EACH tribe marched to its appointed place. The blue, the yellow, the green and the red, each trying to drown out their rivals with horn, drum, pipe and voice.
The newcomers arrived first, Damascus with banners of maroon, yellow and blue.
Then it was the gold of Grammar and blue of High School on the opposite bank, greeting each other with chants and songs.
"Everywhere we go, people want to know," said the gold. "Who we are, where we come from."
"We can't hear you," replied the blue.
Marching drums led the boys from St Patrick's College. They completed a lap of the point. Then a sea of balloons crossed Wendouree Parade from Loreto, and finally a red tide from College.
They were settling in even as the first boats completed the course with a handy tail wind.
Loreto celebrated first, with enthusiastic hollering as the school took the first victory of the day.
But they wisely left plenty in the tank. There was plenty to come, including the main event: The Head of the Lake.
Welcome to "Boat Race" 2014.
Some of the better action, as always, is off the course.
Check out this video taken of St Pats and Loreto students chants.
Loreto College, St Pats College, Ballarat Grammar School, Clarendon College, Ballarat High School and Damascus College will battle it out (safely) on the water today.
The Loreto girls get loud, while the St Pats boys make a big entrance.
Damascus, at their first head of the Lake, get settled into their spots.
Lifeguards are on scene and are prepared for the worst - not that the weather is going to be a problem today.