Sunday, June 17, 2012

Familiar Rowing Style in Austria

A while back, Fred Craven - a friend of mine in Texas who used to row gondolas for me there in Irving, sent me this gem.

He wrote:
Remember my theory about the Gondola being an "organic" and ancient design that can be seen in many cultures? Well, I was just watching Rick Steves on PBS and there was a quick note about Lake Hallstatt in Austria, Take a look at some of their traditional boats in this video.

Here's the video.

In case this clip doesn't download for you here, you can also go to this link and watch it on YouTube.

The first minute or so is footage in the village of Hallstatt,
with folks taking part in ceremonies wearing traditional clothing.
Next we see some activity on the lake,
which is known as the Hallst├Ątter See.

Then, at about the 1:40 mark we see the first "tethered-oar" boat being rowed by a guy facing forward.

If you're a fan of gondolas and Venetian rowing, you'll probably have the same reaction that I did:
"Hey, that guys rowing alla-Veneta!"
followed by,
"hmm, but he's rowing left-handed, and the oar is different."

Accompanying text on the YouTube page explains:
Every year, tourists from all over the world meet in Hallstatt Austria to attend the colorful Corpus Christi procession in Hallstatt, founded as eternal endowment of salt mining.

Since 1628 a great part of the procession takes place on the lake, because there was too little space in the small village. The inhabitants carry the traditional costumes and decorate their boats with flowers and tree leaves.
Visitors can take part by booking a seat on the excursion ship or by renting one of the ceremonially decorated boats. Due to the visitor traffic the reservation should be made early enough.

Are they gondolas? No.
But they do bear some resemblance? They sure do - with the upswept bow and of course the guy in the back...doing kinda what we do.

Of course they've chosen to support the fulcrum points of the oars with a raised part of the hull instead of a forcola, and the oars sort of remind me of a rudder on Tom Sawyer's raft, but the guys using them seem to have no trouble with them.

Recently I discovered a terrific blog known as "Rowing for Pleasure" by Chris Partridge out of England.
It turns out that Chris has posted a couple times about one of these boats, which are known as "plattens" or "zillens".
In this post we learn a little about these boats:
"The Hallstattersee Platten (or Zillen)"

And in this post we read about a few more details about the boat.
"The Hallstattersee Platten (or Zillen) at the Turks Auction"

All around the world I see boats that remind me of the ones I row at home and love in Venice.
Sure, they're not exactly the same, but quite often, as they say "form follows function", and we certainly see a bit of that in these small rowing craft from the Hallst├Ątter See in Austria.

1 comment:

Sean Jamieson said...

Why aren't you singing?