GB Announces Crews for First World Cup of the Season

Zac Purchase, a 20 year-old from Tewkesbury who is already a world champion in the lightweight single scull, and Annie Vernon, a 24 year-old from Wadebridge in Cornwall, are two names to watch in the GB line-up for the first World Cup of the 2007 season.

Purchase, of Marlow RC, steps up from the single – in which he set a world best time in winning gold at Eton last August – to the Olympic class, Siemens-backed lightweight men’s double scull where he will race with Mark Hunter in Linz, Austria, from June 1-3rd.

Vernon, of Thames RC and a product of the ARA’s World Class Start programme sponsored by Siemens, will move up into the leading women’s crew  – the Camelot-backed quadruple scull – alongside Scotland’s Katherine Grainger, Fran Houghton of Oxford and Debbie Flood, from Leeds.

The women’s quadruple scull, like the men’s four,are reigning world champions for the second year in succession, having won in 2005 and 2006.

For Grainger, twice already an Olympic silver medallist across two boat classes and at two different Games, this season is full of "Olympic buzz" as Great Britain strives to win medals at the World Championships in Munich, in August, as well as attempting to qualify as many boats as possible for next year’s Games in Beijing.

Vernon was understandably elated at her elevation: "I was surprised, almost in shock, when I was first told", she said.  "But, of course, I’m pleased to be in the lead boat.  I think we’ve got a really strong women’s squad as a whole and a top-class women’s quad. I can’t wait to get on and race now".

Paul Thompson, coach to the women and the lightweights was complimentary about both young rowers:  "Zac Purchase has been outstanding in the single and the crew boats We are looking forward to seeing what impact he will make on the double. Annie Vernon has been our most consistent peformer over the winter and her place in the lead boat which is  thoroughly-deserved".
 
Jurgen Grobler, the men’s chief coach, meanwhile, has stuck by his 2006 World Champion line-up in the men’s four, also sponsored by Camelot, and headed by reigning Olympic champion Steve Williams.

His decision comes despite prior speculation that he might race Andy Hodge and Peter Reed in a men’s pair or that he might favour former world junior champion Matt Langridge, of Cheshire, above Alex Partridge, part of that 2005 and 2006 world champion crew, who raced at this month’s trials in a last-minute pairing after his original partner fell ill.

"One very positive point is the high standard and consistent performances that the rowers have put in over the winter", said Jurgen Grobler of his decision today.  "However, I’ve told the rowers that everything they have done for the past two years doesn’t count. This is a new start".

Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham, who won world championship bronze in 2006, will race once more in the Siemens-sponsored men’s double scull.  Both performed strongly at this month’s GB Senior Rowing Trials and their form potentially augurs well for another successful season.

Coleraine’s Alan Campbell, victor for a second time at the GB trials a month ago, will race in the men’s single scull whilst Staffordshire’s Anna Bebington, and Elise Laverick, of Sussex, will form the women’s double scull.  Both boats are Siemens-sponsored.

"We’ve had an excellent set of trials and these are our priority crews for the first world cup of the season", said GB Performance Director David Tanner today. "This is a key season with Olympic qualifying at the World Championships in August. We were pleased with our three Olympic class medals from 2006 and aim to build on that in the coming season".

GB Rowing also announced today that Olympic bronze medallist and twice world champion Sarah Winckless will be absent for the majority of the season’s racing. She has undergone recent knee surgery and will spend much of the summer in rehabilitation.

"Sarah’s injury is obviously a blow to the women’s squad as she has been part of our world champion crew in the past two seasons", said Tanner.

GB Rowing will announce further crew selections prior to the FISA World Rowing Cup in Linz after more testing.  The "big" boats are still being formed and will include a men’s and women’s eight. There will also bemen’s and women’s pairs and, because GB has developed an exciting group of young scullers, there will be a men’s quadruple scull mixing some of that young talent with more experienced scullers.  The remaining lightweight Olympic class boats – the women’s double scull and the men’s four are also still to be named.

At the season’s second world cup, in Amsterdam, GB will also be able to race an adaptive four, sponsored by Siemens, because FISA is offering a race for this Paralympic category at a world cup for the first time and GB intends to support FISA’s move.

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GB CREWS FOR FIRST WORLD CUP OF 2007
(Linz, Austria, June 1-3)
(NB – listed from bow to stroke with
athlete name followed by club, home town
and date of birth in brackets).

OPEN

WOMEN

Double scull

Elise Laverick (Thames RC/Poling, W.Sussex/27.7.75)/
Anna Bebington (Leander Club/Leek, Staffs/13.2.83)

Quadruple scull

Debbie Flood (Leander Club/Leeds/27.2.80)/Annie Vernon
(Thames RC/Wadebridge/1.9.82)/Fran Houghton
(Uni of London/Oxford/19.9.80)/Katherine Grainger
(St Andrew BC/Aberdeen/12.11.75)

MEN

Four

Steve Williams (Leander Club/Cheltenham/15.4.76)/Peter
Reed (Leander Club/Nailsworth, Glos/27.7.81)/Alex
Partridge (Leander Club/Alton, Hants/25.1.81)/Andy
Triggs Hodge (Molesey BC/Hebden, N.Yorks/3.8.79)

Double Scull

Matt Wells (Leander Club/Hexham, Northumberland/19.4.79)/
Stephen Rowbotham (Leander Club/Winscombe, Somerset/11.11.81)

Single Scull

Alan Campbell (Tideway Scullers/Coleraine/9.5.83)

LIGHTWEIGHT

MEN

Double scull

Mark Hunter (Leander Club/Romford, Essex/1.7.78)/
Zac Purchase (Marlow RC/Tewkesbury, Glos/2.5.86)

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CONTACT DETAILS
For media enquiries about British Rowing please contact:

Caroline Searle

T:  (01225) 383518
M:  (07831) 755351

e:  [email protected]

GB Rowing website www.biro.org.uk – full biogs available
here.
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