Rowing: Foster's illness forces a reshuffle

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BRITISH men's rowing relied on its hardy perennials, the 32-year- old Steven Redgrave and his 23- year-old partner Matthew Pinsent, to be its only heat winners of the first day of the Lucerne Regatta.

Tim Foster, who had been stroking the coxless four, succumbed to a chest infection yesterday morning and his four were broken up. Greg Searle went to the eight in place of the injured Ben Hunt Davis, and his Olympic partner, his brother Jonny, raced in a coxless pair with Rupert Obholzer.

Redgrave and Pinsent had a relatively soft draw and won their heat without pressure to go through to the semi-final today. In the other heats the Belgians Jaak van Driessche and Luc Goiris were three seconds faster, and the Germans Peter Hoeltzenbein and Thorsten Strepplehoff were one second faster. But the Belgians were well beaten by the British Olympic champions at Henley two weeks ago and there is nothing here, except a shipwreck, to beat them.

The men's eight, with Searle in the No 6 seat, finished third in their heat, three seconds behind Romania, but did qualify for the semi-final and did not appear at full stretch. However, it will be a miracle if they finish among the medals tomorrow. A Notts County eight also finished third in the second heat, and in a time two seconds faster than the national crew. The men in Sherwood green may still cause a few red faces at headquarters.

In contrast, the women's and men's lightweight teams all went well, and most should progress to the finals tomorrow. The women's pair of Miriam Batten and Jo Turvey recovered some of their old pace to win their heat, although the world champions, Christine Gosse and Helene Crotin, were five seconds faster in the first heat and a new Australian pair were four seconds faster in the second.

The lightweight women's four seemed to have lost little of their basic speed in spite of Anne Marie Stapleton dropping out with a shoulder injury. She has been replaced for the past three weeks by Robyn Morris. The four qualified direct to the final.

The new lightweight double scull of Helen Mangan and Phoebe White won their heat and are beginning to look smooth and strong enough to compete with the very best in an event which will be included for the first time in the Olympic games at Atlanta.

The lightweight men's four from London Rowing Club, who raced brilliantly to win selection and set a world record in Paris, won here with comfort and look capable of winning again at the World Championships in September, unless their love of racing leads them to a physical collapse first.

The lightweight eight, who lost unexpectedly to an American eight at Henley after beating the Nottingham heavyweights in the first round of the ladies' plate, took their first heat here to go straight to the final. But the American crew are not entered, which will render the race on Sunday a bit hollow.