Motorists on Rte. 7 in Alexandria were probably happy when the T.C. Williams varsity rowing eight departed Thursday for a 16-day, three-nation tour that will culminate with the Royal Henley Regatta at Henley-on-Thames, England.
Since a round-the-clock fund raising rowathon started June 12, occupants in cars stopped at the traffic light in front of the high school were solicited by crew supporters for donations.
Williams Coach Jon Butler says the rowathon was responsible for raising about $4,000 of $9,000 collected toward the $12,000 cost of the trip. The crew boosters club will try to raise the additional money - and expects to do so - but the Alexandria school board has pledged to cover any shortfall up to $5,000, Butler said.
"We had cute little girls in short skirts running out to the light asking for money," Butler said. "It's amazing what we've raised in nickels and dimes."
The 13-person Titan entourage, including two alternates and two coaches, stopped first in Brugge, Belgium, then will head to Amsterdam Thursday to race junior national crews from The Netherlands.
On July 2, the Titans head to Henley to join the Georgetwon Univesrity straight four as the two Washington representatives in the world-renowned regatta that runs July 5-8.
Williams will compete for the Princess Elizabeth Cup for high school crews. Butler thinks the Titans will be among the four fastest crews.
"We know we'll be one of the fastest crews." he said. "Whether we'll be the fastest is impossible to tell."
The only other American crew to race for the Princess Elizabeth Cup will be Kent (Conn.) School.
Georgetown will depart for Nottingham, England, Thursday and race in the Nottingham Regatta June 30-July 1. Then it's on to Henley where the four, from bow to stern, of Peter Radell, Mark Wessell, Dave McAneny and Stroke Jim Costello, will compete for the Visitors Challenge Cup.
The trip will cost about $1,100 per person for the four oarsmen, alternate Greg Moffat and Coach Greg Carroll, who will take over for head Coach Jay Forster, who has previous commitments. The Georgetown Rowing Alumni Association has led the fund raising.
Both Williams and Georgetown will have to prepare for a different type of racing at Henley. All heats match only two shells on the narrow Thames. In addition to having only one other boat to watch, it also means a crew will have to win up to five races to capture a championship.