TOM Ford is confident his crew can close a gap to their biggest rivals after returning from the European Rowing Championships with a silver medal.

He was part of a British men’s eight that finished less than a second adrift of defending champions Germany in the A final at Lucerne last weekend.

“With a bit more time to gel as a crew, we’ll get them!” said the Holmes Chapel rower.

“We only came together for the first time a few weeks ago and have made progress since then.”

Second spot represented a marked improvement for Ford and company after they trailed Netherlands to the finish-line in a heat on Friday.

However the boat, which also had James Rudkin, Tom George, Mo Sbihi, Jacob Dawson, Ollie Wynne-Griffith, Mat Tarrant, Josh Bugajski and cox Henry Fieldman on board, recovered to stamp its authority on rivals in a repechage the following day that they led from start to finish.

“After the heat, when things didn’t go right, they made a step forward,” reflected Jurgen Grobler, the team’s chief coach.

Great Britain led, if only by a matter of inches, by halfway in the final.

But Germany, also the world champions in the boat class, had started to accelerate before then and they moved in front from that moment on.

Emily Ford, Tom’s younger sister, made her senior debut in a women’s four that put in a strong performance to finish fourth in a close heat won by Romania in a championship best time.

Together with Sara Parfett, Caragh McMurtry and Beccy Girling, she then produced a stunning race to finish first in a repechage ahead of Russia.

“We got our nerves out of the way on Friday,” said Ford.

“It was much better in the repechage because we settled into our rhythm and didn’t let anything faze us.”

The quartet went on to classify sixth in the A final won in dominant fashion by a crew from Netherlands.