Zoe Stevenson and Eve Macfarlane have shaken off the turmoil of the past month to convincingly win the women's double sculls at the Cambridge Town Cup regatta on Lake Karapiro.
The world champions were caught in the middle of a stoush between Rowing New Zealand and their coach Dick Tonks following his shock resignation last month.
Tonks, who fell out with management over him coaching two Chinese athletes, was eventually appointed to a role outside the national squad in which he would continue to coach the duo, along with Olympic men's single champion Mahe Drysdale.
Stevenson and Macfarlane responded with a dominant performance in their return to the water, winning on Sunday by more than three seconds.
"Being back with him (Tonks) these last two weeks has been really good. It has just reinforced that we really do want him as a coach," Stevenson said.
"He's been great and we have just kept on improving so it works really well for us and we enjoy it."
The 24-year-old from Hawke's Bay did admit that the episode had taken its toll on her and Macfarlane emotionally.
"I'm sure it probably affected us more than we probably realised in terms of the stress but we really just tried to keep out of it for the most part and keep on training."
Despite the setback, she feels they are both on track for the Rio Olympics but are just taking it one step at a time.
Their combination is still less than a year old so there is still ample room for improvement, she said.
"Gold is the big thing but we are looking at the smaller picture still in terms of improving our racing."