Navy's varsity heavyweight eight crew broke to a fast start, then withstood a furious Harvard sprint at the finish to defeat the Crimson by 2 1/2 seats and win the Adams Cup in 5:54.4 today on the Severn River.

Harvard, which had been expected to win the race, finished in 5:55.4 and Pennsylvania took third in 6:00.0.

Navy also defeated Harvard last year, making this the first time since 1952-54 that the Midshipmen have won twice in a row. The victory was only Navy's fourth over Harvard in the last 31 years.

"We've really worked on our start. We thought it was necessary for us to start strongly for us to have a shot against crews like Harvard and Penn," said Navy Coach Rick Clothier. "This was a small upset. We have such respect for the crews we raced today that we're very happy with today's results."

With the Eastern Sprints just two weeks away, Harvard, which had previously lost only to Brown, was obviously disappointed. "We let them too far ahead at the beginning," said Harvard Coach Harry Parker. "We anticipated that Navy would start strongly, but we weren't able to stay with them."

Harvard won the other four heavyweight races. Navy finished second in all but the second varsity eight race, where Pennsylvania nosed out the Midshipmen in the last 25 meters. Navy also defeated Penn by a length in the third varsity four race.

In lightweight competition, Navy defeated Penn by almost four lengths to win the Callow Cup for varsity lightweight eights for the fifth straight year. The Midshipmen also won three of the other four lightweight races, but Penn captured the second lightweight race.

In local scholastic crew, T.C. Williams won nine of 16 races, including the boys and girls varsity eight races at the Occoquan Sprints on Lake Occoquan.

Washington-Lee won seven of the remaining nine races, including the girls varsity four and both varsity lightweight eight races. Fort Hunt, which hosted the regatta, captured the boys varsity and junior four races.

The Williams girls varsity eight rowed the most powerful race of the day, defeating a W-L crew by almost three lengths. Last week, W-L had closed to within seven-tenths of a second of its best time.

Despite a close loss to the Kent (Conn.) School last week, Williams girls Coach Dee Campbell calls this crew the best he's ever coached.

"They're good enough to win it all and I think they will," said Campbell. "Not just the Northern Virginia championships, but all the way to the Canadian Nationals in June."

Coxswain Melissa Goldblatt, one of seven returnees from last year's varsity crew was nearly as confident.

"This is a really experienced crew and we think that it will pay off for us this year," said Goldblatt, the Titans' varsity coxswain for the past three years. "We lost by three seconds to Kent last Saturday, but we're going to find a way to make that up. We intend to be the best girls varsity crew in the country."