Young or old, green or seasoned, we all went into the U.S. Gondola Nationals with eyes wide and muscles ready, with hopes of victory and smiles of friendship. For many of us, we had never competed either,
so this experience was new in every way.
More than anything, each and every one of us climbed aboard and grabbed an oar, with adrenaline already flowing.
I would venture to claim that nobody was bored,
not a single gondolier wasn't keenly aware of our surroundings.
I've held an opinion for a long time that:
"we spend most of our lives only half awake.
We are only fully engaged, fully awake for the big moments - and these are the times that we remember, the moments that stay with us, in some cases, the memories we'll share with our children and grandchildren."
We were all wide awake for a few days during Nationals.
On an overcast Saturday afternoon in late October, one of my gondoliers, Simon, took his turn on the red boat for a time-trial run.
We had determined that the best way to get a fair comparison of the many competitors was to have them all use the same gondola.
Wind, current, and lighting conditions varied a bit as the day went by,
but everyone gave it their best and it was a great event.
Here are some photos of Simon's race against the clock.
Getting up to speed.
Hitting his stride.
Navigating the turn.
Sotomorso to move out of the turn.
Full spee ahead to the finish line!
(with a big smile)