Bring two college crews together in the same wing of a boathouse at dawn five days a week and you're bound to have a rivalry.
Georgetown and George Washington are no exception, only their rivalry is friendly out of necessity. As the only two men's crews in the are (GU, GW and Trinity College have women's crews), the two squads must cooperate in order to promote their sport.
"We growl at each other each morning," said first-year Georgetown Coach Jay Forster, who starts practice at 6 a.m. at Thompson's Water Sports Center, 15 minutes later than GW
.Although GU and GW watch each other practice every weekday, the two squads do not square off until May 5 in the Cadle Cup Regatta, the battle for local supremacy which includes Washington College of Chestertown, Md., and the University of Virginia. The following weekend, the two D.C. teams can meet again at the Dad Vail Regatta at Philadelphia.
"We do that on purpose," said GW Coach Tim Cullen, who drives 40 minutes after practice to Baltimore to his job as a geologist. "We each have different schools we row (against) during the year, but the local regatta is the big rivalry."
Cullen, who rowed for GW from 1968 to 1971, added, "When I was rowing, there was a great deal of antagonism, but . . . (now) the relationship off the water is a lot more friendly."
"I's been GW and ourselves-Washington College and UVA are rather new-so there's nothing within miles for competition, nothing closer than Philadelphia." Forster said.
He said a spirit of cooperation "helps the whole sport. If we gain the support of the people, get some park space (along the shore) instead of building more high rises . . . passing motorists and people out for a stroll will enjoy the rowing a lot more than passing motorboats."
Forster said an example of this cooperation is an effort by the two universities and some high school crews to lobby against Potomac Boat Tours' plan to build a 70-foot jetty between key bridge and Thompson's to protect its planned floating restaurant from ice. Forster said this jetty would cut off racing lanes at the Thompson's course and would present a hazard during early morning fog.
Both coaches think their programs are improving. Cullen, in his secomd year at GW, has four seniors, two juniors and three sophomores in his varsity boat.
"I think the enthusiasm is certainly good," he said. "We spent a lot of time in the gym doing land training. It's a grueling type thing-calisthenics, weights and running-you can't work much variety into that. We just got into the water two weeks ago. I feel the spirit is very good after six weeks of that.
"I'm very pleased with the progress of the varsity boat. I think the whole team is generally optimistic. I think it's the only way you can be. I think we'll be competitive with anyone we row."
GW also will field a junior varsity and freshman eight.
Forster, who in addition to coaching crew is assistant athletic director for finance and management, remain optimistic despite an early season set back. He took his team to Florida to train in mid-March and several members returned with pneumonia.
Forster's optimism was rewarded last Saturday when his varsity heavy-weight eight, seating five underclassmen, beat St. Joseph's of Philadelphia and Virginia. The Hoyas' junior varsity eight, with its competition scratched, placed second in the varsity race ahead of the two visiting boats.
The GU lightweights, however, found the competition stiffer Sunday at Princeton, where the host Tigers swept the varsity, junior varsity and freshman races.
"At least enthusiasm is high," Forster said. "Whether the enthusiasm can be translated into the technical end is another story. We're not worried about the first six weeks during the year. We're working for the Dad Vail."
While GW and GU rise early to practice, Navy has the luxury of afternoon sessions in the sun on the Severn River-and a wealth of equipment and facilities.
The Mids, who are in the East Coast Rowing Conference consisting mostly of Ivy League schools, have six veteran oarsmen returning. Back from last year's varsity eight are seniors Steve Squires, the captain, Rick Lopez, Eric Doyle, Joe Hoffert and Ken Russell and junior Steve Moreau.
The Mids will get a chance to evalulate their strength Saturday in the San Diego Crew Classic, which draws a strong national field.