By Nick Curcuru
---- — The wait is finally over.
This afternoon at Pavilion Beach the sporting events of the 86th Annual St. Peter’s Fiesta will begin starting with the men’s seine boat elimination races (5:00 p.m.).
Last year will be tough to top but there is plenty to look forward to this weekend. Here are some of the top storylines heading into Fiesta weekend.
Last year’s men’s seine boat final will go down as the closest and one of the most thrilling races in the sports history. Closing Time, Wharf Rats, and three time defending champion Kaos battled tooth and nail for the duration of the one mile row off of Pavilion Beach and by races end it was Closing Time in first by the slimmest of margins in a race where first and third place were separated by less than a quarter of a boat length.
The eventual victors lived up to their name as closing time was when they were at their best.
This year all three crews are back and all are hungry for a title. As defending champs Closing Time gets a bye to Sunday’s championship race while the other eight crews will be in action at today’s elimination races, which will feature two three boat heats and a two boat heat.
A rematch of last year’s race is far from a certainty, as the field appears to be pretty deep this year. Kaos and the Wharf Rats are the obvious favorites to make it to Sunday but Anthony Saputo’s crew, a group of college kids who gave the Wharf Rats a run for their money on Wednesday last year, Vincent Orlando’s crew, and a combination of the top two junior crews from 2012 are all teams to look out for tonight.
Whoever emerges to the top of the field this year will have certainly earned it.
Climbing the ladder
Can anybody stop Stew McGillivray from winning the Sunday greasy pole title? McGillivray took the flag in 2012 giving him four Sunday flags over the last five years and six overall greasy pole wins.
With each win McGillivray continues to rise through the ranks of the sports all time greats and he can move another rung up the ladder if he grabs another flag on Sunday. McGillivray’s six titles currently ranks fourth all time, behind all time champ Salvi Benson (11), Peter “Black” Frontiero (9) and Jake Wood (7). One more flag and MacGillivray will move into a tie for third all time.
Of course McGillivray enters the weekend as the heavy favorite to grab another greasy pole title, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of competition.
Wood is always a walker to be wary of. Vinny Parisi, Sandy Pallazolo and Dean DeCoste will all be on the platform Sunday with two flags already in their back pocket while recent Saturday champs Nicky Avelis, Peter Cannavo, Kraig Hill and Joe Sanfilippo could all take down the flag at any time.
When it comes to Sunday’s greasy pole, don’t blink once the courtesy round is finished, because all of the early walkers could end the festivities quickly.
Head of the class
Speaking of dominance, Oar’Dacious has brought it to a new level with its recent reign of terror over the women’s seine boat field.
Oar’Dacious will enter Friday’s women’s seine boat finals looking for five titles in a row and seven wins over the last eight years. The four time defending champs haven’t just won either, they have decimated the field establishing their dominance from start to finish in each one of their victories.
If any crew in the field is to knock off Oar’Dacious on Friday it would take a perfect race, and maybe even a big mistake from the four time champs. It’s hard to envision any crew in the women’s field stopping Oar’Dacious from a fifth straight women’s seine boat title this weekend.