Rowing World Cup: British crews impress on opening day

Helen Glover

Great Britain's rowers showed good form on the opening day of the season's first World Cup in Sydney.

Seven British crews from the 43-strong team won races in Olympic class events.

Britain's women's pair of Helen Glover and Polly Swann won their opening heat, as did their team-mates Frances Houghton and Victoria Meyer-Lake, who headed their double sculls heat.

The competition represents the first chance for a new-look British team to test their form since London 2012.

Glover, Swann, Houghton and Meyer-Lake were also part of an impressive British eight who beat a powerful Canadian crew to move directly through to Sunday's finals.

With two heat wins, Glover showed she had lost none of the sparkle that saw her win Britain's first Olympic gold of the 2012 Olympics with Heather Stanning.

"It's exciting to be racing again but we know it will be a challenging final though with doubling up in the eight," she said.

Houghton missed out on a medal in London but the 32-year-old Beijing silver medallist showed impressive finishing power in the final quarter of the double sculls heat as she and Meyer-Lake scythed through China's top double, who had looked certain to win after establishing an early lead.

Olympic silver medallist Richard Chambers, who has this season switched from rowing to sculling, dominated the lightweight doubles heat with Adam Freema-Pask, while Jonathan Walton did the same in the single sculls.

The absence of some top European nations meant that the British men's eight and quadruple sculls had already secured final places although organisers gave all the crews in these events the chance to have an early race in what was effectively a dress rehearsal for Sunday's finals.

Both British boats took full advantage of this to score an early psychological blow by recording impressive wins over their rivals.

Four British crews must compete in Saturday's repechage races to progress to the finals.