By Mike Rowbottom

Australia's Kim Crow, who won her opening single sculls heat by almost 14sec as she set out in defence of her title at the FISA World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam ©Getty ImagesAustralia's defending champion in the women's single sculls, Kim Crow - beaten twice in this season's World Cup by New Zealander Emma Twigg -  put down a heavy marker in today's opening heats at the FISA World Championships in Amsterdam.

She finished almost 14 seconds clear in the final heat as she clocked the fastest time of the day, 7min 24.42sec.

Twigg, who has won all three World Cup races this season but who will gamble on Olympic inclusion next year as she prioritises a year of study, won her opening heat in 7:32.77 on a day when gusty winds built up throughout the afternoon, causing rough water on Bosbaan Lake.

She took opened a huge lead in her heat, but dropped her stroke rate to conserve energy.

Mirka Knapkova, the Czech Republic's Olympic champion, won the second heat, pushed to the line by Britain's Victoria Thornley.

Weather forecasts of cross-tailwind conditions had caused the organisers to consider running the opening day of competition as time trials, with crews using just two lanes to race, but on the day the weather was deemed suitable for conventional six-lane racing.

Britain's flagship men's four produced the fastest qualifying time of the day with 5:45.79 to qualify automatically with other heat winners Greece and the Netherlands.

Respective runners-up Australia, Canada and the United States also progress to the semi-finals on Thursday (August 28).

As expected, New Zealand's Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale won his opening race in the single sculls, as did his great Czech rival Ondrey Synek, and Azerbaijan's rising talent Aleksandar Aleksandrov, who was second fastest heats winner in 6:46.52, with Lithuania's Mindaugas Griskonis - who led at the last World Cup in Lucerne before clipping a buoy and capsizing - victorious in 6:43.72.

Azerbaijan's Aleksandar Aleksandrov, produced the fastest time in the single sculls opening heats at the 2014 FISA World Rowing Championships ©Getty ImagesAzerbaijan's Aleksandar Aleksandrov, produced the fastest time in the single sculls opening heats at the 2014 FISA World Rowing Championships ©Getty Images

Also as expected, the all-conquering New Zealand men's pair of Eric Murray and Hamish Bond moved through without undue fuss on a day when the British pairing of James Foad and Matt Langridge produced the fastest time, 6:20.

In the women's pair heats, Kerry Simmonds and Megan Kalmoe of the United States produced the fastest time of the day, 7:02.75, in finishing four seconds clear of Romania.

Other heat winners moving through to Thursday's semi-finals were the British Olympic champions Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, who clocked 7:04.64, and South Africa's pairing of Naydene Smith and Lee-Ann Persse, who recorded 7:02.21.

The US women's quadruple four also progressed to the semis as victors after a fierce battle with Canada, clocking 6:12.95.

Britain's Kat Copeland, the London 2012 champion, and Imogen Walsh were chased but not caught by Poland in their lightweight women's double scull heat to put down a strong marker for the semi-finals.

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