GB rowers take on the elementsSubscribe
Rob Burgess 30 April 2001
JAMES CRACKNELL & Matthew Pinsent won Gold in the coxless pair and Matthew Wells took Bronze in the single sculls on a blustery afternoon at the Zurich Rowing World Cup in Princeton, USA on Saturday. The British duo – making their first international appearance together at the opening World Cup event of the season - made a good start but were 0.48 seconds down on the Croatian pair of Igor Francetic and Kresimir Culjak (both members of the Olympic Bronze medal eight) at the 500m mark. Cracknell & Pinsent then settled into their stride, opening up a 1.65 second gap over the Croatians by the halfway point. At 1500m, they had clear water ahead of the field and crossed the line in 6min 50.75sec. Behind them, Canada made a big charge in the last 500m, moving up from fourth to pass Russia and Croatia to finish second. Croatia finished third. The British pair took 8 World Cup points and head the rankings in the best of four event series. The strong crosswind provided a big test for Cracknell's newly acquired bow side skills: "The switch is difficult, especially in these conditions. It was frustration rather than elation coming over the line. There are things we wanted to do here and we did not really achieve them. But these regattas are about learning and we learned a lot today. We don't have the flexibility to sprint yet as I am still changing over so we just wanted to be far enough ahead so that we could relax a bit at the end. We were, but we kept knocking off our rhythm and we couldn't recover as quickly as normal."
The pair – both members of the Amateur Rowing Association’s World Class Performance Programme - will next race at the second Zurich Rowing World Cup regatta in Seville, Spain from June 14-16. WORLD UNDER-23 champion Matthew Wells rowed an excellent race to place third in the men's single sculls behind Olaf Tufte (a member of the Olympic Silver medal double scull) and 1996 Olympic champion and Sydney Silver medallist Xeno Mueller (Switzerland). Wells struggled with the difficult wind conditions over the first 500m. At the marker, he was in fourth place but less than a second behind the leaders. He moved up to third place at halfway and held on well, refusing to give way to the strong finishing charge of Canada’s Todd Hallet. Wells crossed the line in 7:12.24 to score 5 World Cup points. "At 250m I hit a sort of wind brick wall," said Wells. "Over the next 250m it was a real struggle to keep going but at 500m I made a conscious effort to scull properly. It's my first senior medal and I'm really pleased." The new lightweight men's coxless four combination of Matthew Beechey, Stephen Lee, Mike Hennessey and John Warnock placed fifth in their final to score 3 World Cup points. Great Britain's total of 16 points earned them sixth place in the overall regatta standings.
In other rowing news, the Defi a Huit - the annual men's eight match between France and Great Britain scheduled for Tuesday May 1 - has been cancelled, as the water level on the River Seine is too high to race.