A following breeze helped to break records in the day's first few races - Canada's lightweight women's quadruple scullers lopped nearly seven seconds off the 2002 record, and Denmark's men's lightweight pair lowered their event's 1997 mark by four seconds.
In the women's quadruple sculls, the gold medal lies between the British and the German crew, who won the other heat. Katrin Boron, Germany's No 3, was a junior champion in 1986, the year that the stroke Stephanie Schiller was born. Brought up in East Germany, Boron has four Olympic golds and eight world titles, but Houghton, the British No 3, is not fazed. "I'm looking forward to taking her out," she said.
The men's eight were in only their third 2,000 metre race since their formation behind Kieran West in the stroke seat. Since the World Cup final in early July, a lot of time has been spent looking for the right combination, and the jury is still out after they finished fourth yesterday, three lengths behind the United States, who won the race narrowly from Italy.
The Americans will be relieved not to have to race again until the final because four of them - Matt Deakin, Dan Beery, Bryan Volpenheim and Beau Hoopman - are also qualified for a Saturday final of the coxless fours, where they will be the biggest threat to Britain.
The men's quadruple sculls booked a place in their final, but were not happy. "There are times when we can take big chunks out of other crews, and that didn't happen today," Steve Rowbotham said. The lightweight men's four and pair both raced well to qualify for semi-finals, while the lightweight women's quadruple scullers must endure the repêchage.
The women's eight finished fourth, and on that evidence have a chance of getting into the final through the repêchage today.