Yesterday afternoon, as per tradition, the ceremony of the blessing of the gondolinos for the Regata Storica was held in front of the basilica of the Madonna della Salute.
But as all the world knows, it was not a foregone conclusion that this tradition would have been maintained this year, considering that just two weeks ago these elegant craft were reduced to kindling. Technically, not quite kindling, but to everybody’s splintered emotions, yes.
Three boatyards called their people back from vacation and got right to work, repairing the seven mutilated boats in record time. For this we can thank the skill and determination of the maestri d’ascia, as they are called here — masters of the adze — and also the excellence of the gondolinos’ original construction, which revealed no weakness or defects after 35 years. And a shout-out to advances in tools and especially materials, up to and including epoxy resin glues which dry in 12 hours instead of two weeks.
I’ve never seen a complete, new set of nine boats, nor would I ever have thought to see one, considering how much the things cost. (A knowledgeable source revealed that a new gondolino would cost around 30,000 euros.) Seeing all the boats lined up, gleaming and still smelling of varnish or paint or whatever that smell was, was thrilling.
As for the malefactor(s), I hope they enjoyed the sight of being so spectacularly foiled. We all certainly enjoyed it immensely. The only thing I’m going to enjoy more than that is to see them identified, cuffed, and presented with the bill for the repairs.