Sunday, November 19, 2017

Gondola Racing Video

video by Jonah Bonner

If you were rowing at Nationals this year, you might have heard a buzzing sound above you, or noticed a GoPro camera somewhere on your boat.

Simon Atkins is responsible for the GoPros, 

and he's posted a number of great videos online.
Jonah brought the drone (that made the buzzing sound).

Some incredible footage was captured by both cameras.
Jonah just posted some of it - masterfully edited together with a great piece of music.

You can watch it here, or go straight to the source here:

Whatever you do, go with as big of a screen as you can find, 
because the quality is fantastic.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Meanwhile, in Newport

Tonight's sunset was on fire!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sto Sanco!

 photo by Mark Schooling

Rowing cruises doesn't take much out of you.  
It's designed to be that way.
But racing drains a lot more energy.
Bepi grabbed a power-nap back in 2015,
next thing we knew, he and Richie took gold in Tandem Distance.

photo by Mark Schooling

Before or after a race, that little piece of carpet on the tail of the gondola is remarkably comfortable. 
In this last photo, you see one Gondola Greg - crashed out on the back of the boat right after his run in the four-man.
"Sto stanco" means "I'm tired".
I certainly was tired at that moment.

photo by Steve Atkins

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sofia and Simon on the Slalom

photos by Cassandra Mohr

Most tandem teams come from the same servizio,
and show up at Nationals having trained together for an event.
Sofia and Simon would not match that description.

Most tandem teams show up on race day...knowing that they'll be entering a particular race. Not in this case.

Oh, and most tandem teams actually know each other.
Hah! Again, not so much here.

One of the things I always look forward to at nationals is meeting new friends.
This year the team from La Gondola in Providence included three new gondoliers, who were all enthusiastic about rowing and fun to meet.

On the second day, Sofia and Simon decided, on a whim, 
to take a run through the obstacle course as a tandem team.

They didn't finish in the top three, but they came close.
Everyone was impressed with their performance on the course.

I spoke with Simon after the race and here's what he said:

I thought it was really cool rowing with someone I hadn't practiced with. We were both excited, communicated well on the course, and I was amazed at how well we did for not practicing.
it was all around fun.

On a course where several competitors - both solo and tandem - missed 
one or more turns, they played it safe:
we kinda cut it wide on some turns, but we didn't miss any markers.

But I think the biggest advantage was the fact that Simon is an expert trainer.
I've had the pleasure of working with Simon for some time now.
We've trained together, traveled to Venice together.
and raced together.
Because of his expertise in form and technique,
I have Simon train all of my new gondoliers, both in Newport and Texas.
Simon's experience with training other gondoliers, gave him a natural ability to convey instructions to Sofia - which helped them navigate the course so well.
Later he told me:
It's good that there's a common language among gondoliers, so they can know what the other is talking about - even from opposite coasts.

Meanwhile, Sofia did a fantastic job rowing in this race as well as the other events she took part in.
Like several other American gondoliers, she's got a background rowing crew, which gives her a better understanding of things on the water, as well as a strong competitive side.
I look forward to seeing her in next year's competition.
Simon told me:
I felt very honored to row with her.

Here are some photos of their run through the course.
At the bottom of the post is a GoPro video of the race from on board the boat.

Monday, November 13, 2017


This one's a throwback to the 2015 USGN in Newport Beach,
but since the "Timekeeper" in this photo just celebrated his birthday yesterday
I decided to post it.

Here you see the moment where Ben Landis crossed the finish line 
and Mark Schooling of Gondola Paradiso recorded the time 
(with a horde of gondoliers from various places - all standing on the dock watching, cheering, and some...crossing their fingers).

Ben did well, snagging some medals that weekend.
Mark, as always, was solid and dependable on the docks - with stopwatch in hand.  

The timekeeper is the ultimate "unsung hero" of our event.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

How It Begins

photos by Tony Storti

You spend all year thinking about the big race - the solo distance race.
This is no team effort.  
You can't rely on anyone else.
It's all you.
You train, study maps, plan out the course in your mind.
You dwell on it, maybe like you did with Christmas as a kid.
Then finally the day comes.

Maybe you've trained diligently for it, 
maybe you're not sure you trained enough.
Either way, it's time.

You climb onto your assigned boat, 
wrap your hands around the oar, 
and begin the slow row out to the starting area.

Thoughts race through your head:
"Where are we going?"
"Am I ready?"
"Should I be rowing faster?
"Or should I be trying to conserve my energy?"

"Do I have a good boat?"
"Is it as fast as the others?"
"How do I match up with these other guys?"
"I hope I don't break the oar."

Someone on the chase boat yells out instructions.
Everybody lines up as ordered.

If it hasn't happened already, you get that cold feeling that comes when adrenaline and anticipation are forced to inhabit the same space.
Tension builds.
Your heart is thumping.
Every ounce of blood in your arms flows like arctic water in your veins. 

There's a moment where all seems calm,
but it isn't.

And then...

"GO! GO! GO! GO!"
They're yelling from the chase boat.
You all explode in a rowing frenzy,
and the "calm" gives the "storm"

That's how it begins.
How it ends, well, that's up to you.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Providence Arrives (Again)

The team from La Gondola in Providence has many talents.
They're excellent rowers, great singers, they have a camaraderie 
that is envied among other servizios.

Back in 2013, when the US Gondola Nationals was last held 
in Huntington Harbour, the Providence team arrived in style.
See my post "The Arrival".

This year, once again, the Providence arrival was memorable.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Simon Says Salud

photo by Tony Storti
Just after his solo run through the obstacle course,
Simon waves to the camera of expert gondola photographer Tony Storti.