With the North Island rowing championships held last weekend, teams finally have an idea who to watch out for in the Maadi Regatta at Lake Karapiro March 18-24.
Hamilton Boys' High School won nine golds at the North Island champs, while Waikato Diocesan School and Epsom Girls' Grammar both scooped up five. Whakatane High School and Westlake Girls' High both raked in four golds.
In the South Island, top schools to keep an eye on are St Margaret's College, Kavanagh College, Rangi Ruru Girls' School, Southland College, Craighead, Marlborough Boys College and St Bedes.
Star of the South Island meet at Twizel is St Margaret's College who won Best School and 11 medals - nine of them gold - and five under-18 titles.
Trudy Keys, in charge of rowing at St Margaret's, says their impressive haul of medals has given the girls a boost, but they are under no illusions. "We've told all the girls that we've still got the North Island to add into the mix," she says.
"We just want to go out and make our boats go as fast as possible. Our hope is to pick up some medals; what colour they'll be we'll just have to find out when the racing starts."
Keys believes Kavanagh College to be strong competition in the sculling. "They blitzed everyone."
Meanwhile, one of their competitor schools, Rangi Ruru Girls' School, pulled in four gold medals.
Rowing coach Mark Cotham notes: "It's common knowledge there's a pretty big rivalry between St Margaret's and Rangi in any sport, really, not just rowing."
With Rangi Ruru taking home a total of two bronze medals from last year's South Island championships, Cotham is hoping this year will be better for the school. "The main focus for Rangi this year is not so much emphasis on winning everything", he says. "I think the main goal is to re-instil the winning culture into the squad. Medals are just sort of a bonus."
Another school to keep an eye on, Kavanagh College, took home six gold medals. "We made seven podium finishes", says rowing coach John Parnell.
"It told us that we were at the right place at the right time."
According to him, the rowers are feeling confident, and "can't wait" for the Maadi Regatta.
Kavanagh's not-so-secret weapon is Zoe McBride, who won three gold medals at Lake Karapiro last year.
They're not blind to the competition, however. "We don't get complacent, we don't take things for granted, and we never know what we might strike in the North Island. I think Southland College and Craighead would be our main opposition down here."
Kavanagh's goal is to win Best Performance at the Regatta, rather than focus on medals.