Redgrave and Pinsent rest their case

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Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, the fastest pair in the world since 1991, have opted out of their last serious preparation race before Redgrave's historic attempt for a fourth Olympic gold medal in Atlanta. A succession of victims to a stomach bug at the Leander Club training centre for the British team has also caused the removal of the men's double scull and the eight from the Lucerne entry list.

Redgrave and Pinsent have not been beaten since May 1992 and, although they are now both recovered, the coxless pair did not want to risk their record and they have no need for more racing experience.

The second boat in the British team, the coxless four, made up from the Searle brothers, Greg and Jonny, with Tim Foster and Rupert Obholzer, finished second in its heat in the most tightly-contested event here. The Molesey four were dropped by the French crew in the middle of the race and in the final 500 metres appeared to be cruising at 37 strokes to the minute, compared with their usual flourishing sprint at 42. In the final few strokes they gained ground on the field.

They must now race three times in two days to reach a final which is likely to produce a blanket finish. This crew, however, thrives on challenge.

Guin Batten also finished second in her single sculls heat, beaten this time by Ruth Davidon of the United States, but as one of five who finished under eight minutes, she should find a safe route to the final today.

The lightweight men's four, which qualified for Atlanta last year, has lost its pace since Toby Hessian dropped out with a back injury in the winter and it finished third behind a new crew from Russia and Canada.

The British crews, which did not qualify for the Olympics at the last world championships, will stay here for the qualifying races next weekend and are not racing in this regatta. But, curiously, some crews are attempting both. The British women's eight, which has had a successful season in Europe, saw their principal unknowns, China and Russia, race poorly here yesterday.