Rowing: Coxless four coast into semi-finals on tough day for Britain

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The Independent Online

Britain's coxless four of Steve Williams, Peter Reed, Alex Partridge and Andy Hodge enjoyed an easy victory yesterday to qualify for today's semi-finals of the second round of the World Cup.

Britain's coxless four of Steve Williams, Peter Reed, Alex Partridge and Andy Hodge enjoyed an easy victory yesterday to qualify for today's semi-finals of the second round of the World Cup.

The times of the three heat winners were all a fraction over six minutes, the difference being that the British were coasting while the New Zealanders and the Irish had a struggle going on behind them for the other qualifying places in their heats. The Kiwis beat two German crews and the Irish held off Italy, Poland and France.

The lightweight double scullers, Mark Hunter and James Lindsay-Fynn, were the only other British crew to qualify for a semi-final without going through the repêchage round.

Debbie Flood had a near miss in the women's single sculls. She was in second place until the last 70 metres, when her German rival Peggy Waleska went through to take the second qualifying place behind the Olympic silver medallist, Ekaterina Karsten of Belarus. Flood won her repêchage, but her time does not bode well for today's semi-final.

It was a similar story for Josh and Kieran West in the pairs, when they offered a strong challenge to the German pair, Gregor Hauffe and Toni Siefert, leading them during the last quarter but fading before the line. The Olympic silver medallists, Niksa and Sinisa Skelin of Croatia, were the heat winners, while the Wests went on to win their repêchage.

The quadruple scullers have changed their line-up since rowing in the Eton round of the World Cup three weeks ago. Matt Wells has replaced Alex Gregory, who is now in the double scull.

Wells, Stephen Rowbotham, Alan Campbell and Matt Langridge finished fifth in a tough heat, the winners being the Czech Republic, who had three Olympic silver medallists on board. The British did manage to beat Ukraine, whose crew boasted three Olympic bronze medallists, in a tight race.

Altogether, nine British crews have reached the semi-final stages here, including four in non-World Cup events.

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