GB men’s eight hold off Australians to book place in tomorrow’s final

Henley Steward and 1992 Olympic gold medallist Greg Searle, on the Olympic comeback trail after a ten-year break, was part of the GB men’s eight that held off Australia in today’s semi-finals of the Grand Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta to win in 5:59.The GB eight, stroked by Dan Ritchie and coxed by Phelan Hill, will now face the German World Champions in tomorrow’s final in what should prove a re-run of their close-fought World final last Autumn. Germany came through from their semi-final today after a stern test from the American eight.Marcus Bateman and Matt Wells were in jubilant mood after winning their semi-final of the Double Sculls Challenge Cup, setting a course record of 6:50 in the process.   “We are going well as a crew and feeling great. Bring it on”, said Wells of the British crew’s final tomorrow against reigning Olympic champions David Crawshay and Scott Brennan of Australia.Andrew Triggs Hodge and Pete Reed were comfortable against the Gkountoulas twins of Greece in their men’s pair semi-final. The British World silver medallists now face the Italian duo, who were world cup silver medallists in May, in the final of the Silver Goblets and Nickall’s Challenge Cup.The Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours saw a major upset today when the fancied Australian crew, with the legendary Drew Ginn on board, went down to the USA’s top four by three-quarters of a length.   Britain’s four will be America’s opponents tomorrow. The quartet of Ric Egington, Matt Langridge, Tom James and Alex Gregory looked very much on song today.The American women’s eight were in complete control of their Remenham Challenge Cup semi-final today, beating a British crew containing U23 oarswomen and will now face the British national squad eight tomorrow.In the Queen Mother Challenge Cup for quadruple sculls the British crew’s victory over another strong USA entry was impressive. Stephen Rowbotham, Bill Lucas, Tom Solesbury and Sam Townsend have booked a place to meet Croatia’s reigning World Champions, who beat Australia impressively today.The verdict in the big inter-University men’s eight semi-final today in the Temple Challenge Cup went the way of the University of California, Berkeley, who beat their rivals Harvard by a length and a quarter. Racing starts at 11.30am tomorrow with the prize giving at 16.30.For further information contact the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office on (01491) 572 153 or (01491) 579387

Sir Chris Hoy MBE to present prizes at Henley Royal Regatta

Four-times Olympic gold medallist Sir Chris Hoy MBE will present the prizes at the Henley Royal Regatta this year – following in the footsteps of fellow Olympians Lord Seb Coe and Dame Kelly Holmes who accepted the honour in the past two years.The ten-times world champion track cyclist, who captured the nation’s hearts with his triple gold-medal performances at the 2008 Games in Beijing, will be a guest of the Regatta’s Chairman Mike Sweeney on Sunday and will make a short speech to the guests and spectators as well as handing out the prestigious trophies.And the 2008 BBC Sports Personality of the Year is no stranger to the sport.Amongst his vast collection of international sporting honours, Chris has a silver medal which he won rowing for Scotland in the coxless pairs at the British Championships while he was a teenager.Sir Chris, from Edinburgh, was also a Scottish champion BMX rider before joining his first cycling club in 1992 and breaking into the Great Britain track cycling team four years later.His first world medal came in 1999 and at the Athens Olympics he won gold in the Kilo.  He was forced to switch events after it was dropped from the programme for the Beijing Olympics, but rode to victory in the Keirin, Sprint and Team Sprint to become Scotland’s most successful Olympian and the most successful Olympic male cyclist of all time.Sir Chris will present 19 trophies to international, club, university and schools crews likely to include a number of fellow Olympians.This year’s Regatta, which started on Wednesday, with quarter-finals on Friday and semi-finals on Saturday, features 293 races, featuring a bumper 97 overseas entries.In Olympic qualifying-year, strong international crews from America and Australia, as well as a host of other world and Olympic champions, have chosen Henley as part of their preparation for the World Championships – racing in club colours and rubbing shoulders with the best school and club crews from Great Britain and further afield.The finals start at 11:30am on Sunday and could feature a showdown between World Champions Germany and World silver medallists Great Britain in the Grand Challenge Cup for men’s eights as well as GB Olympic men’s four gold medallists Pete Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge in the Silver Goblets and Nickalls’ Challenge Cup for men’s pairs.GB’s top sculler Alan Campbell is also in contention to win the Diamond Challenge Sculls and the GB men’s four, including Tom James from the winning 2008 crew in Beijing, are contesting today’s semi-finals in a strong field in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup. For further information contact the Henley Royal Regatta Press Office on (01491) 572 153 or (01491) 579387

