HENLEY, England (AP) _ Harvard's lightweight eight opened its bid for the Temple Cup at the Henley Royal Regatta today by scoring a 2 1/4-length victory over University College London.

Harvard, unbeaten since the first race of its season, led imediately after a clean start and steered straight up the 1-mile 550-yard course.

The University of Pennsylvania also won its first race in the Temple, beating Bristol University from the West of England.

Jamie Koven, a Brown graduate who is switching to the single scull for the 2000 Olympics after a sweep-oared career for the United States, won his first race in the Diamond Sculls, beating Simon Spriggs of Mercantile, Australia.

``The water was swirly at the start, rather troublesome for a novice sculler,'' said Koven. ``I've got to get used to that kind of water. But I had control of the race.''

Koven is no stranger to Henley, having won the Ladies' Plate with Brown University in 1993 and the Grand Cup with the U.S. national eight in 1994 and 1995.

The American casualty this morning was Stanford Rowing Club in the Wyfold Cup for coxless fours. The California crew was no match for the lightweights of London Rowing Club.

``We were hoping for a win,'' said Mike Still, who is captain, coach and stroke of the crew. ``We had trouble with the steering and the balance at the start and were warned by the umpire.

Stanford's bow man Marc Vallency, a Briton who learned to row at Santa Clara, said it had been difficult to organize a competitive crew for Henley.

``You need about 25 guys rowing to get a crew good enough to go to Henley, and they must be students or self-employed to be able to afford the time,'' said Vallency.

A rare disqualification occured in the Thames Cup for club-standard eights.

Wiking Berlin was disqualified because three members of the crew were found to be former internationals, violating the status rules for the event, which allow for no more than two.