I'm posting over a dozen clips to this post (a record here on the Gondola Blog). Last Sunday I was fortunate enough to once again be part of the Sunset Gondola rowing team, which followed this year's boat parade. On Saturday they had a few other rowers aboard, who had a fun and challenging time, but on Sunday we had an "A-Team" as one of the guys put it. All four were seasoned rowers, having done this route last year.
Here's the first video clip, taken dockside at Sunset Gondola:
From bow to stern, we had Chris "Rotto Sorriso" in the "prua" position, John Synco rowing "lai", Greg Mohr in "sestina", and Tim Reinard captaining the boat on the "poppa".
As we left the dock and started rowing I shot this clip:
The phrase "hurry up and wait" seems to best describe the beginning of almost any boat parade. Here's a piece of video shot during that time when we were in position, having hurried to get there, so someone on a committee boat could make sure we were there and ready, and then we waited. Of course there are no dull moments on a boat like this; friends rowing together, catching up on what's going on in each other's lives, sharing a drink and simply enjoying the company - all make for an enjoyable waiting period.
Last year the "hurry up and wait" period ended with a more abrupt start than it did this year:
Rowing while shooting video isn't always easy, and I chose not to reach for my camera during some of the more crazy moments, but here's a typical view from a guy rowing in "sestina" as we cruised along:
The Huntington Harbour Boat Parade had a "Wild West" theme this year, which explains some of the decor seen on a few of the boats. Tim doesn't usually call out to people in cowboy lingo either, but it seemed fitting this time around.
Last year we took the lead position, and the yachts, sportfishers, and other motorized boats didn't always keep up with us. Four men in a rowing boat may not sound faster than a sportfisher, but our ability to spin through the turns proved to be a great advantage.
This year we took the second to last spot on the rotation and loved it.
I must admit, that when I first heard about our new position, it didn't seem like good news, but we found that being at the tail end meant that we received more cheers from shore because not everybody is there to see the first boat come through.
One drawback however, is that when the hundred-foot yacht in front of you stops - you've got to stop too. Typically a "no voga" order from the captain is heard at that point.
When you're rowing a gondola, people tend to yell things like "why aren't you singing?", or "sing us a song!" One time some guy hollered out "sing something in italian", so Tim promptly did just that:
Sometimes you get tired of saying the same things.
Sometimes you get creative.
At one point Tim decided to wish someone a "Mazeltov Christmas":
There are a number of places on the route where the parade makes a U-turn and doubles back on itself. Things can feel a bit more chaotic sometimes as parade vessels are passing each other in tighter canals:
Here's another moment of interaction with folks on shore - looks like John has a lot of "favorites".
As we neared the end, things were easy and relaxed:
finally, here's the dockside wrap-up:
We had a great time rowing in the parade last year, I don't want to downplay that row, but realistically, this was one of the most enjoyable team rowing experiences I've had in a long time.
Everyone on the boat knew what needed to be done.
When Tim would call out "no voga" or another piloting command, we all knew it was coming and were already prepared to carry it out.
Moreover, it seemed like this team had power to burn.
We could get that boat moving fast in a short time, and as the evening progressed, we got things "dialed in" to the point where the crew worked like a well-oiled machine.
There were no "Oh $#@&" situations, and speed was never an issue.
Boat handling was also worthy of note:
we pulled a number of fast spin-turns in places where the parade would come to a dead-end and double back.
Towards the end of the parade, we approached the end of one canal where a bridge crosses and the procession turns around. A large group of spectators stood on the bridge and along shore. We shot towards the bridge, executed a perfect spin-turn, and heard the group emit a loud collective "WHOA!"
All-in-all, it was a great row.
Many thanks go to Tim for hosting the row, and Chris and John for their expert rowing.
I'm already looking forward to next year.