27-29 May 2016
Eight Leander athletes returned with medals from the World Cup in Lucerne, where the GB men’s four scraped gold by a narrow margin, and the women’s eight came within a canvas of the Olympic champions from the USA.
After their finishing burst brought gold at the European Championships an increasingly confident GB women’s eight relished the chance to match themselves against the USA, who have dominated the international scene since 2006.
After 500m Sunday’s final the USA were ahead of Great Britain, but New Zealand pushed into second place at the halfway mark.
With a stunning final 750m, the GB crew came back through the Kiwis to take silver, and were closing tightly on the USA at the line.
“That was a really good race – we just let ourselves down a bit in the third 500m. We are developing a real belief in ourselves, though, and came back strongly. We are so nearly there” said Leander’s Katie Greves.
Sickness in the GB camp meant a number of substitutions, including the men’s four, where Leander’s Callum McBrierty was brought in to replace Constantine Louloudis. But with the Leander captain Alex Gregory moved to the stroke seat it was McBrierty, at bow, who got the clearest view of the Australians leading the way to the line.
With the British men working hard to close the gap, disaster struck within metres of the finish. Under sustained pressure the Australian No. 2 man, Josh Dunkley-Smith, caught a boat-stopping crab and the GB men swept past to take gold.
“That wasn’t exactly a textbook way to win” grinned Alex Gregory afterwards. “But it shows how strong our squad is that we can swap in someone like Callum and still pull out the win” he added.
Leander’s third set of medals came in the men’s quads, where Jack Beaumont was called in to replace Pete Lambert just hours before the race.
After a disappointing fifth place in Brandenburg the quad were keen to get back on form. With Agecroft’s Graeme Thomas at stroke, backed up by Angus Groom and Sam Townsend, with Beaumont at bow, the British boat surged into an early lead ahead of Switzerland. But it was the Australians who worked their way back through the field to overhaul GB for gold.
Beaumont later stepped back in to the second GB double scull with Nick Middleton to race in the final alongside the first British boat, which included Jonny Walton and John Collins. As the world champion Sinkovic brothers from Croatia won gold the GB men finished fifth and sixth.
Another crew affected by illness was the GB men’s eight where Olympic champion Pete Reed was replaced by Al Sinclair.
The Netherlands took an early lead with Great Britain, Germany and New Zealand chasing them down and the USA beginning to make inroads at halfway.
With the Dutch lead now threatened, the British were lying fourth and keeping their hopes alive in a tight field with 500m to go. But the Dutch kept their foot down and raced to gold with the Germans coming back to snatch silver from the Americans by just 0.2 sec.
The next World Cup regatta takes place in Poznan, Poland, in three weeks’ time, before the GB team leave for their pre-Olympic training camp overseas.