Rowing: Redgrave and Pinsent stand alone: British women show their superiority as men's teams take a beating

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THE British women's team proved stronger than the men on the first day of the Lucerne Regatta with the expected exception of Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent, who won their coxless pairs event with casual efficiency.

Miriam Batten and Jo Turvey have raced so well this season that the Germans moved their best pair into a four after the Duisburg Regatta. The strongest remaining European challenge comes from Helene Cortin and Christine Gosse, of France. Otherwise the British women's pair are top of the heap and, assuming they can maintain their unbeaten record here, they will go to the World Championships in Prague at the end of August as favourites.

The women's coxless four with Fiona Freckleton, the 1991 bronze medallist at bow, also defeated a strong field to secure a place in the final. They beat a Romanian four and a new Australian combination of their best four women, including two Olympic finalists and a junior world champion.

The lightweight women's four, second in the world for the last two seasons, had Jane Hall in place of Claire Davies and they won their heat with two seconds to spare over the United States. They next race in the final which they are expected to win. Helen Mangan and Patricia Corless, who had looked strong in earlier regattas, finished third behind the Netherlands and Sweden and will need an improvement to reach the final through the repechages.

The two lightweight women single scullers, Sue Key and Sue Appleboom, finished second and fourth yesterday, and both are well short of their best form.

The lightweight men's four, as befits world champions for the past two years, looked strong and smooth in winning their heat and qualifying for the semi-final. The four looked more advanced than usual for this point in the season. The lightweight four became an Olympic event in February, but this crew will find it hard to keep up the momentum until 1996 and they may well break up for two years before coming together again for Atlanta.

Peter Haining won his single sculls race in the second fastest time for the five heats, but with the exception of the pair, the men's team all failed. The first-choice coxed four lost touch in their heat after 1,000 metres and faded to fifth place. The second four finished fourth. The second four, who have two 36-year-olds on board - Martin Cross (stroke) and Richard Stanhope (bow) - now go to the repechage round. There they will meet a new Australian crew, who have the 19- year-old Robert Jahrling at bow. His father, Harald, rowed for East Germany against Cross and Stanhope in the late 1970s.

The men's quad finished a respectable third in the first round, but in a field well spread out. The British quad are unlikely to break into the top group where races are close and rowed at a sprint for the full 2,000m.

Today's races of repechage rounds and semi-finals may prove to be the World Championship selection cut- off point for crews near the borderline.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 55