Redgrave races again

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The Independent Online

Steve Redgrave lost his first Supersprint Rowing event this week, as Italy Masters beat Great Britain Masters in the 300-metre Mulberry Boat Races in Florence on Thursday evening. Redgrave won his heat, the men's single sculls, against the former international Agostino Abbagnale, by a solid half-length. Jonny and Greg Searle then raced the older Abbagnale brothers in the men's coxless pairs heat, a re-run of their famous Olympic final in Barcelona in 1992.

The Searles also won, coming through to take victory by two feet. However, with Italy winning the women's double sculls points, the relay finale would be decisive. Although Redgrave won again to start Britain's relay well, the Italians took the lead in the middle leg and left the Searles with too much to do. The Abbagnales for the first time led the Searles home, taking the points and overall victory for Italy.

Women's Henley Regatta begins today, the sister to Henley Royal Regatta enjoying a more relaxed atmosphere. The entry is large in the club and student events, although international rowers are mostly absent from the open races. There are good entries in the women's quadruple sculls, a new event at the Royal Regatta, and Britain's Olympian Guin Batten makes an appearance in the open single sculls. In the junior eights, usually a fight between Lady Eleanor Holles School and overseas entries, additional British force comes in the shape of Headington, winners at the National Schools Regatta.

Marlow Regatta, also today, is traditionally the final appearance for men's crews before Henley Royal Regatta's qualifying races on Friday. For the first year, it will not be marred by cruiser wash, following its move from the Thames to the new Dorney Lake course at Eton. The popularity of the Royal Regatta's Thames and Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cups for club and schoolboy eights respectively makes for a large entry, and there are also several élite quadruple sculls crews, following the event's addition to the Henley programme. However, with many top crews having raced hard at the Docklands event two weeks ago, not all feel they need to show their faces again. The winners at Marlow will not necessarily be favourites when the Royal Regatta begins.

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