Rowing / Henley Royal Regatta: Weight of evidence works in Twig's favour: Westminster and Belmont Abbey given benefit of doubt despite technical offence at the Henley Royal Regatta. Hugh Matheson reports

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The Independent Online
HENLEY Royal Regatta, under new management for the first time in 15 years, showed that little had changed on the first day yesterday by dealing in a characteristically idiosyncratic way with a problem in the Temple Challenge Cup. Westminster School and Belmont Abbey beat Reading University by threequarters of a length but, when the crews disembarked, their coxswain 'Twig' Wignarajah was found by regatta control not to have carried his 0.5kg makeweight in the race.

The stewards decided that the missing weight had not affected the outcome of the race and awarded the offenders one 'false start' to carry into the next round. It is probably true that the missing weight, equivalent to a pair of training shoes, was insignificant but the ruling may be misinterpreted in the future.

Because the stewards do not 'seed' crews in the normal sense but 'select' them to ensure good races rather than any particular winner the early rounds produced some close finishes, including a dead-heat in the first round of the Wyfold Cup between Bedford Rowing Club and Tideway Scullers School.

Tideway Scullers built up a one- length lead and held it until the last quarter of a mile when a Bedford attack closed the gap. They raced again in the evening and, as usually happens, the crew that came from behind in the first race won the re-row. Bedford were two thirds of a length up at the Barrier, after six minutes and 32 seconds, and hung on to their lead until the last quarter, where they were again fastest, winning by threequarters of a length.

Later Neptune, the unofficial champions of Ireland, beat Agecroft in a heat of the Thames Cup by three feet after leading by a length at the threequarter-mile mark.

The conditions were fast, with a strong tail breeze blowing all day, but no records were broken. The fastest crews were not challenged past the early stages. In the Princess Elizabeth Cup for school eights, Eton took the lead against Bedford and equalled their own record, set in 1991, to the Barrier. Eton then played 'rate games' over the rest of the course, at one time dropping to 26 strokes a minute, while staying ahead to win by two and threequarter lengths.

La Salle and Radley were both two seconds faster over the whole course, although La Salle, who beat St Edward's second eight by two lengths, looked weaker than both Kingston Grammar School and St Edward's first eight.

Age is no barrier at Henley, as Wallingford Rowing Club proved when they beat Worcester Rowing Club with Sean Morris, who won his first Oxford Blue in 1963, at bow and Mike Diserens, who won his first in 1979, as the youngest man in the crew at stroke.

Racing today starts at 8.30am and will involve the first round of the Fisa World Cup, although the foreign competitors who have already picked up points in the first four rounds will not race until Friday.


THAMES CHALLENGE CUP First round: Upper Thames B bt Liverpool Students 1 2 length; Agecroft B bt Vesta 21; Thames Tradesmen's B bt Univ of London 31 2 l; Upper Thames A bt Auriol Kensington 33 4 l; Dartmouth A (US) bt Molesey 3 4 l; Thames Tradesmen's A bt Durham Univ B 33 4 l; Nottingham and Union bt Weybridge easily; Thames bt Cherwell 41; Lea A bt Durham Univ C 43 4 l; Neptune (Irl) bt Agecroft A (Irl) 3ft; Walton bt Isis B 3 4 l; Harvard Univ B (US) bt Aberdeen 51; Rob Roy bt Durham Univ A 11; S d'Encouragement du Sport Nautique (Fr) bt USR Triton (Neth) canvas; Dartmouth bt Lea B easily.

TEMPLE CHALLENGE CUP First round: Newcastle Univ bt Univ Col, London easily; Jesus Col and Downing Col, Camb bt Southampton Univ 2 3 l; Queen's Col, Camb bt Edinburgh Univ easily; Pembroke Col and Downing Col, Camb bt Christchurch Col and Pembroke Col, Oxford 4ft; Westminster Sch and Belmont Abbey Sch bt Reading Univ 3 4 l; Sheffield Univ bt Association Sportive de L'Institut d'Etudes Politiques (Fr) easily; Lady Margaret, Camb bt Emmanuel Col, Camb 23 4 l; Oxford Brookes Univ bt Univ Col, Dublin 11 2 l; Queen's Univ, Belfast bt Colgate Univ (US) 11; Trinity Col, Dublin bt Univ of West of England 21; Exeter Col, Oxford and Queen's Col, Oxford bt Clare Col, Camb 3 4 l; Leeds Univ bt St Hilda and St Bede and Grey Col, Durham 3 4 l; Eton Col bt Trinity Hall, Camb 11; Univ of Bristol bt Christ's Col, Camb 23 4 l; Queen's Univ (Can) bt Nottingham Univ 41; Univ Wales Col, Cardiff bt Nihon Univ (Japan) 11.

WYFOLD CHALLENGE CUP First round: London Welsh bt Walton 2 3 l; Hereford bt Nottingham Univ 1 3 l; Bewl Bridge bt Upper Thames A 21; Sons of the Thames bt Thames 1 2 l; Wallingford bt Worcester 1 3 l; Nottingham and Union bt Agecroft 41 4 l; London A bt Gloucester 23 4 l; Scottish Argonauts bt Odense (Den) 11; Leander bt Marlow Club 33 4 l; Vesta bt City of Oxford 3 4 l; Stourport bt Thames Tradesmen's B 31; Auriol Kensington bt Lea easily; London B bt Molesey 12 3 l; Quintin bt Thames Tradesmen's A 21 4 l; Upper Thames C bt Bedford B 21.

BRITANNIA CHALLENGE CUP First round: Molesey B bt Auriol Kensington 11 2 l; Bath Univ bt Furnivall Sculling Club 41 2 l; Tideway Scullers' Sch bt City of Cambridge 33 4 l; City of Oxford A bt Auriol Kensington A 23 4 l; Goldie bt Notts County 41; Univ of London bt Scottish Argonauts A 11 4 l; Harvard Univ (US) bt Thames easily; Thames Tradesmen's B bt Scot Argonauts B 11 2 l; Newark bt City of Oxford B 13 4 l; Leander Club bt Bedford 31; London A bt Free Press 11; Edinburgh Univ bt Nottingham and Union easily; Carlow (Irl) bt Sons of the Thames 2 3 l; Belfast bt London B easily; Thames Tradesmen's A bt Johns Hopkins Univ (US) easily; Lea bt Quintin 31.

PRINCESS ELIZABETH CHALLENGE CUP First round: Bedford Modern Sch bt Shrewsbury Sch A 21 4 l; Kingston Grammar Sch A bt Pangbourne Col B 33 4 l; Radley Col bt Hampton Sch B 41; Phillips Exeter Academy (US) bt Selbourne Col (SA) easily; Pangbourne Col A bt Riverview High Sch (US) 23 4 l; King's Sch, Chester bt King Edward VII High Sch A 11; Brisbane Boys' Col (Aus) bt Cheltenham Col easily; Abingdon Sch bt Oundle Sch 2 3 l; Eton Col bt Bedford Sch 23 4 l; Holy Cross Sec Sch (Can) bt Shrewsbury Sch B 3 4 l; La Salle Col High Sch bt St Edward's Sch B 21; Canford Sch bt St Peters Sch 33 4 l; Hampton Sch bt Monmouth Sch 22 3 l; St Paul's Sch bt Kingston Grammar Sch B 21; King's School, Canterbury bt Shiplake Col 21; St Edward's Sch A bt King's Col Sch 31.

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