Rowing: Leander women overcome nerves

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The Independent Online

Alison Mowbray, Debbie Flood, Frances Houghton and Rebecca Romero came to Henley in a quadruple scull to prepare for this year's Olympic regatta. They also came to showcase women's rowing in Britain, which is in better shape than the men's sport. They succeeded on both fronts despite nerves on the start, beating Ukraine in the Princess Grace Challenge Cup by two and three-quarters of a length.

They knew that the assignment was a tough one, against consistent opponents. "I am more nervous on the Henley start than anywhere else," Houghton said. The Leander and University of London crew deal with nerves by rehearsing in their minds the first strokes of the race - the worse the tension, the more strokes rehearsed, on a scale of one to 10. Mowbray stopped at six this time.

They settled early and went ahead, but could not really relax until moving along the enclosures. They earned a presentation of his mother's trophy by Prince Albert of Monaco, and a day off from training today.

British women's rowing received another boost when the development squad eight unexpectedly beat Princeton University to take the Remenham Cup.

For the men, James Livingston subbed into the Leander pair with Rick Dunn for the third day, Toby Garbett still being rested with a back strain, and they put up a creditable performance against Ramon Di Clementé and Donovan Cech of South Africa, who made the medal podium in their fifth Henley appearance. Both pairs are Athens-bound.

The new British line-up in the quadruple scullers put up a good performance against the strong entry from Ukraine in the Queen Mother.

The man who was dropped from that crew last week, Steve Rowbotham, stroked Molesey to a great victory in the lesser event, the men's quadruple sculls. Molesey also won the Britannia for coxed fours, while London RC also won two events, the Thames and the Wyfold.

The Grand had a great final between the Dutch Olympic eight and Harvard, which the Dutch won by two-thirds of a length after Harvard came back hard, and the Dutch cox was given several warnings by the umpire. Harvard sent three superb crews to Henley but their junior varsity lost to Leander by three-quarters of a length in the Ladies' Plate.

Their freshmen were knocked out of the Temple on Friday by the eventual winners, Nereus of Amsterdam, after the Harvard bow man's seat failed and he jumped overboard. Nereus beat Proteus-Eretes of Delft yesterday, by three-quarters of a length after a gruelling race.

In the Thames Cup Nereus were only two seconds slower than London Rowing Club, who were pushed to a half-length win by Reuss of Lucerne, Switzerland.

Reuss removed Henley RC in the semi-final on Saturday in another close race, after rowing over in a good time the day before following the disqualification of their would-be opponents, Mitsubishi of Japan, because of a status infringement.

The schoolboys in the Princess Elizabeth also had a monumental tussle in the final, when Abingdon failed in a brave attempt to wear down St Pauls' School Concord's slender lead.

Two years ago Cambridge lost the Visitors' for coxless fours in a collision with a duck. This time they were level and moving ahead at the three-quarter mile signal when they hit the booms. The Brookes and Oxford combination were four lengths ahead when Cambridge got going again, and won by two and a quarter lengths in the end.

Peter Lorinczy and Kornel Szabo, of Hungary, won the Double Sculls against Simon Goodbrand and Guy Blanchard of the Cambridge club Rob Roy. The Hungarians were in a class of their own, but it was unfortunate that the British Olympic double had to scratch before the regatta started.

Marcel Hacker of Germany won the Diamond Sculls for the second time, on his second visit to Henley, against the young Oxford sculler Colin Smith.

The Princess Royal was won by the American Cindy Bishop over her South African namesake, Rika Bishop. A Marlow and Tideway Scullers combination won the Fawley for junior quads, over Sydney RC of Australia.