T.C. William will seek a measure of revenge when the Titans host Fort Hunts in a season-opening varsity eight crew meeting at the Alexandria Boathouse on the Potomac today at approximately 11:40 a.m.
The remaining are 'boys' crews - Stuart, Washington-Lee, and Yorktown - will square off in another varsity heat at 11:45, with the varsity girls' confrontation between Williams, Washington-Lee and Yorktown set for noon.
Lower boat races commence at 8 a.m.
Williams saw its four-year reign over the Northern Virgina varsity eight field end last year when Fort Hunt won the title after a three-way finish, which included Stuart, almost too close to pick.
The preparations of all five crews have been slowed by poor weather.
William, however, which is farthest downriver got into the water before the other squads.
The Titans, according to Coach Jon Butler, are more than 100 practice miles behind schedule. They have been in the water for about a month and have been helped by competing in the Bill Braxton Cup Regatta two weeks ago and by a workout Wednesday at Princeton Unversity with the school's lightweight crews.
The other crews, which work upriver along the Arlington shore, have been in the water less than two weeks.
Butler said that despite his crew's edge in practice time, Fort Hunt should be favored to defend its area championship.
"I'm not so sure we're going to gain our revenge," said Butler, who has 95 boys on his team. "They (Fort Hunt) are really strong; they're really big. And they have a lot of seniors. One reason we wanted to race them (early) is we knew they'd be the strongest crew and it would give us a chance to see what we might need."
William's varsity crew today will be, from bow to stern, Steve Furr, Jeff Hoehn, Andy Johnson, Thad Dunbar, Kevin Michaloski, George Nalls, Doug Hamilton, stroke Adam Anderson and coxswain David May. Only Dunbar and May were part of the varsity all last year, while Hoehn saw considerable first-eight action. However, all members of this year's boat will be in at least their third year in the Williams program.
Fort Hunt has 22 seniors, including 10 earsmen in their fourth year, among 61 boys out for the sport. The varsity shell today will consist of from bow to stern: Steve Long, Eric Vardes, Frank Ashman, Chris Peterson, Rich Taliff, Bob Purdy, Gary Losee, stroke Matt Fesler and coxswain Margaret Mohr. All were members of last year's varsity title crew except Purdy,, Ashman and Long, who rowed for the Federals' junior eight (17 1/2-year-old age limit) area champion.
"I understand we're a little bigger than last year so they're probably a little faster," said first-year Coach Bill Palmer. "We're a little bit more experienced, but it's early in the season and we've only been on the water a week and a half. There's a long way to go to May (when the major regattas are held)."
Stuart, with 60 boys out, should again be competitive. Coach Erv Dodd, who is known for bringing his teams along slowly to peak during the big races at the end of the years, has three-year veteran Dale Graves, last year's stroke, back with John Schneider, Cliff Toma and Bill Koster in the first boat.
Washington-Lee took home last year's area crowns for the third and lightweight eights and this year Coach Charlie Butt has his sights set on the varsity title.
Yorktown has had 30 boys turn out for Coach Dick Ewing's first season, Ewing has Dave Ritter, Steve Sawyer, Steve Hagen, Al Fletcher and John Burton back from last season's first boat.
Williams is an overwhelming favorite to win the varsity girls race. The Titans have captured the area first-and second-eight titles all four years they have been contested, in addition to numerous other prestigious trophies.
Expansion to more area schools, with Woodbridge and West Springfield the most prominently mentioned additions, has been delayed another year because the new Occoquan Boat house, on the Occoquan Reservoir at Sandy Point, will not be finished for this season. Officials say there is a slight chance the boathouse will be ready for the May 14 Northern Virginia championships, but point to next spring as a more realistic completion date.