In breezy tail wind conditions Great Britain’s Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins knocked five seconds off the 20-year-old record from the women’s double sculls that was set in Barcelona in 1992 by Germany. The Australian men’s four then raced to an Olympic Best Time. William Lockwood, James Chapman, Drew Ginn and Joshua Dunkley-Smith of Australia took one second off the four record which was set by Germany in 2004.

Women’s Double Sculls (W2x) – Heats
They looked composed, relaxed and strong. Anna Watkins and Katherine Grainger of Great Britain are the priority women’s sculling boat for their nation and ever since they united in 2010 they have remained unbeaten. Watkins is known for her impressive strength especially when it comes to racing on the rowing machine and Grainger is known as Great Britain’s most medalled woman rower. Despite Grainger’s dominance in the single within Great Britain, Watkins has been able to beat her. Today this duo raced the perfect race.

Out in front of Heat One,  Watkins and Grainger stuck at a steady 34 stroke rate to move clean away from the rest of the field. The aerial camera showed their perfect rowing synchronicity as they powered down the 2000m course.

Katherine Grainger (s) and Anna Watkins (b) of Great Britain compete in the women’s double sculls heat at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

Meanwhile New Zealand’s Fiona Paterson and Anna Reymer pushed hard to keep their second place spot with China hot on their heels. Paterson and Reymer are at their first Olympic Games with Paterson now an Olympian as well as a cancer survivor.

At the line Watkins and Grainger had broken the former Olympic Best Time, set 20 years ago in Barcelona, by five seconds. The new time is now 6:44.33. Paterson and Reymer held on to their second place spit in the final sprint against China.  Great Britain and New Zealand go directly to the final.

Surprisingly at the back of the field were the Antosova sisters from the Czech Republic and they will have to race the repechage if they want to better their Beijing Olympic results.  
Results: GBR, NZL, CHN, NED, CZE

With the top two spots being the qualifying positions for the A-final, Australia’s Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley took the lead in Heat Two, with Julia Michalska and Magdalena Fularczyk of Poland sitting closely behind in second. And this is how the order remained.

Crow is the only athlete at this Olympic regatta who is competing in more than one event and two days ago she won her heat in the women’s single sculls. Today Crow and Pratley looked like they were doing just enough to stay in the lead. Their stroke rate for the body of the race was a low 31 – 32 strokes per minute as they sat just enough ahead of Poland to keep their first place spot.

Poland pushed to a 38 stroke rate in the final sprint, but it had no impact on the leading Australians. Australia and Poland are the two crews to advance to the A-finals.
Results: AUS, POL, USA, GER, UKR

Anna Watkins (GBR)
"It's been a long wait, watching everyone start. We were absolutely ready to race. The roar of the crowd… no pressure – absolutely amazing. It's as if the whole British public wants us to win. It's the biggest high ever. I thought I was going to be sick at the start. I've felt worse in the last couple of days. (But) every detail is planned out, so at the start, we had to do our plan. We knew we could do it"

Katherine Grainger (GBR)
"We were looking forward to the Olympic startline. All we'd hear from everyone around us was the effect that the crowds have. And what we've never experienced before is that they start with 100 metres gone. The whole way down the course you've got this incredible support. Both Anna (WATKINS) and I enjoy that. I don't think it distracts or affects us in a negative way. It's a wonderful buoyancy you get. I am just doing what Anna tells me to do. There's part of me that would have loved to lift the roof off the boat and see how fast we can go. We know we'll have that for us in the final, and today was just about getting ourselves in the final in the best possible position. I think we'll play a little more on Friday (in the final). We did come off buzzing. Tonight it's going to be feet back on the ground, we've got a job to do. The heat is wonderful to win, but it's the heat. No one's gonna remember who won the heat come Friday. It's about bringing it all right back down tomorrow. It's like a new job on Friday to do."

Men’s Four (M4-) – Heats
Heat One of three  featured winners of the final Samsung World Rowing Cup for this season, Australia. The Australian crew of William Lockwood, James Chapman, Drew Ginn and Joshua Dunkley-Smith caused quite a stir with this win as it meant they had pushed the reigning World and Olympic Champions, Great Britain into second.

