Sunday, November 19, 2017

Gondola Racing Video

video by Jonah Bonner

If you were rowing at Nationals this year, you might have heard a buzzing sound above you, or noticed a GoPro camera somewhere on your boat.

Simon Atkins is responsible for the GoPros, 

and he's posted a number of great videos online.
Jonah brought the drone (that made the buzzing sound).

Some incredible footage was captured by both cameras.
Jonah just posted some of it - masterfully edited together with a great piece of music.

You can watch it here, or go straight to the source here:

Whatever you do, go with as big of a screen as you can find, 
because the quality is fantastic.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Meanwhile, in Newport

Tonight's sunset was on fire!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sto Sanco!

 photo by Mark Schooling

Rowing cruises doesn't take much out of you.  
It's designed to be that way.
But racing drains a lot more energy.
Bepi grabbed a power-nap back in 2015,
next thing we knew, he and Richie took gold in Tandem Distance.

photo by Mark Schooling

Before or after a race, that little piece of carpet on the tail of the gondola is remarkably comfortable. 
In this last photo, you see one Gondola Greg - crashed out on the back of the boat right after his run in the four-man.
"Sto stanco" means "I'm tired".
I certainly was tired at that moment.

photo by Steve Atkins

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Sofia and Simon on the Slalom

photos by Cassandra Mohr

Most tandem teams come from the same servizio,
and show up at Nationals having trained together for an event.
Sofia and Simon would not match that description.

Most tandem teams show up on race day...knowing that they'll be entering a particular race. Not in this case.

Oh, and most tandem teams actually know each other.
Hah! Again, not so much here.

One of the things I always look forward to at nationals is meeting new friends.
This year the team from La Gondola in Providence included three new gondoliers, who were all enthusiastic about rowing and fun to meet.

On the second day, Sofia and Simon decided, on a whim, 
to take a run through the obstacle course as a tandem team.

They didn't finish in the top three, but they came close.
Everyone was impressed with their performance on the course.

I spoke with Simon after the race and here's what he said:

I thought it was really cool rowing with someone I hadn't practiced with. We were both excited, communicated well on the course, and I was amazed at how well we did for not practicing.
it was all around fun.

On a course where several competitors - both solo and tandem - missed 
one or more turns, they played it safe:
we kinda cut it wide on some turns, but we didn't miss any markers.

But I think the biggest advantage was the fact that Simon is an expert trainer.
I've had the pleasure of working with Simon for some time now.
We've trained together, traveled to Venice together.
and raced together.
Because of his expertise in form and technique,
I have Simon train all of my new gondoliers, both in Newport and Texas.
Simon's experience with training other gondoliers, gave him a natural ability to convey instructions to Sofia - which helped them navigate the course so well.
Later he told me:
It's good that there's a common language among gondoliers, so they can know what the other is talking about - even from opposite coasts.

Meanwhile, Sofia did a fantastic job rowing in this race as well as the other events she took part in.
Like several other American gondoliers, she's got a background rowing crew, which gives her a better understanding of things on the water, as well as a strong competitive side.
I look forward to seeing her in next year's competition.
Simon told me:
I felt very honored to row with her.

Here are some photos of their run through the course.
At the bottom of the post is a GoPro video of the race from on board the boat.

Monday, November 13, 2017


This one's a throwback to the 2015 USGN in Newport Beach,
but since the "Timekeeper" in this photo just celebrated his birthday yesterday
I decided to post it.

Here you see the moment where Ben Landis crossed the finish line 
and Mark Schooling of Gondola Paradiso recorded the time 
(with a horde of gondoliers from various places - all standing on the dock watching, cheering, and some...crossing their fingers).

Ben did well, snagging some medals that weekend.
Mark, as always, was solid and dependable on the docks - with stopwatch in hand.  

The timekeeper is the ultimate "unsung hero" of our event.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

How It Begins

photos by Tony Storti

You spend all year thinking about the big race - the solo distance race.
This is no team effort.  
You can't rely on anyone else.
It's all you.
You train, study maps, plan out the course in your mind.
You dwell on it, maybe like you did with Christmas as a kid.
Then finally the day comes.

Maybe you've trained diligently for it, 
maybe you're not sure you trained enough.
Either way, it's time.

You climb onto your assigned boat, 
wrap your hands around the oar, 
and begin the slow row out to the starting area.

Thoughts race through your head:
"Where are we going?"
"Am I ready?"
"Should I be rowing faster?
"Or should I be trying to conserve my energy?"

"Do I have a good boat?"
"Is it as fast as the others?"
"How do I match up with these other guys?"
"I hope I don't break the oar."

Someone on the chase boat yells out instructions.
Everybody lines up as ordered.

If it hasn't happened already, you get that cold feeling that comes when adrenaline and anticipation are forced to inhabit the same space.
Tension builds.
Your heart is thumping.
Every ounce of blood in your arms flows like arctic water in your veins. 

There's a moment where all seems calm,
but it isn't.

And then...

"GO! GO! GO! GO!"
They're yelling from the chase boat.
You all explode in a rowing frenzy,
and the "calm" gives the "storm"

That's how it begins.
How it ends, well, that's up to you.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Providence Arrives (Again)

The team from La Gondola in Providence has many talents.
They're excellent rowers, great singers, they have a camaraderie 
that is envied among other servizios.

