Inside Lines: Sunday 3rd July, 2011

Daily briefing notes from the Press Office at Henley Royal RegattaToday at HenleyToday is Finals day at the Henley Royal Regatta with a programme of races starting at 11.30am.  A host of Olympic and World Champions will be in action from across the world.  Trophies for the winners will be presented by Sir Chris Hoy MBE the triple Olympic cycling champion at Beijing 2008.Yesterday at HenleyThe GB Rowing Team eight beat Australia’s national team eight in the Grand Challenge Cup semi-finals on a day of high drama at Henley Royal Regatta. By doing so, the British eight laid to rest their semi-final blues from last year when they unexpectedly lost to New Zealand. Their time of 5:59 was only one second off Germany’s 1989 record. The British crew, with veteran Olympian Greg Searle on board, will now face the re-vamped German world champions in Sunday’s final.The Stewards’ Challenge Cup for men’s fours saw a major upset 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. The verdict confirmed a great day for a USA men’s team on the comeback trail – their new eight was only narrowly defeated by Germany in the other Grand semi-final.The American women’s eight have consistently remained at the top of world rowing for some time now. They looked in complete control as they beat a British crew containing U23 oarswomen in the Remenham Challenge Cup. Today they will face a stronger home challenge from the British women’s eight, who progressed comfortably in their semi-final against Oxford Brookes and Molesey.And the big crowds watching from the bank had the chance to applaud some more great performances from Britain’s 2012 Olympic hopefuls. Triggs-Hodge and Reed looked imperious in disposing of a very strong Greek pair with an‘easily’ verdict in the Silver Goblets and Nickall’s Challenge Cup for men’s pairs. They will face Italy on Sunday for the title. Earlier, Britain’s classy new four, with Olympic champion Tom James on board comfortably beat a strong crew from Belarus in the Stewards’ Challenge Cup.The verdicts weren’t so comfortable in the Double Sculls Challenge Cup, where Britain’s Wells and Bateman beat an improving USA double by three-quarters of a length. The British were thrilled, though, by the speed of their boat over the course. All three course records fell to them and the British finished in 6:50.There were no records in the Queen Mother Challenge Cup for quadruple sculls in which the British crew’s victory over another strong USA entry was impressive. They controlled the race and booked a place in today’s final against the Croatian reigning World Champions. The Croatians controlled their semi-final against Australia impressively. An Australian women’s quadruples sculls containing their heavyweight and lightweight doubles beat a very strong USA crew impressively.The same was true of Cal’s freshman eight, who were once again in awesome form as they beat their rivals from Harvard by a length and a quarter. And Harvard had to taste another defeat when their all-conquering Varsity eight were beaten just afterwards by a magnificent Leander performance in the Ladies’ Plate.Two incidents made sure that the Wyfold Challenge Cup was packed full of drama. First London’s A crew were hit by a canoe on the way to the start. The collision damaged their boat, necessitating their coaching team to change boats, for a later race. Then Nottingham BC headed Tideway Scullers School in their semi-final by three-quarters of a length, only for Scullers to successfully appeal after chunks of weed became attached to their rudder just after the start.Truly amazingMartin Sinkovic simply could not believe the noise from the Henley crowds as his world champion quadruple scull tasted the unique atmosphere at the Royal Regatta for the first time. “It’s truly amazing”, said the 21 year old Croatian. “There are people shouting for you, or drinking and just making lots of noise. I’ve never experienced anything like it. You have to really focus”.Sinkovic’s crew recorded a one-length victory over Australia, who had beaten Poland’s Olympic champions on Friday. “They gave us a really tough race but when you get a lead in this type of racing you can control the race more easily”, said SinkovicThe Croatians came to Henley after an amazing win in the last World Cup regatta in Hamburg, where they grabbed a last-gasp victory over a seemingly invincible German crew. “That was a really, really tough race but we were so pleased to have won it”, said Sinkovic who added: “Tomorrow I think we’ll have another tough race against the British quad, especially because they have the home support. But we won’t make it easy for them”.A small club success storyStar Club’s victory after overhauling Thames R.C. at the Mile marker in the semi-final of the Thames Challenge Cup was a stunning result but also a real small club success story. It was crafted by former Olympic rower and Bedford stalwart, Pete Mulkerrins. His coaching efforts have proved that clubs like Star can challenge at the top end of Henley’s big events.“It’s a David versus Goliath story”, said Mulkerrins. “When I look at the size of my lads shaking hands with their opposition I have a real laugh. Our strokeman is only 5’6”!”  Mulkerrins went on to explain how Star’s members had clubbed together to rent a new boat for the crew, rather than their six year-old shell.That spirit made the crew determined to take a crack at the Thames Challenge Cup.“We had a talk after the Met Regatta and the boys said they wanted to go for the eight. So we avoided racing at Marlow and went up to Chester for a week’s camp”, said Mulkerrins.So the crew that will race in Sunday’s final was brought together from Club rowers and juniors, from both private and state schools, some of whom learnt to row in Star’s Project Oarsome scheme. “Callum Beasley is a great example of someone from a state school who has come up…