New Zealand's best female boat crew had double reason to celebrate the opening round of the national series in Paekakariki today.
Defending national champions Mairangi Bay went unbeaten through five races, dominating their three heats, semifinal and final with no other crews coming within three boat lengths by the end of their races.
The opening round of the series also gave the women's crews the chance to qualify for a trans-Tasman row-off against the top Australian crew at an Australian Surf Rowers League carnival in February.
"We'd like to retain the three main titles we won last year - the short course and long-course national titles and the series title - and we want to then go over to the Australian nationals and do better than any other New Zealand women's crew has ever done over there," Mairangi Bay second stroke Nina Reid said. "But first we needed a good start and that's what we got today. We were pretty focused on doing well because of the ASRL spot up for grabs as well."
The crew has had one change from last year, with Erin Tolhurst joining her sister Carmel in the crew, replacing the departed Rochelle Haden. Reid and Sarah Woolley compete the ranks, with Rob Jones sweeping. Reid said that Erin Tolhurst had picked things up really quickly since the crew started training again in September and had improved out of sight, seamlessly helping the crew continue their dominance. In the final, Mairangi Bay easily accounted for Orewa, with Canterbury's North Beach third.
The top Piha men's crew also started the new season as they'd finished the last, beating fierce rivals Titahi Bay into second in the men's final. Lyall Bay were third.
It capped a great day for Piha, with the club's under-23 men and under-21 women also winning their finals.
The under-19 men's final was won by Waihi Beach, while Blenheim's Rarangi took out the under-19 women's race.
Mairangi Bay's top women's boat crew on their way to victory in the opening round of the national series in Pakakariki today. Photo taken by Jamie Nilsson
Open men: Piha (Matt Kirk/Scott Lissington/Chris Morris/Ben Scott/Mark Bourneville) 1, Titahi Bay (Wil McDowell/Jono Boyd/Nick Boyd/Dean Ellis/ Jordon Te Paa/Martyn McDowell/Tim Marsden) 2, Lyall Bay (Brad Lawson/Arie Moore/Edward Cade/Arthur Turchie) 3.
Open women: Mairangi Bay (Nina Reid/Carmel Tolhurst/Erin Tolhurst/Sarah Woolley/Rob Jones) 1, Orewa (Nikki Jones/Amie Thomason/Rebecca Thomason/Samantha Rogers/Stephanie Clarke/Stuart Handford) 2, North Beach (Rebecca Feary/Sara Morris/Courtenay Roberts/David Pipe) 3.
U23 men: Piha Pirates (Nicholas Mackenzie/Shamus O'Halloran/Jed Wright/Shane O'Halloran) 1, Piha Pistols (Cedric Bourneville/Ludovik Bourneville/Benjamin Richards/Mark Bourneville) 2, Sunset Beach (Marc Griffiths/Josha Higgie/Bryce Nicol/Lewis Powell/Samual Dwen/Shane Edwards/Edward Marsh) 3.
U21 women: Piha (Audrey-Lise Bourneville/Claudia Goff/Gracey Monteith) 1, Muriwai (Alison Craigie/Kendall Harrington/Jamilah Hudson/Jessica Parkin/Ricky Butt) 2, Paekakariki (Netta Cagbet/Ursula Gordon/Awhina Karawaba/Amy Spiekerman) 3.
U19 men: Waihi Beach (Dan Harris) 1, Piha (Rhye Jacka/Tom Rasmussen/Charlie Henderson/Hamish Mitchell) 2, Titahi Bay (Isaac Cleland/Jamie Devitt/Shane Ellis/Arwyn Evans/Wil McDowell) 3.
U19 women: Rarangi (Katie Burnett/Lara Campbell/Anna Hawkins/Taylor Rogers/Harriet Ryan/Ellen Taylor-Byren/Tim Lovejoy) 1.