so no issues there. Southlander Cohen has noticed a change in quality from last year's international programme.

"It's definitely gone up a couple of steps and once we get to the worlds we'll truly see the strength of the field."


By Cohen's reckoning, as many as 10 crews on a good day could be vying for the medals in their class. "It makes for tense, but exciting racing. We know you can't afford to have a bad day."

As for their ones-to-beat tag, Cohen is relaxed.

"To be honest I don't really look at it that way. We were the world champions in 2010 and that was great. But that doesn't mean anything this year. The way I see it everyone's back to scratch. We're no different, just another crew trying to win in 2011."