Rowing: Brookes boat beats Dublin as wind takes toll on crews

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The Independent Online

The first morning of racing here was bright and breezy on shore and mundane and blustery on the water, with very few races with verdicts of a length or under and times slowed by a dancing headwind which gave some of the coxless boats trouble with their steering.

The first morning of racing here was bright and breezy on shore and mundane and blustery on the water, with very few races with verdicts of a length or under and times slowed by a dancing headwind which gave some of the coxless boats trouble with their steering.

The first major scalp went to Oxford Brookes University's B crew in the Temple Challenge Cup when they beat a selected crew, Trinity College Dublin, by half a length. Brookes are stroked by Jack Drea, the son of Sean Drea who won the Diamond Sculls three times in the 1970s.

The second selected crew to go out was Potomac Boat Club from Washington in the Britannia, when the coxed four from Garda Siochana (the Irish police) beat them by a length and a quarter in a fast time.

There was some lively stuff in the schools event, the Princess Elizabeth, when the lightweights of Monmouth, averaging 10st 12lb, beat Buckingham Browne and Nichols School of the US, two stone per man heavier, by four lengths. The two selections who look particularly good are Abingdon, who crushed Oundle in a fast time, and the Schiller-Schule from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, who ended the American high school Shrewsbury's first visit to Henley by five lengths.

The senior event, which started yesterday, was the Thames Cup in which a new club called 1829 BC saw off the Finnish crew from Vuoksen Soutajat early in their race by getting to the Barrier in under two minutes, fast for the headwind conditions. 1829 are an amalgamation of the Cambridge old boys, Crabtree, and the Oxford old boys, Bosporos, who share a boathouse in Putney but find it difficult to form separate crews good enough to go to Henley.

The club is named after the year of the first Oxford-Cambridge race which was held at Henley and will be re-enacted on Saturday.

There is some hot stuff around in the Temple, including Glasgow University, whose time against Imperial College matched the Harvard freshmen, who dismissed Sandhurst.

Watch out, too, for the US Naval Academy lightweights who have an unbeaten season behind them and wear their tropical white number ones when not in rowing strip.

Perhaps the most significant thing that happened yesterday occurred during the lunch break when a coxless four emerged from Leander Club to take a turn on the course.

The crew consisted of James Cracknell, Steve Williams, Alex Partridge and Matthew Pinsent in their first outing since the final of the World Cup 10 days before. They had a minor collision with a boom on the way back, but the voyage signifies the return of Williams and Partridge to fitness. Cracknell has been moved back to the two seat after sitting at bow in Lucerne, and this is where he is likely to stay.

London Rowing Club are on course to win the Wyfold for coxless fours when their selected crews in each half of the draw both won in style.

The new event this year, the Men's Student Coxed Fours created when the Stewards divided the Britannia Cup into two, began with fine performances by the selected crews of Isis, Durham, Cambridge, Imperial College and Trinity Dublin.

Today six more events start, including the Goblets for coxless pairs and the men's and women's single sculls. Britain's top pair, Toby Garbett and Rick Dunn, are separated in the draw from South Africa's Ramon Di Clemente and Donovan Cech in the Goblets.

Ian Lawson, the GB Olympic sculler, starts in the Diamonds and Alex Beever, who missed Olympic selection by 0.4sec two weeks ago, is now favourite for the Princess Royal, in which she has a bye to the second round.

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