Rowing: Searle fights on in tough test

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The Independent Online
THE WORLD Championships entered the repechage day with bright sun and a following wind and produced six wins and one second place for British crews to allow all to progress straight to finals or semi-finals.

The three single scullers dominated their repechage races and placed themselves for a good semi-final draw. Greg Searle moves forward to a tough semi-final line-up which contains three former champions, two others having been squeezed out.

In the light single sculls, Peter Haining, still something of an unknown quantity in his comeback year, looks a probable for the top six, and Guin Batten might make it three from three for the first time ever.

The women's pair of Dot Blackie and Cath Bishop won the summer season cumulative event, the Fisa World Cup, and after a dip in form in Lucerne seemed to come back to better shape in the second half of their heat when they stormed back on terms with the world champions after a slow first half.

Yesterday the race showed the same pattern, with the Blackie and Bishop again slow off the start in third place. After 500m they pulled back the Aus- tralians to reach half-way in second spot, but allowed the Russian pair, third in the world a year ago, to gain another second on the clock in the third quarter before closing sharply on them over the last 300m.

They look comfortable and strong and have shown plenty of real pace and fitness through the season, especially with their trademark sprint finish. It is frustrating that they seem to have only one race pattern which the others are wise enough to counter with simple tactics of their own. However, they are now in the first-ever final for either and have nothing to lose.

The men's pair of Stephen Williams and Fred Scarlett in their novice season at senior international level are equally easy to read - they go as fast as they can for as long as possible. This placed them eighth in Britain at the April trials, but with the leading pairs deployed in the four and eight they have been given the task of matching the achievements of Steven Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent in the pair.

Their early-season form in Europe suggested a high place in the small final for seventh to 12th, but yesterday they shot into the lead off the start, taking two seconds off the Australians, who won the coxless fours gold in Atlanta and Barcelona. They then dominated the race, beating the Dutch into third place and setting a time 12 seconds faster than any of the other repe-chages. Suddenly a place in the top six looks possible and deserved.

The double scull of Colin Greenaway and Simon Goodbrand took their cue from the pair and beat the Australian double which took silver at the Worlds a year ago. It places the British in the easier semi-final tomorrow.