Monday, December 19, 2011

Regatta del Panettone

Yesterday morning was the 2nd annual La Regata del Panettone, a series of races among the members of la Remiera Francescana designed, according to its planners, less as a program of heated competitions than as a means of fostering group spirit and fellowship among the club's members.

I must admit that I was involved in a small incident that had exactly the opposite effect, at least for a short time, but we'll get that to a little later. For now it's enough to know that the morning was high-def clear, and frigid (0 C, 32 F) and wavy and windy, but beautiful beyond words--and photography (at least mine). But I hope the following pics will provide some idea of the scene.

The inner door of the club, within the walls of the Arsenale

The remiera, depleted of many of its boats, which were already on the water

Among the agonisti in the first race was Babbo Natale
I went out onto the lagoon with my camera in a light rather shallow-bottomed mascareta, with the club's youngest member--3-year-old Valentino (who's quite a good rower, actually)--his mother, and another man who joined the club about the same time I did. It was too windy and wavy for Valentino to do any rowing on the lagoon, though he wanted to, and I rowed very little as well, as I hadn't planned on going out in a boat at all, but just taking photos from the fondamenta. 

But there I was, sitting in the prow with a bundled-up Valentino, while the waves rocked us rather mercilessly and the wind blew, and our little boat meandered about the lagoon with no definite destination. I think all of us realized we actually needed a more experienced rower among us, but we were making the best of it when we noticed that the first race had started and the entire field of two-man teams was headed our way. 

At this point we really could have used an experienced rower among us, but she or he was on some other boat and all we could do was first strike out in one direction before realizing the field of contestants stretched even further on that side, then, disastrously, tack back another way. 

Do I need to tell you that it is an extremely unpleasant sensation to be seated in a drifting boat while an entire field of Venetian-born and bred agonisti bear down upon you?

Might I add that this sensation is even more unpleasant when you remember that exactly such a Venetian-born and bred agonisti has described such a race as nothing less than a war?

If only we could have stopped at one point right where we were, in an open expanse of water between two onrushing boats, everything would have been okay. 

We could not. Onward we drifted and onward the first place team came. There was utter helpless panic in our boat and fierce shouts from theirs as, like some diabolical geometry demonstration, our two paths approached their inevitable point of intersection.

Luckily, it was fairly tangential. They managed to swerve a bit, so the prow of our boat suffered only a blow from one of their oars--instead of a full-on collision--and young Valentino got to hear some very interesting and spirited language.

How I hoped that team would maintain their lead and come in first!

They finished second.

But when we finally returned to the club, after that race had finished, the preparations for other heats were under way and so nothing--at least as long as I was at the club--came of our little encounter.

When it's windy and wavy a mere ruin can look as welcoming as the isle of Capri
A familiar landmark seen from its other side, from the basin of the club
A welcome sight after our eventful ride, the water-side door of the club
The young members of the club receive instructions for the second race of the day--with which I, thankfully, did not interfere in any way


  1. What an adventure! I've gone off the idea of rowing, big time. :-)


  2. It's usually nowhere near as harrowing. And you like adventures!

  3. The description of your little boat drifting on the waves as the competitive agonisti get closer and closer makes me wonder how this would be cast in a television series featuring the "Three Stooges." Then again it could have felt more like the movie, "The Titanic." Anyway I thought the event was supposed to promote character building. Maybe there is a god who decided that these guys were getting way too competitive and needed a reminder of what it was really supposed to be about.

  4. It seems whatever god aimed to mute their competitiveness has no more control over her or his intentions than any of us do: the agonisti seemed just as intent on winning with us in the way!