Searle out for a repeat showing

Greg Searle could emerge as a resurrected hero of British rowing when he bids to put himself on course to win a World Championship sculling medal in Aiguebelette in eastern France tomorrow.

The Molesey rower, a first-season sculler, will go into the semi-final safe in the knowledge that he has already convincingly beaten the world No 3, Frederik Bekken, in his heat on Monday.

"It nearly went to my head that evening. I went to bed and was so excited that I couldn't sleep. However, I now have to concentrate again," said a delighted Searle, the Olympic coxed pairs champion in 1992.

Searle and his coach, Harry Mahon, are taking nothing for granted in their preparation for the semi-final, and Searle said: "Both Harry and I know what has to be done. It is going to be really tough. Bekken is a class act, and class doesn't disappear overnight. I'm sure he will be challenging again."

Searle's best finish of the year has been sixth at Paris, in the second world cup event. He showed his ability with that race and proved it again when he won at Henley Regatta.

Yesterday, Britain's coxless pairs medal hopes Rob Thatcher and Ben Hunt- Davis put the disappointment of losing in the heats behind them when they comfortably won their repechage.

Thatcher and Hunt-Davis were ranked as world No 2 at the end of the World Cup regattas but a slip-up in Monday's heat saw them forced into the repechage and, had they come third, they would have been out. However, they put together a solid row and eased past the rest of the field after the halfway point.

"We just hadn't had enough race practice going into Monday's heat," said Thatcher. "We hadn't raced for six weeks and we weren't race fit.

"I think the rep has done us good and now we are feeling good on the water, which can only help in the semi. We weren't at full tilt today and I think we can go at least eight seconds quicker."