Henley Royal Regatta 2000

The Rowing Service

Live reporting from HRR 2000.

Photos to complement this reporting are being provided by Ed Hewitt of Row2k fame: visit the gallery on his website to see the crews he snapped.

I have to stop reporting now - the Rowing Service can't do a full week at Henley at the moment. Perhaps next year some kind and wealthy Rowing Service reader would like to sponsor full coverage, and then we'll get everything. Visit the official regatta website for the final few results, and see you next year.

More on the Henley Prize earlier Alas the server seized up briefly during this women's eights race, a terrible shame since it was one of the absolutely closest I have ever seen. After going up slightly, Washington then lost their foot lead to Victoria, who had it at the Barrier, but could not get more. The two crews then stayed dead level for whole minutes in the middle of the race, both rating 35-36 at the markers, Victoria inching their noses ahead again by the 3/4 mile. Washington responded without delay, and fought back to a quarterlength lead by the milepost. Victoria didn't have an answer here, but as the finish line came in sight they raised their game again, and struggled back from 3/4 length down, finishing half a length behind deserving victors Washington.

Interview with Greg Searle and Ed Coode, Goblets winners, in the press box:
How hard was it - did you stick to the race plan? You get a bit used to hard races, and it was a good reminder that you have to tough it out during the middle of the race.
We hit a decent middle pace, fast enough to keep the South African pair behind us.
We did settle into it, and it was enough to win today, but we're going to have to find a bit more to win the next race.
What about the steering? Greg My steering was a bit poor throughout the regatta, to be honest, but I blame that on the stream .
We've just heard that the 4- will be doing 32 km UT2 tomorrow, what are your plans? Greg: Oh, we'll be doing at least 32 km, we'll do 36. No, seriously, we will be training as usual, we didn't really taper for this, none of us have. We did heavy weights on Wednesday, and couldn't walk upstairs on Thursday, the day of our first race here.
Thanks Greg, thanks Ed, officially the first live-broadcast rowing interview online. And thanks to Hugh Matheson, Independent correspondent, who was asking the questions while I was typing furiously to get everything down.

4:00 pm: Leander against UTS/Haberfield in the Stewards' Cup
We think the GBR crew is being warned a little off the start, both crews rating 42 at the end of the island, Leander now lead by 1/4 length. Aussies seem to be bringing it back, and the foreigners are on the Berks station, official qmile signal is a 3-foot lead to Leander. It's raining, and the lead is a canvas, time to the Barrier 1:58, Leander rating 38 to Australia's 36. Half-mile, both now at 37, and it's still a canvas - this is a heck of a race. The rain's pouring down buckets, nervous faces in the press box as the British champions have the stream against them. Fawley time is 3:19, and just after it Pinsent sticks in a huge push, AUS now up at 40, half a length lead. The Australians are tight on the booms, half a length still in it, and Leander have come off their push now. Big questions being asked of this champion crew, and past the next signal the Australians lift it to 41, there's now a canvas in it. Leander now moving away, rating 40, bring it back to half a length again. Sydney/Hab 43, Leander 41, half a length as they come past the grandstands. Definitely a British win now, rating high as they reach the line, verdict 2/3 length in 6:50, and prolonged applause from the press box. Australians nearly hit the press box, totally wiped out with exhaustion, Leander turn themselves round to do a row-past as they are the last race before tea. Down the course they go, cheering from the crowds in the Enclosures, Cracknell's fist is up in acknowledgement.

3:50 pm: University of Washington USA versus University of Victoria Canada in the Henley Prize
Until someone bestows a trophy, this race, the first proper non-invitational women's eights, carries the traditional newcomers name of the Prize. The crews have started, and at the end of the island Washington have a canvas over the Canadians, the crews being on Bucks and Berks in that order. Quartermile the crews are level, Victoria putting a hefty push in, my server's just been down for a few minutes but this race is a cracker, will fill you in but Washington and Victoria are approaching the line almost level, as they have been right the way up. Victory for Washington by half a length (Ed's just taking a picture of them), in a time of 7:29. I'll fill you in on that after the next race.

