Charlie Butt, coach of the Potomac Boat Club, glanced up at the rising sun and shook his head. "Same old thing," he said. "Hot air. Bad air. We've got to get away from this."
Even at 6 a.m. on a recent morning a haze was hanging over the Potomac River as the club's junior-eight with coxswain crew (boys under 18) prepared for its daily 2 1/2-hour practice.
Butt and his team are leaving Washington Monday. Their destination is Tampere, Findland, the Aug. 4-7 site of the 11th annual Junior World Crew Championships.
Butt's Crew became the U.S. representative by winning a qualifying tournament last week at Princeton.
"The main reason we're going early is to get out of this air," Butt said, as he ordered the crew into position from his motorboat. "This is the coolest time of the day and the boys are still staggering when we get throught."
The crew consists of nine area high schoolers and two alternatives from the New England team that was runner-up to Potomac at the trials.
Butt's son, Charlie Jr., is the stroke and has been rowing longer than the others, having started when he was 11. Young Butt will be a senior at Langley High school this fall.
Matt Fessler, Garrie Loosie and Richard Califf from Fort Hunt High; Tom Larson, Matt Shands and Dale Graves from Jeb Stuart and Steve Schmitt and coxswain MikeMcGee from Washington and Lee complete the team. Burgess Smith and Peter Harrison are alternates.
The crew was put together in mid-June and appears to be coming into its own as the world championships thre weeks ago, losing to a Canadian team.
"You can have all the talent in the world and it won't help if you don't have spirit and harmony," Loosie said, following Thursday's brisk 75-minute workout. "You have to work together in this sport."
The truth of that statement was proved itself ealier when a wave prevented one of the boys from completing a stroke during a 1,000-meter sprint. The rhythm of the eight was broken, running the spirit.
The 1,000 was one of four time trials Butt conducted during the workout in an attempt to build up speed for the 1,500-meter event in which the team will complete. Twenty-five countries are entered.
By the time the fourth 1,000 was completed and the boat glided under Key Bridge for the final time, the sun was glistening overhead, the bridge was jammed with cars and the eight oarsmen were wringing out their shirts and gasping for breath.
Then McGee, who is much smaller than the other members continued to bark orders as the boat was pulled from the water, carried up to theboathouse and put away.