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Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Sunday, 31 October 2010

Strong winds disrupt World Rowing Championships

Venue: Lake Karapiro, Waikato New Zealand Dates: 31 Oct-7 Nov Coverage: Live coverage & highlights on BBC TV, Red Button and online (UK only)

Britain's Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter
Purchase and Hunter's race was called off after 500m with the duo in the lead

Only five races were possible before heavy winds brought a premature end to the action on the opening day of the World Championships in New Zealand.

The cancelled races have been rescheduled to take place on Monday, but that depends on a drop in the wind.

Organisers at Lake Karapiro are already considering moving all the semi-finals and the finals of the Paralympic classes forward to Wednesday.

That is because of the threat of storms that are due on Thursday and Friday.

In one of the few races to take place on Sunday, Britain's Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking advanced to the semi-finals in the lightweight women's double sculls after leading from start to finish.

The pair will be hopeful of at least matching their bronze medal from last year's event after claiming a gold and two silvers during the World Cup season.

However Chris Boddy and Adam Freeman-Pask will need to advance through the repechage if they are to reach the final of the men's lightweight pairs after finishing third in their heat.

The only other British rowers in action were Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, but their heat of the lightweight men's double sculls had just passed 500m, with the Olympic champions in the lead, when the decision was made to stop the race as conditions deteriorated.

Scottish veteran Katherine Grainger, 34, and double scull partner Anna Watkins start their bid for gold on Monday.

Grainger and Watkins stick to one boat

Grainger has earned silver in the last three Olympic Games and chose to continue to 2012 in the hope of gold.

She and new partner Watkins won World Cup titles in both the double and quadruple sculls this season.

But the schedule for the event on Lake Karapiro, near Hamilton, would have seen them have to race a quad final and doubles semi-final within three hours.

"It would have been fascinating to try for both events but we want to focus on the double scull in New Zealand to give ourselves the strongest possible chance of success," said Grainger.

Debbie Flood and Frances Houghton will return to a Great Britain crew for the first time since the Beijing Olympics later in the week.

The duo disappointed with silver in the quad in 2008 and rejoin Annabel Vernon, with Beth Rodford the new addition.

Flood, 30, took a year off to qualify as a prison officer and has taken time to regain fitness this season, competing in the single scull during the World Cup season.

Houghton's return was delayed because of surgery this summer.

Greg Searle, 38, is set to compete in his first Worlds for a decade, in the men's eight.

Searle targets world gold in New Zealand

Searle, who won gold at the 1992 Olympics, rejoined the GB squad this season after 10 years of retirement.

The GB men's eight won the World Cup series this summer and, were Searle to win a World Championship medal it would be his first since taking bronze as a single sculler in France in 1997.

When he announced his comeback last December, Searle targeted a place in the squad for the World Championships as his first step in his quest to win a third Olympic medal at London 2012.

"The pull of London 2012 is just so strong," he told Radio 4's Today programme.

"Having won a gold aged 20 back in 1992, the idea of shooting for it at 40 in 2012 will get me out of bed every morning.

"It is tough to compete [at my age] but we've got such a good structure in place - with the push for 2012 and the lottery funding into British sport - that it's been great to get back into the system.

"Working with the younger guys, I'm really getting the most out of myself doing it.

Chris W

"There is a bit of 'here comes the old man with a walking stick'! But I hope I can use my experience to be part of the best Olympic team we ever put together."

Andy Hodge and Peter Reed stay in their pair, despite calls for them to move to the four after a tough season.

They face a daunting challenge in attempting to end a run of 10 successive defeats to New Zealanders Eric Murray and Hamish Bond on the world champions' home water.

Hodge and Reed positive over Worlds task

"Of course racing is tough when you're collecting silvers, but we are hard guys and we're constantly improving," said Reed.

"We're the fastest boat the GB rowing team can field and we've moved on significantly."

But the move by head coach Jurgen Grobler to keep the duo together means Britain's only defending world champions, the men's four of Alex Partridge, Richard Egington, Alex Gregory and Matt Langridge stays together.

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see also
Rowing on the BBC
15 Oct 10 |  Rowing
Chambers brothers in British team
21 Sep 10 |  Rowing
Raynsford back in GB rowing team
21 Sep 10 |  Disability Sport
Veteran Searle makes GB comeback
18 May 10 |  Rowing
GB duo pick up World Cup double
11 Jul 10 |  Rowing
Flood targeting London Olympics
20 Aug 10 |  Rowing
British pair's losing run goes on
04 Jul 10 |  Rowing
Rowing weight classes explained
30 May 08 |  Rowing
Rowing boat classes explained
30 May 08 |  Rowing
Power to your pull, with Andy Hodge
06 Jun 08 |  Rowing

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