3:40 pm: Aquil Abdullah versus Simon Goodbrand in the Diamond Challenge Sculls
Scullers on the start, and they've just started. With the British heavyweight sculler Matthew Wells withdrawn, Abdullah will be hoping for a quiet life, but Goodbrand is going to make life as hard as possible. Level at the end of the island, Abdullah at 38 and Goodbrand a pip higher. Abdullah is on Bucks, Goodbrand on Berks, and at the Barrier it seems to be half a length to the American, who is sculling at 32. Goodbrand at 34, this carries on, but Abdullah starts to steer into the centre. He must have been warned, gets back to his station, now 2.5 lengths ahead, but Goodbrand has dropped the rate to 29, and the race looks over. Abdullah stays at 32, Goodbrand at 29, until Remenham, where the American drops a little, and the lead reduces to 2 lengths. Goodbrand to 30, Abdullah back to 32 again, the steering is fine, and the lead is still 2 lengths. Goodbrand bringing it right up for the Enclosures, Abdullah holding him, still 2 lengths. A spirited 36.5 sprint by the Brit is mashed by Abdullah's 42, and the first black man to win the Diamonds crossed 2/3 length up, time 8:12. I can see Ed Hewitt of Row2k in the launch prime position, so we will have good photos of that when he's downloaded them tonight.

3:30 pm: Molesey versus Crabtree in the Thames Challenge Cup
Over to the umpire again at the start, growling launch-noises down the speakers, agonising wait for the crews before the off. And they go, end of the island both crews rating 42 and Molesey are a canvas up. Molesey 37 at the quartermile, Crabtree still 39, and the club crew a quarter of a length up over the CUBC old boys. Crabtree now take the rate down in their stride, and are moving along steadily on the Berkshire station, but Molesey are making the most of the first half of the course, and lead by half a length. Crabtree decide to do something about it, put in a push to 38, but it doesn't work, and the commentary is still half a length (disputed slightly in the press box). Fawley past, both crews are down on race pace now, and Molesey moving further ahead to a 3/4 length lead. Their time of 3:12 is the same as the Ladies at this point. Molesey just edging out seat by seat, get to a length up, looks like they've just stuck in a bit of a push, Crabtree now answer it again, trying to kill off the push, and get back two seats around Remenham. Tit for tat, Molesey now lift a little, but Crabtree on the Berks station are attacking hard and know it's not all over yet. Molesey 38, Crabtree 40 at the Hole, half a length is the margin given. Crabtree slightly too far over, rating 41, it's still half a length, Molesey pushing hard again, 3/4 length. Thames Cup successfully defended, with a different crew, second year in a row for Molesey. Verdict half a length, time 6:36, only six seconds outside the Ladies Plate time.

3:20 pm: Trident, South Africa, against Molesey & Leander, GBR, in the Silver Goblets & Nickalls' Challenge Cup
At the end of the island, Searle & Coode had a slight lead, stretching it to half a length at the quartermile. Di Clemente and Cech rating 41 to try and hold them, and Searle and Coode warned briefly for their steering, but by the Barrier they've got 3/4 of a length. Brits rating 36, RSA pushed around the Barrier, back down to 36 now. Getting to the Farm, RSA are pushing back hard, get it to half a length again, so Searle and Coode, who had dropped the rate, bring it back up. Both crews very close together, rating 35, in the middle of the river. Up to Fawley, the British pair have it back out to a length, on Berks, but are not steering well, have just veered, been warned, and go back to their station again. Passing Upper Thames and Remenham, Searle and Coode at 37, and the margin is back to 3/4 length again - this will be a tussle right to the line. Another shove again from the Cornish blades, and it's back to a length again. RSA take the rate up again, 37 again, back to 37, and Leander's steering is all over the shop. Leander's 2/3 length up, racing over the line, RSA stop racing it before the line, clearly in protest against their rivals' steering, but the umpire immediately waves his white flag to show a clean race. Time 7:37, margin one length.

