Redgrave catches a crab..


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Brisbane River, Queensland, Australia, Sunday 10th October

Have you ever imagined Burrell and Christie teaming up in the same sprint relay foursome, perhaps with Carl Lewis as anchorman? Or the England and German football teams joining together in a 22-a-side friendly against the combined might of Jamaica and Brazil? Unlikely perhaps. But no more unusual than the sight last weekend of two of the greatest rowing foursomes in the world at present mixing themselves up into one single eight in Brisbane.

The British coxless four, the current crew of the rowing legend Steve Redgrave, for probably the first and last time, laid "hands on" alongside their great rivals for gold in Sydney next September. This year at the Canadian World Championships, the British four of Steve Redgrave, Matthew Pinsent, James Cracknell and Ed Coode retained the M4- title for their country, ahead of Australia's Geoff and James Steward, Bo Hanson and Ben Dodwell. There was one change for this publicity-seeking eight: with James Stewart recovering after a foot operation, his twin Geoff now sat behind Mike McKay of the original Oarsome Foursome (double gold champions in Barcelona and Atlanta), who stroked the Australian eight this year to win the B-final and qualify for the Olympics.

The full "Supercrew" was, from stroke, James Cracknell, Bo Hanson, Ben Dodwell, Steve Redgrave, Matt Pinsent, Ed Coode, Mike McKay, Geoff Stewart with cox Michael Toon. Crackers had dyed his hair red for the occasion, and as you can see from the amateur photography (courtesy and copyright James Worrell), the boat was slightly too small for them and catching plenty of water. This would not have been a problem, but after paddling around at light pressure and low rate for the photographers, the crew decided to take the rate up. Crash! The best Veteran-B oarsman in the world promptly caught a massive crab, and his handle knocked him back, leaving him lying flat on his back with his head in Matt Pinsent's lap!

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Copyright Rachel Quarrell, 1999. Not to be reproduced in any format without explicit permission.