Thursday, November 15, 2018

Back from Nationals

The 7th installment of the US Gondola Nationals is in the books,
and oh, what a great time it was for all involved.

Gondoliers and friends traveled from near and far to Providence, Rhode Island (where gondola racing in America all started), and we had a blast!

We sang, we socialized, we raced, we rowed Waterfire cruises, we raced again, and then we celebrated.  As with every year, new friendships were made, and existing ones picked up where they'd left off.

And whether you win medals or not, nobody leaves Nationals without having gained in so many other ways.
In fact, I believe this competition has made us all better rowers,
and overall better gondoliers.

In the days ahead, we will go through the various photos and video recordings that were captured during the competition.
But for now, I'd just like to thank Marcello and the folks at La Gondola in Providence for hosting a terrific edition of the US Gondola Nationals.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Training in Oxnard

photo by Josh Sopp

It seems like everyone I know is training up for the US Gondola Nationals.
I guess that says something about who I hang out with.
Gondoliers are the best people.

A guy named Josh Sopp grew up rowing cruises here in Newport, and then went on to work in television, but the gondola addiction can be strong.
Years later he looked up Mark Schooling, who had established Gondola Paradiso in Oxnard, California.
Both Mark and Josh had rowed for the Gondola Company of Newport.
Now it looks like the two of them will be a tandem team.

Today Josh posted the above photo along with the following text: 

Last night of training.
Next time I row will be at Nationals this weekend!
I hope the 3 months of working out 6 days a week pays off!
If anything I lost 20 lbs and 8% body fat.
Thanks to kiddo for being a good sport and tagging along to watch her iPad and look for seals.
And a big thanks to Mark Schooling for letting me practice, and inviting me to row with him in the two-man competitions!

Friday, November 2, 2018

Restaurant Pickup

Gondolier Alex Boullon rows towards The Winery restaurant to pick up his passengers, as the sky (once again) gives us radiant colors to enjoy.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Electric Sky

photo by Jonah Bonner

Tonight the two 4-man teams in Newport Beach practiced for the race in Providence, which will happen in about a a week.
The GCON 4 took to the water first, 
and enjoyed beautiful colors as the sun set.
As my team (the GAI team) arrived on the dock and waited for the boat to return, we were treated to quite a show - as the sky lit up like I've rarely ever seen it.
The photos in this post really don't represent the reality 
of it's brightness and color.
The only word I can think of that comes close to describing just how vivid 
and powerful it electric.

 taking it all in.
photo by Jonah Bonner

 The tail of a gondola with electric sky in the background.
photo by Jonah Bonner

 Pre-row snacks.  This time: Fuji apple...
photo by Jonah Bonner

...because food is fuel!
photo by Jonah Bonner

 The guys from GCON arrive.
photo by Greg Mohr

  Stainless steel and sunset sky.
photo by Greg Mohr

The GAI 4-man team rows off into the sunset.
photo by Eddie Rivera

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Cavallo e Barca Grande

We board most of our gondola cruises in the same docks 
as some of the big charter yachts.

Here's one of the brass horses of my gondola The Phoenix, 
with the 90 foot vessel Dream Maker in the background.

Such contrast.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Friday, October 26, 2018

Bride Transport

This evening I was entrusted with the duty of delivering 
a bride and her father to one of the large charter yachts in the harbor.

I dressed up Stella, with her newly painted purple floorboards 
and matching seat cover and pillows.

We rendezvoused with the yacht,
Two hundred guests looked and waved,
I rowed us around the yacht for all to see,
and then side-tied to the boarding area at the stern.

I swear, this stuff just never gets old.


Thursday, October 25, 2018

A tale of Two Journals

photo by Michael Czerwonka

On Monday the Wall Street Journal featured a great piece on gondolier Michael Angelo Ruffino, and his athletic workout regimen.  
It was a fun spotlight on something I've never seen anyone report on.
There were quotes from John Kerschbaum in Minnesota and Marcello in Providence.
But a reporter at the Providence Journal saw the article and decided to answer it with a report of his own - from the shores of the river in Providence.
photo by Bob Breidenbach

And so a press rivalry,
pointed out a rowing rivalry,
which is similar to a certain World Series rivalry
(which, as a Dodger fan, I don't really want to talk about right now).

The US Gondola Nationals revolves around racing,
but it's not ALL about winning races and getting medals.
The brotherhood and camaraderie is, for almost everybody, 
the most important aspect of this unique annual happening.

Even so, we are all happy to see our yearly races getting some good press coverage.  Maybe this year we'll end up in the Sports Page again.

To read the articles, see...
Wall Street Journal: 

"A Model Gondolier With a Reletless Regimen"
and Providence Journal: 

"Providence gondoliers training to compete - and host U.S. Nationals"

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Training Moon

Under dark skies, on a dew-covered gondola, 
my four-man team set out this evening for a grand tour of the harbor.
Two miles into our row, a bright, silvery, full moon rose from the horizon.
As our crecent-shaped vessel cut through the glassy surface of Newport Harbor, the perfect night air filled our lungs. 

We rowed hard in unison, working out our muscles as well as our methods.
a few boats passed us in the opposite direction,
Sea lions barked in the distance, 
and the night time landscape blew past us on either side.
It was a perfect night for a training run, 
and the moon was no small part of that.