May 30 - Britain finished as the top nation at the rowing World Cup, claiming six gold medals on an outstanding day that saw 38-year-old veteran Greg Searle (pictured) grab the headlines.

Searle's eight showed imperious calm and intelligent tactics to come from fifth place to usurp the Dutch team, who had gone out fast.

Searle's men won by more than a second, suggesting the old man of the team could claim an Olympic gold medal 20 years after claiming his first.

"I was trying not to look outside the boat, I was so excited," said Searle.

"It's a massive thrill for me personally.

"I'm as much on target to win gold in London as I can be.

"I'm getting stronger and I feel, while in this system, by the time I'm 40 I could be rowing the best I ever have."

Katherine Grainger is still hunting her first Olympic gold, having taken silver three times, and she walked away with two gold medals.

First she partnered Anna Watkins to victory, and then the pair were joined by Beth Rodford and Annie Vernon to form a victorious quadruple scull.

"It feels incredible and sensational right now," Grainger said.

"It was a really classy row in both events and we took control of both races right from the start."

The men's four of Matthew Langridge, Alex Gregory, Richard Egington and Alex Partridge took gold ahead of Serbia.

"We raced as we thought we would, but a few weeks ago we did not even know if we’d be here," said Egington.

"One of the guys had a problem with his spine and I have been ill, so it was touch and go.

"We have had some good training out here and when we get back to the UK it will be more of the same."

The men's double sculls of Matthew Wells and Marcus Bateman beat team-mates William Lucas and Sam Townsend as British crews finished one-two for the first time ever at a World Cup event.

"The race went pretty much as we expected, just as we practised it," said.

"It is fantastic that British sculling is now up there, I have been around since 1999, so to have these guys here now is excellent.

"A one, two is a first for Britain."

The women's eight claimed gold matched their male counterparts, beating the Netherlands.

"The race in the eight was so much shorter than in the pair," said Louisa Reeve, who had finished fifth in the pairs earlier, a race won by Canada's Krista Guloien and Ashley Brzozowicz.

"We had a really long one yesterday, over eight minutes.

"The World Cups do have a different feeling to the World Championships, and it’s a good opportunity to get some race practice in, especially as women’s eights often do not have too much competition.

"Also, the Romanians have managed to win in the pair and the eight at the Olympics, so it must be possible."

Overall, Britain won 10 medals in 14 of the events.

Peter Reed, who had also competed as part of the eight, and Andrew Triggs Hodge were pipped in the pair by New Zealanders Eric Murray and Hamish Bond (pictured).

"These guys are very strong, we know that, but every stroke now is an opportunity to improve," said Triggs Hodge.

"We want to get stronger in the water."

Britain's other medals came in the women's lightweight double sculls, where Hester Goodsell and Sophie Hosking finished second to the United States, the lightweight men's four, runners-up to Denmark, and the men's single sculls, with Alan Campbell being narrowly being beaten by Ondrej Synek of the Czech Republic.

"Training has been adjusted this year to account for the fact that the New Zealand World Rowing Championships are late," said Campbell.

"We are training all the way through the World Cups so I am looking forward to going and doing some speed work.

"The plan is to be at peak performance once at the World Championships.
"I’ve got a lot to work on, but I’m looking forward to it."

Related stories
May 2010:
Searle still on course for London 2012 after recall to British squad
April 2010: Redgrave puts Searle up on a level with himself and Pinsent
March 2010: Mike Rowbottom - Brabants, Searle and Queally proving John Lennon wrong
February 2010: Searle joins British squad in Portugal as comeback gathers momentum