3:10 pm: University of London against Oxford Brookes University in the Visitors' Challenge Cup
UL on Berks, Brookes on Bucks, and level at the quartermile. Brookes take a lead before the Barrier, settling off the early race pace, and start moving it out steadily, defending the Cup they won last year. Coming to Fawley, it's now a length, and Brookes look calm and controlled. Brookes now pushing very hard at the UTRC area, as their oppo get the best stream, UL now at 38 matching them, UL bringing it back to 3/4 of a length. UL's steering may have a little difficulty, Brookes holding it at 3/4 of a length still. Both crews racing very hard, Brookes have moved on a bit, rate is 39 on both as they come into the Enclosures. Last bit of sprinting into the final stretch, Brookes moving out slightly, still have it by a length. UL worryingly near their booms, just avoid hitting as they cross the line a length down. Verdict is that full length, time 7:09.

3:00 pm: Leander/Queen's Tower versus Australian Institute of Sport in the Grand Challenge Cup
The Aussies go to Lucerne in a fortnight, trying to qualify themselves for the Olympic regatta. The Brits won silver at last year's worlds, and are aiming for the US eight who have dominated the scene for several years. Umpire says go, and the binoculars start focusing. Yelling from the launch and the bank on the start, and we think there's a warning and a stoppage from the British eight. No there isn't, commentary checks, but the British crew seems to have been warned straight off the start. Level at the end of the island. Britain up by the quartermile, not by a lot, "slight lead" according to the commentator. At the Barrier, it's back to the Aussies by a canvas, AUS 38, GBR 37, but both start pushing the rate up. Half-mile and it's half a length up to the Aussie crew, who are on the Berkshire station. On to Fawley, time 3:03 which is slow, in a very slight headwind, and as the Aussies push away they get their lead out to 3/4 length by the 3/4Milepost. Brits right over by their booms now, they're trying for all the advantage, but the lead is still moving out for the Australians, now it's a length. Coming towards the start of the Enclosures, still a length. Australia put the rate up, also moving over towards the other crew, and being warned. One length still up, AIS move back, last-ditch effort from GBR, but they can't do anything about it. Time 6:19, verdict 1.5 lengths, and we await the umpire's report to see if anything did happen on the start. In any case, a fantastic win for the Aussies, who will now go on to Lucerne ready to take on all-comers in the qualification race. GBR already have their Olympic place, thanks to last year's silver medal, but will be disappointed that, whatever the reason, they could not answer the other crew's pushes and neutralise them during the latter stages of the race.
Postscript: We heard from Times correspondent Mike Rosewell, in the launch, that the British crew were warned after ten strokes, although Australia were also encroaching on the central water. AUS were warned again at Fawley, as well as near the finish, but GBR never had an answer to the Australians's attack, and looked heavier and less racy.

2:50 pm: Langridge & Wells versus Kalizan & Samuelsen in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup
Junior Brits on Bucks against Denmark's world-finalists in 1999, the Brits outweighing the Danes by three-quarter of a stone average. Starting off, Kalizan & Samuelsen take the lead, relatively high-rating at 36 and upwards for the two crews. Half-mile, and the 2.5 length lead has been stretched to 3 lengths, and the Danes are now underrating. The British juniors are now veering right across in front of the umpire's launch, more than half-way now, but they're so far behind that it doesn't affect the race fairness. By Fawley, they're still across the course, perhaps having trouble correcting, and it's now four lengths. Finally coming back on station, and now the Danes are moving to their bowside. The doubles are now at Remenham, the Danes ahead by over five lengths, rating 34 and sculling with their spoons so close the water you can hardly see the colour as they square and go in. The British juniors are under-rating now, the race over for them, but both doubles take it up for the crowds in the Enclosures, the Danes almost over into the Bucks station, Danes delighted and the youngsters putting in a valiant effort but without a chance.

2:40 pm: Groton USA versus St. Joe's Prep USA in the Princess Elizabeth Challenge Cup
Off the start, Groton underrating St. Joe's 37 to 41, and as the announcer says this, there's a girlish yell from their supporters, hearing that Groton (on Bucks) have a slight lead. Now it's 36:34 on the rates, the lower-striking Groton crew leading by quarter of a length. But we can see the signals saying otherwise, and it soon comes through on the commentary that the Joe's first push has worked, by the Barrier they're now ahead. Up to the half-mile, and Joe's now have half a length on their rivals, still slightly over-rating. An Environment Agency launch crosses the course not very far ahead of the two crews, and as they pass the 3/4 mile St. Joe's are still hanging on to this half-length, unable to further extend the lead. Up goes their rate in a push to try and fix it, but Groton are also pushing, and at Remenham it's just a canvas to the Prep - good effort from Groton at an unexpected place. Still high-rating from Joe's, who steadily pull it back out again, clearly hoping that Groton have now shot their bolt. Up to the Enclosures, it's now 3/4 length to the Prep, and now they're pulling clear, in that comfortable position where unless you catch a crab, you can enjoy the applause of the crowd in the Enclosures as you take it over the line. Verdict 1.75 lengths, in a time 6:47.

