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  Issue 99 - June 1997


Paris in the springtime: One in the Eiffel for Brits

Tommy Thomson

'Bring your tie and blazer, your best eight and an umpire' said the invitation to the inaugural eight-oared match from Pont Sully to the Eiffel Tower on May Day. Britain drew the Left Bank in glorious sunshine and still conditions, the eight having managed one outing before the race which doubled as a sight-seeing tour.

Under the eye of TV cameras on every bridge and three TV catamarans giving chase, the British crew, stroked by Matthew Pinsent, fell back as the French took an early lead. But in the middle third of the race the British stole back into the picture until the boats were level. It was not only the French Olympian-packed eight that the Brits had to contend with, however. This was French water and the French capital. They slowly drew away again to finish a length ahead under the shadow of the Monsieu Eiffel's edifice.

The British party was entertained superbly by the French federation, the crews lunching together on the day before the race and being accommodated at the Ibis Hotel Bercy. The Seine was closed 20 minutes before the race to allow a rope to be suspended across it with lanes dangling for the coxes to hang on to. Lanes were indicated by Union Jacks and Tricolours hanging from the bridges. The event was part of a big festival of rowing. Judging by this year, it will become annual.

Great Britian France
M. Pinsent J.C. Ballard
T. Foster V. Malizewski
A. Story B. Roach
R. Hamilton D. Fauche
J. Cracknell G. Bosquet
T. Garbett L. Beghin
B. Hunt-Davis O. Moncelet
R. Thatcher B. Vecten
J. Deakin (cox) J.P. Huguet-Balent (cox)

© Copyright Tommy Thomson, 1997.

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