Good tidings from Tideway

The Tideway Head of the River Race on Saturday was won by half of Britain's Olympic Men's squad beating the other by less than one length in 17 minutes.

The Tideway Head of the River Race on Saturday was won by half of Britain's Olympic Men's squad beating the other by less than one length in 17 minutes.

Three of last year's World silver medallists in the eight had dropped out to train for the squad ergometer tests next week so that the crews - Queen's Tower beat Leander Club - had substitutes near the bows. But the message is that Britain has at least 16 athletes in a tight group of the highest standard.

Queen's Tower, winners last year, should have crossed the line 10 seconds ahead but the cox, Christian Cormack, misheard the starter's instructions and called the crew to "hold hard" just before the line. When they had recovered and got back to racing speed Leander had closed to two lengths and were chasing hard. The disadvantage to Queen's Tower was probably matched by the course the Leander cox, Susie Ellis, was obliged to take to avoid the leader's wash.

The boats met a strong head wind and rough water at the Band Stand, about five minutes after the start. This should have worked to the benefit of Leander, the crew with the higher aggregate strength. But it was Queen's Tower, with the more accurate bladework, which built up the lead.

Martin McElroy, coach to Queen's Tower and the national eight, said, "We want to learn how to pick up the work with greater precision and to suspend the bodyweight before applying the legs and back. The crew gained confidence and got a better rhythm as they felt themselves pull away in the rough and, although they were chased all the way home, they had done just about enough."

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