Georgetown opened the local collegiate crew season with a two-length victory over George Washington and Coast Guard in the men's varsity eight race in the Spring Thaw Regatta yesterday on the Potomac River.

George Washington (6:54.6) defeated Coast Guard by nearly three lengths in the women's varsity eight race.

The men's varsity eight race was even for the first 1,200 meters of the 2,000-meter race. But then Georgetown, which finished in 5:44.5, overpowered Coast Guard and then George Washington with a series of sprints.

"We defeated GW by eight seconds here last year, too, but then lost in the Cadle Cup," said Georgetown Coach Jay Forester. "I hope that doesn't happen this year."

Forester nevertheless was pleased with his crews' first performance, winning four of seven races.

"We lost to Coast Guard in the varsity lightweight eights race , but it was the Dad Vail Invitational Regatta champion last year, so there's no shame there," he said. "We've only been on the water for three weeks, so this wasn't a bad first race at all. That doesn't mean, though, that we don't have a lot more work to do if we hope to do well in the Vail's."

George Washington keenly felt the absence of stroke Robert Bartlett and two other veteran oarsmen, all of whom decided not to row this season, according to Coach Paul Wilkins. He said the addition of a men's varsity lightweight eight boat also weakened the varsity eight crew.

"Last year, we lost to both Georgetown and Coast Guard and came back to beat Georgetown in the Cadle Cup area championships , so this is progress," said Wilkins.