Two of Britain's 13 crews in the final round of the World Cup qualified for finals here tomorrow, and four others for today's semi-final round. Cath Bishop and Katherine Grainger cruised to victory in the pair, and it was the same story for the Canadians Jacqui Cook and Karen Clark in the other heat. The Canadians were faster on the humid, windless Rotsee, but they had to do some work early on to see off the Russians who had the best start.
The significant absentee in this event is the Romanian pair who won the first round of the cup ahead of the British pair and did not show up for the second round in which Bishop and Grainger won gold.
The quadruple scullers - Alison Mowbray, Sarah Winckless, Frances Houghton and Elise Laverick - did themselves a favour by overhauling the leaders, Denmark, to give themselves a day off tomorrow. If the pair has had a meteoric rise to the top since being formed early in May, the quad appears to be improving steadily since their first competition in Munich three weeks ago, all to the credit of Paul Thompson, the chief women's coach. The other direct qualifiers in the quad were Germany who are always a force to be recognised in this event.
In the men's coxless fours the new kids on the block are the Canadians, fresh from their success in the Henley Stewards' last Sunday. They beat the current world champions, Germany, for the one qualifying place in their heat for today's semi-final, forcing the Germans to race in a repêchage to qualify themselves. The score this season between the Germans and the British is 2-0 to Germany. Steve Williams, Josh West, Toby Garbett and Rick Dunn qualified for a semi-final with comparative ease in a time two seconds slower than the Canadians, but perhaps tellingly, they were lying fifth after 500 metres. The crew who finished second was Romania, who were even slower off the start.
The third preliminary heat was won by Italy, silver medallists in the first round of the World Cup in Milan after the British stopped unaccountably two strokes before the line and let them slip through. Their time yesterday was slower than the Brits, but they had the race in hand from the first stroke. Tomorrow's medals are most likely to be among these five crews.
"Our rhythm was pretty sweet," said Dunn, the four's stroke. "We are usually a second down after 500 metres, and we're used to that now. The Germans have had a really busy season, so I'm not surprised to see a change. Canada winning over the Germans takes the pressure off us."
Tom Stallard was a last-minute substitute in the bow seat of the eight for Alex Partridge who had a stomach upset. Stroked by the Cambridge University youngster Tom James, they finished third behind Germany and the Netherlands yesterday to take part in a semi-final today. "We were surprised to be up at 500m and upset that the Dutch beat us," James said. "We have moved on from Munich but we have to put a second half together."
Debbie Flood and Rebecca Romero had a hard race in the fastest heat of the double sculls, qualifying for a semi-final in third place after leading for the first 500m. "It was a tough race. We just needed to qualify for tomorrow," said Flood.
Helen Casey and Tracy Langlands moved from second position at halfway to win their heat of the lightweight doubles and also reach the semi-finals.
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