THE VOGALONGA EXPERIENCE

By Ina Mierig from Hamburg, Germany

 

The Vogalonga for me is really special. I try to be in Venice mostly two days before, to train with my college and to get sea legs. They have mostly more waves and less wind than we have in Hamburg. Last year the Generali lend us their old Pupparin which included full pareccio. So mathias was in the front, we carried his girlfriend and another girl in the mid, and me as Poppiera. You have to be on time at Bacino St. Marco, the Regatta starts at 09.00 o clock. So the way to Bacino St. Marco is very impressive, since lots of Boats from different Nations are using the same way. After a short speech from the Major of Venice a boom of cannon signals the start. As a good old Venetian you do "Alza Remi" which means to lift your oar. rado replica uk Then it starts. The wonderful impression I got now the second time, is that it is silent, all motor boats are not allowed to be in St. Marco so you hear the different oar and hull movements. That is a very special sound, when 3800 people start to row or to paddle. 

You pass by La Vignole and St. Erasmo and row towards Burano. Because Burano is half the way, it is usual the point where the Regattanti take a break and meet for changing water bottles, apples and even cigarettes. breitling replica By that time everybody compares his blisters, open and bleeding hands, because you just got used to the oar.

 

Image: “Some friends on the boat were Thom Price – American gondola builder

who builds and maintains Venetian boats in Venice, and George Stein  – a guy

lucky enough to retire in Venice”

 

The difficult thing now is to start again, cause normally hands, legs and feet are hurting. Then the Regattanti are heading towards Murano, rowing the whole Canal Grande di Murano and passing by St. Michele heading towards the Cannaregio. In Cannaregio you normally have friends eating and drinking at the fondamenta. hublot replica uk So you do a propper "Alza Remi" in front of Ponte del Guglie.

That is quite a fight, cause the backwards rowers and all non Venetian rowers do not know the habit and are running each other into boats, hulls and even the Remo. With lots of visitors, Venetians and friends on the fondamente from the Canal Grande, you follow the Canal up to Santa Maria della Salute. There is a committee waiting for you, which hands down the Medal and a Participation Document and they mention your number for the boat and try to pronounce your Name.

 

Image: “approaching Bacino San Marco with the Guggenheim museum to the right and La Salute ahead

 

The committee is closing three and a half hours after start, so when you are late, you get nothing. During the Regatta there are people who are registering your number, so that you can't cheat. After the regatta I try to find Tirza and we have a Prosecco together. You have to hurry up getting the boat safely home, because the Bacino opens for all sorts of Ferries and Vaporetti. And after such a Regatta, the most horrible thing for me was too much waves in the bacino, cause by that time you want to go to bed and don't move for the next few days. Even the Team Americano went to bed strictly after the Regatta!

 “Ina rowing as Poppiera”

Image: “Ina rowing as Poppiera”

 

So what is special about the Vogalonga. I think it is comparable with a marathon, so it is the respect to all, who participated. And what's so wonderful for me is that there are so many Nations with their different boat types. Last Regatta we had a fantasy polish Venetian rowing boats, a guy from Holland who sculled his little dinghy all the way alone, we had these wonderful British rowing boats with their correct hats, we had French Polynisian two hull constructions, rigger boats from the Atlantic coast and every time a boat made out of nearly 800 plastic bottles- paddled and build by environmental sounded Italian students. Last year I even saw a gigantic Caorlina with 18 rowers all with their cowl on, the guys from the Monastery St. Giorgo called by the Venetians "Capuccini". I saw the "Brenta" which is an old barge, rowed by nearly 25 rowers and steered with a gigantic fat woman at the helm. What you can't see, because they are too fast, are the boats just made for the Regatta!

The Disdotona(18) and Diesona (12) and even the Gondolone, rowed in eight. When you are not a rower or do not want to participate, just take the ferry to Murano and place yourself on the wide bridge and you see it all.  The days before and after the regatta, Venice is packed with rowers and paddlers and their boats. So you see them all, because they get a very nice T-Shirt for free, and most of them wear it. They come from everywhere, some with their boats and they stay in hotels, in camp sites, on an Island or in friends’ houses. It is a very special picture, even the courtyard from Santa Maria della Salute is covered with kayaks and paddlers. So the whole regatta is special for me and I always get a huge applause when I bring home my rowers and the boat safe. That's special.

 

Image: “Ina Mierig operates a gondola business

in Hamburg, Germany.  She owns and maintains

an authentic Venetian gondola and also services

and repairs many types of small boats in the city.

To view her website, go to www.gondel.de.”