London, England – New Zealand rowers Eric Murray and Hamish Bond posted a world record time Saturday in men's pair.
Murray and Bond haven't lost at a world cup or world championships since becoming a team in 2009 and won the first heat with a time of 6 minutes, 8.50 seconds. That was nearly six seconds better than the previous world mark, held by the Great Britain duo of Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell that was set at the 2002 World Championships in Spain.
"There's one thing saying you're really well prepared and there's another to go and show you're prepared, but this has given us a real confidence boost," noted Murray.
France and Poland finished behind New Zealand in the first heat to advance to the semifinals, while Canada's David Calder and Scott Frandsen won the second heat. Those two figure to be Murray and Bond's biggest obstacle for London gold.
The final race was won by Great Britain's George Nash and William Satch, while the United States finished fourth in the second heat to move to the repechage.
The U.S. did see some advancement on the day, including qualifying boats in the women's pair and the men's eight, which saw Germany continue its domination of the event.
The German eight figure to be the team to beat in this event, having won each world cup race they have entered over the last three years. They had the best time of any group, finishing the second heat in 5:25.52.
The American's time of 5:30.72 was enough to edge past Australia in Heat 1, while Canada finished last in the latter heat. Only the winners of each heat moved on.
The United States was one of four teams to advance to the finals in the women's pair, along with medal favorites Great Britain and New Zealand.
The U.S. team of Sara Hendershot and Sarah Zelenka finished two seconds behind the host duo of Helen Glover and Heather Stanning in the first heat, while New Zealand came across just over five seconds behind New Zealand, which also advanced, in the second race.
Glover and Stanning set a new Olympic record with a time of 6:57.29, besting the previous mark of 7:01.39 that was set by the Australian duo of Megan Leanne Still and Kate Elizabeth Slatter at the 1996 Atlanta Games.
Romania's Georgeta Andrunache and Viorica Susanu finished third in the first heat, moving the 2004 and 2008 gold medal-winning duo into the repechage, which is set for Monday.
In the tightest race of the day, Germany edged out two boats to win its respective heat in the men's double sculls, while defending gold medal champion Australia failed to advance.
In the event's first heat, Germany grabbed first place by just 0.04 seconds over Lithuania and Slovenia, who finished in a dead heat. All three countries advanced to the semifinals.
"Wow, that's close," said German rower Eric Knittel. "I mean, I'm not surprised, there's always just one second between a lot of crews."
Australia's duo of David Crawshay and Scott Brennan, which took home gold in Beijing, finished behind Lithuania and Slovenia and must now turn its attention to the repechage.
Also advancing were favorites New Zealand, which saw its team of Nathan Cohen and Joseph Sullivan set a new Olympic mark of 6:11.30, just edging out the previous record of 6:11.49 set by Italy in 2004.
Belgium's Tim Maeyens established himself as an early favorite in the men's single sculls, setting an Olympic record of 6:42.52 to advance to the quarterfinals.
Maeyens, who finished fourth at the Beijing Olympics in this event, topped Xeno Muller's time of 6:44.85. The Swiss set that mark during the 1996 Games in Atlanta.
All three medal winners from Beijing also advanced: Norway's Olaf Tufte (gold), Czech Ondrej Synek (silver) and New Zealand's Mahe Drysdale (bronze).
American Kenneth Jurkowski was also one of the 18 rowers to advance as was Great Britain's Alan Campbell.
Veteran rower Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus kicked off her quest for a sixth Olympic medal with a heat victory in the women's single sculls on Saturday.
Fighting off a rib injury, the 40-year-old Karsten finished her heat with a time of 7:30.31. She is looking to add to her total that already includes two gold medals in addition to a silver.
Many of Karsten's top competitors also advanced to the 20-woman quarterfinal. They included New Zealand's Emma Twigg, Czech Miroslava Knapkova and China's Zhang Xiuyun.
American Genevra Stone also moved on, as did Australia's Kim Crow.
It went as expected in the women's quadruple sculls, with favorites Germany and Ukraine winning their respective heats to advance to the final.
Those two countries are expected to battle for the gold after the Ukraine won all three world cups, while the Germans recorded the world's best time at Lucerne in the heats.
The U.S. finished just behind Germany in the first heat.
Great Britain captured a silver medal in this event at the 2008 Games, but finished a disappointing fourth in the second heat.
Croatia and Germany could be on another collision course in men's quadruple sculls after winning their respective heats on Saturday.
Croatia is heavily favored after winning all three world cups this year, but the Germans came in second in all three races and were never more than three seconds behind. Croatia advanced to the semifinals with a time of 5:39.08 in Heat 2, while Germany claimed the third heat by crossing the line at 5:39.69.
Denmark was one of nine teams to advance in the men's four lightweight, no surprise given its history in the young event.
Winners of three of the four gold medals since the event's inception in 1996, Denmark finished third in the first heat, behind winners Switzerland and second-place South Africa to advance to the semifinals.
Advancing out of the second heat were Great Britain, Australia and Germany, while France, Netherlands and China round out the semis from the third heat.
The U.S. finished last of the five boats in the event's first heat.