By Jim Tarantino
At 7 a.m. on October 1st, it was raining and blowing 15-20 mph out of the NNW….and the forecast called for intensifying. Perfect weather for the 8th Annual Oarmaster’s Cup, the solo race for Gloucester dory rowers who are brave enough to face the elements and each other to determine who is the best Grand Banks dory rower on Cape Ann. John Francis left no one questioning the answer, crushing the competition by a full minute, with a time of 17:53, over the roughly 2-Mile course around Gloucester’s Outer Harbor!
The first heat featured Francis, former Seineboat Champion Jim Looney, newcomer Wally Mears, and myself: defending, two-time Oarmaster Champ. The wind and rain were coming hard when the gun went off and Francis wasted no time powering off the starting line to an early lead. Not to be easily defeated, Mears torqued up the power, but broke an oar, bringing his dory sideways. I then broke an oar, pulling a hard right to avoid a collision, and ended up on the deck causing a great deal of commotion, and almost a call to the Coast Guard by officials Joe Novello and Gus Sanfilippo on the Committee Boat! Once it was determined I wasn’t injured and had no spare oar, the Committee boat gave me an anchor to keep me from blowing to Boston and left to continue monitoring the course, which John Francis was now destroying. Mears had a spare oar and, after checking to make sure I wasn’t seriously hurt, powered his way to an impressive second-place finish!
The second heat brought less rain and higher wind! Gloucestermen Vincenzo Terranova, Mike Harmon, Erik Dombrowski and Bill Edmonds were up to the challenge! All dories got out strong. By the first turn it was a two boat race between experienced champion rowers Dombrowski and Harmon. They battled close but after the second turn Harmon turned it on and pulled ahead. But the strong Northerly winds forced him and Dombrowski toward the rocks before the finish line at Half Moon Beach, and young Vincenzo Terranova was coming on strong over the last quarter mile. Harmon scraped the rocks and Terranova powered up for a photo finish, both men finishing with a time of 18:55!
What an honor to compete with these men who can skillfully navigate 450-pound workboats in a gale of wind on America’s most storied fishing port. What a great Maritime tradition! We should all be grateful to the men and women who keep these events going, and keep our Community so genuine…so special… so Gloucester!
James Tarantino (Jimmy T.) is an exemplary outdoor enthusiast who heralds his love of family, his friends, and his passion for all things Gloucester.