It may be the greatest concentration since the Battle of Jutland in 1916 when 248 ships of the grand battle fleets of England and Germany collided off the coast of Denmark.

Here, in our backyard, the "Great Boat Show War" between Capital Centre and the D.C. Armory launches today.

As was the case in the Battle of Jutland, history may never determine the victor of the Great Boat show War, but let Able Pollin and the D.C. Armory Board worry about that.

For 17 years, the boat show belonged to the armory. But today at 4 P.M. the Capital Centre opens its doors to a rival boat show that runs through Sunday.

The Armory will counter Feb. 18-26 with its boat show.

Pollin's Capital Centre and the armory have battle before. Pollin created Circus America in 1974 when Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey ended up to the Amory instead of capital Centre.

Battle lines for the Great Boat Show War of 1978 were drawn and the opening salvo came with newspaper advertisement the armory placed in Sunday's paper.

"Wait for the Big One" urged the ad. "Wait until February to take the plunge, and you'll see the biggest, the best, boat show ever to dock in the Washington area."

Naturally, neutral parties are involved. The paper WMAL radio team of Frank Harden and Jackson Weaver will appear at both shows.

For years, Harden and Weaver did the Armory show. Capital Centre called them first this year. "We decided there's no reason we can't do both shows," said Weaver.

"We love everybody and we hope everybody likes us," said a diplomatic Weaver. "I don't think there'll be any boarding (attack, parties" between the two shows.

Harden and Weaver will help audtion several items, including a $400 sailboat, tonight to benefit Children's Hospital.

"I've always felt the best form of a compliment is an imitation," said June Campbell, producer of the Armory Show. "They're doing exactly what were done for years.

"But their show might help stimulate interest in both shows and people will go to both."

Tom Stafford, producer of Capital Centre's show, said consumers might be wanting to do some comparative shopping between the two shows. "But I don't think the prices are going to vary from show to show," Stafford said. "The prices will be pretty much the same."

One of the reasons for this may be that many of the same dealers and wholesalers wwill be offering the same type of boats for sale at both shows.

Stafford and Campbell described their respective arsenals as:

Captil Centre - More than 450 power-and sailboats, spread over 160,000 square feet of concourse, floor, backstage areas and heated, lighted, enclosed tent (once owned by Ringling Brothers). Boats range from a 40 foot, $77,000 bluewater down to $100 dinghys, rafts, nautical equipment and supplies.

Admission $3.75 for adults; $1.75 for children 6 to 12; $2 for parking. On Wednesday Thursday and Friday, the show runs from 4 p.m. On Saturday, hours are from noon till 10p.m! and from noon to 8 p.m. on Sunday.

A rmory - ABout 600 Power and sailsboats spread over 180,000 acres covering two floors. Boats include a 50-foot sailboat and 43-foot motor yacht, each about $140,000. Equipment also on display.

Admission is $3.50 for adults, $1.50 for children 12 and under. Parking in $1.50. Discounts available.

Both shows plan on catering to those shopping for their boat.

It is the deal climate for the Great Boat Show War - cold, blustery weather that invites daydreams of sailing and fishing on the Chesapeake in the spring and summer.

One wonders: Is this merely dry run for the Great lower Show qar this spring?