Back in 2013, when the US Gondola Nationals was last held 
in Huntington Harbour, the Providence team arrived in style.
See my post "The Arrival".

This year, once again, the Providence arrival was memorable.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Simon Says Salud

photo by Tony Storti
Just after his solo run through the obstacle course,
Simon waves to the camera of expert gondola photographer Tony Storti.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Sunset Surfers

photos by Tony Storti

A couple shots from the pupparin distance time trial run 
of Team Sunset Gondola.

That's Parker Russel up front, and Jack Wilhelm on the 
raised deck of the stern.

They did a terrific job in this event, 
especially since they'd never rowed such a light and tippy boat.
Of course I'd expect nothing less from a couple of So Cal surfers.
Bepi tells me they "surf a lot and they're very good".
Bravo, guys!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Alza Remi

The standard salute from a rowed boat in the Veneto is to raise the oars.
They do it at the end of races in Regata Storica.
Parade and procession boats do it too, as they pass the judging stand.

For several years we've raised our remi at the end of a race 
or time trial at the US Gondola Nationals and other events.

My four-man team knows the drill.
But this year, it appears, that we got a little creative - as is evidenced 
by the photo above.

One handed? Yeah - that's cool.
One handed while flexing your other bicep - that's even better.
But "Look Ma', no hands" while it's balancing on the chin?
I only have three words:
    "For   the   win!"

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bend It Like Marcello

photo by Tony Storti

Tony took this photo from the chase boat during the third heat of the Solo Distance race at the 2017 US Gondola Nationals. 

The Master craftsmen in Venice (known as "remers") 
who carve gondola oars design them to be flexed in one direction.

Flip one over and row hard on it, and bad things may happen.

But in the hands of a rower who knows what he's doing, 
one of these 14 foot creations can bend without breaking, 
again and again - all the while flexing and springing the gondola forward 
with great efficiency.

when the camera captures the action at certain points,
it's easy to be concerned about that oar shaft snapping.

Marcello of La Gondola in Providence, Rhode Island 
managed to snatch a bronze medal in this event,
without breaking the oar.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Just the Red

This was taken during one of the Solo Distance heats 
at the 2017 US Gondola Nationals in Huntington Harbour, CA.
It was a great shot from the beginning,
but dropping out all but the red really gave it a cool look.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Fast Break

Sometimes a boat name in the background makes a fitting title.
This is one of those times.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Four-Legged Beast

In the four-oar configuration on a gondola,
each rower powers their own oar, 
but the team must work as a unit.
Fall out of synch, and things get chaotic.
Timing, discipline, and the ability 
to work together as a single unit - 
these all contribute to success.
As your gondola plows through the water at top speed, four people become one entity: 
   A fast-running, 
            36 foot long, 
                     four-legged beast!

 photo by Steve Atkins


Friday, November 3, 2017


photo by Tony Storti

It's in the grip of the oar,
the grit of the teeth,
the look in the eyes,
and every heartbeat.

The fighting spirit of the competitor is undeniable.

We grip, we row,
we grit, we show
that nothing but our very best will do.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Visitors from Venezia

 photos by Tony Storti

For three years now, the US Gondola Nationals has been fortunate 
to receive support from Emilio Ceccato - the exclusive supplier 
and sponsor of "Associazione Gondolieri di Venezia".

Since 1902 the shop at the foot of the Rialto bridge has been known 
among Venetians as a place to buy quality clothing.
Gondoliers know it as the place to get The best clothes
for their unique trade.

No other clothier understands our needs, 
and supports us like Emilio Ceccato.
CEO Alberto Bozzo was willing to partner with us again this year, 
and we proudly displayed the Associazione Gondolieri di Venezia logo - 
with it's winged lion of San Marco and two outward-facing gondola ferros.

This year, for the first time, Emilio Ceccato also sent some folks to visit us and observe our races.  
Arianna (sales assistant), and Ricardo (active gondolier in Venezia) 
came and watched us compete.

It was a true honor to have Venetians among us.
I learned that at 22, Ricardo is the youngest official gondolier in Venice.
As I was explaining some things about gondolas and gondoliers in America to them, I showed them some of the boats.
Ricardo astutely identified one as a Tramontin-built gondola, 
and another having the origin of squero San Trovaso.

We enjoyed getting to know Arianna and Ricardo, 
and look forward to seeing them the next time we're in Venezia.

Mille grazie to Alberto Bozzo and Emilio Ceccato for supporting and 
encouraging our efforts here.  We may be an ocean away, 
but we row with our hearts...and our hearts are in Venezia.

 Emilio Ceccato: clothier of rowing champions.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

USGN 2017 First Look

photos by Tony Storti

So many great photos were taken this past weekend - 
chronicling the 2017 US Gondola Nationals.

I'm diligently going through them all, 
and still haven't completed the first review.

But for starters, here's a collection of snaps for your viewing pleasure.

 Congregating in the morning.

Six beautiful boats - beached and ready.

 John Kerschbaum crosses his oars.

 And the races begin!

Rowing out for another heat.

Another fast start.

 Sofia and Giuliana in the Tandem Pupparin event.

Bepi navigates the obstacle course.