Vogalonga - The true story

Prague, Vltava river(under the Vyšehrad Castle rock), May 2010.

As a newbie i take the responsibility to capture the experience that even althought some times passed belong to the cathegory of lifetime adventure. I am and I am not a newbie with a padlle. On one hand my first contact with Prague Dragon Boat Club was on the photoshooting session on original indonesian dragon boats during the proud ride under the rock of Vyšehrad Castle. On the other hand soon I will be celebrating half century with a paddle in my hand. Both of these fact helped me to recruit mysleft to dragon boat crew. My thanks goes also to Eliška and Honza.

Obsah článku:
Vogalonga, Venezia, 20 – 24th May 2010.
Day one, Thursday, 20th May 2010 – depature
Day two, Friday, 21st May 2010 - late night business, arrival and adaptation
Day three, Saturday, 22nd May 2010 - Gurindam overtakes Venezia channels
Day four, Sunday, 23rd May 2010 - Vogalonga
Day five, Monday 24th May 2010 - Return of Indians into the heart of Europe
článek ke stažení a odkazy

Vogalonga, Venezia, May 20 – 24th 2010.
Truth is that the dragon boat either chinese or indonesian must have to a conservative man like a taste of globalisation. But it is realy hard to find a typical Czech sport vessel. The traditional "pramice"boat (small passanger vessel with oars) made of wood, serviced by tar and repaired by hemp rope looks like a prehistoric relict and their use on sea is highly limited. Taking part in Vogalonga race will be a nightwork for organizers to wait for the ship and the crew to get to finish line. Indonesian boat are made for sea, they are intended for waves and streams. It's their nature.

Day one, Thursday May 20th 2010 – depature

Before the first day of our stay in Italy several things happened that I know just from other people talking. Whatever the 36th Vogalonga race is again a regatta of human powered vessels. Everybody who can reach the finish line after 30km of travel across the sea, the venetian lagoon and through the chanels is a winner. I was a dreamer when the decision in our club was made - that we will go to Venezia with our indonesian boats. These traditional a original indonesian boats are a gift from Ms. Suryatati A. Manan both the poet and the mayor of the Tanjung Pinang town on Bintan island in Indonesia. Acording to her suggestion were the names Gurindam and Pantun given to our red and green dragon boat.
The invitation ceremony was held on our traditional "Prague dragon autumn" a sport and culture festival that brigns dragon sport, cultural events and lots of fun to people.

A massive planing and deailed itinrary was needed to prepare our club, our crew, and our boats to the 1000km long trip to Venezia. For example - our trainel needed to be upgraded. It is originally designed to transport two hongkong style boats. But our technical support team lead by Martin Konecny made some upgrades insluding a new welded construction and finally prepared both ships for transport.

Three cars were set out for Venezia - two look-like-luxury microbuses with a three point stars in sign and compared to them a poorlooking Ford Transit. But already first kilometers showed that there WILL BE complications.

In the first car after 30 km of the 1000km to come, some problems with shifting appeared. It was not possible to put there the number six. After turn back and some practise our driver Lucas get a special movement (he used some magic also) and find out how to put there the number six. After this both of our drivers were able (after several minutes of exercise) to shift across all gears including the six.
I was sitting in the second car where many problems appeared. Left backlight was controled by hand. We had to hit the light from outside to make it light.
The car was also floating in higher speed. Badly worn winter tires were the problem. One safetybelt was not working, sceenwasher was not working, promised CD player was missing and few more. But this was just the begining.

Day two, Friday, 21st May 2010 - late night business, arrival and adaptation

Few minutes before 5 o'clock in the morning, few kilometers ahead Salzburg our mercedes started to hobble - a clear sign of a flat tyre. Svetlana's worries that we will for sure puncure the tire in rain were fullfilled. The tire was so damaged that it could be used as a dust brush for heavy duty.

But luckily the defect came few meters befora the parking. Following hours were according to this - every thing was a little disaster and a big problem. Tire nuts couldn't be unscrewed, reserve tyre couldn't be dismounted, finaly when dismounted the reserve tyre is flat. I will jump over the futile efforts to get somewehre the tire pump.

