Crow set for battle of sculling queens13 March 2014
ROWING: Sydney's World Cup rowing regatta has received a major boost with Olympic champion Mirka Knapkova arriving for a showdown with Australia's sculling queen Kim Crow.
Crow beat Czech veteran Knapkova in last year's world titles in South Korea to be the first Australian woman to win the blue-riband event at a major international regatta.
Their rematch - which also includes Kiwi Emma Twigg, who split the pair for silver in South Korea - will be the headline race of this month's World Cup in Penrith.
Like last year's debut World Cup regatta in Australia, the quality of fields is not expected to be as high as World Cups held in Europe during the northern hemisphere summer.
But Knapkova's arrival this week has given the event the lustre it sorely needs.
Crow has only been beaten by the Czech great once, in the final of the London Games, when the Victorian finished with a highly-creditable bronze as a single sculls rookie while also doubling up for silver in the double sculls.
She swept all before her in the single last year, culminating in her emphatic victory at the world championships on September 1.
With their sights set well and truly on the 2016 Rio Olympics, Crow's coach Lyall McCarthy is tipping another stellar year for the 28-year-old who has improved her strength and consistency in the water.
She's been training closely with lightweight men's pair Adam Kachyckji and Ed de Carvahlo, as well as boyfriend and Beijing gold medallist Scott Brennan who is aiming for a 2014 return from a back injury.
McCarthy said Crow would hold an advantage in preparation on 33-year-old Knapkova, who is coming out of the northern winter, but was excited about the March 30 final showdown.
"You never discount someone with her experience," he told AAP.
"Just knowing that all the medallists from last year's world titles is enough (for motivation.
"It will be a great race."
Australia's priority men's boat - the coxless four - also face an intriguing encounter with the Dutch quartet which upset them at the world titles.
The Netherlands team has been training in Australia for six weeks while the German squad arrived on Tuesday.