When it comes to the St. Peter’s Fiesta sporting events, seine boats is easily the most grueling. A one-mile row starting and finishing at Pavilion Beach has the rowers pushing the line the entire way. These races are certainly more of a sprint than a marathon, and it takes some serious gumption to get through it.
Over the better part of the last six decades, the seine boat races have been a Fiesta staple, and the Men’s Division has seen some memorable crews come through the ranks.
At the top, four crews stand tall above the rest as all have won at least three in a row. Which one is number one? There is no clear cut top crew and if you asked four people their favorite, you’re probably getting four answers. It’s not an easy task, but the Gloucester Daily Times is going to try to figure it out. Here are the top 10 Men’s Seine Boat crews of all time.
1. Desire (1983-86): In a crowded field at the top, Desire gets the nod over the rest for one simple reason, they are the only crew to do something that no other crew has done before.
While three other crews have won three championships in a row, Desire was the only crew to stretch that to four in a row by winning from 1983 to 1986. Led by coxswain Joe Novello, Desire knocked off the three-time defending champs, The Kids, in 1983 in a barn burner of a race. They went on to win handily in 1984 and 1985 and then squeaked out a fourth win in a row in 1986.
That kind of consistency has never been seen before in the sport.
2. The Kids (1977, 1980-82): Another four-time champ, The Kids turned in quite possibly the most memorable seine boat win of all time in 1977 when the aptly named crew, which featured a bunch of recent high school graduates, took on the men and won.
In 1980, The Kids, led by coxswain Vincent Orlando and scuttler Sammy Scola, were back on top again and then again in 1981 and 1982.
The Kids changed the game according to those in the know, they raised the bar for the rest of the field and brought out the best in their opponents while some of their rowers are still very much involved in the sport.
Just how dominant were the top two crews? Of the eight remaining crews on this list, there was at least one member of Desire and The Kids on every single one of them. That’s some serious rowing talent and some serious staying power.
3. Kaos (2000, 2002, 2009-2011, 2013): Kaos is the most decorated crew of all time with six championships in a 14 year span. Novello’s crew, however, gets the top three nod for its run from 2009-13, winning four times in five years and becoming the first crew in nearly three decades to complete the three-peat.
In that second run, Kaos was a perfect blend of experience and youth, and they turned in some impressive wins against strong competition. The crew was a foot or two away from winning five in a row as it lost by the slimmest of margins in 2012, the closest three-boat race the sport has seen.
Kaos’ consistency was incredible in its heyday, and they still compete to this day, and are still a tough out.
4. Raging Bulls (1987-89): The Raging Bulls at No. 4? Seriously? The crew that knocked off Desire is No. 4? That just goes to show how good all of these crews are in the top four. Raging Bulls, led by coxswain Andy Orlando and scuttler Carlo “Sleepy” Pallazola, have a legitimate claim to the top spot as they were the first and only crew to knock off Desire in a barn burner of a race in 1987.
With a perfect blend of technique and power, the Raging Bulls tasted victory again in 1988 and 1989, both wins coming in dominant fashion before another aptly named crew, The Stoppers, stopped their run in 1990.
5. The Gondoliers (1964-65): The oldest crew on the list, it’s tough to compare the Gondoliers with the rest of the field because they competed in a time where the boats were rowed in a different way and featured only eight rowers.
Still, the Gondoliers were the team to beat in their time, winning two titles in dominant fashion. A crew made up mostly of first generation Italian immigrant fishermen, the Gondoliers expertly rowed a seine boat and even kept all eight oars in the water while turning.
It was a different era of the sport, but they were still dominant.
6. Die Hard (1996-97): This was the third of three crews to win back-to-back titles in the 90’s and Die Hard may very well have been the most impressive of the lot. Led by Orlando at coxswain and Lenny Biondo at scuttler, Die Hard was an experienced crew that could row, and win, in any conditions.
7. The Mean Machine (1978-79): Also known as The Renegades, this crew unseated The Kids after their upset win and then turned in a second straight victory in 1979, becoming just the second crew in the sport’s history to complete the repeat. The Mean Machine found more glory a few years later as much of this crew went on to form Desire.
8. Determination (1994-95): Another back-to-back winner in the 90’s, Determination was a mix of rowers from Desire and Raging Bulls looking to recapture the glory a decade later. Led by Novello at coxswain and Pallazola at scuttler, Determination dominated the field for two years before Die Hard put an end to their run.
9. Allied Forces (1991-92): The first crew to go back-to-back in the 90’s, Allied Forces looked like a contender that could have made a run for three until Over the Top came in and took them down in 1993. Allied Forces was a group of experienced rowers that used that experience to win twice.
10. Seize the Moment (2007-08): No crew went back-to-back in over a decade before Seize the Moment captured two straight victories. Led by Orlando at coxswain, Seize the Moment had a blend of youth and experience to take them to the top of the sport. They edged out a win in 2007 before repeating in dominant fashion in 2008. Then Kaos snatched control of the sport in 2009.