Rowing: Pinsent sets pace for emphatic fast finish

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The Independent Online
Matthew Pinsent led the coxless four to its third regatta and World Cup victory at Lucerne yesterday with a crushing 15-stroke push in the last 250 metres.

Throughout the course the British four, with James Cracknell increasingly looking at home in the bow seat, were content to cruise about half a length ahead of the field, with an aggressive Romanian boat nudging up all the way.

At 38 strokes to the minute for the first 500m they settled to 36 through halfway before raising it to 38 at the boat enclosures and again to 40 after 1,500m, but it was Pinsent's decisive shift to 43 with 250m to go which cracked the challenge as his crew of Cracknell, Steve Redgrave and Tim Foster took an extra half length to win by nearly three seconds. "We are trying to create a new history, not to elongate what we have done in the past," he said.

It was clear from the moment of selection in April that the coach Jurgen Grobler would have as much physical power as he sought to create a four for the next Olympiad, but it was less obvious whether the compatibility and combined skills needed to break records would emerge.

This was exaggerated rather than dispelled by the reputations of Pinsent and Redgrave, but the fresh challenge and a will to make the marriage work have produced a big reward in British rowing's only banker for medals.

Bobby Thatcher and Ben Hunt-Davis jumped into Pinsent and Redgrave's shoes in the coxless pairs only at the Munich regatta five weeks ago. Thatcher said: "We had no idea how it would go and we still regard our success as a bit of luck. We have improved loads already and we're even more motivated by not winning here."

Thatcher and Hunt-Davis were slow off the start and had to drag themselves back into contention in the middle 1,000m and from third place after 1,500m closed on Lithuania to finish 1.23sec behind.

The women's coxless pair of Dot Blackie and Cath Bishop missed a medal by less than a second and had closed two seconds on Australia in the bronze position in the last 500m. This crew was also formed after Munich and will have doubled its training time by the world championships in September.

The double scull of Gillian Lindsay and Miriam Batten was also fourth behind Australia but were three seconds off a medal.