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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 will be posting reports after each day's racing from Munich, Vienna and Lucerne.

Here follows his last piece from Munich, running Thursday to Saturday, June 1-3 2000.

The good, the bad and the shaky
A World Cup regatta which began so well that a bonanza of British medals seemed on the cards turned a bit sour on finals day. In truth the omens were there: The Union flag was flying proudly upside down behind the sponsor Zurich's hoardings, and the British crews were decked out in a lousy new blue strip which made them look like the French, and half the other nations competing. In the event, French crews scored more points in the first round than the Brits - 39 to 37, with Germany the leaders at 52.

The high and mighty for Olympic and world cup prospects include the men's four, eight and some promise for the pair. The women's double are on the right track. The women's eight and the lightweight double are at a cross-roads, while the low and desultory are the lightweight men's fours, the heavy double scullers and the final performance of the women's pair.

Men's coxless fours

The men's fours was a gripping race which certainly points to the fact that life is not getting easier for the Olympic favourites. Slovenia took an early lead but failed to keep it by a cat's whisker at the first mark. On the splits sheet GB has straight firsts, but the Slovenians kept up their challenge until half way when the French raised the odds. The Norwegians, too eventually scalped the Slovenians.

The British crew were aware from the start of the regatta that this was not going to be an easy initiation for their final season. They have done what was required of them and what they required of themselves, but we are in for a nail-biting few months even if they won't admit it. Their own verdict is that they've put together a good 1750 (Cracknell), that the first quarter of their heat was excellent, the middle of the semi-final was excellent, and the final contained bits and pieces of both (Pinsent), and that for reasons of finding their way in a new boat they made it hard this weekend but came out full of confidence and more to come (Redgrave).

The second British four had some fun as well, finishing fifth in a quality final after a gutsy heat and semi-final.

Men's eights

Croatia were the surprise in the men's eights, tracking Romania for the first half of the course and going out by a clear length by the end. The British crew were fifth at 500 metres, underrating the rest in a well-judged race. They were third at 1000 and 1500 and finished looking strong. They have found a surprise worthy opponent in Croatia but start the season in fine form.

Men's coxless pairs

The Yugoslavians Djordje Visacki and Nikola Stojic made certain of the coxless pairs by going out in 1:39 to 500 metres and turning in 1:44 for each of the other segments, giving them a five second win over the 1996 Olympic bronze medalists Michel Andrieux and Jean-Christof Rolland of France. Greg Searle and Ed Coode were third throughout, trying to hang on to the French coat tails and dicing with the South Africans Ramon di Clemente and Donovan Cech and the Germans Jan Herzog and Ike Landvoight. They must find more, but this is early days for a combination who have great potential. "Jurgen has amended his instruction that we should win every race to that we should get something out of every race," said Searle. "We got a medal out of this one, the first time I've won a medal early in the season since about 1991."

Women's eights

The British women's eight were 3.5 seconds down on the winners in a four boat final, maintaining third position for the first 1000 metres and on the face of it a good result. The hard fact is, however, that in order to qualify for the Olympics they have to beat Belarus or Germany in the qualifying regatta. Today's race was won by the Netherlands who came through from the back, with Belarus second and Romania third. Germany did not show up, but they beat the British crew in Duisburg.

Women's double sculls

The women's double sculls contained the gold and silver medalists from last year's world championships, Jana Thieme and Katrin Boron of Germany and Lin Liu ands Xiuyun Zhang of China respectively. They were split by Romania's Elisabeta Lipa and Veronica Cochela today, with the new British combination of Frances Houghton and Gillian Lindsay moving well in the last 500 metres to come up from fifth to fourth and challenge the Chinese crew. What seemed like a disappointing performance therefore turned into something with sparkle, and we should see once they get their race pace sorted out.

Women's coxless pairs

Dot Blackie and Cath Bishop failed live up to the promise set by their heat. There were no top gears and some dodgy steering, and they were trailing last at 1000 metres after a very slow second quarter. They finished fifth, well off the pace of winners Georgeta Damian and Vlorica Susanu of Romania. The Germans Lanke Wech and Claudia Barth were second and the Russians Vera Potchitaeva and Albina Ligatcheva were third.

Women's quads

Larisa Merk caught a boat-stopping crab in the Russian quad 150 metres from the line, just as her crew were thumping the 1999 world champions from Germany by a lot of clear water. By the time the Russians recovered sculls and composure and got moving from a standing start, the Germans, Ukrainians and Belarussians had gone through, and the Brits were level. Russia finished fourth and Britain fifth, the latter having dropped behind the field very early in the race.

Women's lightweight double sculls

Constanta Burcica and Camelia Macoviciuc of Romania were third in the lightweight doubles, world champions beaten by the Germans Valerie Viehoff and Claudia Blasberg and the Dutch crew of Kirsten van der Kolk and Marit van Eupen. The times of all three medal winners were slower than the B final winners from Britain, Jo Nitsch and Tracy Langlands, set up earlier in the day. The question is whether wind conditions were significantly different. It didn't seem to the press corps that they were, so we should be seeing the seventh place crew in Vienna's A final.

Women's single sculls

The world and Olympic champion Ekaterina Karsten (formerly Khodotovich) of Belarus won the women's singles ahead of Irina Fedotova of Russia and Katrin Rutschow of Germany. Alison Mowbray, who is chasing one of two Olympic qualifying places, was fifth, failing to beat the French sculler Sophie Balmary who was her target.

Men's quads

The apfel kart was well and truly upset for the German world champions Hajek, Geisler, Volkert and Willms. They were drawn in a favoured central lane - favoured by the tv cameras, that is - but were way off the medals which went to world silver medalists Ukraine, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The French crew was fourth, with only Austria tailing the Willms machine.

Men's single sculls

Vaclav Chalupa of the Czech Republic came storming through Germany's Marcel Hacker after the 1500 metre mark to win the men's singles. Juri Jaanson of Estonia pulled himself up from fifth to third, but his attempt to catch Hacker was too much for him when Hacker tried to regain the ground he lost to Chalupa. Egypt's Ali Ibrahim went the other way, from second after 500 metres to fourth at the end, 13 seconds behind Chalupa.

Other races

The Slovenian world champions in men's double sculls, Luka Spik and Iztok Cop, won the double sculls ahead of world bronze medalists Olaf Tufte and Fredrik Bekken of Norway. Sebastian Mayer and Stefan Roehnert, the world silver medalists were sixth.

Pascal Touron and Thibaud Chapelle of France scalped two crews of former champions in the men's lightweight doubles, relegating the 1997 and 1998 champs Tomasz Kucharski and Robert Sycz of Poland to second and the 1996 Olympic champs Markus and Michael Gier of Switzerland to third.

In the non-world cup events, the women's lightweight quad finished first in a straight final of three. Baker and Lee were second and Tucker and Davis third in the men's lightweight pairs, and Jane Hall fifth in the women's lightweight singles. In the B final of men's lightweight singles, Tim Male won the B final (after hyperventilating in the semi-final) and Giles Monnickendam was fourth in the B final.

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