Mahe Drysdale took his first tentative steps back into a boat yesterday, with the heavily bandaged five-time world single sculls champion enjoying a brief paddle before watching his teammates qualify for nine A finals at the World Cup regatta in Munich.
Drysdale was knocked off his bike on Thursday and suffered a bruised hip and an AC joint injury on his shoulder that prevented his participation in Munich and interrupted his Olympic preparations.
He has said it won't affect his bid for gold in London but he would have preferred a final hitout in Munich. It was the second accident in two years for Drysdale who has included cycling in his training as a way to protect his back from a repeat of the injury that seriously affected his 2010 season - he plans to use an exercycle for the next few weeks.
Nine crews will race in tonight's A finals - three crews qualified directly for the final from Friday's heats - with Storm Uru and Peter Taylor looming as strong contenders for gold in Munich after an impressive win in their semifinal last night.
The men's lightweight double sculls secured one of the favoured middle lanes and will be confident of beating the British Olympic and world champions, who they defeated comprehensively in the heats.
Lightweight women's pair Louise Ayling and Julie Edward, who have been impressive since teaming up recently, won their repechage to secure a place in the final while single sculler Emma Twigg took second in her semifinal behind Azerbaijan's Nataliya Mustafayeva to also go to tonight's main event.
Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan are gradually returning to the form that took them to two world championship titles and start their first A final of 2012.
They finished third in their semifinal and were much closer to the pace of the race-winning crew from France of Julien Bahain and Cederic Berrest - definite medal contenders in London. The start still seems to be their Achilles heel, however, with the Kiwis having to work hard to come back from fifth at the 500m mark.
The men's quad and men's four both failed to qualify for the A final and will race in the B final instead, both having to cope with late changes in the boat due to injury and illness.
Two women's double sculling boats qualified the final, illustrating the potential of the crews, with Anna Reymer and Fi Paterson sure to be pushed by reserves Genevieve Armstrong and Zoe Stevenson.
Armstrong and Stevenson rowed in the women's quad in Lucerne - they raced in the A final - but with that boat now back to full strength, the two were given the chance to race in Munich in the double.
New Zealand crews to contest tonight's A finals at the World Cup rowing regatta in Munich: men's pair, women's pair, women's single scull, lightweight men's double scull, lightweight women's double scull, men's heavyweight double scull, women's heavyweight double scull, women's quadruple scull.