Robbie Manson is set to scull for New Zealand at world championships – and based on tonight's performance, he's set to win gold.
Manson destroyed the field with a superb display in the World Cup single sculls final in Lucerne, storming home in the last 1000 metres to win by four seconds, and emphatically book his spot for September's world championships in Bulgaria.
The victory was the conclusion to a battle between Manson and Mahe Drysdale, with the duo fighting for New Zealand's sole single sculls seat available for the world championships.
While the win doesn't give Manson an automatic place in the team, he would have left no doubt in the selectors' minds after continuing the dominant form which saw him also take victory at the World Cup meet in Austria last month.
To unseat Manson, the 39-year-old Drysdale would have required something special, and while his fourth place finish is nothing to sneeze at, he crossed the line seven seconds behind Manson – a continuation of a season which has seen the returning Olympic champion significantly off the pace of the flying 28-year-old.
Everybody is at the moment, after Manson put together a well-timed race. He started off slowly as defending world champion Ondrej Synek burst out of the gates, holding a two second lead through the first 1000 metres. Manson, who was fourth through 500 metres, slowly picked his way through the field, being the fastest man in every sector from then on, and storming past the fading Synek, who nearly lost his oar.
Drysdale too was on the move after sitting in last, but while his surge could only deliver fourth, Manson stepped up his stroke rate, powering to a commanding victory.
"That was really hard out there," Manson told World Rowing.
"Ondrej took off and I just stepped it up progressively throughout the race but was able to ease off towards the end. This is one of my favourite places to row so it's great to have won here."
Manson's victory was the highlight of a golden finals day for New Zealand, with four other Kiwi crews also standing atop the dais, while another snagged silver; an improvement on New Zealand's Austrian haul of three golds and one silver.
The women's pair of Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler continued their dominant run, though they were given a tough test by their Canadian rivals.
The Kiwi duo led throughout, and eventually just held off the fast-finishing Canadians by a mere 0.4 of a second.
While they were expected to win gold, a surprise came with the Kiwi men's pair of Thomas Murray and Michael Brake.
Having sat out the World Cup regatta last month due to injury, the pair shone in Lucerne, overcoming a nervy final 500 metres to claim gold.
Murray and Brake put the power down in the third sector, pulling out to a three second lead with 500 metres remaining, but they had to cling on due to poor steering.
At one point it looked as though they had collected a buoy with an oar, and by the final metres the boat's left oar was encroaching well into the lane of the Czech Republic pair outside them.
Despite the issues, the pair held on to win by 0.65 seconds over France, with the Czech Republic claiming third.
"That was a little bit dramatic, I need to improve on my steering a little," laughed Murray.
"From now we will try and work on our speed but I'm glad that today we could have a good race."
The women's eight also claimed gold, going one better than their second place finish in Austria. The crew lead their race throughout, and recorded a comfortable victory by two seconds.
New Zealand's last gold of the regatta was also comfortable, as Brooke Donoghue and Olivia Loe cruised away from their rivals to win by 2.6 seconds and make it two World Cup golds on the trot.
The other medal of the regatta went to the lightweight women's double sculls pairing of Zoe McBride and Jackie Kiddle, who claimed silver, two seconds behind the quality Polish duo of Joanna Dorociak and Weronika Deresz.
Elsewhere, the men's double sculls pairing of John Storey and Chris Harris missed out on a medal by 0.67 of a second after fading in the final 500 metres, the men's eight finished fifth, while the lightweight men's double sculls - Ben Van Dalen and Matthew Dunham – ended last in their final.