Tuesday, September 19, 2017

GCON 4 - Dialing It In

 
As the US Gondola Nationals approaches, new teams are formed and established teams regroup - all in the interest of bringing their very best to the competition.
 
Last year the four-man team from The Gondola Company of Newport made a big statement with a silver-medal finish, and a time only thirty seconds behind the fastest team.
This year they plan to upset things for the first-place team
(and I must admit that I'm a little nervous...because the first-place team is MY team!)
 
This evening, as the sun set over Newport, they had another scheduled workout row, complete with strategy discussions and aggressive training.
It's all in the name of working out the kinks, dialing things in, and clocking the very best time possible in the event - an event that's now about forty days away.
 
Talking strategy.
 
 
Ever the surfer, Parker prefers the barefoot approach.
 
 
Is it just me, or would this make a great album cover for a band?
 

Trademark backwards baseball cap.
 
 
Shoving off...
 
...and rowing off into the sunset.



Monday, September 11, 2017

Nolite Oblivisci

Translation:
do not forget.



For some it may have softened,
but for us, the memory of September 11th will never fade.

We will never forget.

photo by Nereo Zane

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Saturday Night on the Docks


Saturday night on the docks.
It was a beautiful September evening.
The winds were just strong enough to keep guys on their toes,
just refreshing enough for passengers to enjoy them.

I caught guys as they came and went,
snapping the occasional image when I could.

Gary takes off.

Mike O. approaches the dock.

What a sunset!
And then there was Simon's departure:





There are times when things are less-than-perfect,
and we think of times that were better.
This was one of those times.




Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Eddie Asked, and Jessica Answered!

photos by Ella Mahoney
 
 
On Monday morning, under a serenely overcast sky, Gondola Company of Newport manager Eddie Rivera helped his girlfriend Jessica onto a gondola in Newport Harbor. 
 
She suspected something was up.
He was dressed up, and not wearing stripes,
she had been dressed and primped for this "date" by her best friend,
oh, and then there was the fact that it was their ten year dating anniversary.
 
I was heading out for a workout-row on the pupparin,
and decided to follow at a distance so I could witness what followed.

Stepping aboard.

Heading out.

Under the Newport Boulevard bridge.

Once they reached a nice spot up in the canals,
Eddie stowed his oar and climbed into the passenger area of the gondola.

Climbing down.
 
Facing Jessica.
 
 kneeling down

Aaand yes, proposing!
 
Sure enough, Eddie asked the big question.
She said "Yes", of course.
And how could she not?
Eddie had commissioned a custom engagement ring which included diamonds and an amethyst (her birth stone) - both were from dear relatives, and held great significance.
 
Eddie knows how to row a gondola.
He also knows how to commission a great ring.
And on Monday morning he turned out to be pretty darn good at asking a big question.
 
Putting on the ring.
 
Cruising afterwards, the mood was fantastic.

The newly engaged couple shared a kiss under the 38th Street bridge.
 
After the question was asked and the answer was given,
I was able to approach the boat and chat them up a little.
Everyone had a great time.
 
I had Ella on the boat with me, shooting some paparazzi-style photos.
We were both honored to be there.
We see a lot of proposals, but it's not every day
that we get to see a gondolier propose.
 
Congratulations to Jessica and Eddie.
May the memories of this great day brighten your lives forever.



Saturday, September 2, 2017

Blessing Before the Regata

 photos and video by Michael O'toole

It's that time again in Venezia:
The rowing season,
filled with regatas in various parts of the lagoon,
and on different styles of boats, has come to a close...almost.

There's one more left:
the famous Regata Storica.

This is the big one.
You could say it's the Superbowl of Venetian rowing.
I'm sure there are resons why that's not the best comparison,
but I'm sticking with it because, well, I could keep trying and there would still be criticism from someone.
Suffice to say that Regata Storica is the biggest day of the year in Rowing in the Veneto.
Teams in several different formats will have their chance to race for first place.

The main event for many fans is the race of the gondolini.
These are light, thin, fast versions of the gondola,
but much more difficult to row.

Many other things happen prior to race day.
One of them is a traditional blessing of the boats,
which takes place in front of the Santa Maria della Salute basilica on the Canale Grande.

Mickael O'toole - owner of the Gondola Getaway in Long Beach, California was there to see and experience this traditional ceremony, and he sent me a few video clips and photos.

This is not always easy to catch on video, as there are so many different places you want to point the camera at the same time, but if you watch each short clip, I think you'll get an idea of what goes on.

video

video

video

Also In attendance was the Mayor,
who took a moment to snap a selfie with Michael O'toole. 


I love the fact that the mayor himself held the phone for the selfie.
Maybe I should adjust the photo credit to reflect that.

Thanks for the photos and video, Mike.
I hope you enjoy the Regata Storica.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Twenty Years on the Gondola


At the end of August, 1997, Mark Schooling first started out as a gondolier.
I remember when he showed me the primary strokes (back when I was still driving electric boats).
He's spent over 16,000 hours rowing, witnessed countless marriage proposals, rowed in a few different harbors, and successfully launched his own servizio.
( see http://gondolaparadiso.com )

Congrats to you, Mark.
Here's to many, many more!



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Pupparin in the Sun


Kalev leaves the dock with happy passengers on the pupparin known as "Contessa" on a sunny August afternoon.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Viva Mariachis

 
For the record, I am the worlds foremost gringo,
but for whatever reason, I totally love mariachi music.
Really the whole mariachi thing.
In some ways they remind me of gondoliers:
the uniform, the music, plus they're ambassadors of their culture.
Oh, and then there's the fact that they are super loud.
Ask my mother - I've always been super loud too.
 
Tonight, for the first time ever, I got to take a boat full of mariachis out on the water - to drop them off on a charter yacht in Newport.
 
Sunset over Mariachis
 
We had a ball.
One guy sang a piece of "O Sole' Mio",
Another said "Do you sing?"
and then, of course, I broke out in full Bocelli mode.
He pulled out his guitar, another broke out his phone to record.
It was a party on the water.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pupparin Workout

photo by Simon Atkins

Kalev and I jumped into the Contessa today for a rowing workout,
and Simon caught us as we passed by in front of the Newport Boulevard bridge.

This year the two-man pupparin time-trial will be part of the events once again at Nationals.
Unlike the gondolas, this boat is lighter, and tips easily. 
Sometimes rowing her feels like a balancing act.