Rowing: Langridge powers Leander to victory

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The Independent Online

British rowers raced off in the massive 550-crew Head of the River Fours on Saturday. After 2000's flooded cancellation, this year saw a low stream and near-perfect flat-water conditions.

Leander's top scullers Simon Cottle, Ian Lawson and Pete Gardner were joined by the junior world champion, Matt Langridge, on loan from Oxford Brookes University. The quartet duly won the race and open quad title, finishing 22 seconds clear of the second-placed Goldie's top crew. The Cambridge University students had incurred a time penalty, but still took the Senior 2 quad pennant, and won the open coxless fours with their second crew.

Cambridge's rivals, Isis, had mixed results. Despite winning three pennants, three further entries, including their top two crews, were disqualified after racing, for illegal crew changes, making direct Oxford-Cambridge comparisons impossible.

The biggest guns rowed as Number Five, Leander's five world champions Toby Garbett, Steve Williams, James Cracknell, Matthew Pinsent and Neil Chugani holding their own amongst the quads to win the open coxed fours. The club's juniors took a third trophy, although their international women's quad was beaten by a composite national squad crew. Elise Laverick, Lisa Eyre, Katharine Grainger and Rebecca Romero, starting as a new entry, took 20 seconds off the Leander lightweights despite a lack of helping stream, to win the women's open title.

The remaining pennants were spread evenly around the major clubs, Molesey setting the only new course record with their victorious Senior 1 men's quad, while Thames equalled Leander by winning three events.

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