Historical Regatta – Venice 6/9/09

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Every year , the first sunday in September – the historical regatta is being held. It is one of the most traditional events in Venice, for the entertainment of both locals and tourists alike. Venetians and the neighbouring towns come out with their families, some will gather in their boats or bring their foldable seats setting them at the banks along the Grand Canal and Riva Degli Schiavoni to watch the race.

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This year it fell on the 6th Sept and we caught most of it from our window in the living room! Bright colourful and well decorated boats headed the water parade. Apparently the 2 men gondolini race is the most prestigious, the rest is just for show !

The following excerpt taken from http://venicexplorer.net/tradizione/storica.php?hlangs=en

The Historical Regatta starts out with the colourful procession on water, formed by the Bissone, the Bucintoro and the boats of the venetian rowing clubs; the event commemorates the Queen of Cyprus, Caterina Cornaro, coming to Venice, which marked the beginning of the Serenissima rule over the Mediterranean islands. The historical parade has now just a picturesque importance, memory of the distant economical and political greatness of Venice on the seas, while the regattas represent still today the climax of the agonistic season in the world of the rowing alla veneta: winning that day for the rowers means to become a part of the history of this sport and, to a certain extent, of Venice.

The climax of the Venice Historical Regatta is the champions´ race on two-oared gondolini, light boats shaped as a very slim gondola. Unlike the regattas on the most popular lagoon boats, these competitions exalt the rowers technical abilities more than their power

Starting around 4pm ending at about 6-7pm in the evening and madness over Accademia bridge (see below) – Venice was at a stand-still.

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At the Accademia bridge – far from the maddening crowd – not! Noticed the police? Not doing much it seems.

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  The leading gondola (2 men)

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40s Catamaran Race, Venice

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Day 1 – 15th May 2009. The word ‘regatta’ originated from Venice, so it is just appropriate that Venice was chosen for the first time to host the 40s Catamaran race and the host for the first race of the season 2009. In collaboration with city of Venice , Compagna della Vela and other sponsors from the region – the race runs from 15th-17th May 2009.  There will be 10 teams consisting of 40-50 of the world’s best sailors in total from all around. Quite a star studded collection with experiences from Olympics, Americas Cup and World Championships.

As a spectator, the race can be watched in close distance, along the Riva dei Sette Martiri (i.e. the stretch along San Marco basin from Arsenale to Giardini). The catamarans sailed zigzag and at a stage came quite close to the shoreline.

It was drizzling with light winds on this first day – there was a VIP lounge set up (Villagio dell’ Evento) for the sponsors and where the crew could rest. The race was slightly delayed in starting – around 1530hr. There was a collision, a late start and a good run for BMW Oracle, after 5 races came out tops on the first day. Second in line, was Gitana-Rothschild and third was Masirah. More races to come in the next 2 days – and I am hoping for better winds and a slightly drier weather than today.

The official site: http://www.isharescup.com/venice/en.asp

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Giro D’Italia 2009

skoda9th May 2009 – the opening stage of the Giro D’Italia was held in Venice (Lido). The last time the Giro came to Venice was in 1997.  This year is the Giro’s 100th year birthday. Big names showed up – like Lance Armstrong, Carlos Sastre (last year’s Tour de France winner), Ivan Basso, Cavel Evans, Alessandro Ballan and Damiano Cunego. On May 7th, the team presentation was made at Piazza San Marco.

 We took the vaporetto line 1 from Accademia, after 35 mins we reached Lido. Several teams were out doing warm up laps and it was a hot day with a nice breeze! We got a route map and headed for the Partenza (the start gate). We traversed the charming Piazzale Santa Maria Elisabetta where the main street is lined with shops, charming cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels.

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Left: The Astana Team presentation at San Marco square. Right: Gondola ride with Lance Armstrong, Gilberto Simoni,  Ivan Basso and Danilo di Luca . Photos taken by Bettini and Sirotti

It was a great day out with many pleasant surprises. We were walking towards the start gate, when we stumbled upon the team area where the cyclists would warm up before their time trial. We expected that only personnels are allowed into the area, but the public was able to go in and wander around freely. We took many great photo shots there. However hoping to chance upon Mr Armstrong was not that easy. Obviously their team has got a special parking spot elsewhere possibly due to security reasons and far from the maddening crowd I would imagine.

Nevertheless, the other positive surprises were we saw Bjarne Riis (former  Tour De France champion 1996, now the manager for Saxobank cycling team) chatting with a colleague and Brian Holm (sports director for Team Columbia-Highroad). Both are well known Danish cyclists.

As we continued on further we saw another parking area for a team – it was Liquigas , which explains the high number of Italians around – hahah! oh wait, we ARE in Italy .. tsk tsk dah! Of course we had to check it out. I was as usual walking and admiring my surroundings when I realised all the people ahead of me were looking at my direction. Hmm.. what for? Within a few seconds I could hear the whirls of their bikes, it was the Liquigas team and I was almost knocked down by Ivan Basso – the man himself! He was rather self effacing and polite and had a pleasant smile on his face, I thought  he would be rather annoyed to have a fan loitering around oblivious to being almost run over! Too bad , I was too slow with the camera.

And so it appears the Liquigas team had their chill out / warm up spot by Trattoria Favorita –  a good place for a meal in Lido, by the way.  Below from left to right: Ivan pushing his bike in front of me, Ivan on the warm up stationary bike, Ivan and the Liquigas cyclists waiting for their boat ride to Lido di Jesolo for the next stage the following day.

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The fist stage was the team time trial.  The first team that started at 1545hr actually became the winning team, ie Team Columbia Highroad which covered the 21km distance in 21  mins 50 secs . The last team to ride out was Team Astana (with Lance Armstrong) who came in 3rd.  Team Garmin was no. 2 while Ivan Basso’s Liquigas – a favourite to win came in 8th place. So for the first day, it was Mark Cavendish that had the rossa jersey for Team Columbia – Highroad.

Photo of team Columbia-Highroad below – in action.

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As for us, the day ended well with me having my gelato (and a blister on the underside of my poor toe) and Henrik, his camera full of photos of the day!