29 April 1999
Wingfield Sculls, April 29
Greg Searle opened his season by retaining his Wingfield Sculls title over the Putney to Mortlake course and declaring that his back and his health are really strong after his winter of back pain and virus.
Searle had the worst start in the four-boat race, wrong-footed by the swell set up by a fleet of cruisers at Putney. Tom Gale of Tideway Scullers took the lead, but Searle got ahead by the end of Putney Reach and steadily gained water. "After two minutes I was fighting for my life," said 1997 world bronze medalist. "Then I settled and tried to keep it easy. Maybe I should have nailed them a bit more. Tom was hanging around the whole way. I need to find the ability to see people off by the time the World Cup starts in four weeks' time."
Giles Monnickendam, the Notts County lightweight who won the Scullers Head outright, was third and the former junior international Mark Hunter of Poplar Blackwall was fourth. Gale is a member of Britain's quadruple sculling crew. Monnickendam is a national trialist.
This was Gale's third Wingfields, and he again demonstrated that he is a fast starter. Hunter entered the Wingfields inspired by his club mate Kenny Dwan's stories. Dwan won the Wingfields from 1968-72 and for a sixth time in 1975. Monnickendam gained the confidence to enter by his Scullers Head win. He was in fourth place until Duke's Meadows where he went past Hunter. "I learned a lot," the Boots economist said afterwards. "I learned that you have to race it, get going off the start."
© Copyright Christopher Dodd, 1999.
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