2:30 pm: Imperial versus Cambridge in the Brit Cup
Imperial started well, on Bucks, leading by a canvas at the end of the island. Then Cambridge clawed it back, putting their noses ahead just before the quartermile. We pick it up at the Farm, where Cambridge have dropped to rate 35 (in almost no wind) and lead by a length. At Fawley, IC are sticking in a huge push to maximise their advantage section, and get back a quarter of a length, but Cambridge are holding them off well. Next marker, IC still pushing, have got the margin down to half a length. Remenhem Club, Imperial raising it to 37, Cambridge still 35, and holding this half length. If they can hang on here, they will get this without trouble. Still half a length at the mile, and you can see the power being ped into the water, puddles rising on the blades. Half a length still at the start of the Enclosures, Imperial having another go, up goes the rate again, third of a length. In the grandstands, about eight feet in it, IC at 40, Cambridge at 39, still ahead, and they hang on to win by what looks like half a length. Ecstatic yelling from Cambridge, and a slightly incredulous "we won?!" with more than a question in his voice, from one of their oarsmen. IC are bloody and bowed, the third selected crew to fall to this Cambridge quintet, who were not themselves marked out for selection.

Nereus versus Australian Institute of Sport in the final of the Queen Mother Challenge Cup.
Nereus have looked fantastic this week, and this morning went for a paddle-outing to loosen up, dipping their way at light pressure along the course with not a drip of water out of place. The Australian (sorry, server went off line) crew never really had a chance, beaten down by a display of smooth power sculling from the Dutch.

6:30 pm: U Victoria against UTRC/Kingston in the Henley Prize
I had to go offline but this although a re-run of the Henley Women's final, saw Upper Thames/Kingston fight their way right back from a big margin down, avoid a flock of Canada geese right next to the Stewards as they approached the finish, only to end quarter of a length down to the Canadians, rather inappropriately... A much better race than their HWR final, and a good holding job from U Vic to stop them taking the win this time.

6:20 pm: Yale against Columbia in the Temple
Two lightweight crews in a match, Yale took an early lead of 2/3, which Columbia eroded to a canvas during the next 400 metres. At the Farm, Yale have held this canvas for the last minute, now they're sticking in a big push, drawing it out to half a length. This comes out to 3/4 length at the next marker, and Columbia try to push back hard. They're rating high, Yale holding it in, but by the mile and an eighth it's half a length again. Getting past the spectators in the Enclosures, Columbia 39 and Yale 38, the umpire starts inexplicably warning the WRONG crew ie Yale, as Columbia move over a little. Bizarre. Not good. Finally a win for Yale by over half a length, good work from them and a fine effort from Columbia.

6:10 pm: Greenaway versus Abdullah in the Diamonds
Colin Greenaway successfully defended his Indoor Championship title at the British event last November, but may be no match for Abdullah, a solid international sculler who is trying to fit himself into the US national team. Off the start, Aquil pretty quick, and two lengths up by the Barrier. Steadily steadily he slides away and drops the rate, down to 30 by Fawley and three and a half lengths ahead of Greenaway. More of the same, coming to Remenham Aquil now down to 28, looking very slick, stable in the boat and comfortable. No stretcher trouble this year, then... Greenaway takes it up past the grandstand, to 35 and counting, but the margin, though narrowing, is not going to affect the outcome. And Abdullah progresses nicely into his final, now against Simon Goodbrand, in the absence of the original British squad entry from Matthew Wells. Abdullah, you might like to know, is a talented saxophonist, who one night while jamming with friends in a Princeton bar, ended up playing "I Feel Good" and other favourites with none other than James Brown. Is there no end to the talents of this man?

