The men’s four failed to win a medal in an event they have dominated this century.
Great Britain’s run of five successive Olympic golds in the men’s four came to a disappointing end before a surprise silver for in the quadruple sculls lifted the gloom for British Rowing.
After the men’s four missed out on a medal altogether, Harry Leask, Angus Groom, Tom Barras and Jack Beaumont ensured Britain did not end Wednesday morning empty handed.
From lane one, they rowed a superb race as they finished second behind Holland.
Team GB were bidding for a sixth straight Olympic title in the event, but after trying to chase down Australia, who set a fierce pace from the start, the team of Oliver Cook, Matthew Rossiter, Rory Gibbs and Sholto Carnegie faded at the end and missed out on a medal altogether.
The British boat briefly left its lane in the closing stages, almost colliding with Italy who finished third behind Romania.
It was the third successive fourth-placed finished for the British team at Sea Forest Waterway.
Graeme Thomas and John Collins narrowly missed out on a medal in the final of the men’s double sculls.
The British duo pushed hard to catch China in bronze medal position over the final stages in breezy conditions but were unable to close the gap.
Gold went to French double Hugo Boucheron and Matthieu Androdias by just 0.2seconds from Holland.
There was similar agony for the women’s four of Rowan McKellar, Harriet Taylor, Karen Bennett and Rebecca Shorten.
But their disappointment was joy for the Irish quartet of Aifric Keogh, Eimear Lambe, Fiona Murtagh and Emily Hegarty, who won their country’s first medal of the Games by pipping the British women to bronze.
Australia claimed gold in another close finish ahead of Holland.