An oar malfunction has ruined the Olympic ambitions of the New Zealand women's quadruple sculls crew.

Louise Trappitt in the two-seat "caught a crab'' approximately 500m from the finish. The rowing lingo indicates her oar got stuck in the water, bringing the boat's progress to a shuddering halt. The blade split in two, ending the crew's hopes of making the final.

Until that point the crew of Eve Macfarlane, Fiona Bourke, Trappitt and Sarah Gray had been making steady progress. They were last at the 500m mark, fifth at halfway and third at the 1500m with the United States in their sights. They needed to finish in the top four to make the final. The same crew won bronze at last year's world championships.

A tearful Trappitt described her horror.

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"We were having a flyer, just really enjoying it, then suddenly we kicked up some water and my blade hit it. It [the blade] shot out of my hand, snapped in half and I couldn't get it back, it was just stuck there next of the boat. I just had to sit back and enjoy the ride for the final 500m.

"I still don't quite know what happened; I'm in shock and disbelief. Even if I had recovered it would've been useless. I suppose that's sport; like a cyclist getting a puncture."

Trappitt, 26, had the support of 19-year-old Macfarlane in the media zone: "We're a team and we'll be supporting each other through this. We're looking forward to Rio from here."

There was better news for women's double scullers Fiona Paterson and Anna Reymer. They have suffered several illness related setbacks this year but came second to Great Britain in their heat. The result puts them straight into the final.

Paterson and Reymer took bronze at last year's world championships but could manage just two fifths at their 2012 World Cup regattas in Lucerne and Munich.

"It's been a rocky last four months having turns being ill," Paterson said. "We suffered a few bugs and fatigue but finally we're up for it together which is exciting."

Reymer said they were prepared to let the British win the heat.

"They're a bloody fast crew and we didn't want to get sucked in to killing ourselves."

The men's quadruple sculls won their repechage to go through to the semifinals. The men's coxless four finished fourth in their heat. They have a repechage tomorrow.