Quad on right side of tight finish
It was a day for fans of close finishes at Eton today. The GB women’s quad shaded out a highly competitive Russian crew in a grandstand finish before the men’s eight attempted to do the same, only to lose out to their German rivals by the smallest possible margin – just one hundredth of a second.
The crowd-pleasing racing set the seal on another good day’s racing for the GB team, with wins in the lightweight department for the men’s double sculls, women’s quad sculls and men’s pair.
As far as David Tanner, GB Rowing’s Performance Director was concerned, it was another good day at the office in the 2006 World Championships, sponsored by Siemens, "Once again GB can be pleased with the racing today – the men’s eight and women’s quad in their dramatic last quarters brought the crowds to their feet and showed the quality of those boats. For the men’s eight that was a big step on and very encouraging.
Also encouraging were our two light doubles – the men’s double won, looking very impressive and have moved on, as I believe the women’s double have done in coming second today. There was something of an under 23 match in the lightweight men’s pair, with our pair – recently crowned under 23 Champions – beating the Italians who were silver medallists in that event. The women’s light quad on their debut had a great row to win and to be the first crew to qualify directly for their final – only to be matched later in the day by the women’s quad. Overall, I’m very pleased."
Whilst the spectators got value for money in terms of excitement, those in the thick of the action were able to look at the races from a more analytical perspective. Debbie Flood of the Camelot sponsored quad explained that the crew’s secret was in keeping its focus under pressure, "We know now that we can race really effectively in the last 750m when we’re going for the line. There was no panic at any point, we just concentrated on executing our race plan – although you don’t always want it to be quite as close as that!"
Steve Gunn, coach to the men’s eight, was also keen to extract the learning lessons from today’s race and saw enough to encourage him for the races ahead, "The key thing from our perspective is that we’re roughly in the ball park, going the right sort of speed, which should give us confidence that our training has delivered us here in good shape. There are some bits of the race that we would like to have done better, but I’m pleased with the way they coped with the row and we’ve now got a semi-final to look forward to."
MONDAY’S RACING IN FULL
Eton witnessed another in what is becoming a fascinating series of battle between the GB women’s quad and their Russian rivals. In many ways the race followed a familiar pattern, with the Russians starting briskly and stretching out a lead in the first half of the race. The GB quad began to eat into the Russian lead just before three quarter distance. The push was called to perfection and to the evident joy of the grandstands, the GB boat crossed the line a second ahead of the Russians and progresses directly to Sunday’s final.
Sarah Winckless explained that it wasn’t just the crowds getting passionate, "As a crew we’re pleased about the way we held it together today and managed to attack the second half of the race. We always knew that the Russians were going to be a very strong crew – they’ve been strong all season and they’ve strengthened their line-up with the addition of Fedotova. But I’m pleased with the passion in the crew that helped us get over the line first. We know that we have to look at how we can keep crews under pressure in the first half of the race."
The women’s eight never really got going in their heat which was packed with strong crews. The crew now have to gather themselves for the repechage as Elise Laverick explained, "We didn’t put together as good a race as we can and in a field of that quality you have to be at your best. We’ve got 48 hours now to put ourselves back together and make sure that we row to our capability in the repechage. Racing is about putting in a performance when it counts and that’s what we have to do on Wednesday."
The men’s eight produced an epic race. They were third at the first three time markers, but put in the fastest last 1000m of the field and having edged in front in the last ten strokes lost out in a finish so tight that even the photo finish judges would have had their work cut out to determine.
The Germans were awarded the heat by just 1/100th of a second, but the GB crew will join them in Friday’s semi-finals.
James Lindsay-Fynn and Mark Hunter will have enjoyed their row in today’s heat of the lightweight double scull. The German crew made the early pace, but the GB boat was on level terms shortly after half way and kept pulling away. The result was not in doubt long before the grandstands came into view and will leave Lindsay-Fynn and Hunter in good heart for the semi-final. The outcome will also have had staff at the Bank of America cheering for their colleague Lindsay-Fynn, currently on leave from his day job.
Mark Hunter was understandably upbeat after the race, "It was important for us to beat the Germans as we hadn’t done that to them so far this season – we’ve come very close, but with our solid preparation, we knew we’d moved on and today showed us what we can do. We rowed efficiently and did what we had to do to open up a gap. The semi-final is going to be very, very fast and it’s going to be a tight affair with four good crews going for two places."
The women’s lightweight quad also had a controlled race in their heat this morning. They established a length’s lead over the Canadian crew by 750m and had clear water by half way. The kept their rhythm in the second half and were never seriously challenged. By winning the heat, the GB quad qualified directly for Sunday’s final alongside a fast Chinese boat who won the first heat convincingly.
Chris Bartley and Richard Chambers were out to prove that they had lost none of their form since the World under 23 Championships in Hazewinkel. In a heat containing the Italian pair that they beat to take the gold medal a month ago, they established an early lead and were soon a length ahead. It was a margin they were to hold to the end to the delight of the home crowd and another opportunity to reinforce their current superiority over the talented Italian crew.
Helen Casey and Jane Hall in the lightweight double scull faced a tough challenge today having been drawn against the emerging strength of the Chinese lightweight sculling machine and the reigning World Champions from Germany. As expected, the race proved to be all about those three crews. Hall and Casey will have been encouraged by the fact that they won their battle with the Germans, but the Chinese – as their quad had done just before – put down a big marker and progressed to the semi-final, while the GB crew will see action again in the repechages on Wednesday.
After a bright start which saw them leading after 500m, the lightweight men’s four faded under the challenge of the Chinese crew. Whilst never losing touch with the field, they were passed
by the Irish before half way and then by a fast finishing Belgium crew and ended the race fourth.