Back to the Vogalonga in Venice, the feast of the oar and the respect of the lagoon


Venice, May 2021 – It will be a different Vogalonga, with all the limitations due to the pandemic, both for the crews and for the entire organization but, despite the difficulties, the Vogalonga will take place, especially in the year in which the birth of Venice is celebrated. Sunday, May 23 the waters of the Venetian lagoon will be rippled by the slow sinking of the oars, when in unison the rowers will give life to the largest event dedicated to the oar and the deep relationship that Venice has with its waters.

The route will be reduced to 20 km compared to the traditional 30: it will start at 9 am from the Bacino San Marco (after the traditional “alzaremi” and the cannon shot that will mark the start), circumvented the island of Sant’Elena will coast the islands of Vignole, Sant’Erasmo and San Francesco del Deserto. Halfway through the route will remain south of the island of Burano and coasting Madonna del Monte and San Giacomo in Paludo, the procession will pass to the east of the island of Murano cutting straight to the entrance of the Arsenal from Rio delle Galeazze. The arrival will be under the Arsenale bridge at the outlet in Bacino San Marco.

“The pandemic has cut off our legs, last year we did a virtual edition remembering a bit along the way the stages of the Vogalonga, historical stories and interviews with fans, this year we could not not be there even considering the 1600 years of Venice – explains Antonio Rosa Salva, of the organizing committee – we asked the City Council for permission to do it, but then also to the Ulss and the Prefecture, so as to make a different event from the usual and limited in the number of people and the possibility of infection and assembly. This has led us to a path, agreed with the authorities, that avoids the points of public gathering on the banks. The problem on the boat does not exist because the distance is maintained and the current rules of outdoor sports are respected, but with regard to the gatherings along the banks we decided to take a different route, which will skip – compared to the traditional one – the islands of Murano, Burano and the Cannaregio canal. So we avoid, moreover, to block the water traffic of the public lines in an important day for the economic activities of the islands”.

There will be about 200 boats participating in the Vogalonga 1600 and all of them, at the beginning of the rowing, will be given a flag with the logo of the 1600 years of Venice.

It was the 8th of May 1975 when in San Marco basin, in front of the Doge’s palace, five hundred rowing boats gathered, ready to take part in the first public rowing race, 30 kilometers long.
The idea of giving life to this event, called Vogalonga, had come the previous year during a row among friends on mascherete in the day of San Martino, thought as a reason to relaunch the Venetian rowing that too many Venetians seemed to have forgotten. A long procession of gondolas, pupparini sandoli, masquerades, caorline, tope, peata, s’ciopon: on board champions of the oar, families and fans all united by the same passion of rowing. There were not only Venetians, but also crews from Chioggia, Caorle, Padua, Treviso and Riva del Garda.

“From this rowing among friends we launched the idea to open it to all Venetians and there was a great response – continues Rosa Salva – the Vogalonga has then developed by expanding since the beginning not only to the Venetian rowing, but also to the peate, the heavy boats, the English iole. Over the years, the possibility of moving has brought many people from abroad to come and row in Venice and the number of non-traditional boats has exceeded the Venetian rowing boats. This doesn’t take anything away from the event, on the contrary it adds folklore, because in this way people rediscover the lagoon and appreciate the city. The Vogalonga has always been an inclusive event, open to all, and this is the spirit with which we continue to do it.”

In the 2019 edition, the last before the Covid emergency that blocked the 2020 one, 7,527 rowers registered in Venice on June 9: of these, 1,045 were Venetians, 1,371 from various parts of Italy, 5,111 international participants. A total of 2,000 boats took to the water.

Among the curiosities of the Vogalonga is the “Knights of the oar” group. “They are the die-hards, those who have participated in all editions – concludes Rosa Salva – a little ‘at a time stop because age advances even for them. They are not only Venetians, there is also a Genoese who always comes by kayak. Being “Knights of the oar” is a recognition to these people for their affection. What we hope is that they will be able to transmit this passion to younger people, so we always ask them to bring their children to teach them the art of rowing and going to sea.



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