Some light the darkness was brought by a Turk who was able to understood (by mimic) to fill our reserve tyre with his truck compressor. After mounting the tire back to our van a typical sound appeared. The tire was also punctured. So we started again. The Turk was walking to us and back to his truck again and again. In fact he was doing what is called the "negative movement"

We tried to contact our rental company but the conclusion was to call an asistance service and let them help us.

Our van was placed on the truck with our crew and this luxury cab brought us to Salcburg tire service for the cheap 150 Euro. In our our we gained new tires and paid another 230 Euros for them. With a four hour delay but finaly on the way to Italy. New tires allow us to drive in normal higway speed. Fortunatelly no other problems appeared and we arried as last car in the camp. Placed in the coast of Venetian lagoon near Punta Sabbioni the camp was pleasant for beaten travellers. Nice beach, cool sea and Venezia 30 minutes far away by vaporetto.

Day three, Saturday, 22nd May 2010 - Gurindam overtake Venezia channels

Start of the Vogalonga race is in the Grand Canal near Piazza di San Marco. Our camp was 8 km far away. To save us time getting to start we decide to paddle in the town and let the boat in shipyard on Certosa island. Our boat slipped perfectly between the luxury yachts and boats.

After arrival into the marina on Certosa island we were hesitating what to do in the rest of the day. To travel with our boat in the chanels of Venezia or to take vaporetto and walk a little around the city?

We split into two groups. One group decided to take one of boats and explore the narrow, crooked chanels in the city. The goal was to reach the Vogalonga race office near Ponte Rialto - but how to get there? It this moment our very special four hours long trip in history begins.

If you are used to crawl with a car throught historical towns than you may have a slight idea how it looks if you take a boat in Venezia chanels. We got lost on first crossroad. But the wrong turn led us into military area - The Arsenale. There is muzeum of naval and military history, great docks and shipyard, a submarine on the shore and a great 19th century hydraulic crane. It was worth the wrong turn.

Second attempt to penetrate the town was succesful. We just needed to find out that one ways in Italy are not completely one way operated and that all traffic signs are more informative than commandative. They are just there because the EU need some signt on roads. On some places you can find the same traffic mirros like on roads and that all together helped us to enter the labyrinth on Venezia.

And there we finally found out what Venezia is really like. Main streets in venezia are the waterways. As a pedestrian you can never find the bottom of the beauty of Venezia. Some places are accesible only by water. Some corners gives you perfect sight on streets, churches and other buildings. You can see the people from different perspective.

Those feeling and not shareable. Our steerman get practise in floating trought right angled streets, curves. They passed under all bridges. people were watching us on every place wondering what this ship could be. The made photographs, they shout on us, the applauded. Great sensation like when they in ancient time were shouting "Hannibal ante portas“.

For many times we get a "thumb-up" sign from gondola or water taxi drivers. They honoured the way how we stem throught the town. That was nice. But i was wondering what the gondolier is saying when during the ride throught the medeival historical Venezia explains the history and describes the wonderfull houses and than suddely a one meter wide dragon mouth appears in front of his from around the corner. There were also many "ants" how we called the small cayacks that were from our level of view folating too low at the water. We managed it to get through the city and board in a temporary harbour near Ponte Rialto.

After boarding again, filled with pizza, pasta and gelato, we took the first one-way left we found and were heading straight home. On our way back we stopped two hitchhikers from Switzerland. A couple was sitting on stairs in front of one of the houses. They made a sign, we stopped...like a normal car:-) The were not rookies with paddle so they help us paddling despite of the unpropriate clothing.

Way back to Certose and return back to hte camp with a small walk along Venezia was just a last flash from the shining glory of our chanell experince. If I can remember i was filled with emotions. That evening i was speaking faster than i was thinking. In one moment i said: "...we will took the public transport, we will took the bus...pardon the tram." The correction was not necessary cause everybody was laughing allready. No matter that the water in Venezia is the same limitation like a tram troley

A dignifiend end to this day made Hynek and his delicious grilled meat.

