U.S. women's eight crew stays on course

After falling behind Great Britain in the first few strokes, the U.S. women's eight crew took control and opened up a commanding lead to finish first at the 2011 World Rowing Championships.

The U.S. beat Great Britain by almost six seconds with a time of 6:12.42. The victory puts the U.S. crew in Friday's finals and ensures a repeat showdown with Canada, which won the first heat in a time of 6:07.20.

The U.S. women's eight crew is trying to extend a five-year undefeated streak under coach Tom Terhaar that began at the 2006 World Rowing Championships.

"It was really exciting," Jamie Redman said of their race in Bled, Slovenia. "We've been waiting all summer to go to the line and it was just an absolutely brilliant experience. I think, as a crew, it was a really solid experience. There's a lot we can work on, but there's a lot of things we did really, really well. I'm really excited for Friday."

Redman added that they need to work on their start, but the patience and confidence of coxswain Mary Whipple helped them overcome.

"There are so many things going on at the start, that you just want to focus on your own boat and make sure we're doing everything we can to make our boat as fast as possible and stay as internal as possible. So we've got things to keep us moving and sticking together and we really trust and believe in that," Redman said.

"It was good because it was our heat and the first race with our lineup. We got some cob webs out and we're excited to race again on Friday."

Also on Monday, the lightweight women's double sculls led from start to finish to advance to the semifinals. The team of Julie Nichols and Kristin Hedstrom finished more than two seconds ahead of second-place Italy.

"We feel good about this," said Hedstrom. "It's not over yet. But we completed step one, as we wanted to. So, step one is done and now we are just going to be focusing forward.

"It's been a great summer. Our approach to it has been just work hard and work right, and that's kind of what's come of it."