Lonely Planet Writer

Rowers reclaim the canals of Venice in 42nd annual Vogalonga race

The annual Vogalonga in Venice took place this weekend, when the canals and lagoon filled with boats and teams of rowers to the thrill of watching spectators.

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Rowers enter in Canaregio river during the 42nd Venice Vogalonga Image by Getty Images

This was the 42nd year since a group of Venetians, both amateur and professional rowers, came up with an idea of non-competitive race in which any kind of rowing boat can take part. The first Vogalonga in 1975 was a peaceful protest against the growing use of powerboats in Venice and the swell damage and noise they bring to the historic city.

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The Guglie bridge with rowers and paddlers heads towards the finishing line.  Image by Getty Images

The fun race with no overall winner, is an opportunity for locals to have some fun on the water, while drawing attention to the motor boats, that now account for 95% of water traffic in Venice. Motor boats are banned from Venice for the morning of the race. The rowing boats met at St Mark’s Basin at 9am and completed a 30km circuit passing St Helen Island, Burano and back to the finish line at Punta della Dogana.

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Rowers towards the finishing line on the Cannaregio Canal. Image by Getty Images

Over the 40 years of the race, the number of participants, especially from other parts of Europe has continued to grow, with entries totaling up to 7000 people occupying 1700 boats on Sunday morning.