The Navy men's lightweight varsity eight grabbed the lead early and defeated Princeton for the third straight year, by 4.1 seconds, to claim the William E. Smith Navy-Princeton Rowing Trophy yesterday on New Jersey's Lake Carnegie.

The Mids, who made seating and personnel changes last week, held a half-length lead after 500 meters and increased it to open water by the 1,000-meter mark. Navy was timed at 5:54.0, the Tigers at 5:58.1.

Navy's second varsity also won, in 6:08.16, but the freshmen finished behind Princeton. Although the Tigers beat Navy and Rutgers, respectively, in the varsity and second varsity eights of the lightweight regatta, the Mids' varsity four with coxman beat two Princeton teams.

Navy's women, with an average weight advantage of 20 pounds per seat, held an open-water lead by 200 meters and overpowered Trinity in varsity eight rowing in a downpour at Thompson's Water Sports Center.

The Mids, who also easily won the novice eights race, started at 37 strokes per minute before settling to 35, 32 and, eventually, 30 in finishing the 2,000-meter course in 7:48, 13 seconds better than Trinity.

Navy Coach Gary O'Connor minimized his crew's size advantage. "The equipment helped us, too," he said, referring to Trinity's 10-year-old shell, the W.W. Bill Boles, purchased from Navy for this season. "We tried to give the Bill Boles to the novices and they said, 'No way.'"

In rain on the Schuylkill in Philadelphia, La Salle swept four races from George Washington. In the men's varsity eights race, La Salle led by six seats after 700 meters and went on to a 16-second victory in 6:58. The Explorers' women's varsity won by 15 seconds over their junior varsity and by 30 seconds over GW.