Brown University, after borrowing an oar from Wisconsin when its own broke shortly before race time, captured the 81st annual National Rowing Championship on Lake Onondaga today by sprinting ahead of Navy in the last 10 strokes to win by less than half a length.

Navy and Brown traded leads through most of the race before the Bruins made their move with about 900 meters to go and held on.

"This was an exciting one, our guys really dug in down the stretch there," said Brown Coach Steve Gladstone, whose crew qualfied for the Cincinatti Regatta with its IRA win. "It's interesting to win a big race like this with someone else's oar."

Despite being runner-up in the Challenge Cup, Navy did win the Jim Ten Eyck Memorial Trophy for amassing the largest number of total points in the championships.

As the sun peeked through around 1:30 p.m., Navy's first victory of the afternoon gave it sole possession of a Victorian piece of hardware--the Crandall Melvin Sr. Trophy--awarded to the winning varsity pairs (with coxswain). Navy handily defeated runner-up Northeastern, last year's champion, by about two lengths.

Before Navy Coach Rick Clothier's eyes had adjusted to the flashbulbs in the winner's circle, he was almost sent there again, this time for varsity fours (without). But a late-streaking Wisconsin shell nipped Navy at the finish. The Badgers also won the varsity fours (with) and freshman eights titles.

Undaunted, Navy's second varsity eight boat crossed the finish line in 6:22.4, about six seats ahead of second-place Princeton "A."