6:00 pm: Searle and Coode against Hare and Watson in the Goblets
As we wait for the commentator to deign to start, a silly little skiff bumbling towards the Stewards Enclosure landing area near gets spiked on the front of University of Victoria's women's eight. OK, the pairs are off. Level by the end of the island, the GB pair move one length up by the quartermile. Now they're taking the rate down, loping along at a steady 32 against the London pair's race pace, but four lengths ahead. Hare and Watson hugging the booms, almost invisible against the white posts along the booms. Now the club pair has dropped its rate too, both crews at 30, and the margin officially "considerable", "comfortable" and "significant" by turns according to the fruity HRR voice over the speakers. Now both pairs at 28 past Remenham, and though we can't hear it from this position, there will be a big roar for Searle here if the Molesey drinkers turn round, and an answering roar for the London pair. Rate 27 for the GB pair but it looks lower, blades lazily dropping into the water, Cornish crosses still visible. Tomorrow they face the South African pair, who have improved since their Vienna outing, so a slow rate-22 paddle home along the Enclosures is just what they need in preparation. Over the line, wait for Hare and Watson, and then Greg offers them a race to the landing-stage from beside the press box.

5:50 pm: Brock University Canada against University of London in the Visitors
The sun is coming out again in Henley - it's been overcast and rain-threatening all day. Right, the two fours off the start, Brock taking a half-length lead by the end of the island. These are lightweights, under-weighted by two and a half stone by the Londoners. UL seem to be quite far away from their Berks booms: this being a coxless event, it's a little more common for steering mistakes to affect the outcome. Up to Fawley, both fours rate 35, Brock having moved out to a length a little earlier, maintain this as they get the advantage for a while, out of the stream. UL are steering back to the booms, it's still a length at the next marker. Brock want to shake these guys, raise the rate a couple of pips, UL go to 36 to contain it, bring the margin back to half a length. Good tactics from the homeboys. At the Mile and an eighth, the crews level, and now UL know they have all the best water from here in. Passing the signal, they're now moving through Brock, rating 37, and getting close to a length lead. Brock sprinting again, London moving away, this gap is widening by the stroke - it's over 2 lengths. A final verdict of three lengths, UL very happy, splashing the water as Brock wind down.

5:40 pm: Molesey versus Rostock & Heidelberg in the Ladies' Plate
The men's crews are on the start now, as Maria Brandin finishes her race against South African Cretchley in the Princess Royal, with considerable ease.
The crews are off, the Germans on Berks and Molesey on Bucks, level at the end of the island. By the quartermile the German crew is half a length up. Built around the winning Thames Cup crew of last year, this Molesey eight has veteran HRR winner and now Steward Richard Stanhope stroking, Olympic gold medallists Jonny Searle in the seven-seat, and Biff Simmons doubling up from the second British pair into this crew. The Germans are still pulling away from the club crew, by Fawley they are 2 lengths up and counting. 3/4 mile gone, now it's 2.5 lengths, and after yesterday's debacle, the German cox is staying well on his side, no messing. Molesey pushing at the Mile, up at 39, but nothing they can do makes an impact on this impressive Under-23 crew. The Germans looking relaxed at 35, then jumping it to 37.5 for a quick ten-stroke burst as they reach the finish line.

3:40 pm: Groton School USA against St. Paul's School in the PE
Another trans-Atlantic challenge, Groton taking the fight up early with a 1/4-length lead at the end of the island. Qmile this is 1/3-length, both crews now settled. Groton now rating 34, Paul's 37 as they push, just 1/4 length in it and the wind is freshening again. Half-mile, Groton push it back out again, 3/4 length as they enjoy the Bucks advantage, coming to 1 length as they reach Fawley. The English crew is still striking higher, 36 to 34, by 3/4 mile it's still a length. Now coming to Remenham, Groton still lower on the rate, Paul's pushing to 38 as the Americans stretch it to 1.25 lengths. Still a rate difference in it, getting to the Milepost, just over a length still. Groton look contained coming towards the Enclosures, not really troubled, but bring it up to 37 now for the final sprint, and move into a longer lead. I bet their gearing is heavy, rateing that low and they sound exhausted, even in victory, while the Telegraph correspondent has to remind St. Paul's to acknowledge their conquerors. So it's set up for an all-American final now, the first time since 1996 that the PE Cup has gone abroad, and the first time since 1994 that it will go to America.

