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Rower's return: Ex-Olympic gold medallist Joseph Sullivan at the South Island Masters PICTURES: STEVE MCARTHUR/ROWING CELEBRATION

New Zealand’s four Olympic gold medal-winning double scullers all competed at the two-day South Island Masters rowing regatta in Queenstown last weekend.

They were twins Caroline Meyer and Georgina Earl (both nee Evers-Swindell), who triumphed at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, and Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan, who came from the back of the field to win gold in 2012.

Golden row: From left, Georgina Earl, Kate Fitzgerald, Caroline Meyer nd Fiona Paterson PICTURES: STEVE MCARTHUR/ROWING CELEBRATION

The ‘pride of Picton’, Sullivan, 32, was a grinder on Team NZ’s successful America’s Cup yachting campaign in 2017, and resumed full-time training this week for the next one in 2021.

He hadn’t rowed since being dropped from the NZ team in 2014, but says “it’s actually been quite surprising how easy it was to get back into it”.

“I was saying I’ve probably rowed more than I’ve ever walked in my life, so it’s almost more of a natural feeling.”

However he did admit he found it a bit harder on his lungs.

Hosted by the Wakatipu Rowing Club (WRC), the Masters attracted 304 competitors aged 27 to 84.

Twelve North Island clubs brought crews, while WRC, with 24 rowers, had the second-largest contingent.

On the first day, Saturday, eights and quads raced on Frankton Arm – the first time Lake Wakatipu had hosted a regatta for about 30 years – while other crews raced on Lake Hayes.

WRC secretary Andrew Jolly, who successfully bid for the event at last year’s Masters, in Picton, was delighted with the turnout which was 120-plus up on last year.

– PHILIP CHANDLER