Thursday, August 9, 2007

The team

This expedition has some great rowers involved; here’s a quick look at who they are:

At the heart of it all, is Vittorio Orio; this man is amazing. He is a past preseident of the rowing club "Remiera Francescana". Vittorio has rowed all over Europe, sometimes with a partner or team, but just as often, all by himself. His accomplishments include rowing the first gondola across the English Channel, crossing the straits between Sicily and mainland Italy, and rowing many waterways in Italy and elswhere. Vittorio is legendary among gondoliers. He has a big heart and has done much for charity throughout his rowing career. While it is likely that others have rowed gondolas up and down rivers in the past, Vittorio is credited with the invention of "expedition rowing" in the Venetian style.
It's no secret that the rest of us will be quite honored and privileged to row with him.

ENZO LISZKA - Skilled expedition rower
He started rowing for a living very young and worked on a traghetto (canal crossing “ferry gondola”). After a few years Enzo began working in other fields but, like so many Venetians – he never stopped rowing. He is a member of the rowing club "Remiera Francescana" in Venice. When Vittorio was looking for a forward oarsman with whom to cross the English Channel in 2001, he chose his good friend Enzo Lizska. In 2004 Vittorio and Enzo rowed from Pula in Croatia, to Venice by way of Pirano, Slovenia.

BEPI SUSTE - well-known regatante
Born Giuseppe Rossi (Bepi Suste is his nickname). In Venice the regatta winners are awarded flags, or “bandiere” instead of trophies. Flags are given to the first four finishers. Bepi is known as a “bandierato” in Venice - someone who has won at least one flag, although in this case he has won many flags and has been the first to cross the line in most of the regattas except Regata Storica. Bepi is a member of the rowing club "Voga e para" from the city of Burano. He worked as a gondolier from youth to retirement and is well known among Venetians.

I speak for the other American team members when I say we truly look forward to rowing with Vittorio, Enzo and Bepi. I am certain that we will learn much from the experience and build great friendships along the way


JON KERSCHBAUM - Gondola owner and operator - Gondola Romantica in Minnesota
He went to Venice in 2000, bought a gondola, received expert training in Venetian rowing, and by 2001 Jon Kerschbaum had launched his own gondola operation on the St. Croix River in Stillwater near Minneapolis/St. Paul. By 2006 he had 2 gondolas and an additional operation on the Centennial Lakes in Edina, Minnesota. See to learn more about Jon’s operation.
I consider Jon one of the top five guys in North America in the areas of gondola operation, maintenance, and overall boat handling. he is one of the only outside gondoliers I have allowed to row in my Newport Beach operation during the crunch-week of Valentine's Day.

CHRIS HARRISON – Senior Gondolier - Gondola Adventures, Inc. in Irving, Texas
His passion for Venetian rowing is only eclipsed by his singing ability. Chris Harrison is a classicaly trained opera singer, who has performed in many US cities and is just as comfortable in front of two gondola passengers as he is on stage singing for thousands. His rowing abilities seem to come naturally, and at 6 feet, five inches tall, he doesn't need to try very hard to get the gondola moving. Chris is based in Texas but has also rowed at the Newport Beach operation of Gondola Adventures, and has served as a rowing trainer for company training and outside consulting. I once witnessed Chris rowing out of an evening fog in Newport Harbor, singing in profoundly deep baritone/bass tones. It was as surreal as it was draconian. His passengers loved it, mine were jealous.

I felt weird writing about myself so I asked my wife to write this one.
In addition to being a wonderful husband and father, Greg is also the fearless leader of Gondola Adventures™, Inc. ( with locations in California, Texas, and Nevada. He has been a gondola fanatic since 1993 when he proposed to me on a gondola in Newport Beach, CA. He is a member of the "Gruppo Sportivo Voga Veneta in Mestre" (GSVVM) and the President of the Gondola Society of America. He has consulted for gondola operations throughout the US and Canada. In 2005, he had the unique opportunity to row with the GSVVM in the 14-man quatordesona “Mestrina” in the Regata Storica. He is thrilled to be participating in the Hudson River / FDNY Tribute Row and has been working diligently with his good friend Nereo Zane and Vittorio Orio to make this expedition a reality. I am thrilled to do anything I can to assist him with this dream.

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