Wednesday, August 21, 2019

First Flight of the Four Man

Each year about this time, we start getting serious about Nationals.
And while several Newport gondoliers have already begun training in solo and tandem formats, today we had our first sighting of a four-oared team in training.  

This year it was the team known sometimes as the "GCON 4", 
because all four guys grew up rowing in the Gondola Company of Newport.
The team consists of Parker Harrison, Eddie  Rivera, Matt Raus, and Mike Ruffino. They've won gold the last two years, 

and silver the two years before that. 

Today, their first workout, was really a sort of wake-up call to their muscles.
This year the US Gondola Nationals will be held here in Newport.
The races and festivities will all center around the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club - much like they were during the 2015 Nationals.
The dates are October 26th and 27th.

You will likely see more about Nationals here in the weeks to come.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Simon at Sunset

I snapped this last night as Simon was heading out on a cruise, 
rowing the pupparin "Contessa".  Evan Perez can be seen in the background, rowing one of the American-built boats.
We're really starting to love our new location here in Newport.

Friday, August 9, 2019

A First in Newport

Tonight, for the very first time in Newport, a woman rowed passengers for hire as an official gondolier.  Gondolas have been here since the first decade of the 1900's - quite a lot of history - but our records show that this is the first time any servizio here has included a female gondolier rowing.  Some time ago we had a few ladies driving motorized gondolas, and several women have rowed here in the voga-alla-Veneta, but not for hire.
Not until tonight, when Joelle Dueck took out a group of five.
She's been training for some time now with Eddie Rivera, and judging by her performance on the water this evening, he did a superb job.

Joelle handled her passengers like she'd done it all before.
She rowed well against winds and tides, 
navigated tight canals, and even sang Santa Lucia.

 photo by Eddie Rivera

A huge congrats to Joelle.
History was made this evening, and I was honored to be there.

 Passing under the PCH bridge.

 Around Linda Island.

 Enjoying the glow.

And entering the channel to return home.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Nena and Romina - Leading All the Way

photo disclaimer:
I may or may not have shamelessly borrowed, swiped, or stolen all photos and video contained in this post.  

If, by chance, I swiped it from you or your social media page, I apologize.

Last year I met Elena "Nena" Almansi when she was visiting California with some of her cool friends.  We talked about rowing, racing, West Coast IPA's, and we all ate some tacos at Taco Mesa.

When I was in her neighborhood, we talked about rowing, I watched her actively racing, we shared some low quality beers on Sant'Erasmo, and then we ate some lagoon fish and polenta (among other great things) at the Trattoria La Rosa Dei Venti.

Since that great experience, 
watching the Regata in Sant'Erasmo from a chase boat 
(see The 2019 Regata di Sant'Erasmo - "If You Ain't Rubbin', You Ain't Racin'"),
I've become a long-distance sports fan of the regatas there in the Veneto.

They're not available on ESPN, and you can't watch them live, 
but they do eventually end up online.

The most recent regata took place along the inside shoreline of one of the barrier islands that help to form the Venetian lagoon. 
This island, known as Pellestrina, is south of Venice and stretches somewhat north-to-south for 11 kilometers (about 7.5 miles). 

Just after the start.

The women's race started near the southern tip of the island,
traveled north along the shoreline, 
turned at a buoy by a huge floating drydock by the Cantiere ACTV Ex "De Poli" (for those of you geeking out right now on Google Maps),
and continued south - finishing near the church that's called the Santuario della Madonna dell'Apparizione

Here's the full video of the race.
As you watch, you'll see some of the landmarks mentioned above.

To watch it full screen, follow this link:

In a standard Venetian regata there are nine boats, along with a reserve boat on site (I suppose it's there in case one of the nine entrants don't show up, or something truly scandalous prevents them from competing).

When those nine boats line up, side-by-side-by-side-by-side-by...oh, 

you know what I mean - they stretch wide across the water.
Eventually though, all the competitors end up in a fast-moving jumble,
which then leads to a long trail of boats with occasional attempts by some rowers to pass one or more of the boats in front of them.

The key, for anyone who read my post about the Sant'Erasmo race, 

is to get ahead and stay ahead.
And that's exactly what "Nena" Almansi and her rowing partner Romina Catanzaro did.  They had a great start (a turbo boost, really), 
which allowed them to get ahead.  
While some boats were jostling for position, 
and a few even got briefly tangled up, 
the women in the blue boat were ahead...and working to stay ahead.

There were some position changes, especially after the buoy turn as the team in the orange boat worked their way forward, but Nena and Romina held the lead position all the way to the finish line.

A fast finish.

That blue boat has a different name in the Veneto: 
"celeste" - as in heavenly.
It refers to the color of the sky.

As you can see from the results, 
the first boat to finish was the #4 celeste.
Because all boats other than the reserve have numbers as well as colors, 
we can see that the second place finisher was the #7 arancio (orange), 
followed by #2 canarin (yellow), and #6 verde (green). 
As in most women's regatas these days, there are many competitors in the field who are sponsored and/or associated with Row Venice.
I have been so impressed with the impact they've had on the sport.

In Venetian regatas the top four finishers receive pennant-shaped flags that are handmade by Anna Campagnari - a well-decorated rower in her own right, who also has great artistic talents.

The top finishers receive red flags - which are called "bandiere".
Red is first place,
White is second,
Green is third
and blue is fourth.

On Sunday, August 4th, Elena Almansi and Romina Catanzaro proudly held red bandiere.  And as it happens, Anna Campagnari is Elena's mother - so the two racers weren't the only proud ones that day.

Romina and Elena with their red bandiere.

And so I conclude by saying that I am also proud...proud and honored to know these great Venetians.  A big congrats to Romina, Nena, and the parents and families of them both.  
Also congrats to all of the competitors in such a great sport - you are blessed to row in a place as amazing as the Venetian lagoon.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Orange Sunset over Black Swan

Drew sent me this today with the words:
Check out what someone sent me this morning.

I thought it was awesome and told him I wanted to post it.
When I asked who to give photo credit to, he said that it was:
Just some random guy on a boat who airdropped it to me 

as we went by him.
Technology amazes me sometimes.

Drew has operated Tahoe Amore for several years now up on Lake Tahoe.

This shot was taken on Lake San Marcos, 
where Drew recently launched Black Swan Gondola in the northern part of San Diego County.