Queen's win by a squeeze

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The Independent Online

The British eight, rowing as Queen's Tower, squeezed the challenge from their Olympic squad rivals, Leander Club, to win the Tideway Head of the River Race by less than two seconds yesterday in 17 minutes and 16 seconds.

There was confusion at the start when Christian Cormack, the cox, misheard the starter and told the crew to "hold up hard" just as they reached the line. When they recovered, Leander had closed to within two lengths and set up an immediate chase. The lead was built up in the rough water after the Bandstand, about five minutes into the race, when the greater power of the Leander crew might have been decisive.

McElroy said: "I was pleased that the crew found a good rhythm in the head wind and that was where we beat them. On the run-in from Hammersmith they chased us hard and closed some of the gap we had gained."

In the final minutes Leander were rating 37 strokes to the minute while Queen's Tower were rating 35. Both crews had lost important members in the past week. Steve Trapmore, the Queen's Tower selected stroke, dropped out to concentrate on qualifying for the Olympic team and was replaced by Dave Gillard, a clever but, by these standards, unfit oarsman. Meanwhile, Leander had lost Fred Scarlett from the 1999 silver medal eight for the same reason.

Oxford Brookes University finished third, but was ineligible for University honours after using the veteran lightweight sculler, Peter Haining, at stroke. Nottinghamshire County finished 13 seconds behind in fourth. Radley College was the top school, finishing 27th.