The competition has caught back up as expat Whanganui rower Chris Harris and men's double sculls partner John Storey are coming home with a medal of a different colour from the World Championships in Bulgaria.

Harris, on stroke and Storey, bow, claimed the bronze in the final at Plovdiv, showing good determination after sitting fifth at the 500m mark and eventually overtaking the tiring Great Britain crew of Angus Groom and Jack Beaumont, who had defeated them in the semifinals.

The Kiwis, who were the defending world champions in this divison, also improved on their semifinal finishing time of 6m 8s, coming in at 6m 6.71s.

However, it was not enough to catch the flying Frenchmen, as Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias also improved on their winning time from the other semifinal and led the race from start to finish, crossing the line in 6m 5.16s.

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Switzerland's Barnabe Delarze and Roman Roeoesli saw off the Great Britain boat and then held back the late charge of Harris and Storey to get the silver in 6m 6.49s.

The championships could be a wake up call for the entire Kiwi rowing contingent, especially halfway through the four year Olympic cycle to reach Toyko 2020.

At the 2017 World Championships in Florida, Harris and Storey claimed their first world title, as did fellow expat Whanganui rower Kerri Gowler and her women's pairs partner Grace Prendergast.

However, the 2018 return of three medals, none gold, is well down on the seven in Florida, three gold, and saw New Zealand fall from second in the medal tally to 18th.

It also makes the most recent World Cup regatta at Lucerne in July – five golds and a silver – seem distant.

However, the experianced Harris felt there is no need to panic.

"I think we're on the right track," he said.

"The Olympics is the goal. The year after the Olympics [2017] is not so competitive.

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"I think the level this year is pretty close, so hopefully we can learn from that leading into the qualifications next year, and the following year in Tokyo."

Likewise, Gowler and Prendergast at least stayed on the medal podium from Florida, as did the women's double sculls team of Olivia Loe and Brooke Donoghue, who took bronze following their 2017 gold.

The best Kiwi performers with their silver medal, Gowler and Prendergast will just go back to the drawing board to figure out how to get the edge on the young Canadians Caileigh Filmer and Hillary Janssess – who were outstanding in both the semifinal and final in Plovdiv, approaching the world-best time.

Gowler's sister Jackie Gowler was in the Women's Eight who raced the B final against Chinese crew overnight as smashed them by 17 seconds, winning in 6m 1.89s.

Ironicially, that time was faster than five of the six crews who contested the main final - the gold won by the United States with Canada and Australia taking out the minor placings – but the Kiwis had narrowly missed their chance to qualify through the heat and repechage races.

New Zealand were always likely to have a lower medal tally after the dissolution of the unbeatable men's pairing of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond, while fellow double Olympic gold medallist Mahe Drysdale has stepped back from single sculling to the men's eight.

Other nations are coming on strong – the United States won 10 medals for their best tally in 16 years.

Italy's three golds had them on top of the table, while the surprise package was Ireland, whose two gold medals were their first ever in Olympic boat classes.