With only one oarsman returning from last year's boys varsity eight, Charlie Butt was a little anxious when his Washington-Lee High School crew team met traditionally strong T.C. Williams last week.

Although the Generals won by two lengths, Butt says he still doesn't know much about his varsity eight, or the one from T.C. Williams.

"Of course, I was very happy, although very much surprised," Butt said. "But truthfully, the weather was pretty bad. They made a few mistakes and we were fortunate to be in a faster lane than they were."

Butt and his counterpart at T.C. Williams, Bob Spousta, will get another chance to assess their teams in the Cherry Blossom Regatta, beginning today at 8 a.m. at the T.C. Williams boathouse in Old Town Alexandria. Boys and girls crews from Fort Hunt, Stuart, Yorktown, Woodbridge and Potomac also will compete.

As is customary at T.C. Williams, the varsity events will be held first because the winds are thought to be lighter earlier in the day. The girls varsity eight is the first event, followed by the boys varsity eight at 8:15 a.m.

In college meets, the George Washington men's and women's crews are home against Washington College at 10 a.m.; the Navy men are at Columbia and the women are host to Williams, and the Georgetown men and women are at Ithaca (N.Y.) College.

Butt lost all but stroke Lorne Blackburne off the boys varsity eight that upset T.C. Williams in the Northern Virginia championships last year. "We've got a real mixture of people," he said. "We've picked up people from other shells, but they've come around well."

Although this eight is inexperienced, it is "probably the biggest we've had in a while," Butt said. "We've been averaging 162-63 pounds, but this crew is over 170. T.C. Williams will be bigger, I'm sure."