Day four, Sunday, 23rd May 2010 - Vogalonga

The base point of the day was a cannot shot at 9 o'clock in the morning that starts the race. So we needed to be ther on time. But including the travel from camp to town, from town to island, from island to start we get a departure time from camp 6 o'clock in morning. But our cars were in the camp that opens gates in 7:30. But Zuzana used her female power a forced the gate-opening-guy to open the gate for us. It was so close for us not to start on Vogalonga.

But we managed to get to start on time. The Starting ground (place) in front of the Duke's palace on Piaza di San Marco on the Canal Grande was stunning. Everywhere around boat, ships, vessel of all shapes and sizes. Famous huge Venetian gondolas with 10 or more people. italian ladies forced into oars but still looking very pretty. There were some great looking man also as far as I can trust to our club girls. Between them like snakes rowing boats, from different places dragon boats with their drums, and the "sea ants" the cayacs. Together more than 1600 vessels with more than 5000 sportsmen. It was great, colourfull, magical. For one day the great days of Venezia as a naval power returned.

Track of the race straggled acros the open lagoon, throught wide channels on islands along the coast of another islands. First stop after one half of the track on Burano island. A flying refreshment was served - some organizers were throwing water, lemonades and bananas from the shore directly into ships. If you haven't eat salty banana you haven't enjoyed Vogalonga.

There were many fantastic moments during the race - a few improvized race competetions between us and other boats. Sometimes with another dragonboat, sometimes with a rowing boat. It helped us to keep the moral and spirit and survive the second half of the race.

We must say that our wonderfull boats and specially their great heads were the most photographed boats on Vogalonga. Moreover they showed us that they are much stabile on sea waves that one can imagine. The ride and especialy when the end was approaching became more and more pleasant and we were proud to carry our Czech falg and the flag of the donator, the Indonesian flag.

And finaly I can not see any difference between the triumphant arrivall of caesars under the ancient arch in Roma after succesfull campaign and our victorius arrival in Murano or Venezia bridges. Some moments of the ride were more than strong a touching and will stay in our hearts forever.

Wonderfull feeling brought us the audience when were paddling through the Murano island where people applauded on the bridge. The same was the applause when we were entering the Canal Grande and approaching the centre of venice. No one from us can forget the old ladies, standing in windows in first floor, laughing out loud and smashing dish covers together. One big 8 man rowing boat got stuck cross the channel. They made a small traffic jam for the thousand of boats behind them but than they liberated themselves and get huge applause. It was a funny story than.

The race ended at same place where it started. We got our medals, we got our diplomas and we were called from the organizers that we made it up to the finish line. Both of our "czechoslovak" boats. However Vogalonga was unforgetable experience.

Return back to Punta Sabbion was a necessary add to the whole day - but again exciting. Motor boats and vaporettos suspend due to Vogalonga race were in service now and made great waves. But we were focused on getting as fast as possible to the port, to the shore and be there on time. Cause the porter was able to lift our boats to the trailer with his crane and saved us by this much time and many powers.
We ended the day by a picnic on the beach, talking, eating, drinking, relaxing and sharing the wonderfull moments of the day. A moment of leaving was coming closer.

Day five, Monday 24th May 2010 - Return of Indians into the heart of Europe

Transit with the boat trailer left Venezia on midnight. We wanted to get to Pragued on time to return borrowed cars to the rental company. But after one hour drive a blind italian guy with a Fiat overlooked a 15 meter long trailer with lights and crashed into it.

Fortunatelly the collision destroyed only the hanging part of the trailer and left backlight but allowed to continue the way to czech republic. It took just some hours of basic repairs and filling the insurance form. Both mercedeses were leaving on 5 o'clock. Even we stopped minimally we arrived to Prague in late afternoon. We deployed the boats, cleared away the equipment and made by this an epilogue to our great adventure with Gurindam and Pantud boats in Venezia

written by Martin Ebel

Czech version of this article is here for download:
Download link
Oficial web site: http://www.vogalonga.com/

Datum konání: 
Wed, 16/06/2010


Prague Dragon Boat Club

Prague Dragon Boat Club is a really new place for me to enjoy and will surely like to have a good time ahead as soon as possible.

Wow, I really like to enjoy

Wow, I really like to enjoy such kind of wow things.a


Prague is a cool place to have fun.

Syndicate content