I didn’t get to participate in last fall’s all-woman regata della voga alla veneta (rowing with one oar, standing up, facing forward). Regate rowing races are held throughout the year for every sort of oared craft and combination of rower. The more serious competitors — referred to as agonisti — compete in those; we are instead called esordienti, or something akin to rowing debutants. We are women of all ages: single, married, widowed, moms, working professionals, and students; all passionate about the voga for the challenge, the exercise, the chance to be on the lagoon, the camaraderie and sheer allegria that are all natural by-products of participating this very-Venetian rowing tradition.
Last Saturday was the first of this year’s series of regate for us esordienti. It was March 8th, the Festa delle Donne, and we were in 8 mascarete: the lighter, more agile versions of the Veneto lagoon craft. My rowing partner (names are drawn to form the pairs that pilot each boat) was Amelia Coco, a young Venetian woman who’s studying to be a veterinarian at the University of Padova. Thanks to intemperate weather conditions ranging from wind, fog, and even a four-day bora with gusts of up to 40 kph lashing across the lagoon, in the weeks prior to the race we only had four opportunities to get used to each other as rowers.
Abbiamo vinto! Evvia!