Rowing: Cracknell leads Britain's surge

By Roger Jennings,Belgium
Tuesday 07 January 2014 06:15

The top British crews had a faultless start to the first round of the world cup here, yesterday. James Cracknell and Matthew Pinsent in the pairs, Frances Houghton and Debbie Flood in the women's doubles, and the men's four of Josh West, Toby Garbett, Steve Williams and Rick Dunn were among the seven British heat winners.

The four, three of whom are reigning world champions, caught the spectators' breath when the French put up a strong challenge for the one place which allows a direct passage to tomorrow's final, but the British crew reached the line first.

At their first regatta of the season four weeks ago, they were beaten by a hundredth of a second by the German crew, who won the other heat here, so the likelihood is a battle royal between these three in the final.

The women's quad, Elise Laverick, Sarah Winckless, Katherine Grainger and Alison Mowbray, also came first in their heat, and the lightweight team also chalked up three firsts.

The double scullers Helen Casey and Tracy Langlands who have been together for scarcely a month look as if they are on target to build on their victory in Duisburg four weeks ago.

The men's pairs of Ned Kittoe and Nick English and Gareth Ireland and Nick Strange also returned first places to run in tomorrow's final.

The under-23 sculler Peter Wells and the under-23 pair of Simon Fieldhouse and Chris Martin finished their regatta abruptly on this first, muggy, day of racing, when they failed to progress through the repêchage, or second chance, round.

All three of Britain's lightweight single scullers and both of the lightweight doubles qualified for semi-finals through the repêchages. Seven others, including the men's eight, have their second chances in the repêchages this morning.

Altogether, 22 GB crews are still in the competition, including the women's coxless four who are the only one to have a straight final.

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