Prendergast, Williams make winning start for NZ at world rowing championships

Kerri Williams and Grace Prendergast made a winning start to their title defense in the women's pair at the world rowing champs.  (FILE PHOTO)

Julian Finney / Getty Images

Kerri Williams and Grace Prendergast made a winning start to their title defense in the women’s pair at the world rowing champs. (FILE PHOTO)

Olympic champions Grace Prendergast and Kerri Williams have eased into the semifinals of the women’s pair at the world rowing champs.

The New Zealand duo, who won gold in Tokyo last year, triumphed in their heat in Racice, Czech Republic, on Monday night (NZ time).

Prendergast and Williams (nee Gower) were more than 11 seconds clear of second-placed Ireland in cold and wet conditions in a time of 7: 06.30, while the other heat winners were The Netherlands and Romania

The duo were also part of the NZ women’s eight which won silver in Tokyo, but they won’t be doubling up boats at the world champs, with no NZ eight entered this year.

Prendergast and Williams are the defending world champs in the pair, winning gold in 2017 and 2019 (the latter the last time the world champs were held due to the Covid-19 pandemic) and were runners-up in the class in 2018.

There was little to cheer about from the rest of the New Zealand crews on day two of the regatta however.

The lightweight women’s double sculls combination of Jackie Kiddle and Rachael Kennedy were third in heat 1, almost 14s behind a very quick Great Britain crew, and now face a repechage.

STUFF

The crew of the gold medal-winning 1972 Olympic men’s rowing eight recently gathered in Wellington to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their legendary race.

The NZ women’s four of Phoebe Spoors, Beth Ross, Davina Waddy and Catherine Layburn were fourth and last in their heat, needing a top three finish to make the semis automatically. It was the same result for the women’s quad crew of Kate Haines, Hannah Osborne, Kirstyn Goodger and Stella Clayton-Greene, with both boats now requiring repechages to advance further.

The NZ men’s quad of Jack O’Leary, Stephen Jones, Jamie Hindle-Daniels and Phillip Wilson were fifth in their heat and also head to the repechages, while the lightweight men’s double sculls combination of Matthew Dunham and Chris Stockley won their repechage to gain a place in the quarterfinals.