London 2012: Mixed fortunes for top GB rowing hopes in Munich
Great Britain's rowers enjoyed mixed fortunes in the last competition before the Olympics, winning three golds but seeing two leading hopes beaten.
There were British victories in the women's pair, the women's double scull and the men's lightweight four at the World Cup in Munich.
But the men's four could not overhaul Australia and had to settle for silver.
- Grainger & Watkins: "The confidence they finished that race with will boost them again. They know they have a race on their hands and that's what you want. You still need that element of needing to push on and they'll have one eye on Australia. I think it will be a lot closer race in London; the Australians are coming back from injury and are a class act."
- Glover & Stanning: "They hugely impressed me last year with their season and this year they've just moved away - it looks like no-one will challenge them at all, which is fantastic. This is their first Olympics so there will be nerves but they're absolutely flying and I can't see any reason why that's going to change."
- Men's four: "I'm not that shocked, I thought the Aussies looked really good three weeks ago. It's very, very close to call and it can go either way over the next five weeks. They have to get in their minds how they're going to row that race. It's the second and third 500s where the Australians are killing our guys - they've got to be more in the race in that middle period. They've got to be more determined, more gutsy, to stay in there."
- Purchase & Hunter: "That performance is not what we expect. We know they have the capability but now we're talking about pulling it out of the bag on the day. They're a very experienced crew and coach; it's really about getting their minds right. They are reigning Olympic and world champions, they have a lot of pride and they'll be fighting, but you can't class them as favourites now."
There were bronze medals for the men's and women's eights, the women's quadruple scull and Alan Campbell in the single scull as Britain topped the medals table for the 2012 World Cup series.
Britain has never won a female rowing gold at the Olympics but look well set to change that this summer.
Helen Glover and Heather Stanning will be firm favourites in the women's pair after dominating the World Cup circuit and claiming their third win in Munich, beating world champions New Zealand by two lengths.
"We wanted to perform well here to prove that we had made progress since Lucerne", said Stanning.
"It was great to win here on my birthday. Heather and I love racing together and working together and it's the last world cup of the season so today's win was quite emotional for us."
Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins have not lost since coming together in the women's double two years ago and remain on course to end Grainger's run of three successive silver medals at Olympic Games.
Australians Kim Crow and Brooke Pratley were racing for the first time this year after an injury to Pratley and set an impressive time in the semis, but in their first ever meeting the Britons laid down a strong marker in Sunday's final by taking charge at halfway and holding them off by a length at the line.
"That was a cracking race," said Watkins. "The ones where you are pushed are always the most satisfying to win. The Australians put in a fast time earlier this week so we knew we had to bring our 'A' game out to play today."
After some line-up changes through injury earlier in the season, the Olympic lightweight men's four crew of Pete Chambers, Rob Williams, Richard Chambers and Chris Bartley gave one of the best displays of the day as they beat Australia by a length for their first gold of the year.
However, there were worrying signs in two boats that will defend Olympic titles in August.
Andrew Triggs Hodge, Pete Reed, Tom James and Alex Gregory will try to win a fourth successive gold for Britain in the flagship boat made famous by the likes of Sir Steve Redgrave, Sir Matthew Pinsent and James Cracknell.
But after winning the first World Cup meeting in Belgrade when the Australians were absent, and edging them out in Lucerne last month, Australia's William Lockwood, James Chapman, Drew Ginn and Joshua Dunkley-Smith took charge at halfway in Munich and never relinquished it.
"Ninety nine per cent of the race was so much better than our semi, where they got a long way ahead of us," said Gregory.
"Today we held on a lot better. I think where we need to improve is our cruising speed, and our ability to change that cruising speed when we need to, but I'm very, very pleased and positive about that race."
Hodge added: "We found a different rhythm today and that was a lot better. I think we have learnt a lot here and we can take that away to training camp in the next six weeks."
Purchase and Hunter had looked good in Saturday's semi-finals but were well off the pace and finished sixth for the second World Cup final in succession, trailing in way behind long-time rivals Storm Uru and Peter Taylor of New Zealand.
"Today's result was obviously disappointing but it was better than Lucerne," said Hunter.
"I know we were sixth at both but here we had the speed but not the fitness. We want to go to London and perform as we know we can. We have one of the best systems and support teams in the world and we're going away to training camp to get it right."
The men's and women's eights are still to have their crews confirmed for the Games and both took bronze in Munich, although that was a more positive result for the women as the men would have expected to dominate a field missing world champions Germany and Olympic champions Canada.