Grainger, Reed and Hodge take trials titles

Peter Reed and Andy Hodge won the first contest of the Olympic season between Britain’s top men, raced in pairs, whilst Katherine Grainger won the equivalent women’s battle, raced in single sculls, at the British Winter Assessment Trials in Boston, Lincolnshire, today.

Conditions were glacial with a headwind. Safety boats were used to break the ice on the river before racing could start.

Former world men’s four champions Hodge and Reed held off an impressive challenge from Colin Smith and Tom James – a 2006 world championships finalist pairing – to win by nine seconds over the 5km time trial. Smith and James had an eye-catching race beating Olympic champion Steve Williams and world bronze medallist Matt Langridge by 11 seconds.

Squad pairing of Josh West and Tom Stallard were fourth with Army pairing of Robin Bourne-Taylor and Alastair Heathcote in fifth.  All four were world bronze medallists in the men’s eight this summer.

The results show that there could be a fascinating winter of trials and tests to come.  "The names are definitely not on the seats yet", said Hodge afterwards of the battle to get into the top boats. "It being Olympic season gives it that little bit more edge, that little bit more pressure", added Langridge.

Alex Partridge, twice and world champion, and his race partner Rick Egington had a torrid time. They smacked into a bankside tree part-way through the race and lost up to 15 seconds before recovering their pace.

A similar battle is developing amongst the top women. Twice Olympic silver medallist and four times world champion, Grainger, was a comfortable winner today in 21:08.57 from Annie Vernon in second.  However, only four and a half seconds separated the next five boats with Sarah Winckless marking her return to the sport after a year out with injury by taking third place ahead of Debbie Flood in fourth and Anna Bebington in fifth.  Beth Rodford broke into the top echelons by taking sixth place ahead of Fran Houghton in seventh.  All bar Rodford are already world champions or Olympic medallists.           

The men’s single scull trial, where the three leading scullers in Alan Campbell, Matt Wells and Stephen Rowbotham were missing through injury, was won by emerging, young sculler Bill Lucas.  He took the title in  9:52.65 with his squad team-mate Alex Gregory in second in 20:00.03.  Lucas and Gregory are both products of the ARA’s World Class Start talent development programme which is sponsored by Siemens and supported by lottery funding.

In total 248 rowers took part in today’s trials: 31 in the men’s single scull, 55 in the women’s single scull, 70 in the men’s pair and  63 in the lightweight men and 29 in the lightweight women’s single scull.

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(NB – top ten finishers only per event. More
info at:

Men’s Pair

1. Andy Hodge/Peter/Reed/Molesey/Leander Club 18:11.82
2.  Colin Smith/Tom James/Leander Club /CUBC 18:20.65
3.  Steve Williams/Matt/Langridge/Leander Club 18:31.78
4.  Tom Stallard/Josh West/Leander Club  18:39.90
5.  Robin Bourne-Taylor/Alastair Heathcote/Army RC 18:44.74
6.  James Orme/Ian Lawson/Leander Club  18:49.65
8.  Palmer/Burton/Leander Club 18:50.53
9.  Cameron Nicol/Will Laughton/Uni of London 18:55.27
10. Oli Moore/Ben Smith/OUBC 18:57.60

Men’s Single Sculls

1.  Bill Lucas /Reading Univ 19:47.78
2.  Alex Gregory/Reading Univ 20:00.33
3.  Simon Fieldhouse/Molesey 20:00.60
4.  Brendan Crean/Agecroft 20:02.22
5.  George Whitaker/IC 20:07.14
6.  Mohamed Sbihi/Molesey 20:11.75
7.  James Dunley 20:17.23
8.  Henry Pelly 20:21.01
9.  Kieran West/CUBC 20:25.51
10. Dave Marshall/Nottingham RC 20:29.81  

Women’s Single Sculls

1.  Katherine Grainger/St Andrew 21.08.57
2.  Annie Vernon/Thames 21:22.23
3.  Sarah Winckless/Walbrook 21:23.12
4.  Debbie Flood/Leander Club  21:24.00
5.  Anna Bebington/Leander Club 21:25.25
6.  Beth Rodford Thames RC 21:26.41
7.  Fran Houghton/Uni of London 21:26.88
8.  Katie Greves Leander Club 21:31.45
9.  Natasha Page/Reading Univ 21:38.18
10.  Alice Freeman 21:42.62