Thursday, October 27, 2011


Here on the Gondola Blog, we love gondolas, but there's a real fascination for other Venetian craft, especially ones that are rowed.
Add one-of-a-kind to that mix and someone out there is salivating.

So it should come as no surprise that when Tamás sent me these three photos a while back, I sat up in my chair and feverishly tapped out an e-mail.

These three photo by Tamás Fehér
The sweeping tail-section.  

The word "OLIMPICA" made me wonder if we'd see
voga-alla-Veneta in the Olympics soon.  

A longer shot.

These weren't full shots.
Heck, I didn't even see the front of the boat,
but I was haunted by my curiosity.

The word "OLIMPICA" had me wondering if the next summer Olympics might feature a new rowing category.

I heard back from Tamás - he'd encountered the boat
in a club building in Giudecca.
He wrote:
In the warehouse they had the hybrid "Olympica" boat based on venetian hull and forked rowing.
Not much in the way of detail.
really, It just made me more curious.

I talked to Nereo Zane, told him about the boat and he pointed out a link to "Regata Storica 2010 - Nereo's Photos"
and there she was - right there in the foreground.

In an e-mail, Nereo told me:
The "Olimpica project" was born years ago when somebody thought of an Italian championship of Voga alla Veneta or, better, voga in piedi (stan up rowing). As you know there are other boats that can be rowed in "alla Veneta" style but all the boats are different in length, materials, number of rowers and so on. That said, an "Italian championship" is impossible to start unless every club owns the same boats. That is usually called "regulations". The "Olimpica" is the answer to all of above but is still a prototype and I don't know if others will be built.

Then Nereo gave me this link to

Should it come as any surprise that the "Grand Master" Gilberto Penzo has some great images of the boat in question?

Just yesterday I received these fresh images from Nereo Zane:

I've heard the cliche statement many times that certain Italian sports cars look like they're "moving fast, just sitting still", and I can't help but think the same thing about this beauty.
Does she not look like she's breaking the law...
even when resting on the cradle?

I have no idea right now what the future holds for this boat.
And while I could muse for hours about the possibilities of Venetian rowing
in the Olympics, I don't know if it will ever happen.

If the Olympic Games are ever fortunate enough to have "our type of rowing"
as one of their events, I want to be there
(sure, I'll be way too old to compete, but maybe I could be the towel-guy).

Of course if it does ever happen, I think it's a sure bet that the Italian team (which will be made up completely of Venetians) will win by a mile.
The real race will be the one for second place.

More images and some video of this remarkable boat can be hunted down on

The French language website has a great video here, showing how she behaves on the water.

Show of hands:
Who wants one?


Anonymous said...

Hand raised!

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! Yes, it's moving!

Unknown said...

This is like the old "venete" that every rowing club in Venice has/had. I rowed in one a few times in the 1960s out of the circolo canottieri Diadora on the Lido (I normally rowed "English style"). This looks sleeker and faster, but the principle is the same: rowing standing up but forked oarlocks, not like the ones on a gondola. They are tippy...