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Rowing: British eight finds form

THE BRITISH men's eight fulfilled their early season promise at the World Championships here yesterday with a convincing second place behind the Russians, who won at Lucerne six weeks ago.

The unknown boat in this class was the returning USA crew, which has won the championship for the past two years. The USA squandered a onelength lead in the other heat to the fast-finishing Romanians and just scraped home. The only crew from the European season to find new pace is the Australian boat, which was closing fast on Great Britain at the line.

The British eight should reach the final, but will need to chop an extra one and a half seconds from its times to get into the medals.

The men's quadruple scull, selected more as preparation for Sydney than in expectation here, was pushed back into fourth place, giving away four seconds in each quarter.

The women's quadruple scull prospers in spite of itself. If the middle pair of Katharine Grainger and Sarah Winkless can develop the compatability and racing experience of their stroke, Guin Batten, and bow, Lisa Eyre, it may move up a gear. Yesterday it finished second behind a new and superbly drilled Germany boat, but ahead of Australia and Poland. A place in the final will boost a push at Sydney.

The lightweight women's double scull of Jane Hall and Tracey Langlands has found no form this year and slipped to fifth in their opening heat yesterday, well off Olympic pace.

The lightweight men in the two Olympic events, the double scull and the four, will also be struggling to qualify from this regatta. The double finished second to the 1996 champions the Swiss Gier Brothers. Less hopefully the four was in the pack to half-way but lost five seconds in the third 500 metres.