Hamish Bond took his fifth straight title in the men's pair yesterday at the New Zealand Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro, defeating pair crewmate Eric Murray by just a length on a day of blisteringly fast times.
Bond, paired with Southern RPC teammate and fellow squad member Jade Uru, clocked a sensational six minutes 17.7 seconds to defeat Murray and his crewmate Tyson Williams by just under three seconds.
Murray and William had looked the stronger pair in the semifinals, but Bond and Uru put together a winning row when it mattered and with times that would have meant world finals and possibly medals.
In the other big battle of the day, Joseph Sullivan and 2009 Under-23 world champions crewmate Robbie Manson put one over multiple national champions Nathan Cohen and Matthew Trott to take the men's double scull in some style with a clearwater victory. Sullivan was in no doubt of the quality of the performances of both crews.
"It was a world-class race and we just managed to edge out ahead of Nathan and Matthew," said Sullivan.
"Robbie was rowing really strong and I just had to maintain the rhythm and we put together a very good finish to the race. It's a very satisfying result for both of us."
Today, the much-heralded single sculls race is top of the agenda. Five-time world champion Mahe Drysdale, reigning champ and two-time world champion in the double Cohen, and rowing star Murray will battle in a red-hot field. Emma Twigg should win the women's single sculls.
The fabled Boss Rooster final is also tomorrow - one of the world's most historic rowing races. Holders Wairau RC look a strong bet to retain the famous trophy.
The premier men's and women's quads and eights complete the lineup in what is largely a day for the bigger boats.
The eights has special significance as team selectors weigh up the prospect of sending a men's and women's eight to the "last chance" regatta in Lucerne for one final bid to make the Olympic Games lineup.
Only wins will be enough in Lucerne and the stakes are high for the athletes trying to grab the gold at Karapiro.