BRITISH crews warmed up for this weekend's final World Cup event in Lucerne, Switzerland when producing a strong string of performances to dominate finals day at the 175th anniversary Henley Royal Regatta.
There were wins in the open events for the men’s and women’s eights, the men’s four and the men’s and women’s quadruple sculls on a day which saw a brace of races decided by just three feet over the 2,112-metre course.
In the Grand Challenge Cup, raced for at the first Henley in 1839, the new-look British national eight, featuring double Olympic champion and former Cirencester Deer Park pupil Pete Reed, eventually drew away from the French national crew to win in 6min 15sec.
That followed their European bronze in Belgrade in May and World Cup silver in France last month. However, since then chief coach Jurgen Grobler has decided to ring the changes by bringing in four new faces.
Paul Bennett and Matt Gotrel switched from the men’s pair, while Tom Ransley came in from the second string men’s four following an injury lay-off and Oxford Boat Race stroke Constantine Louloudis emerged from team trials after finishing his university studies for the year.
Reed, 33 next month, won the event last year as well, before that victorious GB crew went on to win the world title in Korea.
The GB Rowing team’s powerhouse men’s four added another international win to the European and World Cup golds they have already won this season when they romped home in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup.
Seasoned rowing observers have begun to pick this crew – Andrew Triggs Hodge, George Nash, Mohamed Sbihi and Alex Gregory from Wormington in Gloucestershire – as potential Rio Olympic winners.
“It’s great to get a win here today and it’s really important to us to race on home waters in front of our own crowd," said Gregory.
"To win on the 175th anniversary Henley, I couldn’t be happier."