Rowing: Super eight lead the British charge

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The Independent Online

British eights made the Bosbaan boil in Amsterdam yesterday. First the "super eight", a composite of men from the team's smaller boats, moved awesomely from fourth place to first, qualifying directly for tomorrow's final. Then the legitimate GB eight, who were getting on the start as the supers' race unfolded, showed their best performance of the year only to lose to Poland by a quarter of an inch.

A hundredth of a second cost them a rest day by bouncing them into a repêchage today

The super eight contains Steve Williams, Peter Reed, Alex Partridge and Andy Hodge, four men who are unbeaten together in 27 races, Colin Smith and Matt Langridge who shot to the top of the heap in a coxless pair in the world cup three weeks ago, and James Orme and Marcus Bateman who aspire to seats in the other eight.

Their weekend in the big boat has served to concentrate the resolve of the real British eight. Their summer task is to establish themselves in the safety zone of qualification for next year's Olympics by means of a good showing at this year's world championships. With only one change since their fifth place in Linz three weeks ago, they rowed like demons yesterday, leading during the middle of the race and ending in a bowball-to-bowball duel with Poland that was virtually too close to call.

Alan Campbell twice demonstrated how to pace a race yesterday when he won both his heat and quarter-final comfortably without raising a sprint. Other winners of quarter-finals were Olaf Tufte, the Norwegian Olympic champion, the maverick German Marcel Hacker, and the Swede Lassi Karonen.

Other good British performersincluded Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham, who took first place in the double sculls, and Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter in the lightweight double sculls and the lightweight four.

There were second places for the men's quad, women's eight, Tom Solesbury and Tom James in the coxless pairs and Helen Casey and Hester Goodsell in the lightweight double sculls.