Tuesday, November 5, 2013
The Heroes Who Helped Make it Happen
While we were watching and cheering with excitement as rowers competed on the water, many of us probably lost sight of the fact that none of it would have been possible without the planning and support of certain people - people many of the competitors never noticed.
To begin with, I must tip my hat in thanks to Tim Reinard of Sunset Gondola who put so much of his heart and soul into putting together such an amazing event. This was not my event (I'm just a guy writing about it) - it was Tim's, and he deserves thanks from everyone who got to enjoy and be a part of it.
To those gondola operators who stepped in at the eleventh hour and helped complete things - my thanks and admiration are great for you (especially Marcello of La Gondola in Providence).
This was a great adventure - one which required some quick thinking - just the kind of thing a gondola operator is good at.
Ah, but there were a few others who did their jobs so quietly and efficiently that few really noticed them.
Before anyone even stepped on a boat to compete, I'd had some conversations with Nereo Zane in Venice. As a member of the GSVVM and a Venetian who's watched regattas his whole life, Nereo was uniquely qualified to help us with rules and guidelines. Based on Nereo's input, rules were written, and we knew how things should go. It was my hope that such things as "why someone should be disqualified" wouldn't need to be addressed, and thankfully I was right.
But we had guidelines and were able to proceed with confidence.
Many thanks to Nereo and his associates in the Veneto for their expert help.
When it came to timekeeping in sprints and qualifiers, we were lucky to have among our ranks, a gondolier who'd grown up in the sailing world.
Konnor Boivin intuitively knew just what to do in order to keep track of everyone's times and things ran quite smoothly.
Konnor had lots of experience with such things in both sailboat racing and other types of paddle and rowing competitions. Thanks to Konnor and all the others who stepped in to help as line judges and such. As John and I were making our turn late Friday evening (in the dark), somoeone was on shore to tell us where we were in order to make our turn properly - a special thanks to whoever that was on shore.
While Konnor and others were keeping track of things on the land, there was someone else who a similar job on the water - flying along in a chase boat.
Derek "Luciano" Sabatini of Providence, Rhode Island provided stopwatch service for the distance races - where the starting line was out in the main channel and the finish line judging point was across from the beach. Many of the competitors had never done this sort of thing before, so the patient clearly-worded instructions from timekeepers and boat drivers really helped.
Marcello of Providence told me:
"That was very much in character for him,
often sacrificing rowing himself for better organization on shore, particularly on WaterFire evenings.
Very much a team player"
providing a platform for the timekeeper wasn't the only job for the chase boat. The captain also had to lead the rowers through the course, as many hadn't seen it prior to racing. Along the way, other chase boats were also invloved, capturing photos and video, as well as making sure rowers behaved while competing. Perhaps one of the most crucial duties of the chase boat staff was to keep the waterways clear as the racers followed the route.
We were fortunate to have Bob Senske (who insures many gondola operations) and his nimble little boat for the whole time.
We also received on-the-water support from Tony Storti and members of his family, who managed to snap off some great photos while helping keep the course clear.
I would be remiss (and a terrible husband) if I didn't also mention a certain press release which my wife sent out - resulting in extra attention from the press.
In between all of these support beams, there were many other planks
helping to support the structure.
Many thanks to all of you.