Although heavy showers and a brisk wind kept all but seven of the 25 hopefuls from entering the first round of the wherry competition yesterday; the few avid boating fans who watched the opening round of the summer sculling regatta witnessed two almost dead heats on the half-mile Charles River Course.
John B. Judkins, Jr. '47, of Dunster House, placed first in the initial heat by nosing out Richard G. Turner '46 of Lowell House after Turner had rowed to an early lead line Judkins' shell spurted ahead of Turner by less than 18 inches to make a time for the half-mile course of 4:33.4 minutes.
In the second heat it was the same story. Romeyn Taylor '49 of Leverett House pulled to an early lead and put a lot of rainy daylight between himself and Allen Grant, Jr. '45, of Kirkland House; but the curving Boston shore tricked Taylor, almost causing him to run aground.
Grant Wins By Two Feet
Taylor worked hard to get his wherry back into position but had to rest on his ears while narrowly missing the arch of the final bridge. Grant's steady stroke carried him through the center arch and helped him pick up several yards of lost river.
After floating clear of the bridge, Taylor poured on a final burst of speed, but Grant edged him out by about two feet, finishing with a time of 4:39 minutes.
With yesterday's poor weather causing a much slimmer turn-out than had been expected. Ed Callanan, clerk of the course, announced that the plan to have a semi-finals meet for the large wherry group is cancelled and the semi-finals scheduled for Thursday will not be held.
He added that the winner and the runner-up in each of yesterday's heats is qualified to race in the finals next Friday.
Callanan said that the open day which this will leave in the week-long schedule of events will be used to run today's Junior Singles and Novice Singles if the water is bad.
Three 30-Minute Club Men
However, he emphasized that rain would not postpone any of the regatta events. The only condition of weather which would postpone an event is extremely rough water he said.
Coach Blake Dennison served as post judge and Bruce Pirnie '41 directed the races as referee from the launch. Both Pirnie and Dennison agreed that the turnout for yesterday's event was "good considering the forbidding weather."
With three members of the Thirty Minute Club entered in the 155 pound Singles, Callanan predicted that this event should give the keenest competition in the meet. But after he had watched the spirited wherry races, Callanan said that if they were an indication of the spirit of the other events every race would be interesting.
Dennison said that the 155 pound class had probably spent the most time in practice and had the most spirit about the regatta, but he continued that all classes have enough good oarsmen to make any event close and exciting.
The first heat of yesterday's wherry event started out with four men. In addition to Judkins and Turner, there were Fred Hafka of Leverett House and Jon Cavarnos, unattached. But when the four closely-bunched wherries had traveled half the distance, an un-identified half the distance, an un-identified single scull with a middle-aged oarsman at the sweeps joined the race and rowed easily in his trim craft beside the leading, but more clumsy wherry.