ROWING Powerful start for new eight

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The Independent Online


The convincing margin of victory for the new British eight over the German crew with five world champions in Saturday's Women's Head of the River race offers an enticing prospect for the coming season. The women's chief coach, Bill Mason, formed the crew by sticking faithfully to the results of his pairs trials, with the injured Catherine Bishop replaced by Guin Batten.

They were 34 seconds ahead of the fifth-placed pair and Mason finds himself in much the same position as Bob Janousek, chief coach of the men 20 years ago. He has a small, strong squad which is ripe for intense development of an eight with 18 months to go to the Olympics in Atlanta. Mason rowed in the crew which Janousek made up from a tiny group of under-achieving athletes who went on to win a silver medal in their first World Championships.

Mason's squad has three lightweight winners from 1993, and Miriam Batten won a bronze in the pair in 1991, but as a group they cannot possibly have expected to take more than 25 seconds from such a strong German boat. There were special circumstances which increased the lead, such as the Germans taking the wrong arch at Barnes Bridge, but the British eight looked far the stronger and more rhythmic, and the extra ingredient must, in large part, be Mason's coaching.

The German coach had little advice for his crew and followed them over the course shouting: "Arbeiten . . . arbeiten." It will take more than work for them to reverse this great win.

WOMEN'S HEAD OF THE RIVER RACE (Chiswick to Putney, River Thames): 1 Kingston/Thames/TSS 18min 14sec; 2 Deutscher Ruderverband 18:40; 3 Notts County 19:00; 4 Univ of London 19:10; 5 Thames B 19:11; 6 Thames Tradesmen 19:14; 7 Oxford Univ 19:16; 8 Cambridge Univ 19:19 (plus 5sec penalty); 9 Tideway Scullers 19:23; 10 Cambridge Univ B 19:27.