Thursday, December 8, 2016

Casino Capanile

I snapped this photo this afternoon at a certain Venice-themed 
establishment in Las Vegas.
I don't know off the top of my head whether the dimensions of this bell tower are the same as those of the one in Piazza San Marco.
Maybe next time I'll bring a tape measure.


Nearing the end of their gold medal run in the Tandem Distance race, 
Mike Ruffino and Parker Harrison power their way home for a win.

The idea, of course, is to go fast.
Faster than anyone else.
And Parker and Mike sure did that this year.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Nutrition and Conversation

Gondoliers are athletes, among other things.
At the US Gondola Nationals, we were burning through a lot of calories.
As you might imagine, lunch is not just a nice perk.
It's a necessity, and when a guy shows up wit a stack of pizzas, 
everyone is happy to see him.

Here are some fun shots of the nutrition and conversation that took place on Saturday in Minnesota.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Backwards Means Business

photo by Richard Sonnen

Before he shoves off to row in competition,
Parker Harrison spins his hat around backwards - like a baseball catcher.
It must work. 
He and Mike Ruffino took the gold medal in the race that followed this hat adjustment.  After turning his Associazione Gondolieri cap, 
they took the win in the Tandem Distance event.
With Parker, backwards means business.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Experience Counts

photos by Richard Sonnen
The Sprint events this year at the US Gondola Nationals
were among the most popular races on the docket. 
In fact more two-man teams entered the Tandem Sprint
than any other two-man event.
If you wanted to place, you had to row fast.
And because it was a short course, the top four or five finishers
in both Solo and Tandem, were all within a second or two of each other.
Most of the teams were pairings of guys from the same servizio,
But the duo that pulled in the bronze medal time was two guys from
different states, who had little to no time to train together,
and who seemed to just step on the gondola for the fun of it that day.
They rowed out to the starting line,
and went about the business of kicking ass.
John Kerschbaum of Gondola Romantica
and Tim "Bepi" Reinard of Sunset Gondola
are certainly not new to the sport.
Tim hosted Nationals three years ago,
John hosted the event this year.
Both guys have rowed in Venice.
Both guys own gondola operations,
and have been in the business a long time.
They are among the oldest regular competitors,
in fact they are old enough to be the fathers of
some of the younger entrants at the USGN
(something I can fully identify with)
And yet with age comes experience - something that can
really make a difference in a sport that's more than just brute force.
Technique and timing are of great importance in Venetian rowing.

Quickness off the line is important.
Rowing in perfect synchronization is key.
Next thing you know, that gondola is really moving.
The surface rushes by rapidly.
Everything becomes a blur.
 In the Sprint events it's full throttle all the way.
There's no holding back at all.

You turn at the buoy, and head back at breakneck speed.

The guy on the back has to keep the boat going in the right direction,
and keep up with the guy in the front...
...who is blasting away as fast as he can.

All that speed, all that power,
all that technique, timing, and experience
brought Tim and John across the line fast enough to capture medals.

Bravo, boys!

I told this same story last month with different photos,
in my post "Tim and John Take Off",
but when I saw Richard Sonnen's collection,
and got his permission to use them, I had to post these as well.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

"Feral Scream"

After a fast run to the buoy downriver,
and a vicious fight against wind and current to get back up,
Michael Angelo Ruffino turned at the upriver buoy
and hammered it home to the finish line.

The vocalizations ranged from angry grunts to a full-on scream,
a "feral scream" as he calls it.

For another angle on it, see my post "The Rhythm of Rage".

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Alza Remi!

A trademark salute of Venetian rowers is a raising of the oars.

You'll see it at Regata Storica as parade boats pass the judges stand,
and also after a race - from the first few boats who finish.

Here we see John Kerschbaum of Gondola Romantica
and Tim "Bepi" Reinard of Sunset Gondola in the "Alza Remi" salute
just before their run in the Tandem Sprint event at the 2016 US Gondola Nationals.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Posing - PVD Style

photos by Richard Sonnen
The gondoliers from Providence are fantastic rowers.
But they're also a lot of fun.
If I lived there, I'd totally apply for a job there.
(not sure if I'd get the job, but I'd definitely apply)
Here's a fun collection of the guys from Providence (a.k.a. PVD) 
posing for a group shot at the US Gondola Nationals. 
I've taken the liberty of adding my own quote captions for the sequence.
First you've got to get everyone together.
Marcello: "Wait, where the heck is Ivano?"
Alessandro: "Don't ask me, I'm getting in the zone here."

Ivano: "Here I am."
Marcello: "Excellent. Everybody smile."

Mariano: "Um, what do we do with our hands?"
Marcello: "try this."
Ivano: "I'm not doin' that"
Parker on the boat in the background: "Go Eddie!"

Alessandro: "Man, I should've shaved for this."

Ivano: "Check this out...classic gunfighter pose."
Marcello: "I'm gonna keep doing this hands out thing."
Eddie on the boat in the background: "Are those guys taking pictures?"

Mariano: "I'm just gonna smile, guys."
Alessandro: "I'm gonna punch an eagle!"
Ivano: "Gunfighter, man. Tellin' you - it works."

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Starting on Saturday Morning

A year ago we were all regrouping, reveling, and recovering
from the fourth US Gondola Nationals in Newport Beach, California.

Like two years prior in Huntington Harbour,
we'd enjoyed remarkable weather.
But last November our sights were trained
on a whole new piece of geography:
We talked about packing long johns,
about how cold it gets in the Twin Cities,
and wondered if we might even end up rowing in gloves
with snow falling on the decks.
Arriving a few days prior to the weekend,
a few of us were happy to find seasonably mild conditions. 
It wasn't Miami, but it was nice,
and we hoped it would stay that way through the weekend.
Saturday morning was darn near perfect.
Host John Kerschbaum had everything ready,
and the hospitality of that small Midwestern town was exemplary.
We awoke to cool temps and zero wind.
Smoke from a distant smokestack showed a slow drift.
Flags in town seemed to sleep as they hung from their poles.
It might get windy tomorrow, but it wasn't happening today.
After a big breakfast bonanza at our place, and lots of coffee all around,
gondoliers were waking up and rubbing the sleep from their eyes.
After the opening ceremony,
we gathered around the gondolas and prepared for a day of racing.
Marcello discusses the course with some competitors.
The first tandem team plans their upcoming run.
Hi tech equipment gets attention.
Low tech equipment does too.
Recently repaired remi get last-minute notches.
Parker surveys glassy waters.
Mike sets his pontapied foot-wedge.
The first tandem team pushes off for their distance run.
Marcello gathers the troops.
Some funny faces are made.
Fingers are pointed (Jakob is unfazed).

Spectators gather to watch the races.
The Minnesota team waves from their gondola.
 Parker and Mike line up to the starting line...
...and they're off!