Navy's heavyweight eight crew won its heat today and earned a spot in the finals of the 78th Intercollegiate Rowing Association championships Saturday. The victory was Navy's first trial heat at the IRA since 1968, when the regatta went to a 2,000-meter format.

Syracuse and Cornell also captured heats today and advanced directly to Saturday's finals.

The Midshipmen, after a four-week layoff because of semester examinations, edged second-place Northeasern by two-tenths of a second with a time of 5:50.9 Navy's next race will be at 5 p.m. Saturday.

syracuse's varsity eight recorded the fastest time of the day, covering the Onondaga Lake course in 5:50.8, five seconds better than second-place Brown. o

The strongest performances were turned in by Navy, Northeastern and Wisconsin, all with three victories. Navy's varsity four with coxswain and its freshman four with coxswain both won heats, advancing directly to the finals Saturday.

Yale and Dartmouth, contributing to the six victories racked up by Ivy League crews, won their varsity four oared heats and qualified for the championships.

The IRA regatta, one of America's oldest sporting events, attracted 100 crews from 26 colleges seeking the Victory Challenge Cup.

Losers of today's 2,000-meter races will compete Friday in second-chance heats to try to qualify for the finals.