It took United States Olympians Mark and Fred Borchelt about 100 yards to grow familiar again with racing as a straight pair.
But once the brothers from Arlington, Va., regained the knack in their opening match for the Silver Goblets and Nickalls Challenge Plate, they took an open-water tour of the scenic Henley Royal Regatta rowing couse on the River Thames.
With the Potomac Boat Club eight of Washington, D.C., triumphing in its first-round for the Thames Challenge Cup, it was two for two for Washington-area competitors.
However, not all went well for oarsmen from Washington at the 141st renewal of the world's oldest and most prestigious regatta.
Regatta stewards refused to discuss an appeal from the Arlington pair of Olympians -- Chip Lubsen and Bob Espeseth -- who were disqualified Wednesday for not filing a written amendment to Espeseth's original entry with Bill Purdy to race for the Goblets.
Espeseth said regatta officials were notified by phone one day before the June 17 deadline, but did not tell him written notice was required, as stated in the rules.
The Borchelts, who were Chris Wells of Alexandria, Va., the Olympic coxed pair had not raced as a straight pair since last summer, but were forced to go it along since there is no coxed event here. The Borchelts, jumping off at 43 strokes per minute, veered to the center and then toward the outside boards, but soon corrected their course.
After a quarter-mile of the one-mile, 550-yard course, they had open water on their opponents, 19-year-old David Riches and Nicholas Pepper, 20 of the Belmont Abbey School of Hereford, England. The Borchelts were able to lower their rating quickly to the low 30s and then mid-20s and still lengthen their margin to five lengths with a time of 8:50.
"We have to get used to doing the things Chris used to do," Mark Borchelt said. "We've has some trouble keeping track of our ratings."
"And steering is one of the things we're going to have to work on," Fred added. "But, basically, it doesn't matter. We can have better starts than that. They rowed pretty good for about the first quarter (mile), but basically, this was an easy first-round match."
The Olympic straight pair of John Carababas and Mark O'Brien, both of Detroit, also advanced to the quarter-finals.
The Potomac eight fell half a length behind Bradford-on-Avon early on, but striking 34 times per minute, quickly pulled even at Fawley, the 700-yard mark and led slightly at the half-mile mark. Keeping its rating in the low 30s before closing at 29, the eight lengthed its lead to nearly 2 1/2 lengths at the finish with a 7:30 clocking.
"The British are notoriously fast off the line, but we were confident that if we could catch them by the midpoint, we would win the race," Potomac stroke Gerry Brewster said. "We wanted to give them as little at the start as possible. It was a nervous start for us. As a matter of fact, the back of my blade hit a bouy coming off the start and a gust of wind blew us toward the (side) boards."
The only other American Olympians to race today were the scullers and they all won by large margins. In the Diamond Challenge Sculls competiton, Tom Hazeltine, Brad Lewis and Tom Hawes were the winners, while the main Olympic designate, William Beldon, drew a bye. The top Olympic double scull of Jim Dietz and John Van Blom and spares Christopher Wood and Chris Allsopp were decisive victors for the Double Sculls Challenge Cup.