The road to the Men's and Women's Seine Boat champions has been paved and the weekend's slate of championship races are starting to take form.
After Wednesday's elimination races, the Men's Division is down to four crews, all former champs. The Women's Division, on the other hand, has its final set for Friday at Pavilion Beach (4:45 p.m.) after Sunday's qualifying races.
The women's race features a pair of familiar faces and a Friday newcomer.
Of course, two-time defending champion Rowgue, winners of four of the last six Women's Seine Boat championships dating back to 2013, is the headliner and is looking to become just the third women's crew to ever win three straight titles. Another win on Friday would mean five out of seven and would propel Rowgue even closer to the sport's two greatest women's crews in Affirmative Action, which won the first five women's championships from 1996-2000, and Oar'Dacious, which won six times including four in a row from 2009-2012 and six out of seven from 2006-2012.
Rowgue's biggest competition appears to be Backlash once again. A championship Friday staple, Backlash has earned a spot in the finals for the eighth straight year and broke through with a championship in 2016, edging out Rowgue in the process.
Xtra Oar'dinary is the third boat in Friday's heat and on past accomplishments, appears to be the underdog, but crews have come out of nowhere to win in the past, including Rowgue in 2013 when they stopped Oar'Dacious' streak.
On the men's side, the field is stacked for the weekend's slate of races with multiple time champs rowing in every boat.
After Wednesday's elimination races off of Pavilion Beach, The Merger (2017 champs), Mike Jarvis' Crew (2016 champs going by the name Forza Furia) and Kaos (seven time champs who last won in 2013) advanced to Saturday's Qualifying Race with the top two finishers advancing to meet defending champ Iron Village in Sunday's Final.
A crew dropped out of the competition earlier this week, meaning there were only two elimination races on Wednesday.
The opening heat saw the Merger, Jarvis and Danger Zone, led by coxswain A.J. Orlando, compete with the top two finishers advancing.
The Merger led from wire-to-wire, crossing the finish line with a three boat edge over Jarvis, who had to hold off a Danger Zone crew that hung around the entire race. Danger Zone actually had a lead on Jarvis, but scuttler Mike Harmon's turn helped the 2016 champs move into second and maintain that edge to the finish.
In the second head of the night, Kaos, a crew that is an incredibly tough out on Wednesday given its big race experience, rolled over Dirty Oars, a crew of younger rowers that recently moved up from juniors. Kaos was in control from start to finish and cruised to the win.
Upcoming Fiesta Seine Boat Schedule, all races at Pavilion Beach
FRIDAY, JUNE 28
Women's Final: Rowgue (defending champs) vs. Backlash vs. Xtra Oar'dinary (4:45 p.m.)
SATURDAY, JUNE 29
Men's Qualifying: The Merger vs. Mike Jarvis' Crew vs. Kaos (4:45 p.m.)
SUNDAY, JUNE 30
Men's Final: Iron Village (defending champs) vs. the top two Saturday finishers (4:45 p.m.)