New Zealands big guns fired on all cylinders today when the Olympic rowing competition got under way.
World champions Mahe Drysdale in the single sculls and Eric Murray and Hamish Bond in the mens pair were outstanding in spearheading a generally successful first session for New Zealand.
Murray and Bond, unbeaten for three years, were in a class of their own in their mens pair heat. The blond New Zealanders looked supremely confident as they pulled away from the field remorselessly, eventually winning in 6min 08.50s, with a vast gap to second-placed France in 6min 17.22s.
Murray and Bond now move into the semi-finals.
Drysdale, a bronze medallist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, dominated his heat, finishing
a whopping 11 seconds ahead of second-placed Olaf Tufte of Norway. The tall New Zealander now progresses to the quarter-finals.
In the womens quadruple sculls, New Zealanders Sarah Gray, Louise Trappitt, Fi Bourke and Eve Macfarlane finished third in their heat and will now contest the repechage.
The New Zealand quartet needed to win to progress directly to the final, but the race was dominated by the strong Ukrainian crew, who won in 6min 14.82s. Australia were second in 6min 17.52s and the New Zealanders recorded 6min 20.22s to shade Great Britain for third.
Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan were impressive winners of their mens double sculls heat. With the first three place-getters progressing to the semi-finals, the New Zealanders were never under undue pressure.
They picked up their pace over the final 250 metres and took the lead from Great Britain, eventually winning in 6min 11.30s. The British were second in 6min 11.94s, with Argentina third.
New Zealands mens quadruple sculls team of John Storey, Michael Arms, Matthew Trott and Robert Manson trailed off near the end of their heat, finishing fourth and last in a time of 5min 41.62s, 0.06s behind the third-placed Australians.
The race was won by Croatia with Poland second. With only the first three gaining direct entry into the semi-finals, the New Zealanders will now have to row in the repechage.
Womens single sculler Emma Twigg was the final New Zealander on the water today and she comfortably progressed to the quarter-finals after winning her heat by more than a length in a time of 7min 40.24s.