Australian rowers to race world cup

Melissa Woods

The world champion men's and women's four crews will lead the Australian charge this weekend at the World Rowing Cup in Austria in their first hit-out of the year.

With only Alexander Hill remaining from the crew who won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, the Australians including Jack Hargreaves, Spencer Turrin and Joshua Hicks will start among the favourites in the 10-country field in the event.

The women's four, after claiming gold medals last year at two world cups and also the 2017 world title, have welcomed Rosemary Popa to their ranks.

Popa has replaced the injured Katrina Werry alongside Molly Goodman, Sarah Hawe and Lucy Stephan.

A total of 12 Australian crews will race at the 31-country event on the Linz-Ottensheim course.

In a departure from the normal format, the first round of all events will be raced as time trials to allow officials and athletes to test one of the possible contingency scenarios at the 2020 Olympic regatta in Tokyo.

Rowing Australia Performance Director, Bernard Savage said there was a number of rowers making their senior debut.

"This is the first opportunity that the team will have to compete internationally this year and it's a chance for us to benchmark ourselves against other countries and see how we are preparing ahead of the world championships later this year," Savage said.

"Linz will also play host to the world championships in 2019, which will double as the qualification regatta for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games so it's also a valuable opportunity for us to learn as much as we can about the venue and our operations."

Among the other crews competing is the women's eight, coxed by James Rook, who will make history as Australia's first male coxswain of a women's eight.

Australia's men's eight, which includes men's four Olympian Joshua Booth, will be coxed for the first time by a female coxswain, Kendall Brodie.

Maddie Edmunds will make her first appearance in the women's single scull, taking over from retired Olympic champion Kim Brennan.