Welcome to Lucerne

This year the Rowing Service is delighted to feature international reporting at the FISA Rowing World Cup from eminent journalist Christopher Dodd, editor of the UK's Regatta Magazine.

Chris has been posting reports after each day's racing from Munich, Vienna and Lucerne.

This is his report from Friday's racing at Lucerne, July 14th 2000.

The Wet Stuff
You can tell there's a regatta on because it's raining. It has been raining all week on the Rotsee, pouring and pausing, threatening and billowing, for both the Olympic qualifying regatta and now the opening of the final round of the World Cup. The only day it didn't rain was the one between the two regattas, a day when the Times and Guardian retreated up the cable cars and wheel-and-cog railway of Mount Pilatus in order to avoid black spots in the social life of Lucerne. Namely, for example, the Pickwick where those who failed in their bid to get to Sydney went to drown their sorrows, and those who succeeded gathered to celebrate, including the GB women's eight who zapped the Germans by a bow ball.

The German hotel was certainly a place to avoid. Their men's eight failed to qualify as well, defeated in their vile Deutsch Telecom-sponsored boat (as seen in the Ladies' Plate at Henley, in which it was rowed by the under-23 crew), confirming the maxim that nobody in a boat of such colour has ever won anything.

But ponder upon it: an Olympic Games without an eight from Germany. It is true that in the days of East and West they always had two chances, but the federation will now be boning up for a season of recriminations as thorough as only the Germans can make it, because the combined Germany has failed to produce ten years after the Wall came down. The old guard of the federation will be saying "We told you so" and the revolutionary wing who took over a few years ago will be reaching for the excuses manual. A few people will no doubt be examining their contracts as well.

Meanwhile, "You can't get me, I'm part of the Union" was sadly only true for some at the British HQ by Wednesday evening. It was the bitter end for some at the Union hotel, where funding takes a down spiral for crews like the lightweight four and the women's lightweight double scullers, and an upward spiral for the likes of Matthew Wells and, we hope, the women's eight.

There is also the exciting prospect of a litigation season back home in Blighty if a lot of people who think they should be in the men's eight decide to launch appeals. This could turn out to be the dark side of success in producing such a large, talented, able and equally matched men's squad.

In the department of statistics, the United States is the only country to achieve a full set of 14 boats at the Olympic regatta. Australia and Germany have 12, and Britain is the only other country in double figures with 10 - neatly divided equally between men and women. British boats in the Olympics are: men's four, pair, eight, lightweight double and Matthew Wells; women's quad, pair, eight, double and Alison Mowbray.

And so to the World Cup
The seven British crews who qualified for the Olympics at the World Championships last year were entered, but the women's quad was withdrawn because Sarah Winckless has a rib stress fracture. Four avoided the repechages today, the unlucky being Searle and Coode in the pair and Male and Kay in the lightweight double. Both, however, succeeded at their second chance.

James Cracknell, Steve Redgrave, Tim Foster and Matthew Pinsent maintained their unbeaten record and left themselves five races to go in their four-year campaign for glory when they won an easy heat today. Norway and the second German boat qualified from the same race. Pinsent raised his hand as soon as the crew crossed the line to complain to umpire Ron Chen about wash on the course caused by the tv launch, somewhat ironic as nothing was being televised.

"We had a good race, a sensible solid start, and kept control in the second half," said Pinsent. Back on shore they had the opportunity to discuss the wash problems with Borge Kass-Andersen, boss of the umpires. They problem seems to be too few launches for umpires to cope with the five-minute race programme, plus the safety and tv launches floating about. "We reckon we hit three separate washes," Pinsent said. "It was fair for everyone, but at the most important regatta of the year apart from the Olympics, why are we expected to race in such conditions?"

The other qualifiers for Saturday's semis include France, New Zealand, Italy and Australia, so all the finalists from the 1999 World Champions are there. The finishing order in St Catharines was GB, Australia, Italy, NZ , Norway, France. Romania and two German crews are also in the semi-finals, while the American crew who qualified for the Olympics on Wednesday are in the US eight for the World Cup final.

Dot Blackie and Cath Bishop were third in their heat of the coxless pairs, four seconds behind the winners from Germany who took the lead from the Americans in the third quarter of the race. These three were well clear of the rest and qualified for the semi-finals. Their race was much faster than the other two heats, with Blackie and Bishop showing up very fast in the last 500, even though this was somewhat academic.

Frances Houghton and Gillian Lindsay were also in the fastest heat, three of the double scullers qualifying for semi-finals. They were fourth after 500 metres but overtook the Australians Hatzakis and Roye to challenge the Kiwi Evers-Swindell sisters for second place. The Germans Thieme and Boron were in control at the front throughout.

Greg Searle and Ed Coode took charge of their repechage while all behind them swopped arund. This secured their future in the semi-final round. In the heat a few hours earlier they were racing for qualifying place and missed by under a second at the hands of the veteran German pair, Detlef Kirchhoff and Robert Sens. It was by far the fastest heat. The Italians Luigi Sorrentino and Pasquale Panzarino led to 1500 metres and were then passed by the German and British crews. The Australian world champions, Drew Ginn and James Tomkins, won another heat - except that it wasn't Ginn at all, but Matt Long in the bow seat, the bloke who subbed into the Aussie four in the heat and semi of the Vienna round of the Cup. Ginn is reported to be off colour after his morning outing.

The GB eight qualified for the final with ease over the US - not the world champions, but a crew made up of Olympic qualifying boats. The eight now has Andrew Lindsay at bow, Ben Hunt-Davis at 2, Simon Dennis at 3, Louis Attril at 4, Luka Grubor at 5, Kieran West at 6, Fred Scarlett at 7, and Steve Trapmore at stroke.

Tim Male and Tom Kay were in touch with the Germans Ingo Euler and Bernhard Ruehling and the Americans Steve Tucker and Conal Groom in their rep of the lightweight doubles, well clear of the Cubans and the Australian second boat. This secured a place in Saturday's semis. In their heat they were beaten by France's Pascal Touron and Thibaud Chapelle by three seconds.

The rain on the Rotsee stopped as the last race finished.

Click here for a full list of the British progressions through the regatta.

Back to the index