The World Sculling Challenge 1999

The Rowing Service


CONTACT JAMES E FELT 0181 948 6976


The Thames World Sculling Challenge is the Championship of Champions in the single scull, the gladiatorial version of the sport in which Great Britain continues to fly the flag on the World and Olympic stage. It is debatably the toughest sport, traditional and modern, elegant and extreme, for men and women, one on one.

The Organisers of the 1999 Thames World Sculling Challenge are Peter and Rachel Haining, John Tierney, Guy Rees, James E Felt and Jaap Oepkes, an association of athlete, administrator, journalist, marketer, sports lawyer and photographer respectively, and united by a love of the sport

We are proud to have the support of our sponsors Hackett, Essential British Kit, and of the Fishmongers' Company, whose support of sculling races on the Thames dates back to the early Eighteenth Century.


TELEPHONE: +44 171 723 4966 FAX: +44 171 723 8771 E-MAIL
Organised by: Peter Haining MBE, John Tierney, Guy Rees, James Felt, Rachel Haining
This event is in aid of The Sculling Development Fund


Rowing has a less well known, older sister: sculling. Races between watermen in single seat boats with a scull for each hand have taken place on the Thames since 1715, before young men from schools and universities went afloat in 'eights' which are rowed by crews with one oar each, as epitomised by the world renowned Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race, which started in 1829.
The Thames World Sculling Challenge traces its history back to 1831 when it was first raced on the Championship (later the Boat Race) Course between Putney and Mortlake as the World's Professional Sculling Championship. By the second half of the Nineteenth Century, scullers from Canada, USA, Australia and Europe were regularly competing for large prizes (up to one million pounds in today's money), and became household names. One of the founding fathers of the sport, Steve Fairbairn, judged the 1886 race between Gaudaur and Beach as 'the best race I ever saw'. As such, it was the premier spectator event until Association Football took over in the 1890's. In 1930, Ted Phelps became the last British professional champion. For a century, major sculling events became the exclusive domain of the amateur and these champions were excluded. British sculling declined as a result.
In 1993, the modern era race of champions was revived through the institution of the Thames World Sculling Challenge. Champions have included Wade Hall-Craggs, Peter Haining and Merlin Vervoorn of Holland. Greg Searle holds the trophy and the women's version is held by Guin Batten. The race provides an opportunity for Britain's premier scullers to test themselves against truly world-class athletes, who must be World or Olympic champions in their own right.
Last year the divide between amateur and professional was dispensed with by the sport, which coincides with the recent resurgence in British sculling and the Thames World Sculling Challenge. The Challenge is based at Thames Rowing Club, home to the last British Olympic Sculling champion, Jack Beresford, in 1924. Seventy five years later, it is time for another. The Thames World Sculling Challenge hopes to raise that champion from the cradle of the sport.
The Sculling Development Fund was set up by Peter Haining in 1994 in association with the Guinness Foundation. The fund has helped financially disadvantaged British scullers of World or Olympic potential.
The Men's Trophy is a highly individualistic sculpture representing battling scullers and was sculpted by George Parsonage in 1993, himself a champion sculler. He and Peter have an entry in the Guinness book of records as holding the record for sculling the length of Loch Ness. He is currently exhibiting his sculptures at the River and Rowing Museum at Henley on Thames.
The Women's Trophy consists of the Sally Newens Memorial Plate, a silver plate emblazoned with crossed golden sculls. The plate was donated by Charlie Newens, the Imperial College BC boatman and professional sculler on the death of his wife, Sally, in 1977 to Imperial for a ladies' sculling event that ran until 1982. It was then donated by Chas Newens at the inaugural women's race in 1996. The golden sculls were won by his father in a race in the 1930's and provide a link with the old era of professional sculling.
As the Challenge was raced for the first time from Thames RC in 1996, it was thought appropriate also to award a Nineteenth Century silver Thames Badge that washed ashore the day before on Brighton beach after an absence of many decades. The Committee considered this a sign of approval!



Sarah Garner USA

Unlike the other competitors, Sarah,27, is a lightweight sculler, restricted to competing at less than 59kg. Born in Germany, she started rowing at 13 in Wisconsin and success soon followed culminating in 1996 with a world championship sculling bronze, followed by the gold in 1997 and (in spite of shoulder surgery) gold in the double last year, being the Olympic class which she is training for with Christine Collins. This she combines with the role of biomedical research associate after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania

Ekaterina Khodotovich, Current Olympic gold medallist in the single, BEL

Ekaterina, 26, was born in Osetcheno, Belarus, but now lives and trains in Minsk, from where she has driven to compete with her one year old daughter. Katya began rowing at 14 and won the junior world championships in 1990 on her way to gold at Atlanta; she also won the world championships in 1997 before taking a break to have her baby. She numbers among her hobbies reading and completing jigsaw puzzles

Guin Batten GBR

Guin was an accomplished athlete and hockey player before she thought of taking up rowing at university on advice from her sister. Exactly one year after winning her first novice race for Thames RC, she was 7th at the FISA World Cup. She came 5th in the Olympics and has been in the top 6 in the world ever since. Although her childhood was spent in Africa and the Far East, the 4 and a quarter mile Championship Course is her home territory. As well as the current holder of the Thames World Sculling Challenge, Guin, 31, is the first person to win all four head races in one year. She also has a masters in sports science, despite suffering from dyslexia.

