Rowing: French test next for Searles

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THE Searle brothers, Britain's Olympic champions in coxed pairs, won the first round of the Steward's Cup at Henley yesterday in their new coxless four. Tim Foster and Rupert Obholzer have joined them after a disappointing early season on the continent in a different line-up.

They beat Grasshopper Club Zurich without trouble but today they will meet the French crew who won at the World Championships last September in the first real test of their mettle.

Elsewhere in the Steward's Cup the London Rowing Club lightweight four, who raced twice to beat Sykes RC in the quadruple sculls on Thursday, won their first-round match against the United States squad lightweight four. After wrapping up the disappointing American crew in the morning, London won their quadruple sculls heat with something to spare.

The Grand Challenge for eights offered only one race, in which the Dutch National crew who set a world record of 5min 23sec in Amsterdam last weekend were always in control of a new Australian eight. All the Australian entries are now out of the regatta, but as most of them came here as a warm- up for Lucerne in two weeks' time their disappointment will be eased in knowing they have a second chance to justify their airfare.

The Princess Elizabeth Cup for school eights has been sifted to a predictable last four with two enticing races today. Eton are habitually led to half-way but will have to keep St Paul's within close touch as the Americans have plenty of warning of Eton's tactics and could respond solidly.

The women's sculls opened with two competitors being offered a 'row over' after the opposition withdrew. The Canadian Marnie McBean took the task sufficiently seriously to lower the record to the Barrier by three seconds. Elizabeta Lipa, of Romania, was only one second slower in spite of being in a borrowed boat so small that the stern deck was awash at the catch of each stroke off the start. Ali Hall, the British sculler who withdrew yesterday with an injured back, immediately lent her boat to Lipa. The Romanian today races Libby Henshilwood, who a year ago won Great Britain's first junior world medal. In the Diamond sculls, Peter Haining, the Scot who won the world lightweight championships with a thrilling recovery from a crab in the final 250 metres, had to demonstrate similar escapology against Jason Day, the Australian champion, when he crabbed twice in the first 15 strokes and had to restart from almost a length down but won by 2 1/2 lengths.

Yesterday's results, today's order of rowing, page 23