The Vogalonga 2011
The Vogalonga starts in front of St Marks Square, Venice and proceeds for a total distance of 30km (18 miles) within the the Venetian lagoon, first northward to the island of Burano and then south to Murano entering the Grand Canal via the Cannaregio canal. Crews row down the Grand Canal under the Rialto bridge to finish at St Marks Sguare. Organisers state that it is not race, however the speed with which crews take off at the start you could be forgiven in thinking that not all have received the same message.
A Vets crew from Perranporth in Cornwall towed their surfboat across France and the Alps to participate in this years event. On the way they stopped in Milan and loaded a Skiff from the Milan Rowing Club on to their boat (just to make the journey more interesting) and took both boats to Venice. We were hosted by Mestre RC and do take note, there is not a slipway to be seen anywhere. All boats are craned in and out of the water.
In the 2011 event i saw the No 1659 on a boat, crews come from all over Europe to participate and so one can assume that close on 1700 boats of all shapes and sizes took part. Those from the northern part of europe proceeded in an orderly manner, whilst crews from the mediterranean coast were coxed or steered in the same way that they drive !
At one point as we rowed down the Grand Canal towards the finish my oar narrowly missed a swimmer. Maurizo Cozzoll had taken the opportunity to swim the Grand Canal, safe in the knowledge that no motor driven boats would run him over. All the same, I'm not sure I would want to swim in the water. It took Maurizo 55 minutes to swim the length of the canal.
For a more indepth report and more images go to Andy's blog on the UKSRL website
Here is a film of the Vogalonga 2011 which can give you an idea of the event.