Rowing from Cannaregio to Canale Grande into the city was the most exciting rowing I’ve had in my life
You might have heard about the classic race: The Vogalonga, located in Venice, Italy.
The Vogalonga regatta is a non-competitive recreational sporting event for amateur athletes. Anyone who is capable of managing a watersports device can participate. You’ll find dragon boats, kayaks, SUP’s and of course rowers.
Vogalonga – a form of protest.
It all started in 1974 when a group of friends got sick of motor accelerated boats in the lagoon, and the decline of muscle driven boats in the city. They were fearful of the environmental impacts the wake and waves from the motorboats would have, they were concerned over the erosion of houses and antique buildings in the city. The group came up with the idea of a non-competitive rowing event as a form of protest against the deterioration of the city.
They worked hard to find alliances and form coalitions with all those in favour of protecting the historic city and reinstating Venetian (boating) traditions. They found rowers, dragon boaters, GIG Rowers, canoers and kayakers. Even Gondola winners joined the project.
Vogalonga – Help from the media
This simple spontaneous act of indignation led to the Vogalonga venture; the event was proclaimed and strongly promoted by the local city committee members. And fortunately – some of the organizers had influential jobs and stakes in one of the most known Italian sports magazine. The idea was quickly supported by other media — and the rest is history. In 1975 the first Vogalonga started.
Row the Vogalonga – The Regatta
On Voga-Sunday, between 8.00 am and 9.00 am boats are scheduled to meet up in St. Mark’s Basin (Bacino S.Marco) opposite the Ducal Palace on the day of ‘La Sensa’ (Ascension Day / Pentecoste). The Regatta starts at 9.00 am from San Macro. The course is a 33 km stretch, it includes canals and some of the most pleasantly charming places in the lagoon. The participants row along different Islands until they return to the Canareggio Canal into the city. Noemi, from Rowing in Europe, a rowing tour operator stated: “Rowing from Cannaregio to Canale Grande into the city was the most exciting rowing I’ve had in my life”. The spectators and the audience along the canals are applauding, cheering and sometimes even throw roses to the rowers.
Vogalonga – Rowing Family
There is no hurry at Vogalonga. No line. Some teams are returning after 2.5 hrs, others take their time, some even stop to open up a bottle of Champagne and take it easy while enjoying their day. Noemi: ” In 2017 our crew was invited by Italians who had their house next to the lagoon.They served us a small typical Italian Lunch.”
Vogalonga is approaching it’s 45 anniversary. The course has not changed but the participants have. In 2018, people referenced about 8000 rowers in 2700 boats. This mass of rowers and number of boats is not easy to manage. Not all crews follow the official route and many try to investigate alternate routes. Sometimes this leads to serious boat damages. During the years, the Italian Coast Guard has been supportive to the crews and their divers help stranded boats. For those who remain on the official course and row carefully, the regatta is not dangerous. Simply avoid the harbour section when you return to your landing dock.
Vogalonga – Boat and Seat rental for a weekend
Venice is easy to reach from many airports in Europe. A taxi takes you to downtown within 20 Minutes. For those who do not bring their boats, there are several organisations leasing rowing boats, canoes, and kayaks. Rowing in Europe, one of the most experienced Rowing Tour Agencies, organizes boat and seat rentals for individuals or crews. You can contact Noemi for further information and rental options.
Hotel arrangements should be taken care of as early as possible. Most rowers start booking their hotels in October. Hotel prices sink in May for a short period – if you plan to get a decent location – waiting too long is counterproductive.
You need to register your crew at vogalonga.it. Usually this website opens up in April and offers you online registration. For a small fee (ca. 22 Euro) you register, receive a tour package, T-Shirt, poster and a medal. It is worth the every penny.