GLOUCESTER— The cream has risen to the top.
There will be no more speculation when it comes to who the contenders are in the men's and women's seine boat divisions after Wednesday's elimination races.
Following Wednesday's three men's heats, The Old Guys, led by coxswain Paul Giacalone, Vito Giacalone's Crew and Mike Jarvis' Crew have all advanced to Saturday's qualifying race (4:45 p.m., Pavilion Beach) where the top two finishers will move on to Sunday's final to take on three time defending champion Kaos. Vito Giacalone and Mike Jarvis' crews have not yet been named but will be named by Saturday's race.
In the women's division, Backlash and Inseine Oars cruised comfortably to Friday's finals, however the two were in a dog fight for most of the race.
Inseine Oars raced out to a fast start, but Backlash stayed close on the way to the flag. After a well executed turn, the teams swapped positions with Inseine Oars now trailing by no more than a boat. With the race nearing its conclusion, the Oars' made a hard push at the end.
Nearing the greasy pole, Backlash held a half-boat lead and kept pace with the desperation effort of the Oars' to preserve the first place finish.
The afternoon's closest race came in the second heat of the day as Vito Giacalone's crew, comprised of seven members of the Giacalone family, and Anthony Saputo's crew, comprised of mostly college kids, went back and forth for the duration of the one mile race.
"Their boat speed was great," Vito Giacalone said of his opponents. "I was kind of surprised. I thought we would inch them the entire way but they matched our speed and it became a game of pieces, we had to pick our points and take a little piece at a time."
The two teams battled on the way out to the flag with Giacalone's crew inching its way to a nearly two boat lead while approaching the turning flag, which sits one half mile off of Pavilion Beach, Saputo's crew caught up taking a lead heading back to the beach.
"We had nearly two boats on them," Vito Giacalone said. "We were in control but after the turn we were behind and nothing really went wrong for us. From there we had to start all over."
Saputo's Crew gained a second wind coming home and held on to the lead 3/4 of the way back to the beach before Giacalone's Crew caught up and won the race by just a boat.
"It took us a while to catch them but we got in control the final 1/4 of the race," Vito Giacalone said. "It was nice to see us get through some adversity and it was nice to see them give us a race the whole way home."
In the first heat of the day The Old Guys, comprised of rowers all in their 50's who all have multiple seine boat titles in their back pockets, made a statement with a five boat win over Vincent Orlando's Crew.
It was all Old Guys from start to finish grabbing a lead of more than a boat on the way out and extending it from there on in after a slick turn of the flag from scuttler Jack Alexander.
"We had a great turn and we were great coming out of the turn, I think that's where we did them in," Paul Giacalone said. "I didn't know what to expect but we have a lot of experience and we had a good race today. It's nice coaching a crew of friends. We were used to rowing against each other for the last 30 years and it's nice for us old guys to get together and make a crew. We will see what happens Saturday, it's always an interesting race on Saturdays."
In the final men's elimination race, Jarvis' crew put forth the most dominating effort of the evening. Led by the younger generation of Morrissey brothers, Jarvis' team jumped out to a fast start and never looked back. Holding a good and steady pace, the crew held close to a four-boat advantage after the turn and concluded their clinic with an eight-boat lead at the finish.