Rowing: Redgrave powers on

Click to follow
Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent started their eighth season together with another win in the Tideway Head of the River Race for eights on Saturday. But the seven-second margin over the University of London was not as impressive as it should have been and there were nine crews within 30 seconds of Leander's 17min 28sec. "Good, but not good enough," Pinsent said when the results were published.

At the end of the race Leander were about half a minute clear, but most of the lead came from the 25-second gap that London University had left: delaying their start as late as possible without incurring a penalty. "We went well until we hit the rough water at Harrods, but we didn't get the rhythm back properly when the conditions were better on the run into the finish," said Pinsent.

Maurice Hayes, the London University coach, was pleased with his crew, which had only one Olympian, the bronze medal winner Rupert Obholzer at No 6, against six, including the cox, in the Leander boat.

The London Rowing Club crew which finished third was formed from the strong group of lightweight men who have raced for Britain, and the club may have been surprised to be only 11 seconds behind the cream of the heavyweight squad racing for Leander. Nottinghamshire County II then led a batch of four crews which finished within one second. They were, like London, a crew led by lightweights and were followed by Tideway Scullers, and Oxford Brookes in sixth place. Brookes will be a force in British rowing this summer, and with the most slender resources, have risen from nothing. Zurich SC were the highest foreign entrants in seventh, and then three seconds back came Notts County I.

The top British crews will now break up, with the national squad members going to trials in Belgium. Jurgen Grobler, the chief coach, will build his team around Redgrave and Pinsent, probably opting for a coxless four.

But, knowing that the top eights from Atlanta are now disbanded, he could choose to put all his eggs in the one basket. It would have the advantage of forcing the squad to develop a single, coherent style. If the squad was then split up into small boats in the approach to the Olympics there would at least be the possibility of swapping athletes around to get the best mix.

Comments