The sun finally shone for area scholastic crews yesterday and T.C. Williams did most of the basking.
Early-season action had been marred by high winds and choppy waters and after a week of similar conditions, yesterday's Alexandria House Regatta appeared in jeopardy when its 8:45 a.m. start was greeted with 20 mph winds from the south.
However, after a delay of more than a half hour, the winds died, the Potomac River grew calm and the Titans feasted on their home waters by capturing eight of nine races at the Alexandria Schools Rowing Facility.
Williams fought off an early challenge from its only opponent, Fort Hunt, before scoring an easy, open-water triumph in the boys' varsity eights. Fort Hunt rowed an unusually high 45 strokes per minute for the first 300 meters and then rated 40 for the next 200 meters before running out of steam by the midpoint of the 1,500-meter course.
Williams, which jumped off by rowing 41 for the first 20 strokes, appeared unsettled as the Federals took an early lead, but finally settled into stroking at an even 35. By the halfway point, the Titans were in control by a boat length and were unchallenged from there, finishing 18.6 seconds better than the Federals in 5:28.2.
"What you have to realize is that a crew that rows five strokes higher than you is not going to finish like that," Williams Coach John Butler said.
Williams' junior eight dodged a yellow sailboat at the finished while outdistancing Fort Hunt by three lengths in its race; the Titan varsity four used a strong finish to open two lengths on Stuart with Yorktown a distant third in the varsity fours with coxswain, and the Williams' lightweight, third and fourth eights, and junior four with coxswain completed a sweep of the boy's race.
Yorktown ruined Williams' perfect day by taking the final race, the girls' varsity eights, by 14 seconds over the Titans' "eight du jour." Butler provided that name because the Williams varsity, junior and lightweight eights were at St. Andrew's (Del.) School racing Washington-Lee and others. Williams won the girls' third-eight battle.
Up river at Thompson's Water Sports Center, a bad day for George Washington University was made worse when both the men's and women's races were plagued by pleasure craft cruising onto the course.
Marist College of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., won all four races, including the men's junior varsity and freshman events.
In the men's varsity heavyweight race, Marist jumped quickly into the lead and was ahead by more than a length halfway through the 2,000-meter course.
After, emerging from under Key Bridge, the three shells were face to face, with the Potomac Boat Tours Spirit of '76, which steered out of the way but left a wake which severely rocked the shells.
Marist survived the heaviest wake, but GW, a length pack in second place, was shaken so badly that Washington College of Chestertown, Md., nipped the Colonials for second.
Marist's women, which led by two to four seats for most of the race, held off the Colonial women by a nose at the end of their abbreviated 1,000-meter race. The competition was scheduled for 1,500, but an errant small fishing craft cut off the GW junior varsity, an unofficial entrant, which then sent Marist into the lane of the GW varsity, causing the two shells to collide.
On the Severn River in Annapolis, Navy's women's novice eight remained unbeaten by clocking 6:14.1, to beat Navy B (6:25.4) and Virginia 6:28.3). The women's varsity race between Navy, Duke and Virginia was canceled when shells of several crews did not arrive.