Rowing: Britons' low ebb

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The Independent Online
THE British men's rowing team took two heavy knocks at Henley yesterday when the eight and the coxless four both lost, although the coxless pair champions, Matt Pinsent and Steven Redgrave, salvaged some honour with a convincing win over the third-ranked German pair of Detlef Kirchoff and Hans Sennewald.

In the semi-finals of the Grand Challenge Cup, the revamped British crew drawn from Leander and Molesey clubs, with three Cambridge blues in the bows, raced the French eight and lost a length in the first two minutes. Although they fought back earnestly for another mile, they were unable to get in front and finished half a length down. The margins had been smaller in Paris two weeks ago.

In the other half of the draw for the Grand, the US eight won well from the Dutch crew, which set a new world record for eights only last weekend. The standard for international eights is now ruthlessly demanding and the British eight must take high rank at Lucerne to be a serious prospect for the championships in September.

The Molesey crew drawn to race the French world champions in the Stewards' Cup for coxless fours is a revamp of the 1987 junior British crew, with Greg Searle replacing Toby Hessian. The Molesey crew led the French off the start but lost a length when the world champions settled into their rhythm, fighting back to finish three- quarters of a length down.

In the Diamond Sculls the last British survivor, Peter Haining, went down to Xeno Muller, the Swiss who set a new world record a fortnight ago. Muller went on to beat Andre Willms, the German Olympic champion in quadruple sculls, in the semi-final and is expected to win over Martin Halbo Hansen in today's final. In the women's sculls, Marnie McBean beat the Olympic sculling champion Elizabeta Lipa and will meet Katrin Boron this afternoon.

The British lightweight men performed heroically. The London four, which is the last crew still contesting two events in the regatta, beat the US National heavyweight four in the other Stewards' Cup semi-final and will face the French today.

The lightweight eight, entered as London and Notts County for the Ladies' Plate, was untroubled by a Penn Athletic crew with several retired internationals.