The stage is just about set.
Tandems rowing in four Divisions have qualified for the 60th Annual International Dory Races on June 23 at the State Fish Pier against the best rowers from the Lunenburg, Nova Scotia Area while the men's Division is still waiting for a tandem to represent America.
Tonight at Niles Beach the men's Division will be concluded as the tandems of Ray D'Amico and Joe Cominelli, Erik Dombrowski and Glenn Harrington along with New Jersey's Mick Cote and John Swift will compete for the chance to compete against the Canadians (6:00 p.m., Niles Beach). All three crews won their respective heats on Saturday at Niles Beach.
Picking up wins on Saturday and representing the City will be Lenny Billante and Jay Prince (Master), Denise Desautels and Edie Wald-Smith (Women), Randy Parisi andLJ Robertson (Junior) and Jimmy and Laurel Tarantino (Mixed).
The Men's Division kicked off the day's races with nine crews looking to secure a spot in Monday's final heat. Each of the three-boat elimination heats were filled with past international dory champions.
In the first heat, Dombrowski and Glenn Harrington steered clear of a tightly packed, wind blown field on the way out to their half-mile turning buoy and powered through the course in a time of 8:56, outpacing the crews of Steve Goodick and Alan Morrissey (9:14) and Jeff Muise and Len Robertson (9:17).
The second heat of the morning was easily the closest from top to bottom and went to New Jersey rowers Mick Cote and John Swift. In a high risk, high reward decision, Cote and Swift elected to start the race in the far corner of the start line, a distance from their fellow competitors, hoping to minimize the impact of the strong winds on their course out to the turning buoys. The strategy paid off as Cote and Swift (8:56) edged out a hard fought victory over Mark Duval and Joe Sanfillipo (9:00) and Chris and Vito Giacalone (9:05).
The final Men's Division elimination heat of the morning, which not only featured rowers with tons of international racing experience and success, but also the son of one of the first rowers to represent the US in the very first international dory race in 1952. In worsening conditions, Ray D'Amico and Joe Cominelli (9:11) overcame a nearly disastrous course to the finish line to clip hard charging Jimmy Tarantino and Tom Jarvis (9:12) and Jerry Ciarametaro and Zack Morrissey (9:33).
Ray D'Amico is the son of Steven D'Amico, who paired with Jerry Nicastro in the first race against legendary Canadian rowers Lloyd Heisler and Russell Langille in 1952. D'Amico is looking to represent the US sixty years after his father rowed in the same race.
The Master's Division (Over-40) race continued the trend of close finishes. Lenny Billante and Jay Prince (6:09) earned a measure of revenge over Mike Harmon and John Scola (6:10) when they made one final push and crossed the finish line just ahead of their closest challengers, in the exact same manner they lost to Harmon and Scola in last August's elimination races. The tandem of Bill Edmonds and Mike Frontiera (6:26), who lead the race approaching the quarter-mile turning buoys, finished third.
The Junior Division races, which were won handily by Randy Parisi and LJ Robertson (6:06), were marked by the entrance of a new tandem of brothers Ben and Ian Sewell, who hail from Amesbury. The Sewall's, who normally row on the Merrimac River, were not accustomed to the nuances of the open water course and were further hampered by the difficult conditions which challenged even the more experienced rowers throughout the day. Undaunted, the tandem finished the course, picking up valuable race experience.
The last races of the day featured three tandems in the mixed doubles division. The rowers did not disappoint as the race, like all of the other heats, was not decided until the crews were on their way back to the finish line. The husband and wife tandem of Jimmy and Laurel Tarantino (6:24) defeated Tom Jarvis and Denise Desautels (6:33) and Jeff Muise and Edie Wald-Smith (6:42).
There were no Women's Division elimination races. The tandem of Desautels and Wald-Smith were unopposed and elected not to row the course as each competed in the mixed doubles division. Desautels and Wald-Smith will automatically advance to the International Races on June 23.