Last year, Bob Spousta of Arlington won the open singles event at the Scullers' Head of the Potomac. Yesterday, Lawrence Klecatsky of Pelham, N.Y., covered the 2 3/4-mile course in 18:17.4 seconds and edged out Spousta by 27.3 seconds in the showcase event of the regatta.

Klecatsky and his partner, Bill Belden of Philadelphia, also defeated Spousta and Eric Myers of Washington in the elite double scull event.

In the open eight race, the University of Bristol finished first with the time of 15:08.4; Potomac Boat Club finished second in 15:08.9 and Georgetown was third in 15:16.3.

Spousta, the varsity crew coach at T.C. Williams, and Myers are members of the Potomac Boat Club. Klecatsky and Belden are world-class oarsmen, who represented the United States in the lightweight double scull event this summer at the world competition in Canada.

Rowers from 42 clubs competed yesterday. Klecatsky is affiliated with the New York Athletic Club and Belden rows with the Fairmont Boat Club in Philadelphia.

"The race is getting larger," Myers said. "This is the first year we've added sweep events. As the regatta grows, local favorites are going to have a harder time winning."

"I'd just as soon race against good people," Spousta said after the loss. "It's great they came down."

Belden envisions a time when the Potomac race might be as popular as other fall regattas. "The locale is what drives it," said Belden. "You come to this kind of regatta to see people you know, and people you've rowed against. It's almost like these regattas are reunions."