British crews ready for regatta battle

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The Independent Online

With the record-breaking glory of Henley behind them, Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent now turn their attention to the serious business of six-lane international racing on the Rotsee in Switzerland this weekend. They lead a 20-crew British team contesting 18 events.

The regatta in Lucerne is the major rowing event of the year ahead of next month's World Championships in Finland. The standard is so high and the entry so large that in many cases it will be harder to make Sunday's finals than it will be at the World Championships.

For Redgrave and Pinsent, the world and Olympic champions, it is an opportunity once again to remind the rest of the world that in coxless pairs they are supreme.

The British eight which ran the American world champions to a third of a length at Henley last Sunday will be intent on demonstrating their new- found speed against a much larger field. They have acquired a new sense of purpose since Sean Bowden, their coach, returned to England to take control two months ago. Bowden is no stranger to this level of competition, having masterminded both Cambridge's Boat Race resurgence and Britain's lightweight eight victory at last year's World Championships.

Greg and Jonny Searle, Rupert Obholzer and Tim Foster, who won a coxless four bronze last year, must show their pace against a fine field this weekend to impress the selectors and erase the memory of their defeat at Henley last week.

The women's eight, stroked by Miriam Batten, had a series of good wins this season and are out to secure a qualifying place for next year's Olympics. A medal here, from an entry of 10 high-class crews, will be just what their new coach, Bill Mason, needs.

The lightweight men have a battalion of world medallists rowing in new combinations, and are under a lot of pressure. Both Peter Haining, twice world singles champion who is in a double with Carl Smith, and the reconstituted four stroked by Toby Hessian, are seeking to qualify for the two new Olympic events, while the eight is planning the defence of the world title they won last year.