"Yesterday Venice had its annual Historical Regatta, a traditional rowing competition whose origins date back to the 13th century and is held each year on the first Sunday of September. As it coincided with the Venice Film Festival, photographers were probably busier snapping pictures of George Clooney and fellow stars... so there's not much online about this year's event yet [like the photo above] but for your visual enjoyment here's a quick selection of images from past editions of the regata (more from this gallery of last year's event), showing both the rowers in the actual competition as well as the historical parade in traditional costumes; a few black and white images from the past (sorry, small and not good quality but still interesting): the regata in 1918, in 1956, in 1969, and in the 1970's; and, from the age before photography, famous paintings and engravings."
The race course of the Regata Storica follows the full length of Venice's Grand Canal. Venetians row rather oddly... Traditionally, they stand up rather than sit down (that way they could make out better the narrow navigable channels which wind their ways through the Venetian lagoon). And they don't just row gondolas either! Every year for the Regata, there are traditional youths' races in pupparini, women's races in mascarete, team races in 6-man caorline and the climax with men's races in streamlined racing gondolini. (You can even get a sense of what these different traditional boats are like on the website of the rowing club of Venice's Giudecca island here!)
According to today's Gazzettino newspaper of Venice, this past year there was also a new contest between the city's rowing clubs in 4-man gondolas (won by our own nearest rowing club, the Remiera Casteo) and a challenge in galeoni (which hold eight rowers and a steersman) between the University of Venice at Ca' Foscari and the city's architectural university (IUAV). UVe won, and all its student team members apparently earned a tuition-free year as a result! The rectors of the two universities hope to open the competition up next year to other Italian and foreign universities, so be sure to start training now!!