Rowing: Searle brothers in fours fightback: British crew forced to display their heavyweight muscle

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ALTHOUGH the fierce tailwind dropped for yesterday's racing at the Duisburg Regatta, the British performances got faster, with almost the full team qualifying for the finals. The biggest improvement came from the men's coxless fours, both light and heavy.

In the heavyweight fours, Greg and Jonny Searle, finished fourth behind Imperial College on Saturday. However, they qualified for the final yesterday alongside the Leander club four, who had also failed on the first day when the seat of their stroke, Rupert Obholzer, jammed.

In the final, the Searle four, with Jim Walker substituting for Richard Manners who had a throat infection, led to half-way with the world champions, France, in second place and Leander third. France and Leander went past them until the last 500 metres when James Cracknell, stroking the Searle four, pushed back through Leander.

Britain's chief coach, Jurgen Grobler, will probably leave the two fours to race it out in Paris in mid-June before committing one of them to the World Championships, leaving the other to form the basis of the eight.

In the lightweight four, the Danes, who had set a remarkable world record of 5min 52.4sec on Saturday, led to the 1500m mark, but were overtaken by the Notts County four. Toby Hessian and Tom Kay helped push through with a devastating final sprint, which took the British four to a 1.5sec victory over Germany. Denmark were third and London Rowing Club fourth only three seconds behind. A third British crew, a Notts County and London University combination, were fifth less than five seconds behind.

Miriam Batten, a world bronze medal winner in 1991, comfortably took the pairs with her partner Jo Turvey. Their victory was helped by the absence of the French pair, Helene Cortin and Christine Gosse, who had gone into a four. Her sister, Guin, who gave up the shot put to start sculling 18 months ago, won the small final of the Fisa World Cup for single scullers, finishing seventh overall. She is still too slow for top honours but is on her way.

Peter Haining, the lightweight world champion, led the single sculls to 1,000m before Niall O'Toole came with a swift push which left the Scotsman two-and-a-half lengths down. He closed in the last minute to a one-second deficit.

DUISBURG REGATTA (British finalists and Fisa World Cup results): Women's coxless pair. 1 Britain (Batten, Turvey) 7.15; 2 Germany 7.25; 3 Romania 7.31. Men's lightweight coxless fours: 1 Britain (Notts County) 5.59; 2 Germany 6.00; 3 Denmark 6.01; 4 Britain (London RC) 6.02; 5 Britain (Notts County, London RC, Imperial College) 6.04. Fisa World Cup: Women: 1 Canada (McBean) 7.24; 2 Belgium (Bredael) 7.25; 3 Germany (Schuster) 7.26; 7 Britain 7.38. Fisa World Cup: Men: 1 Czech Republic (Chalupa) 6.48; 2 Germany (Willms) 6.50; 3 Slovenia (Cop) 6.53. Women's coxless four: 1 Netherlands 6.36; 2 United States 6.41; 3 Germany 6.44; 5 Britain (Kingston, Notts County, Queen's Tower, Thames RC) 6.49; 6 Britain (Scottish Rowing) 6.57. Men's coxless four: 1 Netherlands 6.14; 2 Czech Republic 6.16; 3 Britain (Univ of London) 6.20.11; 4 Britain (Leander) 6.20.76. Men's coxless four: 1 France 5.56; 2 Britain (Searle, Searle, Walker, Cracknell) 5.59; 3 Britain (Foster, Bridge, Hunt-Davis, Obholzer) 6.00.32. Lightweight women's single scull: 1 Netherlands 7.42; 2 Denmark 7.44; 3 Britain (Mangan) 7.53. Men's lightweight single scull: 1 Ireland (O'Toole) 6.56; 2 Britain (Haining) 6.58; 3 Germany 7.03.