When the first surfers paddled by me in Newport Harbor - standing up -
I took notice. It was an unusual thing to see. Sure, guys had been paddling through the canals kneeling or lying down for as long as I could remember, but these guys were standing up and using paddles.
Not long after that I saw one catching waves while I was surfing in Huntington Beach, and it made more sense. These days I see them all the time in Newport. They are known as "stand up paddlers" or SUP's.
My passengers and I often share a laugh about how they are "gondoliers in-training".
With a good sense of balance and a love for the water, I've known for a long time that surfers are uniquely qualified to row a gondola.
They need training like anyone else, but I think they have a head start because of their experience surfing.
Now here's a link to a nice clip of a gondolier (Bob Millspaugh) stepping onto a board and catching a wave SUP style.
There's no forcola, and the "remo" is much shorter,
but I think some of the same dynamics are there.
Bob is one of the surfers, and he can also be heard singing the second song,
"SUP Sessions 11/12/10"