HENLEY-ON-THAMES, OXFORDSHIRE, U.K. - The Columbia lightweight varsity eight topped the Caius Boat Club by 1/2 length on Wednesday morning in the opening round of the Temple Challenge Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta.

The Lions have advanced to round two of the competiton and will face A.S.R. Nereus from the Netherlands on July 4. Official start time will be announced after the completion of today's racing.

Columbia used a strong start and pushed ahead of the combined crew from Cambridge and Lady Margaret Boat Clubs by a full length in the early stages. From there, the Lions employed the same successful strategy they used in the early heats of the IRA's, doing just enough to maintain a comfortable lead the rest of the way to conserve energy for the next stage.

Even with a controlled pace, Columbia still posted a time of 6:41, the second fastest time of any Temple Challenge Cup boat on the day.

"It was a smart way to race," said head coach Scott Alwin. "Racing so early in the day was a benefit to us, because we will have more recovery time than our opponent in tomorrow's race (A.S.R Nedus competed two hours after Columbia). At this point in the season, the guys have enough trust in each other to know how to race within themselves and keep an eye on a trailing opponent without doing more work than is necessary."

As for tomorrow's opponent, Alwin expects a tight race.

"A.S.R. Nereus is one of the European clubs that takes Henley very seriously," Alwin stated. "They have produced several Henley champions in various events over the last few years."