Thursday, October 31, 2019

Scary Faces

photos by Josh Sopp

With Halloween upon us, and Nationals still close in our rear view mirror, 
I thought this small collection of photos might be appropriate.

We all know that the tandem duo of Ivano and Mariano are good looking guys, but sometimes when we're in the middle of a fight, we make faces.  
And these two are no exception.

While snaking back and forth in the obstacle course, 

Marian blessed the world with this amazing expression:

Later, in the Distance Tandem, Ivano gave his best "Angry Samurai" face while blasting to a Second Place finish.

Let's take a closer look at that magnificent scowl:
These photos were captured by Josh Sopp, who after Nationals was seen at his desk, looking about as dead as he felt, but he did have a medal to show for all his effort.

Downright Jurassic

You know when someone does something and you think 
"Dang! I wish I'D thought of that!"

Well, Drew at Black Swan Gondola just did one of those things.

Thanks for the laugh, Drew.
I hope this video gets you some clients.
It's a gem and I truly wish I'd done it first.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Some Images From the Chase Boat

photos by Gary Ambrose

Leading the competitors through the courses at the US Gondola Nationals is an important job. Not only do the racers need to know exactly where they are going, but often there are boats and paddle boarders on the route who need to be "shepherded" out of the way.
Many thanks to Shanda of Lear Boats for providing expert chase boat services on both days.  
Not surprisingly, the chase boat is often the best place to watch the races from. Photographer Gary Ambrose sent me these great images from day one of the races.

 Mark Schooling of Gondola Paradiso in Oxnard, CA
begins his turn at the buoy during the Solo Sprint.

Thomas "Nicola" Morin and Adam "Ivano" Alves of La Gondola in Providence, RI jockey for position followed by Tim "Bepi" Reinard of Sunset Gondola in the Solo Sprint.

 Michael Angelo Ruffino of Newport digs deep.

 Keith "Legno" Thurber of Providence powers it home in the Solo Sprint.

 All smiles at the timekeeper's spot on the dock.
Parker Harrison and Simon Atkins of Newport on the left, 
Matthew "Marcello" Haynes of Providence with clipboard,
Tim Tyler and Tyson Davis of Gondola Getaway in Long Beach behind.
Michael Angelo Ruffino and Parker Harrison of Newport 
pushing hard in the Distance Tandem event.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Nationals is Done...and I'm Even MORE Done.

photos courtesy Josh Sopp
The 8th installment of the U.S. Gondola Nationals is in the books, 
and what an amazing weekend we all had. 

Photos are coming in from many competitors and their friends/family members who were there - snapping away.

Thee photos in this post were provided by Josh Sopp - a guy I feel lucky to know and have been honored to row with.

If you have some photos you'd like to share, please send them to me at and I'm sure there will be a post to include them in.
Typically I post a fair amount after Nationals.

 Spectators on the dock, watching the activity on the course.

This year we had nine separate categories and I somehow thought it would be a good idea to race in eight of them.  

Having left ALL my energy out on the water for two days, 
my body is still recovering, but my mind, heart, and soul couldn't be better right now.

 A rush of rowing as the second heat of the Sprint Tandem event.

I'm still digging out and cleaning up (and hauling boats, and doing laundry, and unpacking boxes and coolers), so for now, enjoy some of the press from some great reporters and photographers who joined us at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Newport Beach.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm late for my nap.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Racing Gondolas in America

In 2012 Matthew "Marcello" Haynes and his fellow gondoliers at La Gondola in Providence, RI decided to hold the first modern gondola race on the waters of their city. 
It is possible that gondola races may have been held before in the US, 
but if it happened, it would have been a hundred years ago, 
and the rowers would have been transplanted Venetians.

The races in Providence back in 2012, 
which were called the "GondOlympics" were the starting point of something truly great for the sport/craft/skill that is known as "voga-alla-Veneta".

A California gondolier named Tim "Bepi" Reinard attended and enjoyed it so much that he proposed another installation of it the next year in his home waterway of Huntington Harbour.

The next year the races were held, with competitors from Providence, Boston, Minnesota, and several California servizios. 
A new name: the "U.S. Gondola Nationals" was given. 

From that point on, gondola racing became part of what we do, 
and it has made us all better rowers.

We've become friends with gondoliers in other locations and that social interaction has lead to a great exchange of knowledge and experiences - benefiting all involved.

In training and competing, gondoliers have sought out better instruction and techniques, and we've all gotten stronger (which not only helps win races, it also helps when rowing in wind or current).

In subsequent years Nationals was held in Newport Beach, 
Stillwater MN, and again in Providence and Huntington Harbour.

New race categories have been added.
Competitions on other types of Venetian boats have also been included - introducing many American gondoliers to new vessels and even new ways of rowing.

At each one of these gatherings, some gondoliers get the opportunity to row a passenger cruise or two in the host waterway.  
One of the highlights of Nationals for me has been to row in the famous "Waterfire" in Providence.

This weekend we gather once again for Nationals.
At least ten gondola operations will be represented.

Nine racing categories, with sprints, distance races, 
and even slalom courses will be on the agenda.

While we all enjoy the competition part of it, the camaraderie is what really draws many of us back each time. There's a brotherhood among gondoliers.
When you walk into a crowd of other people who perform the same unusual task, and you're all wearing the same striped shirts, it's hard to tell who is from where.

We are like members of different chapters of the same fraternity, except unlike a fraternity, we have both men and women in our ranks, and we come together around a job, which is also an athletic activity - voga-alla-Veneta.

Simply put:
Nobody understand you, and that weird job you do, 

like someone who does that weird job too.

The U.S. Gondola Nationals is this weekend - October 26th and 27th at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Newport Beach.
More information can be found at

All photos from the 2015 US Gondola Nationals in Newport Beach, California