and almost all of them were photographed.
In between the team arrivals, oar snappings,
and captivating wins and finishes,
something quiet happened.
It wasn't showey or loud, and in fact unless you were part of it,
you might not have noticed it.
Several times, as we were navigating our way through this remarkable event, trying to decide the best solutions to the last-minute challenges presented by time, weather, and the differences between boats, The owners of six gondola operations stood in a circle and reasoned it out.
This is the closest thing we have of a photo of the "Circle of Six",
it's a low quality frame from a video clip when there were five of us.
The guy in black is Joe from Boston, going clockwise we see John from Minnesota, Sean from Coronado, Marcello from Providence,
and me in the black cap.
Tim wasn't in the circle as he was tending to some sort of hosting duty,
but we grabbed him shortly after.
We all know each other, and while some of us had seen each other before,
this was the first time we were all standing in one place.
I've often said that nobody understands a gondolier quite like another gondolier,
but taking that a step further, nobody, and I mean nobody understands the weird challenges faced by the owner of a gondola company like another owner.
Each guy had his own perspective, based on experiences and the way he was seeing things unfold. Everyone was wise and fair, open to hearing what the other guys had to say.
There were no titles, nobody had been elected to a position,
no credentials other than "hey, those are some of my guys out there and here's what they're dealing with", which was followed by "I know what you mean,
let's grab _____ and see what he thinks".
In a short time we were all there, with various gondoliers stepping in from time to time, either watching or adding their two cents.
This "Circle of Six" made the difference in more ways that I can count.
I have great admiration for each of the guys in that circle,
and it was an honor to be a part of it.