Washington's season-opening crew races took on an international flavor yesterday, but not without the usual commotion that characterizes the Potomac River.
Georgetown defeated the Egyptian Rowing Federation and Potomac Boat Club in eights competition at Thompson's Water Sports Center, but the following coxed four event was delayed as a D.C. Fire Department boat and two smaller support craft moved upriver to fight a brush fire near Fletcher's Boat House. Earlier, the beginning of the Alexandria House Regatta for high schools was delayed while a giant cargo ship docked beside the course.
The Egyptian eight jumped the starter's signal by two strokes, but Georgetown, which hadn't raced a foreign crew in nearly two decades, caught up after 500 meters. The Hoyas reached the Key Bridge, the midpoint of the 2,000-meter race, leading by a deck, but when they emerged from the middle arch, they led by four seats. Stroking 34 times per minute, they extended the lead into open water. The winning time was 6:31, five seconds better than the Egyptians and 13 seconds ahead of PBC.
"We thought we'd be hospitable and give them a good start," said Jay Forster, Georgetown coach, downplaying the importance of the race. "Exposure to international competition was the significance of the day. It's a little earlier than usual for us to be rowing, but it added a little color and spice to our season."
"The course is kind of odd," said Tarek Emera, who presided over the crew of Egyptian students and policemen. "You have to go to the bridge and then turn (about 30 degrees to the left). We're not used to making races in such circumstances . . . The cox steered in the wrong direction."
The Egyptians recouped by winning the fours events as members of the eight beat PBC by three seconds and Georgetwon by 6.5.
Earlier at Thompson's, Trinity beat George Washington's women in varsity eight competition by 40 seconds and novice eights by 42.2 seconds.
At the Alexandria Scholastic Rowing Facility, T.C. Williams won the boys varsity eights in 5:41.9 for the mile course, 5.1 seconds ahead of Washington-Lee. The Titans rowed an unusually steady race for this early in the season, jumping off at 3-39 strokes per minute, settling to a 34 rating for the first half mile and coming home at 32. W-L, which rowed at least two strokes higher throughout, never settled into an even rhythm, falling behind two seats early, by a half-length at the midpoint before being left in open water.
The W-L girls spotted the Williams varsity B crew a good start, before catching the Titans after a quarter-mile. Rowing steadily into open water, the Generals finished nine seconds ahead of them, with the Williams A eight anotherr 1.7 seconds back.
On the Schuylkill in Philadelphia, Yale won the women's varsity eights in 4:59 for 2,000 meters, 7.5 seconds ahead of Pennslvania and 21.3 seconds better than Navy.