Rowing: Breeze fans fast times

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A STRONG tail wind allowed several new world records in the heats of the Fisa World Cup at the Lucerne Regatta. In the lightweight men's coxless four the Danish crew, champions since 1996, broke their own best time, set in Paris four years ago, by a huge six-second margin. They finished in 5min 45.6sec, nearly 3sec faster than the heavyweight record held by the Italians.

The Danes took some revenge for defeat at Henley from the British four with Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent. Yesterday the British heavies were even faster over the first half of the course before easing off when unchallenged.

There were records in both eights events. In the two women's heats, first Germany set a new best time of 5min 57min 63sec only to have it broken 10 minutes later by Romania, finishing in 5: 57.02. The British crew was left trailing by Romania and was seventh overall. They will need a big improvement to make the final here and justify world championship selection.

The British men's eight was pushed into third place behind a Dutch crew which has found new pace since losing in Belgium six weeks ago. The Dutch, stroked by Nico Rienks, the 1988 and 1996 Olympic champion, broke the record set by his Atlanta crew with a new time of 6:23.15.

Simon Dennis and Steve Williams won their pairs heat in their natural style, emerging from the pack in the last quarter to storm home 4sec clear.

The women's double and pair both came second. For the pair of Dot Blackie and Cath Bishop this means a trip through the repechages after allowing the new German pair to get in front after half way.

Miriam Batten and Gillian Lindsay were led all the way by the hugely experienced double of Kathrine Boron and Jana Thieme, but qualified easily as one of three crews to go to the semi-final.