3:30 pm: Oxford Brookes 'A' versus Cambridge in the Visitors
Brookes originally had last year's winner crew in entirety defending this trophy, but with bowman Gareth Corry coming off his motorbike and suffering a serious fracture, that plan was blown out of the water. Brookes have looked good with a sub on board, but now face a crew of Blues, and have the wrong station to contend with. Cambridge take a short lead at the quartermile, and by the Barrier are a length up. Brookes pushing back at the Farm, reducing it to 3/4 length, both crews slightly nearer the middle, and the light blues push it back again. 3/4 mile signal and it's back to a length again, holding it, Brookes one pip higher, again pushing. A spurt from the defending champions at Remenham Club takes it back to 3/4 length again, a huge effort brings it back to level as Brookes come back down to their racing pace off the push. Now they take the lead, just by a few seats, at the next signal they've pushed ahead again, nearly a length. Cambridge very near their booms, Brookes have surged right ahead now, not lifting it for the finish, wiped out but with a well-deserved result. We couldn't see if Cambridge hit the side at all, with OBU moving through them so quickly, but both crews raced extremely hard right the way down the track.

3:20 pm: Garda Siochana against Molesey in the Thames
Molesey took a short lead just after the start, while I was offline, and have come out to 3/4 length (on the Berks station) as they get to the Barrier. Coming to Fawley it's just 2/3 but Molesey are apparently rating 35, so with only a little frisky wind on the course, Garda are clearly doing a strategic stream-led push. At Remenham, both at 36, Molesey's negated the push and taken it out to 2/3 again, Garda take it up a pip, Molesey make it 3/4. In come the crowds with support, the English crew have a full length now, not having to sprint for the finish, Garda jump another pip but can't get back on terms. No space left, it's all over, another year finishes for the Irish police.

3:10 pm: Leander against Trident in the Stewards
The race all the photographers wanted tickets for: "Redgrave's four" against their first opposition of the regatta, the South African lightweight crew. They're off, and it should be a walk in the park for the Brits, on the better station ane just opening their pipes a bit before they meet the silver medallist Aussies tomorrow. The heavyweight crew are off with confidence, well up at the quartermile, a length and a half at the Barrier, but the British four's Barrier time is just 1:58, nowhere near the record of 1:51. Rate for the heavies is down to 33 as they get to the half-mile, with the lightweight South Africans at 35-36, they aren't having to show their true colours. In the earlier semifinal the Australians had a much harder time against the Irish lightweights Tara, partly due to being on the worse station, but this will be reversed tomorrow in the final. Shame the two light crews didn't get a chance to meet. Leander now at 30, lazing along, getting the customary cheer from the crowds, dropping it again to 26, perhaps they want to cross the line overlapping, Trident still going hard. Leander's steering sliding a bit, rate 25 as they near the line, very relaxed, not a problem. Trident pretty dejected, no fun when you know the other crew didn't have to try at all, but a nearly-five-stone weight advantage is a bit much to get over.

3:00 pm: Radley College against St. Joe's Prep USA in the PE
We were meant to be getting a starter's commentary from the last race, and I think they'll try to do it again for this, but there's clearly been some kind of breakdown in communications between the start and control. Nothing yet even though the race should have started.
And we're off, rates of 43:39 at the end of the island (SJ to RC), and Joe's led by a quarter of a length, leading out to a third not long afterwards. Just to the Barrier, and the Americans look unchallengeable now, more than a length up and quite happy at 36 strokes a minute. At least both crews are sticking to their station, which is handy since the umpire is the one who adjudicated on the British/German Ladies race yesterday... Time to Fawley 3:17, yes that means the wind has come up a bit, a couple of seconds slower than their times yesterday, and coming to Remenham Radley start a massive push, rate up to 37. That gets a cheer as it's announced, the margin back to one length, next the Mile signal, the commentator says it's half a length, but the progress board says a canvas. More cheering in the Enclosures, both crews at 37, officially 1/3 length now, and Radley have everything to do despite their home-crowd support. Joe's moving away again, Radley stick it up to 38, now it's half a length. Don't let anyone tell you there isn't an advantage on Berks in this kind of weather. Roaring crowds, more Radley sprinting, but they can't quite do it, a very brave effort but a well-deserved win for the visitors who let out baboon-like yells as Radley collapse on their oars. Many disapproving looks from all the Stewards in the press box, but you can understand it after that kind of a race. The Joe's boat is hanging around just past the finish, waiting for the safety launch to rescue cox Kelly's cap, and meanwhile Radley give St. Paul's, about to race Groton, another American semifinalist crew, some serious encouragement - all the English schoolboy hopes rest on them now.

