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.