Regata Storica, the saga continues


The newspaper was bubbling like a large pot of overcooked beans the two days after the big race, what with charges and countercharges flying amongst the rowers.  Most of these wails of injured pride came from the embattled and disqualified pair on the celeste gondolino: Ivo Redolfi-Tezzat and, by extension, his partner, Giampaolo D’Este.  D’Este doesn’t make public statements, he leaves the heavy lifting to his buddy.  Who by now has made a second career of said lifting, considering all the trouble he seems to have been born to create, then complain about.  At least one of his former partners actually gave up racing, he couldn’t take the tsuris anymore.

It's not just the first boats who are battling it out.

It's not just the first boats who are battling it out.

What I have been able to discern is that the judges in the first boat, who were keeping their eyes on the gondolinos in the lead, had already called out a warning to Tezzat for creating an impasso — a term which generally means “blocking.” To create an obstacle, in one of a myriad ways.  Obviously this doesn’t mean he tried to literally put his boat in front of the Vignottini, but he was doing something which clearly made problems for them to proceed at optimum speed and trajectory.

It seems that the judges called eight warnings.  That ought to be enough for anybody to grasp that it’s time to stop. Because after one warning, and another, and perhaps even another, the judge will call out that the racer now has a richiamo (ree-KYAM-oh)  on his record, which is not good but not fatal. But if he gets more than one richiamo in a race (as in, if he persists in whatever he or she is doing), he is liable to be disqualified.  Which is exactly what happened.  Tezzat knows this, so I’m not real clear on why he took such a risk.  Except that it seems to be his specialty. Perhaps he races because he can’t go skysurfing.

And he did not help his case by admitting that he had committed an error, which while it sounds extremely sportsmanlike and almost penitential, makes his rants against the judges a little hard to take seriously.  He wants them to be fired, if not exiled and then executed.  This is a reaction that’s not uncommon in soccer, but is a little hard to make credible when the athlete has been warned eight times.

I did mention that money was involved in this conflict. Glory, bragging rights, the satisfaction of having pulverized and humiliated your lifelong rivals, whatever else may be concerned, there is in fact a tidy sum set aside for the winners. “Tidy” as in 2,850 euros ($3,682.65).  Per person. And then there are other prizes that come rolling in, too, such as the money offered by the Gazzettino for the first boat that passes under the Rialto Bridge on the outbound leg (775 euros per person in 2004), or the prize offered by the other newspaper, La Nuova Venezia, for the first boat to pass under the Accademia Bridge, and so on.  Even though these prizes have been slashed, like everything else in the budget, losing them would make you bubble too.

As things stand now, he and his partner will only get the “training subsidy,” a symbolic little payment which is the city’s consolation prize.  For the other races this payment would be around  200 euros, which might cover the cost of gas for his motorboat for a month.     But for the Storica it’s 1,427 euros ($1,854.11).  More than nothing, sure, but for a professional gondolier, which both of these men are, it is, how you say, chicken feed.  Going home with only this batch of change in your pocket is unthinkable.

And then there was Tezzat’s threat to not even try out for the race at Burano next Sunday, which is popularly regarded as the Revenge of the Storica.  It sounded good, but he and D’Este showed up, as expected, for the eliminations, and so will be confronting the Vignottini one last time this year. Yes, that  sound you hear is daggers being sharpened to a scalpel’s edge.

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