Robbie Manson has emphatically drawn first blood in his battle with Mahe Drysdale for the New Zealand single sculls rowing berth next year.
Manson, coming off a disappointing campaign at the world championships in October, won a power-packed final at the Christmas Regatta on Lake Karapiro on Sunday.
The 28-year-old did enough to hold out second-placed John Storey and Chris Harris, who are the double sculls world champions.
Manson, who set a world's best time this year, won in a sharp time of 6 minutes 38.24 seconds, belying his two months away from racing and the injury problems that had previously plagued him.
Double Olympic champion Drysdale was sixth in the eight-man final, more than 14 seconds behind Manson.
Drysdale, 39, took more than a year's break following his gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics and is bidding to be New Zealand's singles representative again at Tokyo in 2020.