Rowing New Zealand had double reason for celebration at the success of the women's crews on the opening day of finals at the world championships in Switzerland.

The coxless four of Jackie Abraham, Kate Robinson, Rochelle Saunders and Nicki Coles finished second to Australia while Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell also picked up a silver medal in the double sculls.

New Zealand women's coach Richard Tonks said both races were close.

"It was a hard slog for both crews," he said. "There was quite a big Kiwi contingent of supporters here which always helps the girls along."

Both crews won their heats last weekend, which automatically qualified them for yesterday's finals (NZT).

"We had five days without racing but the girls handled it well. They had done all the hard work and were quite relaxed which resulted in their racing well," he said. "It was a good day for women's rowing and it is good for the future of the girls."

In the coxless four, New Zealand were third after the first 500m but by the 1000m mark had moved into second behind Australia. They chased Australia hard in the last half of the 2000m race but were unable to overtake them, finishing second in 6m 28.58s.

Australia won in 6m 27.23s, with the Netherlands third 3.58s further back.

Robinson said they knew Australia were not too good in the last 500.

"Jackie had a bit of a yell at us to just wind it up. We did that pretty well, but we were still a second too slow.

"You can look back and say well it would have been nice [to win gold], but quite frankly I'm pretty happy."

In the double sculls, the Evers-Swindell twins made Olympic champions Kathrin Boron and Kerstin Kowalski of Germany work hard for the gold.

The Germans started slowly and were fourth at the 500m mark behind Lithuania, Belarus and New Zealand.

But experience paid off and by the 1000m they had a lead over New Zealand. In the last few metres, the tiring German crew held off New Zealand to win by three-quarters of a length.

Belarus was a further half a length behind in third.

The New Zealand men's coxless four finished second in the B final behind Egypt. The Evers-Swindells combine with Sonia Waddell and Paula Twining for the quadruple sculls final early today.