Rowing: Coxed Four Set Tone for Battling British

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IDROSCALO WAS struck by an overnight storm, leaving the red-and- green start lights for the world championships fused at Mussolini's old flying boat harbour. The organisers reverted to flags but this did not deter Britain's coxed four on the second day of preliminary heats, a storming performance seeing them qualify for a place in Sunday's final.

The crew was announced only last week, and it is a mixture of rising talent and long experience, with a Cambridge accent. The bow man, James Livingston, rowed in the last two Cambridge crews; the stroke, Tom Stallard, has Cambridge and Great Britain experience; the No 3, Kieran West, is an Olympic champion from the Sydney 2000 eight and a Cambridge Blue; and the No 2, Richard Egington, learned his rowing at Warrington Rowing Club and is now at Reading University after missing three years because of glandular fever.

They were fast as the United States, the winners of the other heat, and were followed by gutsy displays from the other British crews, whose performance here can secure places in the Olympics next year for their boats.

Helen Casey and Tracy Langlands won their lightweight double sculls heat to reach Friday's semi-final, although they were around seven seconds slower than the other three heat winners. Among those were the Olympic champions from Romania, Constanta Burcica and Camelia Mihalcea, who beat the world champions from Australia, Sally Causby and Amber Halliday.

The British women's quadruple scullers ran in second to the Australians in the fastest of three heats, qualifying for a semi- final. …