ROW VENICE has always been fortunate to have many long-term friends of Venetian rowing. Here are two recent examples of enthusiasts from England, in Oxford and Richmond. The first is a blog post on the history of women’s rowing in Venice from Tim Koch’s blog on all aspects of rowing, Hear the Boat Sing. Then, Sylvia Wicks, of the Richmond rowing club, wanted to let Tim know a little more about us:
Jane Caporal and the Row Venice team have revived a particular type of Venetian boat for teaching because of its stability and its historical significance. Jane bought her personal batela a coda di gambero, when she created Row Venice, and subsequently the association had new ones built. Today are now an immediately recognisable sight on the Venetian waters both daily and in ceremonial events. Within about 90 minutes, Jane and her instructors, who are all women, enable new rowers to row themselves gently along Venice’s canals in the beautiful and rare batele.
During the Venetian lock down in 2020, Jane and her instructors also rowed their boats to deliver vegetables and groceries via the canals of Venice. The ample size of Row Venice’s particular boats enabled instructors to abide by social distancing requirements.
Recently, each year, rowers from Richmond Bridge Boat Club have visited Venice for more intensive lessons with Row Venice and so have also been able to take part in the Vogalonga, Venice’s annual long row (in the non Covid years) in Venetian traditional boats.
In the UK now, part of the Richmond Bridge Boat Club is devoted to teaching Venetian rowing to women and men on the tidal Thames at Richmond. Contact Chris Leeson at Richmond Bridge for more information. In addition, the Venetian City Barge Rowing Club is at Oxford on the non-tidal Thames.
SYLVIA WICKS lives in Richmond and rows Venetian style on the tidal Thames, mainly on the Richmond Teddington stretch.
She also rows Maltese dghajjes in which the two stern rowers row standing and two bow rowers row sitting. [Row Venice tried them out when they visited Richmond in 2018.] These are harbour boats and still raced annually on Valetta harbour. They are perfect for the tidal Thames.
As harbour boats, they handle the swell of the tidal Thames, especially around Greenwich. They have proved to be perfect for the Great River Race since they have been in the UK. The rowers, between them, have a 360 degree view and so navigation is comfortable and generally without surprises.
The year these boats arrived in the UK, 2012, a Maltese crew came to row one of the boats in the Great River Race. The Maltese crew passed over 100 competing boats that year.
This photo above is of a Maltese dghajsa rowing escort to Gloriana in the pre-Boat Race celebratory row several years ago. The stern rower is Jane Caporal of Row Venice.