Friday, April 17, 2009

Team California

For months there were talks about forming a team;
a team to row in the 2009 edition of the world-famous Vogalonga.

I met and talked with Tim and Tyson of Sunset Gondola several times.
In years past, many different groups of American rowers had participated in this enormous non-competetive regata, but this time we wanted to assemble a group of rowers representing more than just one or two companies.
When it looked like a viable plan, we talked with various gondoliers who we thought we'd like to row with.

With the current economy, most team members would need to do a little fund raising, and having them all within the same area would help.
Southern California is unique in that there are nine separate gondola operations between Marina del Rey and the Mexican border.
Our focus wasn't to keep the team all Californian - it was keeping things manageable.
The California part was secondary,
but it made for a nice name.

The only team member not currently living in California is Megan Sliger, who owns and operates Gondola di Venezia in Boston (originally started by Joe and Camille Gibbons). As it turns out, Megan was born and raised in the Bay Area before moving to Boston.

Here's a photo taken at a recent team meeting:From left to right - Greg Mohr, Andrew McHardy,
Tim Reinard, Doug Davis, Jeff Craver, Erin Grissom,
Tyson Davis, "Rotto Sorriso".

With immense help from Nereo Zane, and the leadership of the GSVVM, an eight-man caorlina (property of the Commune di Venezia) has been reserved for us.

Plans are also in the works for Tim Reinard to row a separate boat in the valesana style.
Gondolier Peter Dever will be traveling with us to either serve as an alternate, or join another group, depending on the circumstances.
Some team members are also bringing family members.

The current line-up includes gondoliers who actively row in four separate operations, and have taken passengers in more than a dozen locations.
Some team members have rowed the Vogalonga once or twice before, a few have done it several times, and for a few, it will be the first time.
We are all looking forward to the adventure. If you're there, we hope to see you, and raise a glass with you in one of the most amazing cities the world has ever seen.

In alto i remi!


Nereo said...

Can't wait to meet you all guys

DG Beat said...

I wish I was going with all of you.

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

> With the current economy, most team members would need to do a little fund raising <

That sounds bad. Americans are still significantly richer compared to most of the "rest of the world" and it sounds scary that a brief Venice travel may cause fiscal problems even for them.

I know Venice is very expensive and heard prices have risen a further 15% since last autumn, but has the situation really become that strict?

I was wondering myself if I should go this end of May, not to row, but simply to watch those 1,500 boats amass in San Marco bay and maybe chase them around on vaporetto, if that's possible. Now I wonder if its affordable?

What about the costs that make the californian team worried? Are these related to the boat-hiring aspect or simply travel / tourism / food expenses?

Will you shelter on the mainland to keep budgets down? I heard that's a bad idea for tourists, because the Mestre area is very disillusioning.

Thanks for advice!

Gondola Greg said...

Hi Tamas.
Well, we're not all "in the poor house" over here, but the economy is tight.
Our original plan was to do the whole thing on sponsorship, then the economy took a dive. We have had some luck with sponsors, but early on it became clear that we would need to pay for most of this on our own.
Some team members have the money, others are students.
Another thing to consider here, is that a trip to Italy from the West Coast of the US is a big trip. It's not as far as Australia, but it's a commitment. Guys in New York or Florida have a much easier time of than we do.
We are planning to stay in Venice. Some will stay in Dorsoduro near Campo Santa Margherita, others have not decided yet.
If you go, we would love to meet you and share some wine.

Tamas Feher from Hungary said...

Thanks for the clarification, I failed to consider that it's California to Italy for you, a transcontinental trip as well as a transatlantic crossing. It's much easier from here, you can take a bus or even a direct train overnight if one is afraid of flying, like me.