Last year’s World Rowing Championships in Aiguebelette saw New Zealand qualify nine boats for the Rio Olympics and heading the line up are the two reigning Olympic Champion crews – Mahe Drysdale in the men’s single sculls and Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the men’s pair.

Drysdale and Murray will both be competing at their fourth Olympic Games. The two rowers began their Olympic career together when they raced at the Athens 2004 Olympics in the men’s four. Bond is off to his third Olympic Games – all three have been in boats with Murray including a four at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Since the London Olympics, New Zealand has continued to gain strength. In Aiguebelette the nation picked up nine medals – seven of them in Olympic boat classes. Of these 2015 crews, the trials indicated very little change to the line ups. The main divergence came in the women’s pair with two-time world silver medallists, Grace Prendergast and Kerri Gowler missing out to Rebecca Scown and Genevieve Behrent. Scown, 32, finished third in the pair at the London Olympics, while Behrent, 25, will be going to her first Olympics.

Prendergast and Gowler will be part of the women’s eight which stays the same line up as the boat that came second at Aiguebelette. This will be the first time for a New Zealand women’s eight at the Olympic Games and the first time for New Zealand women to double up in two boat classes with Scown and Behrent also in the eight.

Peter Taylor has regained his spot in the lightweight men’s four. Taylor, a bronze medallist from the London Olympics in the lightweight men’s double sculls, lost his spot in the medal-winning lightweight four in 2015. But he regained it following these trials and will be going to his third Olympic Games. This is the first time that New Zealand has qualified a lightweight four to the Olympics.

Two-time World Champions in the lightweight women’s double sculls, Julia Edward and Sophie MacKenzie have remained as the Olympic double despite strong competition for a seat from Zoe McBride who is the reigning World Champion of the lightweight women’s single sculls. This will be Edward’s second Olympics in the double.  The women’s double sculls has remained the same as the duo that became World Champions in 2015 –  Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane. For the men’s double sculls, the 2015 bronze medallists, Robert Manson and Chris Harris remain as the crew.

High Performance Manager Alan Cotter said in Rowing New Zealand’s media release,  “With six months to go we remain confident that we will meet our high performance target to win five medals at the Rio Olympic Games.

The team includes 31 athletes over the 33 seats.

New Zealand has also named five boats to contest the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in Lucerne (SUI) in May. If these five boats qualify for Rio, it will put a New Zealand boat in every Olympic rowing boat class.

New Zealand Olympic Rowing Team

Women’s Double Scull
Zoe Stevenson
Eve Macfarlane

Lightweight Women’s Double Scull
Julia Edward
Sophie Mackenzie

Women’s Coxless Pair
Rebecca Scown
Genevieve Behrent

Women’s Eight
Rebecca Scown
Genevieve Behrent
Kerri Gowler
Grace Prendergast
Kelsey Bevan
Ruby Tew
Emma Dyke
Kayla Pratt
Francie Turner (cox)

Men’s Single Scull
Mahe Drysdale

Men’s Double Scull
Chris Harris
Robbie Manson

Men’s Coxless Pair
Hamish Bond
Eric Murray

Lightweight Men’s Coxless Four
James Hunter
Alistair Bond
Peter Taylor
James Lassche

Men’s Eight
Stephen Jones
Brook Robertson
Alex Kennedy
Joe Wright
Isaac Grainger
Shaun Kirkham
Michael Brake
Tom Murray
Caleb Shepherd (cox)