Chambers crews progress at Poland European Championships

Peter and Richard Chambers will be in separate crews in Poland
Peter and Richard Chambers will be in separate crews in Poland

The four rowers from Northern Ireland made a strong start to the new season on the first day of the European Championships in Poznan, Poland.

Richard Chambers qualified for the lightweight double scull semi-finals, along with Will Fletcher, in their first international race together.

Peter Chambers and fellow Coleraine rower Joel Cassells made the final of the non-Olympic class lightweight pair.

Leonora Kennedy and partner Monika Dukarska made the women's pairs semis.

Representing Ireland, Kennedy, from Enniskillen, and Dukarska, were involved in a ding-dong battle for a place in the semi-finals with Spain and Poland.

The Netherlands pair rowed to victory in a time of 7:12.68, but with two more places in the semi-finals on Saturday up for grabs the Irish duo had to dig deep.

They were edged out of second place by Spain by under a second but they in turn claimed the all-important third place by eight-tenths of a second from Poland.

Coleraine man Chambers and Fletcher led from start to finish in the Great Britain boat, winning their heat in a time of 6:25.84, four and a half seconds in front of the Netherlands, who also progressed straight to the semi-finals.

Richard's younger brother Peter is beginning his season in the non-Olympic class lightweight pair, the discipline he won a world title in 2011 in Bled, Slovenia.

Peter had an injury-plagued winter but teamed up with Cassells in an impressive showing as they led all the way to win in a time of 6:50.14 to move directly to Sunday's final.

The Spanish pair were a distant second, five and a half seconds adrift.

London 2012 bronze medallist, sculler Alan Campbell, misses out on the trip to Poland because of injury.