Pieta van Dishoeck NED

Pieta, 26, also came to rowing late, at age 19 and through hockey, albeit sustaining a knee injury. She narrowly missed selection for the quadruple scull at the Olympics although at Lucerne her boat came fourth that year. She then concentrated on the single, appearing at Henley Royal Regatta in the new Women's Single Sculls. In the Stewards' Enclosure she was obliged to use a safety pin to modify her dress which was deemed too revealing. Success came in 1998 when she and Eeke van Nes dominated the World Cup Double Sculls, only to be beaten to gold by 0.9 seconds by the British Double. She therefore wishes to wreak revenge on..

Miriam Batten-Luke GBR

The current World Championship gold medallist inthe Double Sculls with Gillian Lindsay, Miriam has had a remarkably successful career in rowing and sculling which reached its zenith in Cologne last year. Like her sister, she is an ambassador for Thames, the home club, and British rowing, winning Britain's women's first ever world sweep-oared medal and rowing in the Olympics twice. She was recently married to David Luke, also an international, and received the team award in the Sunday Times Sportswoman of the Year 1998. She is a Gladiators fan.


Jamie Koven USA

Jamie (James Waring Koven) won the World Championship gold medal in the single in 1997 for the USA, the Diamond Sculls at Henley last year and is aiming to win the Olympics in 2000. A graduate of Brown University, where his rowing career included winning the Ladies' Plate at Henley in 1993, Jamie, 25, now works as a corporate finance analyst and has just been married to Sophie Coqillette whom he met at Brown. At regattas, however, he is also accompanied by the 'Blob', an enormous hold-all containing an epic load of rowing requisites.

[Greg Searle MBE

Greg, the holder of the Thames World Sculling Challenge, took the bronze medal in the singles in 1997 when Jamie took gold and lost his Diamond Sculls title to him last year. He does however know the feeling of wearing an Olympic gold medal, having famously won the coxed pairs at Barcelona with his brother Jonny, steered by Garry Herbert, the race commentator. Greg has brought 9 consecutive medals home from Junior World, World or Olympic Championships. He is training to win again for Britain in Sydney. Greg has just celebrated his 27th birthday with his wife, Jenny, who works for the Boat Race.]
Greg has had to pull out of the race due to 'flu.

Stefano Basalini ITA

Stefano won the World Championships in 1998 in the Lightweight Single at Cologne, a surprise dark horse beating a truly champion field. He is the third successive holder of this title to compete in the Thames World Sculling Challenge. Although he is the only lightweight in the field, his predecessors (Peter Haining and Karsten Nielsen) have twice won and pressed closely for the title successively. He started rowing at 12 and has won the Nations Cup for under-23 twice. A member of Canottieri Lago d'Orta, on Lake Maggiore, Stefano, 22, currently lives in Miasino, where he is a natural sciences student.

Giovanni Calabrese ITA

Giovanni is one of Italy's most successful sculling champions, winning the Italian title for over ten years. On the world stage, he has won World Championship medals over a similar period, culminating in the World Championships in 1997, winning gold in the quadruple sculls. He also won silver at the world championships and the Queen Mother Challenge Cup at Henley Royal Regatta in 1989, where his crew's record still stands. He has sculled twice for Italy in the Olympic Games in the single. A native Sicilian, Giovanni, 32, lives in Messina.

Iztok Cop SLO

World Sculling Champion in 1995 in Tampere, Iztok has had an outstanding career since he started rowing at the age of 13. Again a successful sweep rower, he was one of the very few people ever to beat Pinsent and Redgrave in a pair. After a struggle with salmonella, he rose to prominence in sculling and took bronze and gold at world level. A Slovenian policeman by trade, Iztok, 26, has received special dispensation from the Slovenian Army to race during his national service .

Derek Porter CAN

Derek, 31, is also an Olympic Gold Medallist, winning in the VIII in 1992, before converting from sweep to sculling. He won the world championships in a single the very next year and took gold in Lucerne and silver in Atlanta 1996. Derek was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and his father competed in the Empire Games in 1958. He currently lives in Victoria, British Columbia and belongs to Argonaut RC. His interests include cycling and skiing, practises chiropractic therapy and got into rowing because he 'needed a sport at University'.


Peter Haining MBE

Three times Lightweight World Champion and twice holder of the Thames World Sculling Challenge, he is Britain's most successful sculler since Jack Beresford and was Great Britain's single sculler at the Atlanta Olympics 1996 at heavy weight, because there was no lightweight event! He is training for the 2000 Olympics and has taken the Umpire's flag to concentrate on the organisation of this year's world-class event, leaving Greg, as holder and the sculler likely to take the heavyweight single berth in Sydney, to fly the Union Jack.

Martin Levy

International FISA Umpire Martin has been Captain of Thames Rowing Club, the Challenge's home and knows the Championship Course as few others. A civil engineer, Martin has rowed with most of the premier clubs in Britain and has as his ambition to umpire at the Olympics.

Steve Redgrave CBE

Steve is probably the greatest athlete of the modern era if not of all time. A summary cannot be made of his rowing achievements without leaving out enough to make another true champion. The fame of the sport shadows his. Suffice it to say that he is attempting a fifth Olympic Gold Medal next year.