By Mike Rowbottom

Britain's 2008 Paralympic champion Tom Aggar made best use of the calm conditions in the AS single sculls at the FISA World Rowing Championships  ©Getty ImagesPara-rowers making their first appearance at the 2014 World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam did not have to contend with the gusty conditions which all but turned the opening day into one of time trials rather than six-lane racing - and Great Britain's former Paralympic champion Tom Aggar took full advantage.

Aggar, who took gold at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics, finished first in the recent World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette and he carried that form over by leading from start to finish in ideal conditions on Bosbaan Lake, recording the fastest qualifying time of 5min 09.48sec to finish more than four seconds clear of Russia's Alexey Chuvashev in the AS (Arms, Shoulders) men's single sculls heats.

Aggar said: "He [the Russian] took bronze ahead of me in 2012 and in 2013 and we have been very close. 

"To win by that distance gives me confidence.

"It's a good benchmark to judge my performance by.

"We have been working on new ideas in training to build on the good work done before".

The Para-rowing course, half the standard 2,000m distance, operates from a floating pontoon starting point.

The first of the two heats had been won by Australia's defending champion, Erik Horrie, who clocked 5:11.81, slowing down but finishing way ahead of the next challenger, Germany's Johannes Schmidt, who recorded 5:30.53.

Horrie, who has spinal problems from a car accident, began Para-sports in wheelchair basketball but has discovered his true calling in the boat, and he looks ready to defend his title with massive commitment.

Erik Horrie made a powerful start to his defence of the AS single sculls title at the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam ©Bongarts/Getty ImagesErik Horrie made a powerful start to his defence of the AS single sculls title at the World Rowing Championships in Amsterdam ©Bongarts/Getty Images

Britain's hopes are also riding high in the AS women's single sculls with Rachel Morris, who transitioned from hand-cycling to Para-rowing last year and dominated a heat containing the London 2012 champion Alia Lysenko of Ukraine and the bronze medallist Liudmila Vauchok of Belarus.

Birgit Skarstein of Norway progressed straight to the the final in the other heat with a victory in what was her first race of the year.

"It felt good today and it's great to get into the final," said Morris, winner of a World Cup medal this season.

"I am really proud of that."

Perle Bouge and Stephane Tardieu of France, the 2013 silver medallists in the TA mixed double sculls, earned a place in Thursday's (August 28) final with victory in their heat, with Iryna Krynychenko and Dmytro Ivanov of Ukraine qualifying in second place.

Australia's Gavin Bellis and Kathryn Ross had their heat won at an early stage, staying comfortably ahead of runners-up Josiane Lima and Michel Gomes Pessanha of Brazil.

This is only the second year of the LTA mixed double sculls in the World Championships, and the defending gold medallists, Kateryna Morozova and Dmytro Aleksieiev of Ukraine, won their heat easily.

France's Guylaine Marchand and Antoine Jesel, winners of the World Rowing Cup in Aiguebelette earlier this season, found themselves behind a new Australian crew of Jeremy McGrath and Kathleen Murdoch in the second heat.

The United States made a bold start in their heat of the LTA mixed coxed four class by taking the lead over Britain's world champion crew, but the latter prevailed to reach Thursday's final directly in 3:26.

Italy narrowly held off South Africa in the other heat.

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