JOHANNESBURG - Racing in their first major regatta, the South African duo of Kirsten McCann and Nicole van Wyk showed their potential by winning silver at the first leg of the Rowing World Cup in Belgrade over the weekend.
McCann and Van Wyk surged over the home stretch to finish second behind the Dutch crew in the women’s lightweight singles sculls race.
World single sculls champion McCann combined well with her new and less experienced partner in only their second major regatta.
“It is Nicole’s first senior race and I think it’s a pretty good start to her senior rowing career,” McCann told the world rowing website.
“We went out there to race our race and to just do what we do best.”
The Dutch boat, consisting of the power duo of Olympic double sculls champion Ilse Paulis and world single sculls silver medallist Marieke Keijser, was the pre-race favourite.
They took the early lead after 200 metres before the British crew moved ahead of them going through 500 metres.
Going through the halfway point Keijser and Paulis held a slim lead with the South African crew following in fourth place.
McCann and Van Wyk made their move over the final 500m of the race to beat the British crew of Elanor Piggott and Emily Craig by 0.32 to take second place.
The Netherlands crew missed the world best time by two seconds, finishing in a time of 6:49.270 with the South Africans clocking 6:51.300.
“I think we got a bit of a sniff of the other crews and just got going,” McCann said.
“We’ve been in and out of the double a lot, but we are having lots of fun and trusting in the process.”
Meanwhile, Charles Brittain and James Mitchell were the only other South African boat to feature in an A-final race.
The duo finished sixth in the men’s pair final more than 10 seconds behind the winning Croatian crew of Martin and Valent Sincovic.
Leo Davis and Luc Daffarn finished fourth in the men’s pair C-final.
The men’s four boat of John Smith, David Hunt, Kyle Schoonbee and Sandro Torrente claimed third place in the B-final.