2:50 pm: Leander/CUBC versus Leander/Oxford Brookes in the Prince Philip
The Leander/CUBC crew being cannon fodder for the current GB 2nd four, who are using the regatta to try out their wings with a cox on board for the first time, in preparation for the Worlds this summer. The squad crew were third in Vienna last week, and started the race making mincemeat of the old boys, who include some familiar "blast from the past" faces from previous winning crews. Well up at the end of the island, the GB 4+ continued to shift until well into the race, where they took the rate down and started to save their powder for the next day. Two lengths by the quartermile is good going in anyone's books in a coxed four, and with a slice more wind, they looked powerful and impressive. Balance slightly to pot, but that was more a hand-heights problem. Now just over the line, the old lads crew too far behind to be within earshot as the squad four paddled off.

2:45 pm: U. Cal. versus Brown in the Ladies
This one promised to be a boring race, as Brown took an early lead from their compatriots. But Cal clawed it back steadily, brought it back just about level, only to succumb again as Brown stuck in a devastating mid-race push. Even at the end it was close, though Brown walked through right down the Enclosures, and the crews were clapped loudly as they finished. An excellent race, and cheeringly sportsmanlike behaviour from the two crews.

12:10 am: Gent versus Crabtree in the Thames
This will be the last one for a while - although there are internationals coming up, I can't stay online all day. Will take it back up at 2:40 for the big afternoon races.
Gent led Crabtree by a canvas at the Barrier, the wind has died down at water level again, getting to the Farm Crabtree have seized the canvas back and taken a few feet of their own. This race close as anything, at Fawley it's just a quarter of a length, and pushing as the Gent crew gets the better water, they move this out to half a length at the 3/4 mile. Getting to the Mile, it's a length now, Crabtree looking unworried at 36, the Belgians pushing at 38. Nearing the Enclosures, Crabtree squeeze up a notch, Gent can't match it, Crabtree get an enormous cheer as they move further away. Length and a half at the finish, but a good race nevertheless.

12:00 am: Rebecca Romero against Debbie Flood in the Princess Royal
Race has started, Flood rating 38 at the end of the island was up by a length, stretching it out at the quartermile beyond 2 lengths. Nearing the Barrier, Romero at 33.5, Flood at 33.5, margin over 2 still, and the commentator gives it as 4 lengths by the marker. Both started on station, Romero slides over a little, Flood slides towards her booms, being on the less-streamed Berks bank. Nearing Fawley, Romero 33.5, Flood cruising at 29.5 now, the gap between them very easy for her. Much comment in the press box yet again about the abysmal placing of the umpire's launch. Both scullers on station again, up to Remenham, sweeping it along Flood is now not at all under pressure. Nearing the Enclosures, the gap is very large, Flood down in the late 20's, Romero notching along a few pips higher. Both 20-year-olds over the line, a good show for British sculling, but never really in doubt.

11:50 am: Smith and Simmons versus Di Clemente and Cech in the Goblets
This is an all-international final, the British pair having finished 12th and the South Africans ninth in Vienna last weekend. A good start from the South Africans, by the half-mile getting one length up on their British rivals, but not breaking much further clear until Fawley, where they get another few feet on it. Smith and Simmons rating high, but the South Africans just one pip below them, as they contain the push. Coming up to the mile, both pairs quite central in the stream, umpire' launch off-set as usual (when will they get it right?), RSA two lengths up and being warned a little. Nearing the Enclosures, 2.25 lengths, Brits now sliding over onto the middle water, creeping back a little, rate up again. Di Clemente and Cech extremely comfortable at 35, barely look out of breath as they cross the line.

