Rowing: Britons excel in tough conditions

The Guadalquivir canal is usually flat, calm and basking under a sunny sky in temperatures in the mid-thirties. Yesterday storm clouds and a howling tail wind whipped it to a white horse fury as the slender racing shells fought out their repêchages. British crews are used to this kind of weather, and three of the four involved succeeded in qualifying for the next round. The casualties were Beverley Gough and Ros Carslake, a late selection in the pairs, who were never in contention for the three positions necessary to launch them into a semi-final.

Frances Houghton and Debbie Flood won the double sculls, qualifying for the final on Saturday. In repêchages nobody hangs around at the start, and the Lithuanians and the French were the first two to 500 metres, but by halfway Houghton and Flood were comfortably in second place and went to the front just after the 1500 metre mark. In last Sunday's heat they had set out to race the outstanding New Zealand twins Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell, the silver medallists last year, in a two-boat race for one qualifying place. Yesterday there were two qualifying places and the aim was different – to focus on their strengths of length of stroke, rhythm and power to dominate a multi-lane race. "It was a lot better than the earlier race," Flood said. The coach, Mark Banks, confirmed tactics and their execution. "They also have strength from the neck up, and their temperament is first class," he said.

This crew is at home in whatever conditions Seville throws up. They have trained here a lot because Houghton spent the last academic year in Seville as part of her Hispanic studies course at London University, while the weather they encountered yesterday reminded them of Dorney Lake, the venue for the 2006 World Championships. Matt Wells and Ian Lawson qualified for tomorrow's double sculls semi-final in a thrilling scramble for three places among four boats.

The lightweight sculler Kirsten McClelland-Brooks also qualified for a semi-final when she finished second.

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