There were few surprises at the first day of the national rowing championships at Lake Karapiro yesterday as the big guns ready themselves for the national squad trials at the end of the month.

Mahe Drysdale enjoyed a good win in one of the two heats of the men's premier single sculls, defeating fast-starting German sculling specialist Karsten Brodowski and Nathan Cohen to progress directly to Saturday's final.

In the other - easier - heat, Eric Murray breezed home ahead of Fergus Flavell to line up a friendly but fiercely competitive clash against Drysdale. The pair are two of the longest serving members of the New Zealand squad and rowed together in Athens in the coxless four.

A healthy mutual respect exists but both are intense competitors, along with reigning title holder Cohen.

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Hamish Bond, going for a fifth straight title in the men's pairs and a fourth consecutive win with fellow Southern RPC athlete Jade Uru, put himself in the hot seat again, stroking the crew to the fastest time of the heats in a high-quality field.

Waikato's Tyson Williams and Eric Murray won their heat, but were a few seconds behind their rivals on times. Teammates Michael Berry and squad rower Tobias Wehr Candler won the other heat.

Double world champions Cohen and Joseph Sullivan reunited with former partners in the double sculls. Sullivan teamed up with Robbie Manson, who he won an under-23 world title with in 2009, while Cohen combined with Matthew Trott, with whom he raced internationally and took several national titles.

Sullivan and Manson edged yesterday's one and only heat, raced to determine preferred centre lanes in the final, but Cohen and Trott have a long track record in the event and will be keen to turn over the three second margin in Friday's final.

World bronze medallists Fi Paterson and Anna Reymer dominated their race for lanes in the final.