11:40 am: London RC against Notts County RA in the Prince Philip
London take a short lead off the island, quartermile Notts take it back, and they start moving bit by bit away. At Fawley, Notts rating 34, London 36, and over 2 lengths in it. The wind has picked up a bit, slightly breezy and looks like it may be head-ish later on, but at least it's not raining. The crews reach the Enclosures, and Notts including former internationals are swinging along relaxed just over 30. London's crew, including Watson and Hare who perform later against Searle and Coode in the Goblets (6 pm tonight, probably live on here), are dispirited, but it was no contest.

11:30 am: University of Cape Town against Exeter University in the Temple
Race about to start, the banks are full, and this pits the giant-killers Exeter, who knocked out seeds Trinity College Dublin on Thursday, against a nippy South African crew. At the quartermile the British students had a canvas lead, both rating 37. Now to the Barrier (at least we're getting quite good commentary on most of each race), and I've survived steward Richard Phelps poking around in the press box telephone lines: I thought he was going to pull the plug on this modem connection. The eights are at Fawley, Exeter up by just under a length, but from the rates being given, Cape Town are putting in a strong push, up goes the power, and it's now just half a length. A good place to do it, in their best water, but they lose the stream advantage now for the rest of the course. Milepost, Exeter up by 3/4 length now, rating it higher to make sure of their lead. South Africa surging back again, half a length in it, crowds on their feet, Exeter give it another hard shove, threequarters of a length, victory in sight, yells of delight over the finish line. It is a sheer delight to see a crew in a Temple semifinal which is not full of pot-hunting foreigners or the development oarsmen from one of the established top British rowing universities. Exeter have impressed throughout, and if they get past their next American test will deserve much kudos.

11:20 am: Hansa Hamburg against Thames in the QM
Picking this race up in the middle, Hamburg took a lead of a length over Thames in the first part of the course, but just as you might think the German quad's position would be assured, and as they reached the area favouring their Bucks station, Thames came charging back, and took a slight lead beside Remenham Club. Coming to the Enclosures, you can hear a full Saturday crowd starting to roar, and Thames are moving into a better and better lead, now over a length clear. By the Grandstand, and the Thames quad is sure of victory, rowing longer than Hansa, just before the finish line a few cock-eyed strokes make them look like they've blown, but it doesn't matter now, and although it must have been a huge effort to row the Germans down, they've done a good job and know it.

11:00 am: Bewl Bridge versus Nereus/Laga in the Queen Mother
Not a close race here, so I'll just update sporadically. The Dutch crew are already up by 3.5 lengths at the quartermile, the first real signal. The commentator has decided Nereus (usually pronounced something like neereeyows by most peole) needs to be called Nerise, sounding more like the spurned wife's name in a deadly US daytime soap. A working steam launch passes the finish, rather an unusual sight, causing drools of envy from the boat buffs in the press box. Meanwhile Nereus/Laga are a considerable distance ahead of Bewl Bridge, who are chonking valiantly along, to no avail. That's a very smooth Dutch quad, who look good in their win.

10:50 am: Thames RC versus UL/Tyrian in the Henley Prize
Sorry, got here a bit late. UL/Tyrian have taken a quick lead, despite what looks from the press box like some terribly erratic steering, moving from the Berks station onto the middle space of the course. They're at the Barrier and it's now a length and a half, and UL seem pretty comfortable now. Getting to the half-mile and now the Fawley marker, UL still a long way from their booms, but no warnings we can see. Getting to 3/4 mile, the purples are now more than 2 lengths ahead of the club crew, and rating down at 32, without stress. Thames obviously doing all they can to stay in the game, keeping the rate to race pace, but it will take a big mistake from UL for this to go wrong for them. Margin still 2 lengths at the Enclosures, Thames up at 38, UL drop it down to the mid-20's, no chance of an upset now. It should be said that while the UL line was some five feet away from their booms, the different length of women's blades in both crews meeant that there was no question of them interfering with Thames, nor of any clash.

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