Today Australia must have wanted to really get the

William Lockwood (b), James Chapman, Drew Ginn and Joshua Dunkley-Smith (s) of Australia race in the men’s four heat at the 2012 Olympic Rowing Regatta at Eton-Dorney near London, Great Britain.

psychological edge over their competition as they stormed out of the starting blocks with a 47 stroke rate to take the lead. Only Canada could match the opening pace. Using long, fluid strokes the Australians then started to break away from the bunch leaving a very tight tussle to go on between Serbia, Canada and New Zealand. As this three-way fight continued, Australia built up a clear water lead.

Then, from the back of the field, Germany sudden awoke. Realising that they were outside of qualifying contention, Hauffe, Seifert, Kaeufer and Schmidt changed gears and charged through the field picking off first Serbia, then New Zealand and then Canada.

At the line the un-pushed Australians had broken the Olympic Best Time by one and a half seconds. The crew’s time of 5:47.06 had become the new standard and removing the former record, set in 2004 by Germany.

Behind Australia, Germany’s devastating closing sprint had given them second with Canada in third. Australia, Germany and Canada get to go directly to the semifinals.
Results: AUS, GER, CAN, NZL, SRB

Great Britain’s flagship men’s crew raced in Heat Two. Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James and Andrew Triggs Hodge of Great Britain got off the starting line quickly and soon established themselves at the head of the field. The British are the reigning World and Olympic Champions and they have put a huge amount of emphasis on this boat as, under chief coach Juergen Grobler, they have won it at the last three Olympic Games.

It didn’t take long for Great Britain to establish a handy lead with Romania slotting into second. Romania became the very last crew to qualify for the four when they finished second at the Final Olympic Qualification Regatta in May. Today they were putting on a fine show to be just behind Great Britain and ahead of 2012 Samsung World Rowing Cup medallists, Belarus. Belarus, instead, had their work cut out for them to stay ahead of the Czech Republic and stay in a qualifying spot.

The crowd roared as these boats came into the final 500m of the race. Great Britain remained out in front, now with a comfortable margin over Romania and confident enough to take the pressure off in the final 30m. Belarus was rating 44 to stay ahead of the Czechs, with the Czech crew on 45.

At the line Great Britain, Romania and Belarus had qualified for the semifinals.
Results: GBR, ROU, BLR, CZE

This is the first time the United States four has raced this season. Made up of Glenn Ochal, Henrik Rummel, Charles Cole and Scott Gault, this is the priority crew for US men’s head coach Tim McLaren. Whatever they had been doing back in the States must have been right as the crew came out quickly at the start of Heat Three and moved away from the field. Only stroke of the US four, Gault has been to the Olympics before. In 2008 Gault raced in the quad.

Behind the United States a full-on battle was unfolding between Greece, Italy and the Netherlands. Going through the half-way point less than half a second separated these three crews with last year’s World silver medallists, Greece having a very slight edge.

The United States continued to lead as they rowed past the grandstands into the home straight. It was now clear that Italy could not maintain the pressure and as all crews sprinted to the line, Italy were outside of qualifying.

The United States, the Netherlands and Greece move on to the semifinals.
Results: USA, NED, GRE, ITA

James Chapman (AUS)
"We are trying to execute on all the training we have done. You want to be able to get a quick heat row and now we will look back at the footage and try to row well. We still have plenty left in the tank. The job is to start well and see where we are halfway. There are lots of strong teams in the field."

Drew Ginn (AUS)
"Simple, we are just trying to go as fast as we can from the first stroke. I do not want to play games, we have trained for the hardest battle possible. We love to race and we are looking forward to it. As a crew we are focused on being the best rowers that we possibly can, to get the best win that we possibly can. There's a great commentator in Australia who says times in rowing don't mean anything. We don't underestimate our competitors."

Stergios Papachristos (GRE)
"We are very happy to be in the semifinals. Our coach will decide on the way we will go in the semis. We respect all our opponents but it will be very difficult. Great Britain and Australia (who won their heats) are traditionally very strong in this race but at the Olympics there are no favourites. It will definitely not be the same race."