KAT COPELAND, Will Fletcher and Jamie Kirkwood all progressed successfully as the World Rowing Championships began in France this morning.

The North-East trio all made it through their opening round of competition without too much trouble on Lake Aiguebelette.

Copeland, who claimed the Olympic lightweight double sculls title at London 2012, is hoping to qualify for next year’s Rio Games at this week’s Worlds, along with her new partner Charlotte Taylor.

The pair successfully booked a quarter-final spot as they finished in second position in their opening heat.

They were closing on the Irish double of Claire Laing and Sinead Jennings in the latter stages of the race, and looked to have kept plenty in the tank for the remainder of the competition.

Fletcher, who is from Chester-le-Street, is partnering Olympic medallist Richard Chambers in the men’s lightweight double, and the pair dominated their heat as they finished five seconds clear of the Swiss duo of Daniel Wiederkehr and Michael Schmidt.

“That was a very good race to start with,” said Fletcher, who will return to the water for a quarter-final on Wednesday. “I’m very pleased. Everything that we did at the training camps has come together.”

Kirkwood, who is a member of the Northumberland-based Cambois club, missed out on selection in the Olympic-class categories but is competing in the lightweight single.

He was the first British rower to compete today, and reached Tuesday's quarter-finals as he finished second behind Slovenian Rajko Hrvat.