Inside Lines: Saturday 2nd July, 2011

Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal RegattaToday at HenleyToday’s racing includes a full programme of semi-finals starting at 09.30 and finishing at 19.30. There will be 42 races featuring world and Olympic champions and medallists as well as leading crews from Universities, Colleges, Schools and Clubs across the 19 events.Yesterday at HenleyIt was a stunning day at Henley and the crews racing here took every opportunity to set a hatful of new records. The women of Princeton Training Center showed what has made them the reigning Olympic champions by smashing their 2006 finish time by a full six seconds in the Remenham Challenge Cup.University of California, Berkeley’s sensational freshman crew continued to impress breaking both barrier and Fawey records early on. But they were reminded that this event is far from over, when their rivals from Harvard, later set a new finish record of 6.12.The morning’s session also saw the Silver Goblets and Nickall’s Challenge Cup come alive, with Carboncini and Mornati of Italy nipping a second off Redgrave and Pinsent’s old Fawley time.Not to be outdone, Triggs-Hodge and Reed stormed to the Barrier at a rating of 41, breaking that record by two seconds.As the morning session progressed, it was hard to keep up with the records falling. The British double of Bateman and Wells had always looked set to break the Barrier record in their race in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup and it duly went. Their main opposition here, the reigning Olympic champions from Australia, didn’t break any records but still looked impressive.Later in the afternoon another British squad four wrote their names in the record book when they set new Barrier and finish records against a strong Australian lightweight crew in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup. The Australian’s top four here, who could face the British in Sunday’s final, were pushed all the way by the Swiss lightweights.Steering was a problem for both women’s quads in a heat of the Princess Grace Challenge Cup. The crews from the USA and China clashed just after the start. As the US steerswoman said, “my heart was in my mouth when we stopped because I thought one of us might get disqualified. But the umpire said we’d hit each other in neutral water and ordered a re-start”. The crew from the USA made no mistake the second time around.And there was a superb trademark sprint finish from the Aussie Dan Noonan, as he stroked his quadruple scull past the might of Poland’s Olympic champion crew – albeit without their usual stroke man Adam Karol – to win by 3/4 of a length in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup.But there were much closer finishes than that, which thrilled the crowd. Hampton School’s brave effort in the Princess Elizabeth was ended by St Andrews School of the USA, who rowed through the Surrey school to win by a canvas. And Agecroft and Durham’s quad took their heat from Sport Imperial and Reading by just two feet in the Prince of Wales. In the process, they equalled the finish record – it was that sort of day!Redgrave records brokenThere aren’t many records in rowing that the five times Olympic champion, Sir Steve Redgrave, hasn’t broken.  The records which held a special place in his heart were the  times the Henley Steward had set at the Royal Regatta. Up until yesterday he still held four records in both double sculls and pairs. By 1220 on Friday 1 July, 2011, he had lost three and all that remained was the finish time of 6:56, that he and Matthew Pinsent set in a heat of the Silver Goblets in 1995.Earlier in the day, Redgrave had looked at the fast conditions, thought about the quality of the entries in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup event and reflected: ‘My old double sculls record is bound to go today.’ He’d set the time to the Barrier of 1:58 with Adam Clift way back in 1982. In fact it was the longest standing record in the book.It was fitting that he heard the news his record had fallen to Wells and Bateman, the British double scull, from Jurgen Grobler his old coach. But Britain’s Chief Coach for Men also had some surprising news for his former protégé.“It was about time that record went”, explained Redgrave to Grobler. The 49 year old then confidently added: ‘I think it will be a bit longer before my Goblets records go though.’ Quick as a flash, Grobler shot back: “You’ve lost one of them already. The Italians just took your Barrier record by a second”.Lorenzo Carboncini and Niccolo Mornati have impressed here this week with their superb pace and fluency of movement. Afterwards, they said: “We weren’t trying to break the record but conditions were very good at the start”. Then a couple of hours later their likely opponents in Sunday’s finals, Peter Reed and Andrew Triggs-Hodge, made their own smash and grab raid on another of Redgrave’s records.“We’d done 2:01 to the barrier without trying yesterday”, said Pete Reed. The British pair kept the rating high at 41 strokes per minute this morning, in a deliberate  attempt to both break Redgrave and Pinsent’s record and send a signal to the Italians. They succeeded, breaking the time by two seconds. It now stands at 1:56. And to make it all the more sweet, their race – which they won comfortably – was umpired by none other than Sir Matthew Pinsent.Other records also tumbledRecords tumbled again at Henley yesterday and more could follow as two of the record-breaking American crews go head-to-head in the Temple.The University of California broke the records they set on Thursday to the Barrier (1:44) and Fawley (2:58) yesterday and today face the Harvard University freshman crew who broke the overall course record for the Temple Challenge Cup, yesterday finishing in 6mins 12 secs.George Gebhard from the Cal crew said: "We had a real nice tailwind. It was a good race. We knew Imperial were a really…