By Nick Curcuru
---- — GLOUCESTER — After winning its third straight senior seine boat title in 2011, coxswain Joe Novello wasn’t quite ready to label his crew the sports’ greatest.
But after another impressive victory on Sunday topping defending champion Closing Time in a very close race giving Kaos its fourth title in five years and sixth title since the turn of the century, Novello was ready to give his crew its due.
“They’re professionals,” Novello said of his six time champs. “They’ve proven to be the greatest seine boat crew of all time.”
Novello would know better than anybody else who the best crew of all time is, as he was the coxswain of Desire, who won four straight titles in the 1980’s.
The resume Kaos has put together over the last decade plus is nothing short of remarkable and unmatched in the sport. Six titles, 11 appearances in Championship Sunday and a crew that’s mostly stayed intact, especially over its most recent run of dominance.
“The camaraderie with this crew is unmatched, we’ve been together for so long,” Kaos rower Joe Sanfilippo said. “Desire was back then and Kaos is now.”
Kaos entered Sunday’s championship round looking to knock off defending champ Closing Time, who edged Kaos last summer in the closest three boat race the sport has ever seen. While this year’s race was not as close as last year’s, it certainly lived up to its billing as Kaos, Closing Time, and Gloucester Strong, led by coxswain Vincent Orlando, all brought their best to the water Sunday.
All three crews got off to great starts Sunday and the race was pretty much a dead heat for the majority of the way out to the turning flag, which sits a half mile off of Pavilion Beach.
Kaos made it’s move approaching the flag taking a half boat lead on Closing Time, who built a small lead over Gloucester Strong. The 2012 champs, however, were not going to let their title go without a fight as scuttler Mike Harmon pulled off a perfect turn that erased the half boat deficit and actually gave Closing Time the lead.
“We started the turn first and they came out a little ahead of us,” Novello said. “I told them, ‘Boys we gotta push.’ Everybody in the boat knew, they stayed focused and stayed calm, when I asked for something they responded.”
About 100 yards after transitioning out of the turn, Kaos made its move. Novello had his crew pick up the stroke in increments and the 2013 champs began to inch away from the 2012 champions on the way back to the beach.
“We caught up to them and just crept away the whole way home,” Novello said. “I was giving them hard strokes, then we’d stretch it out, then pick up the stroke again and they weren’t gaining on us.”
Closing Time, living up to its name, made one final push in the last couple hundred yards, that same push that won them the 2012 championship, but there was no catching Kaos, who hit the beach with a boat and a half lead and of course another title.
“It was another great race, we couldn’t relax because (Closing Time) is so strong,” Novello said. “The guys pushed through. I didn’t row and I can’t even breathe so I can only imagine how they feel.”
It’s seine boat rowing prowess is now unmatched, but what’s most impressive about Kaos is the closeness of the rowers, and how they have withstood the test of time.
“We stick around, it’s a family,” Sanfilippo said. “Our name is the opposite of what we do.”