Rowing: Redgrave rings crew changes

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The Independent Online
STEVE REDGRAVE and Matthew Pinsent, in the first outing of a new season which will climax with the Sydney Olympics, secured the coxless fours pennant in the Head of the River Fours on London's Tideway on Saturday. They took two fresh partners, Fred Scarlett and Ben Hunt Davis, into their world champion boat and, racing as Leander Club 2, took 34 seconds off the next four home, which featured the Cambridge Boat Race squad racing as Goldie 2.

In the battle for overall honours, two quadruple sculling crews finished in front of the Redgrave four. The winners, Leander 1, had three coxless fours champions. Tim Foster and Ed Coode are now rivals for the three seat in the Olympic crew, which will not be definitively selected until next April. They were stroked by James Cracknell with Bobby Thatcher at bow. Taking second overall came a lightweight crew of amateurs from Notts County.

The County crew, stroked by the Irish sculler Gearoid Towey backed by Tom Kay and Gareth Davies, a medallist from the lightweight eight last year, was the vehicle for comeback by 38-year-old Carl Smith, who had won this event five times and wanted a sixth several years after he had hung up his sculls. Giving away four stone a man, and on about one third of the weekly training regime, they lost by only nine seconds, but pipped Pinsent and Redgrave, himself now 37, by one second.

The Oxford Boat Race squad, racing as Isis B, took three pennants to none for Cambridge, racing as Goldie BC. But this does not tell the whole story. Oxford won the coxed four category, beating Cambridge by two seconds, but the Light Blues had the faster coxless four by 10 seconds. Isis still took the Senior 1 pennant. There was little of real guidance to the Boat Race squads. The Trial Eights races in two weeks will give the best clue for the race itself on 25 March.

In the absence of the women's Olympic squad, the highest placed women's crew was a quad rowing as Kingston RC 2, 74th having started 66th.

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